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3/26/16 4:16 A

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On Saturday - Easter Devotional - March 26

by Max Lucado

John didn't know on that Friday what you and I now know. He didn't know that Friday's tragedy would be Sunday's triumph. John would later confess that he "did not yet understand from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead" (John 20:9).

That's why what he did on Saturday is so important.

We don't know anything about this day; we have no passage to read, no knowledge to share. All we know is this: When Sunday came, John was still present. When Mary Magdalene came looking for him, she found him.

Jesus was dead. The Master's body was lifeless. John's friend and future were buried. But John had not left. Why? Was he waiting for the resurrection? No. As far as he knew, the lips were forever silent and the hands forever still. He wasn't expecting a Sunday surprise. Then why was he here?

You'd think he would have left. Who was to say that the men who crucified Christ wouldn't come after him? The crowds were pleased with one crucifixion; the religious leaders might have called for more. Why didn't John get out of town?

Perhaps the answer was pragmatic; perhaps he was taking care of Jesus' mother. Or perhaps he didn't have anywhere else to go. Could be he didn't have any money or energy or direction … or all of the above.

Or maybe he lingered because he loved Jesus.

To others, Jesus was a miracle worker. To others, Jesus was a master teacher. To others, Jesus was the hope of Israel. But to John, he was all of these and more. To John, Jesus was a friend.

You don't abandon a friend—not even when that friend is dead. John stayed close to Jesus.

He had a habit of doing this. He was close to Jesus in the upper room. He was close to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was at the foot of the cross at the crucifixion, and he was a quick walk from the tomb at the burial.

Did he understand Jesus? No.

Was he glad Jesus did what he did? No.

But did he leave Jesus? No.

What about you? When you're in John's position, what do you do? When it's Saturday in your life, how do you react? When you are somewhere between yesterday's tragedy and tomorrow's triumph, what do you do? Do you leave God—or do you linger near him?

John chose to linger. And because he lingered on Saturday, he was around on Sunday to see the miracle.

From He Chose the Nails

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3/24/16 10:00 A

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Extreme - Easter Devotional - March 24

By Skip Heitzig

The world looks at Christians 'celebrating death' on Good Friday, and they can’t figure it out. They say, “That is so extreme! Why, before God could forgive people, would He require the death of His Son? Why wouldn’t He simply, benevolently, forgive people’s sin? If I did something against you, you would just forgive me. Why can’t God do that?”

But that kind of questioning betrays a sort of ignorance that is two-fold. One is of how heinous our sin is, and the other is of how great and holy our God is.

Nobody speaks of sin anymore. In fact, sin has almost disappeared from the American vocabulary. We speak of “problems” or “hangups” or “issues.” It’s called a “sickness” or it’s called someone else’s fault. But the Bible says very plainly that if we say we have no sin, we are liars (1 John 1:8).

How serious is it? Paul said, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We sin because it’s our nature. “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). And we sin by choice. Every day we commit individual acts that are an affront to God.

They are an affront because God is absolutely holy. You see, holy God is wholly incompatible with sin and unrighteousness. “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1:13). “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you” (Isaiah 59:2).

Perfect, holy God cannot coexist with sinful man. And because of that, we’re separated, we’re lost. So one of two things must happen. Either holy God must destroy unholiness, or holy God must declare that which is unholy, holy.

And that takes us to the cross. Jesus lived the perfect life that we could never live, and then took all our sins on Himself. So effectively, God said, “I’ll take the rap. I’ll take all of your wickedness and evil and I’ll put it on Myself so that when I die on the cross, it’s finished, once and for all.”

The cross is the only place that God will meet with mankind. The cross is the only place where both God’s mercy and God’s justice could meet. How can God be a God of love and a God of justice at the same time? How can holy, perfect God meet with sinful, rebellious man? Only at the cross. He came, He took our punishment, and then He declared you and me righteous because of it.


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3/22/16 6:56 A

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Resurrected - Easter Devotional - March 22

by Sarah Phillips

I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalms 118:17-23

Most of you will celebrate the Lord's resurrection this Sunday. For many, it will be a glorious day of rejoicing in the miraculous, a day where you reflect not only on the event 2,000 years ago, but on the resurrections in your own life. The day you accepted Christ. The day a long-awaited prayer was answered. The day sickness was healed or sorrow wiped away.

For others, Sunday will only serve as a reminder of your cross. You'll feel like you got left at Good Friday, weeping, while the rest of the world moves on to Easter Sunday. You wish you could celebrate, but you don't know how. You may even apologize to God for your somberness.

You're not alone, I assure you.

In the past few months I've watched several Good Fridays and Easters play out in the lives of those around me. Engagements and babies ushered in cries of rejoicing and praises to God. Yet, cancer, infidelity, and financial hardship occurred uncomfortably close to these joyful events.

Most of life is like this. Happiness, unmixed, is not easy to come by.

So how do we deal with this reality? How do we deal with Good Friday and Easter coexisting?

I think we start with recognizing that the first Easter, the real Easter, was not just one event in time that occurred long ago. Christ's resurrection spanned the ages and has eternal consequences. It applies to you and me today just as much as it did to Christ's followers on Easter morning. It also applies to the future. Our hope, no matter where we may be today, is in the transforming truth of Easter.

Secondly, I think we need to remember that true faith in God does not rely on our emotions. If you cry on Easter morning because life has been wearing you down, God still accepts you. In fact, he died and rose for you so that he could more closely walk with you through these hard times. He knows, more than anyone, the heaviness of the cross.

Third, I think we need to remember that as awe-struck as Christ's first followers felt after his resurrection, they still didn't know what it fully meant… for humanity or for their personal lives. While the resurrection brought their beloved Rabbi back to them, he was different now. The resurrection simultaneously healed some wounds while opening a new can of questions, insecurities, fears, and even pain - at least temporarily.

Ultimately, all Good Fridays will lead to joyful Easter mornings if we cling to Christ. Whether you are in a season of hardship, rejoicing, or a mix of both, the key is to keep walking in faith one step at a time. Only the risen Christ can guide us through the foggy path of life. And when our final Easter morning arrives, we'll finally see with clarity that the journey was worth it.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Reflect on the "little resurrections" in your life - the times God answered a prayer in a very tangible way, the blessings in your life, and the miracles you've witnessed. All these serve as reminders of the great work God will continue to do in your life.

Further Reading

Acts 2:14, 22-33
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11
Matthew 28:8-15

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3/19/16 11:15 A

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Good News! - Easter Devotional - March 19

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
--1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Doesn't it seem that bad news is all around us? It's always the top story on the news or the main headline in the paper.

But as believers, we know the best news we could ever hear… and we celebrate it this month.

Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. This is the event that conquered sin… it conquered death… and it made it possible for you and me to have a personal relationship with God!

Perhaps, today, this is the first time you've ever heard or understood this Good News.

If so, I want to tell you something: Jesus died on the cross for you. He wore a crown of thorns and was nailed to a tree because He loves you… and He wants to have a personal relationship with you today.

Will you accept this Good News today?

THIS EASTER SEASON, SHARE THE GOOD NEWS WITH SOMEONE WHO NEEDS TO HEAR IT!

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3/18/16 12:12 A

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The Satisfaction of the Cross - Easter Devotional - March 17

Rachel Olsen

"When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. "Isaiah 53:11 (NLT)


Devotion:

Approximately 600 years before Jesus was condemned to the cross, the prophet Isaiah foretold of the event. Open up and invite those words to penetrate your soul today:

"See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. Many were amazed when they saw him beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person. And he will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about.

Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.

But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners." Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12 (NLT)

Approximately 2,000 years after Jesus hung on the cross, the passion of our Christ is still the power of God unto salvation. His suffering accomplished righteousness for us, and through it, both He and we are satisfied.

Dear Lord, may I realize afresh today what Your death and resurrection mean for me. Forgiveness … Freedom … and the ability to walk with You through this fallen world into eternity. May I always find my satisfaction in You and Your willingness to offer Yourself to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.



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3/17/16 2:37 A

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The Cradle of Hope - Easter Devotional March 16

by Max Lucado

Christ rose first; then when Christ comes back, all his people will become alive again.
1 Corinthians 15:23 TLB

Let's go to the tomb, for Jesus lies in the tomb.

Still. Cold. Stiff. Death has claimed its greatest trophy. He is not asleep in the tomb or resting in the tomb or comatose in the tomb; he is dead in the tomb. No air in his lungs. No thoughts in his brain. No feeling in his limbs. His body is as lifeless as the stone slab upon which he has been laid.

The executioners made sure of it. When Pilate learned that Jesus was dead, he asked the soldiers if they were certain. They were. Had they seen the Nazarene twitch, had they heard even one moan, they would have broken his legs to speed his end. But there was no need. The thrust of a spear removed all doubt. The Romans knew their job. And their job was finished. They pried loose the nails, lowered his body, and gave it to Joseph and Nicodemus.

Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus the Pharisee. Jesus had answered the prayer of their hearts, the prayer for the Messiah. As much as the soldiers wanted him dead, even more these men wanted him alive.

As they sponged the blood from his beard, don't you know they listened for his breath? As they wrapped the cloth around his hands, don't you know they hoped for a pulse? Don't you know they searched for life?

But they didn't find it.

So they do with him what they were expected to do with a dead man. They wrap his body in clean linen and place it in a tomb. Joseph's tomb. Roman guards are stationed to guard the corpse. And a Roman seal is set on the rock of the tomb. For three days, no one gets close to the grave.

But then, Sunday arrives. And with Sunday comes light — a light within the tomb. A bright light? A soft light? Flashing? Hovering? We don't know. But there was a light. For he is the light. And with the light came life. Just as the darkness was banished, now the decay is reversed. Heaven blows and Jesus breathes. His chest expands. Waxy lips open. Wooden fingers lift. Heart valves swish and hinged joints bend.

And, as we envision the moment, we stand in awe.

We stand in awe not just because of what we see, but because of what we know. We know that we, too, will die. We know that we, too, will be buried. Our lungs, like his, will empty. Our hands, like his, will stiffen. But the rising of his body and the rolling of the stone give birth to a mighty belief: "What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ's sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us" (Rom. 6:5-9 MSG).

From When Christ Comes


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3/16/16 1:48 A

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Triumph in Tragedy - Easter Devotional - March 15

by Max Lucado

What do you say we have a chat about graveclothes? Sound like fun? Sound like a cheery topic? Hardly. Make a list of depressing subjects, and burial garments is somewhere between IRS audits and long-term dental care.

No one likes graveclothes. No one discusses graveclothes. Have you ever spiced up dinner-table chat with the question, "What are you planning to wear in your casket?"
Most folks don't discuss graveclothes.

The apostle John, however, was an exception. Ask him, and he'll tell you how he came to see burial garments as a symbol of triumph. He didn't always see them that way. A tangible reminder of the death of his best friend, Jesus, they used to seem like a symbol of tragedy. But on the first Easter Sunday, God took clothing of death and made it a symbol of life.

Could he do the same for you?

Could he take what today is a token of tragedy and turn it into a symbol of triumph?

We all face tragedy. What's more, we've all received the symbols of tragedy. Yours might be a telegram from the war department, an ID bracelet from the hospital, a scar, or a court subpoena. We don't like these symbols, nor do we want these symbols. Like wrecked cars in a junkyard, they clutter up our hearts with memories of bad days.

But could God use such things for something good? How far can we go with verses like Romans 8:28 that says, "In everything God works for the good of those who love him"? Does "everything" include tumors and tests and tempers and terminations? John would answer yes. John would tell you that God can turn any tragedy into a triumph, if only you will wait and watch.

Could I challenge you with a little exercise? Remove the word everything from Romans 8:28 and replace it with the symbol of your own tragedy. For the apostle John, the verse would read: "In burial clothing God works for the good of those who love him." How would Romans 8:28 read in your life?

In hospital stays God works for the good.
In divorce papers God works for the good.
In a prison term God works for the good.

If God can change John's life through a tragedy, could it be he will use a tragedy to change yours?

From He Chose the Nails

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3/14/16 4:58 A

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Resurrection! - Easter Devotional - March 14

by Dr. Charles Stanley

John 20

Within three days Jesus's followers went from heartbroken sadness to triumphant jubilation. The cross screamed, “The End,” making them feel hopeless and helpless. But the resurrection trumpeted, “The Beginning,” bringing confidence and courage. The cloud of doubt and despair that had shrouded them melted away and was replaced with unshakeable faith.

Can you imagine how they felt when they realized Jesus had risen from the dead? Suddenly hope came alive; now everything He had said was validated as truth. They had not believed a lie. His victory over death was the acid test that forever sealed their sure conviction that He was the Messiah.

We commemorate Jesus's death on the cross with solemnity, but the resurrection calls for thunderous applause, praise, and song. All the blessings that come our way through the Savior’s cross are confirmed by the resurrection. It proved that the Father was satisfied with the Son’s payment for our sins. Now we can know that our transgressions are forgiven and we’re eternally secure.

What’s more, Jesus promises that we, too, will be resurrected and given new bodies. Physical death could not hold Him, nor will it overpower us. Because He overcame the grave, His followers have the same kind of life He has—eternal and indestructible.

As Christians, we have the right to celebrate Easter with great rejoicing. Because of this event, our lives have been forever changed. We’ve been transformed and given new life. With unwavering faith, we trust the Bible because Christ’s power over the grave proves He can and will fulfill every word.

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3/12/16 3:16 A

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Life after Death - Easter Devotional - March 12

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Luke 12:16-20

The thought of dying frightens many people. But believers have no reason to fear. Jesus's resurrection and empty tomb prove that there is life after death!

Unbelievers who dread their demise have two different approaches to life. One group piles up wealth, good deeds, or worldly success in the hope of passing it on to their children or to charity. They expect to "live on" in the memories of those who benefit from their hard work. But it is the rare person who's still remembered a few generations later. And none truly live on.

The other group chooses to laugh in the face of death. Their philosophy is "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" (1 Cor. 15:32). Their existence seems pleasurable from the outside, but can you imagine a more futile way to live? God does not intend for us to go through life with such meaninglessness.

Here's the key to significance: fulfilling our unique, God-given, eternal purpose. In this life, we do not labor to leave a physical legacy or waste our days pursuing pleasure. Instead, we help those in need, influence our culture, and reach out to the lost. And when a believer enters the heavenly place Jesus has prepared, he or she keeps on working for Him.

For the believer, death is not a fearsome end. It is the doorway to a new life of serving the Lord in heaven. Our days on earth are just the beginning of our existence. This time will seem like only a few minutes compared to an eternity spent in His presence.


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Hope Beyond this Life - Easter Devotional - March 11

by Greg Laurie

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

—1 Corinthians 15:13-14

Not only does the Bible tell us we will live beyond the grave, but it also tells us there is hope beyond this life. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead proves there is life beyond the grave for the believer. The Bible says, "He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).

No doubt this is why the devil has tried to discredit the Resurrection over the years. This is why, ever since the first century, he has been spreading his rumors about what happened to the body of Christ. And one of the oldest rumors of all was that His body was stolen by the disciples.

But claiming that the body of Jesus was stolen actually proves the resurrection of the Lord. His friends could not have taken it, because they left the scene and were convinced He was dead. The apostles had no reason to counterfeit a Resurrection they did not even believe in themselves.

And as we look at church history, we know that with the exception of John (who survived an execution attempt and was banished to the island of Patmos), all the apostles were martyred for what they believed. Don't you think at least one of them would have suddenly exposed such a lie if it were a lie? But they didn't, because none of them could deny what was true: Christ was risen, Christ is risen, and He is alive.


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3/10/16 8:03 A

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Unshakeable - Easter Devotional - March 10

by Skip Heitzig

Did you ever wonder about that stone at the tomb of Jesus? Why was it moved? It wasn’t to let Jesus out; Jesus could get out of the tomb as easily as He entered the Upper Room later, without using the door. No, the reason the stone was rolled away was not to let Jesus out, but to let the disciples in so they could see!

And what did they see there? They saw that the body of Jesus was gone, but the grave clothes were still there, lying undisturbed. In John 20:1-8 there are different Greek words used for "saw." When it says Mary and Peter saw, it means they noted. When it says that John saw, it means that he saw with understanding, with comprehension.

Peter entered the tomb. "Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed" (John 20:8). When John saw the grave clothes, he thought, "I get it!" He believed that Jesus was alive, based on what he saw.

Then John adds something that seems puzzling at first. Verse 9 says, “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” They saw an empty tomb and empty grave clothes, and they formed their beliefs based on that. They knew what they saw.

But by the time John wrote his gospel, they knew the theology of Christ’s resurrection. Their faith, once based on physical evidence—the open tomb, the body gone, the clothes intact (as good as that was to convince John at that moment)—wasn’t enough to sustain a person through life. “This is what we saw, but we didn’t know the scripture yet” points to the fact that there’s something even better to base your belief and knowledge upon, and that’s the objective, inerrant prophecy in the Word of God.

Observation and personal experience aren’t enough! The Bible predicted that Christ would rise from the dead. What Peter called “a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19, KJV) is a more sure foundation.

So how do you know that you know? You could say, “I know because I saw or I heard.” But here’s something better: “What I saw and what I heard was predicted long ago in the prophets.” So now the subjective experience is bolstered by the objective prophecy of the Bible—and that’s unshakeable.

That’s what I want you to see here—the fundamental importance of the Word of God. Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

The experience which we have with Christ is valid only as it is tied to something that is outside of our experience, something that is objective—the inerrant Word of God. With that, we can face anything.

If you just have the inerrant Word of Scripture but you don’t have an experience with God yourself, then it’s not personal. If you have your personal experience but it doesn’t match what the scripture says, then it’s not reasonable. Put them both together, it’s powerful. It’s unshakeable.

That’s my prayer for you at this Easter season, that you will have an unshakeable faith, based on the sure word of prophecy and a personal, vital relationship with Jesus Christ, the risen Redeemer!


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3/9/16 2:48 A

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Resurrection Power - Easter Devotional - March 8

30 When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of bread. —Luke 24:30-35

Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ know that the resurrection of Christ is the most powerful event in history. All that we ascribe to, all that our life and worship is all about, is based upon the foundational piece that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

I wonder how many believers experience that “resurrection power.” Is there much that you would like to accomplish but you just don’t sense the capacity and strength to do it? Or maybe your life lacks the power to break the chain of sinful habits or to overcome fear, anxiety, or depression. I want you to know that whatever it is, Jesus Christ can change your life. His resurrection is the power to prove that. I know I wouldn’t want to live without it.

On a week just like this right after Resurrection Sunday, Jesus met two guys on the road to Emmaus who needed “resurrection power” to overcome one of the saddest weekends of their lives. They were walking home from Jerusalem, overwhelmed with the events they had witnessed. Jesus He knew their hearts were aching and He wanted to bring His resurrection power to bear upon them. He wants to do that for you too.

But we were hoping…

There’s the source of sadness right there. If you’re filled with sadness, then you’ve had your hopes dashed. Things didn’t turn out how you planned, how you’d hoped. These guys knew how that felt for sure. They needed power and got it by recognizing who Jesus was.

You may ask, How can I access that kind of resurrection power in my life? Do what these guys did: take Him at His Word. Believe what He said . . .

…about salvation. “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (John 14:6). If you’ve never embraced Christ as your Savior, that’s step one for you.

…about the power Jesus gives us to depend on Him. John 15:12-14, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Bottom line: The most powerful event in history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’m telling you this for one reason—you can know this power in your life. You can. Believe what He said, embrace Him as your Savior and learn, as I’m learning, what it means to walk and follow Jesus, risen from the dead. “…to know Him is life eternal” (John 17:3).

Journal:

• Do I know this resurrection power in my own life? When have I felt it?

Prayer: Father, Your power is above all things. Help me to know that power through a personal relationship with Your Son, Jesus Christ. I don’t want to go one more day without that power flowing through me. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

James MacDonald

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New Life for Us All - Easter Devotional March 6

by Pastor Greg Laurie

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

—1 Peter 1:3

A couple from Chicago was planning a vacation to a warmer climate, but the wife couldn't join her husband until the next day, because she was on a business trip. Her husband scribbled down her e-mail address on a little scrap of paper, but upon his arrival, he discovered that he had lost it. He wanted to send off a quick e-mail to let her know he had arrived safely. So trying his best to remember her e-mail address, he composed a brief message and sent it off.

Unfortunately, his e-mail did not reach his wife. Instead, it went to a grieving widow who had just lost her husband, a preacher, the day before. She had gone to her computer and was checking her e-mail when she let out a loud shriek and fainted on the spot. Her family came rushing in to see what was on the screen: "Dearest wife, I just checked in. Everything is prepared for your arrival tomorrow. P. S.: It sure is hot down here!"

The good news is that because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we don't have to be afraid of that real place that is hot down there. In fact, we don't even have to fear death. Because Christ died and rose again from the dead, we know that for us as believers, there is life beyond the grave.

If that were all the resurrection did for us, it would be worth the price of the ticket. Of course, we didn't buy the ticket. Christ did. But if all that Christianity offered was the hope of life beyond the grave, it still would be worth it to be a Christian.

But there is a whole lot more that the resurrection has for us. Our risen Lord will give us a new heart and put a new spirit within us (see Ezekiel 36:26). He will give us new knowledge, new comfort, new peace, and a new life in Him.

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God's Plan for the Resurrection - Easter Devotional - March 5

by Dr. Charles Stanley In Touch Ministries

John 16:16-20

"A little while, and you will no longer see Me." Jesus repeated these words to His disciples several times. But He could tell by the blank stares on their faces that they did not understand what He had said.

At one point, He even overheard them debating what He meant by "You will not see me" (John 16:19). These men had been with the Lord for three years. They had laughed with Him, cried with Him, eaten with Him, and were willing to die with Him, or so they thought.

They had just entered the city of Jerusalem. And instead of being met by an angry legion of guards and protestors, they were met by palm-waving supporters shouting: "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." Yet as soon as they had settled into the upper room, Jesus broached the subject of His forthcoming death. Immediately, the mood of His followers went from one of celebration to shock and sorrow.

Often in difficult times, we cannot see beyond that moment. The resurrection was a few days away, but they could not fathom its wondrous coming.

God always provides the encouragement we need to stay the course, and Jesus did this for His disciples when He told them, "Your sorrow will be turned to joy" (v. 20). This also is God's message of hope and love for us today. Blessed be the name of the Lord!


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It Didn't End at the Cross - Easter Devotional - March 4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

--1 Peter 1:3-5

A little boy born with Down syndrome attended his third-grade Sunday School class faithfully each week. As you can expect, the other children did not readily accept the boy because he seemed different.

The Sunday after Easter, their teacher brought in small boxes--one for each child. The children were told to go outside, find some symbols of new life, and put them in their containers. So the children ran wildly throughout the property looking for something to fill their boxes.

Once they returned to the classroom, they began to share their discoveries with the class. One by one they opened their boxes to show flowers, butterflies, leaves, and more. Each time the class would "ooh" and "ahh."

Then the child with Down syndrome opened his box to reveal nothing inside. The children exclaimed, "That's stupid! It's not fair! He didn't do the assignment right!"

The little boy exclaimed, "I did so do it! It's empty...because the tomb where Jesus laid was found empty!"

If Jesus had not risen from the dead, our faith would be foolish and fake. But He did rise from death, confirming His life and message. The resurrection of Jesus is the basis for our hope of life eternal beyond the grave.

Don't ever forget to include the resurrection of Christ from the dead when speaking of His death on the cross. For because He conquered sin on the cross and death through His resurrection, we can have unmistakable hope in Him for eternity.

PRAYER CHALLENGE: Praise God that you serve a risen Savior! Thank Him for His sacrifice on the cross and for defeating death so that you and I may experience eternal life with Him one day.


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The Resurrection - Easter Devotional - March 3

Jesus said to her,

"I am the resurrection and the life. JOHN 11:25

FROM THE FATHER'S HEART

My child, you've walked away from the funerals of your loved ones with fresh memories still clinging to you like grave clothes. Tears have filled your eyes as you've said good-bye to the last dreams of your heart. Remember, for those who love Me and are My children, death is but a step into eternity with Me. It is never the end but the start of forever - what you were created for! Take heart. I am the resurrection and the life. Where I am, you will be also. Find peace in Me.

A GRATEFUL RESPONSE

Lord, death could not hold You. And because of You, the resurrection, we, too, can live. Thank You that the grave is only a journey into the presence of God. You have removed the sting of death and empowered this thing called life. Now I will live in Your presence forever.

SIMPLE TRUTH

On the other side of death is the real side of life.


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An Easter Bride - Easter Devotional March 2

by Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7, NIV).

Friend to Friend

It was a beautiful day for a wedding. The sun shone brightly as the daffodils danced in the gentle breeze, nodding their happy faces in conversation. A choir of robins, cardinals, and finches sang rounds of cheerful melodies, which floated through a clear blue sky that was a reflection of the bride's sparkling eyes. The air had that unusual crisp quality of spring, reminding us of the chill from winter's past and the warmth of summer's promise.

The day was Easter Sunday of 1997, the day the groom had chosen to be joined to His beloved. Like the Jewish custom of old, he had proposed to his young maiden, and then promptly gone away to prepare a home for her. On this day, his father had signaled the home was ready and he could go to get his bride

Iris had been waiting for her husband to come and take her to the wonderful home that He had prepared for her. How like him to pick Easter, she thought to herself. My favorite day of the year.

She smiled as she heard Him coming, and her heart fluttered with the anticipation of seeing His face.

She wore a white dress with flecks of blue and carried a bouquet of pink carnations and white mums with a spray of asparagus fern as wispy as her baby-fine hair. A sweet smile spread across her face as she saw her beloved Jesus hold out His strong hand to help her cross the threshold of the temporal and into the hall of eternity. She walked into His loving embrace and drank in the loveliness of her surroundings which He had perfectly described in His many letters.

On Easter Sunday, in 1997, my husband's dear, sweet, 74-year-old Aunt Iris went home to be with the Lord. As we all gathered around to say our last good-byes, I could not manage to be mournful. Yes, I was going to miss her. But Iris had never been married on this side of eternity and the vision I had in my mind was of her joining the Lord as the Bride of Christ. For me, it was not a funeral. It was a wedding. It was what she had always longed for…a dream come true.

In Isaiah 61:3, the prophet describes what God will do for the Bride of Christ. He will bestow on her a crown of beauty instead of ashes, anoint her with the oil of gladness instead of mourning and place on her shoulders a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Are you feeling brokenhearted because of broken dreams? Have you been in mourning because your dream of being a bride has not turned out like you had hoped? God desires to blow away the ashes and place the crown of a royal bride on your head. So lift your head dear one, and accept your crown from the King of Kings.

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for choosing me to be the Bride for Your Son. I look forward to the day when I will be joined with my heavenly Bridegroom for all eternity. Until then, I will prepare myself to be the best bride I can be. In my Bridegroom’s Name I pray, Amen

Now It’s Your Turn

I asked my husband what picture came into his mind when he thought about himself as being a part of the Bride of Christ. He gave me a strange look and said, “Nothing really.”

Oh how precious that we girls can have the picture of walking down the aisle to meet our heavenly Bridegroom. Today, that’s what I want you to imagine. Just put that picture in your mind and savor it all day.

Devotions brought to you from Crosswalk.com


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O Death, Where Is Thy Sting? - Easter Devotional - February 29

by Adrian Rogers

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Corinthians 15:55

Harry Houdini was an escape artist. They tried all kinds of ways to keep Harry Houdini locked up. They would bury him in a coffin, but he would get out. They would sew him up in canvas bags and throw him in the river, but he would come out. His biographer said, "He could escape from anything except your memory."

Yet there came a day when Harry Houdini died, and he did not escape the iron-clad clutches of death. But, I want to tell you, there was another who died. His name was Jesus, and He made the great escape.

Jesus came out of that grave, and He arose! Praise God, Jesus is alive!

Who in your circle of friends does not know Jesus? Pray for them right now - that they would hear the Good News, repent and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.


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Easter Words of Forgiveness - Easter Devotional - February 27

by Dr. Jack Graham

Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
--Luke 23:34

As we all know, words are powerful…especially dying words. And as we near Easter Sunday, it's important that each of us remembers just exactly what Jesus had to say right before His earthly life ended.

One of the last things Jesus said while hanging from the cross were words of forgiveness.

Today I want to ask you, if Christ could pray a prayer of forgiveness for those who were putting Him to death, can you pray a prayer of forgiveness for those in your life who mistreat you?

Despite what you may be going through today, can you look past your own "junk" and extend forgiveness to others?

Jesus' dying words on the cross are a powerful example of how you and I ought to treat those who mistreat us. Are you willing to follow His perfect example in every area of your life today? Will you extend forgiveness to those who don't deserve it?

I challenge you to pick up your cross today… and live out the life of forgiveness Christ has given you!

CAN YOU FOLLOW CHRIST'S EXAMPLE AND FORGIVE THOSE WHO MISTREAT YOU?


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A Pivotal Belief - Easter Devotional - February 26

by Pastor Greg Laurie

"But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again." (1 Corinthians 15:20)

I read about a person who wrote the following to a local newspaper advice columnist: Dear Uticus, Our preacher said on Easter that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that His disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered.

The columnist replied, Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat of nine tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross, hang him in the sun for six hours, run a spear through his heart, embalm him, put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours, and see what happens. Sincerely, Uticus.

What sets the Christian faith apart from all other beliefs and religious systems in this world? It might come down to this: If you go to the tombs of any of the prophets on which world religions have been founded, you will find them occupied. But if you go to the tomb of Jesus Christ, you will find it empty, because He is alive. We serve a living Savior.

This is why the resurrection of Jesus is such an important message and also why it has been opposed so much throughout history. The devil knows that the Resurrection spells his defeat. He also knows that if you believe this great truth that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again from the dead, it can change your life.

Not only can it change your life, but putting your faith in Him also means that you will have a new, resurrected body someday. As believers, we have this great hope that we, too, will live again.

www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/easter
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A Basic Precondition - Easter Devotional - February 25

For reading & meditation: John 20:1-18

"They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead." (v. 9)

The late Bishop John Robinson stated: "The resurrection of the body of Christ is no essential belief for Christian people, and it would make no difference to their faith if the Lord's body had been flung into the Valley of Hinnom, like those of the malefactors, to disintegrate among the rotting corpses." Such a statement flies in the very face of Scripture. Paul wrote: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe ... that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9, italics added). Here Paul makes it crystal clear that acceptance of the fact that Christ rose from the dead is a basic precondition for being a Christian. But what exactly do we mean by resurrection? "Spiritual survival" is how the liberals in the church define it. But it was not just the spiritual part of Jesus that continued after the tomb - it was the total Christ. True, His body possessed additional powers and properties, but the physical frame which housed His spirit after He left the tomb was the same one that was nailed to the cross. "See my hands," He said to doubting Thomas, "put [your hand] into my side ... and believe" (John 20:27). Eric Sauer, a writer and Bible teacher, makes the point: "Just as our Lord's body was capable of transfiguration without losing its identity, so it was capable of disfiguration without losing its identity." Make no mistake about it, our Lord's resurrection was a physical one. If it wasn't, then there is no salvation.

Prayer:

Father, if I am not sure of the resurrection how can I be sure I am saved? However, I am sure, for I live in a resurrected Christ. Since He was resurrected, I know I shall be too. Death has been conquered. Hallelujah!

For further study:
John 20:19-31

1. How did Jesus appear to the disciples?
2. What did Jesus participate in?

www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/easter
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The Silver Thread - Easter Devotional - February 24

1 Corinthians 15:20

But now is Christ risen from the dead.

The whole system of Christianity rests upon the fact that "Christ is risen from the dead;" for, "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain: ye are yet in your sins." The divinity of Christ finds its surest proof in His resurrection, since He was "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." It would not be unreasonable to doubt His Deity if He had not risen. Moreover, Christ's sovereignty depends upon His resurrection, "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living." Again, our justification, that choice blessing of the covenant, is linked with Christ's triumphant victory over death and the grave; for "He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Nay, more, our very regeneration is connected with His resurrection, for we are "Begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." And most certainly our ultimate resurrection rests here, for, "If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." If Christ be not risen, then shall we not rise; but if He be risen then they who are asleep in Christ have not perished, but in their flesh shall surely behold their God. Thus, the silver thread of resurrection runs through all the believer's blessings, from his regeneration onwards to his eternal glory, and binds them together. How important then will this glorious fact be in his estimation, and how will he rejoice that beyond a doubt it is established, that "now is Christ risen from the dead."

"The promise is fulfill'd,
Redemption's work is done,
Justice with mercy's reconciled,
For God has raised His Son."

www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/easter
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Your Dead Will Live - Easter Devotional - February 23

by Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com Contributor

“Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy” (Isaiah 26:19).

In Luke’s account of Christ’s resurrection, angels proclaimed to the women: "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (24:5-6). This joyous news must have taken them off guard. After all, they came to Jesus’ tomb bearing burial spices with which to anoint the lifeless body of their Lord. Instead, they find dazzling angels standing watch next to an empty tomb, and hear news that they will never find Christ in a place of death and darkness.

As Easter draws closer, have you considered which aspects of your life God wants to breathe life into?

Family

Many of us have strained familial relationships that seem only to worsen when we get together for meals and services around the holidays. Do you pray for the members of your family regularly? Are you willing to open up your heart to start loving them the way God loves each and every one of them? Remember,

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Friendships

If Christ’s work on the cross teaches us anything about friendships, it’s that forgiveness and grace trumps all. After all, mere hours before his gruesome death, Jesus was ignored, abandoned, denied, and betrayed by his closest friends. He could have equally been speaking of Peter, a man in his inner circle, when he begged on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Yet, even after being left alone and misunderstood, Christ still made the ultimate act of love for his friends (and the world).

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).

Work

Often our “good” side is saved for our friends and loved ones, while our places of work get the short (or grumpy) end of the stick. As you ponder the work Christ did on the cross, and the glory of his resurrection, remember that our work can be a beautiful echo of his perfect work, holy and pleasing to God.

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:10-12).

Intersecting Faith and Life: What area of your life needs to come alive in honor of Easter? How can you seek Christ daily in your relationships and duties?

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What Children Need to Know - Easter Devotional - February 22

Mark 10:13,14

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them."

Children and Easter. New life and new beginnings. What better time to share the gospel with your children?

But what does a child, or any person, need to know to become a Christian? The following are the basics:

First, children need to be taught who God is and how He loves them. They need to know what sets Him apart from humans.

God is holy; He is perfect. People, however, are not perfect.

God is just; He is always fair. We are not just in all our decisions.

God is love; He desires a relationship with us. That's why He sent His Son. We are not always motivated out of our love for another.

Second, children need to be taught that their sins must be forgiven (see Rom. 6:23). Many parents in this culture of tolerance feel uncomfortable talking about hell. God is patient, but He is not tolerant. His justice calls for an atonement (a payment, a penalty) for people's sins. Our children must have some understanding that their sins can keep them out of heaven. Their sins must be paid for. And that is what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.

Finally, children need to know that they receive God's forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ (see Eph. 2:8,9).

Faith involves repenting of our sins, turning to God in faith and trusting Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord. When we repent, we acknowledge our sins before God and express our sorrow about our sins to Him.

Those are the basics of what children need to know. The question you're probably asking is, "How can I explain concepts like these to children?"

That's what I'll cover next time.

Prayer: That God would work in your children's hearts to bring them to Him.

Discuss: How have you done as a couple in explaining the gospel to your children? How can you arrange your Easter activities to take time to explain the gospel to your children?

www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/easter
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Our Ultimate Hooray - Easter Devotional - February 19

by Charles R. Swindoll

John 11

What gives a widow courage as she stands beside a fresh grave? What is the ultimate hope of the handicapped, the abused, the burn victim? What is the final answer to pain, mourning, senility, insanity, terminal diseases, sudden calamities, and fatal accidents?

The answer to each of these questions is the same: the hope of bodily resurrection.

We draw strength from this single truth almost every day of our lives—more than we realize. It becomes the mental glue that holds our otherwise shattered thoughts together. Impossible though it may be for us to understand the details of how God is going to pull it off, we hang our hopes on fragile, threadlike thoughts that say, "Someday, He will make it right," and "Thank God, all this will change," and "When we're with Him, we shall be like Him."

More than a few times a year I look into red, swollen eyes and remind the despairing and the grieving that "there's a land that is fairer than day" where, as John promised in the Revelation, "He shall wipe away every tear . . . there shall no longer be any death . . . any mourning or crying or pain . . . there shall no longer be any curse . . . any night . . . because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever" (21:4; 22:3, 5). Hooray for such wondrous hope!

Just imagine . . . those who are physically disabled today will one day leap in ecstatic joy. Those who spend their lives absorbed in total darkness will see every color in the spectrum of light. In fact, the very first face they will see will be the One who gives them sight!

There's nothing like the hope of resurrection to lift the agonizing spirits of the heavyhearted. But how can we know for sure, some may ask. What gives us such assurance, such unshakable confidence? Those questions have the same answer:the fact of Christ's resurrection.

Because He has been raised, we too shall rise! No wonder we get so excited every Easter! No wonder we hold nothing back as we smile and sing and celebrate His miraculous resurrection from the grave!

Jesus Himself promised: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies" (John 11:25).

Easter is a double-barreled celebration: His triumphant hurrah over agony and our ultimate hooray of ecstasy.

Used with permission. All rights reserved.


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The Cradle of Hope- Easter Devotional - February 17

by Max Lucado

Christ rose first; then when Christ comes back, all his people will become alive again.
1 Corinthians 15:23 TLB

Let's go to the tomb, for Jesus lies in the tomb.

Still. Cold. Stiff. Death has claimed its greatest trophy. He is not asleep in the tomb or resting in the tomb or comatose in the tomb; he is dead in the tomb. No air in his lungs. No thoughts in his brain. No feeling in his limbs. His body is as lifeless as the stone slab upon which he has been laid.

The executioners made sure of it. When Pilate learned that Jesus was dead, he asked the soldiers if they were certain. They were. Had they seen the Nazarene twitch, had they heard even one moan, they would have broken his legs to speed his end. But there was no need. The thrust of a spear removed all doubt. The Romans knew their job. And their job was finished. They pried loose the nails, lowered his body, and gave it to Joseph and Nicodemus.

Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus the Pharisee. Jesus had answered the prayer of their hearts, the prayer for the Messiah. As much as the soldiers wanted him dead, even more these men wanted him alive.

As they sponged the blood from his beard, don't you know they listened for his breath? As they wrapped the cloth around his hands, don't you know they hoped for a pulse? Don't you know they searched for life?

But they didn't find it.

So they do with him what they were expected to do with a dead man. They wrap his body in clean linen and place it in a tomb. Joseph's tomb. Roman guards are stationed to guard the corpse. And a Roman seal is set on the rock of the tomb. For three days, no one gets close to the grave.

But then, Sunday arrives. And with Sunday comes light — a light within the tomb. A bright light? A soft light? Flashing? Hovering? We don't know. But there was a light. For he is the light. And with the light came life. Just as the darkness was banished, now the decay is reversed. Heaven blows and Jesus breathes. His chest expands. Waxy lips open. Wooden fingers lift. Heart valves swish and hinged joints bend.

And, as we envision the moment, we stand in awe.

We stand in awe not just because of what we see, but because of what we know. We know that we, too, will die. We know that we, too, will be buried. Our lungs, like his, will empty. Our hands, like his, will stiffen. But the rising of his body and the rolling of the stone give birth to a mighty belief: "What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ's sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us" (Rom. 6:5-9 MSG).

From When Christ Comes


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Mary's Hope-Easter Devotional February 16

By PowerPoint Ministries and Dr. Jack Graham,

Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).

Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
--John 20:16-18

The hope that Mary Magdalene experienced the day of Jesus' resurrection is the same hope you and I will celebrate this Easter Sunday.

For you see, my friend, this HOPE...

Helps you. It helps you cope with the darkness of disappointment. When you know Jesus Christ, you see Easter as more than a religious observance. It is the reality of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

Opens to you the possibility of restoration after defeat. Because Jesus came back from the grave, you can be restored and renewed, no matter how defeated you may feel.

Provides you an answer when you doubt. Today, you may be wondering if all this is really true. If so, I advise you to sincerely search for God with all your heart by reading the Bible and listening to His Word being preached. Because He will show Himself strong on your behalf.

Enables you to conquer death. Through your trust in Christ, you will live forever in eternity with Him.

Did you know that 60 percent of Americans will go to church this Easter? And did you know that only 25 percent of those who go even know Easter's true meaning?

I don't want you to miss the true meaning of Easter! Because Jesus Christ lives, you can be forgiven of your sins, you can live a fulfilling life, and you can be free!

YOU CAN HAVE HOPE TODAY BECAUSE OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION!


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2/15/16 5:13 A

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Easter Devotions, February 15

Quote of the Day

"It is impossible to omit from that ascended and reigning One the wounds He bears. They are part of His Personality and speak of the fulfillment of a purpose which was the purpose of God, and which was carried out by God in and through Jesus."
~G. Campbell Morgan (from "Does Jesus Still Have His Wounds?")

Today's Answer

Easter: Bigger Than Christmas?
Ray Pritchard

In our society there are two great religious holidays-Christmas and Easter. For most of us Christmas is the bigger and greater season of the year. It's the time of year when we gather with family and friends to sing carols, decorate the tree, and exchange gifts. Christmas is the climax of the whole year. Easter? Well, for most people it's just another long weekend, another chance to get away for a few days.

Even Christians view Easter as a second-rate holiday!

Somehow we've gotten our thinking badly mixed up. If Easter had not happened, Christmas would have no meaning. If the tomb is not empty, the cradle makes no difference. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then he really is just a misguided Jewish rabbi with delusions of grandeur. If Easter is not true, then Christmas is only the story of an obscure baby born in an out-of-the-way village in a forgotten land 2000 years ago. It is Easter that gives Christmas its meaning.

You want proof? In all the New Testament no major doctrinal point is ever built upon the the virgin birth of Christ. Not one. It's true. It happened. But it's never discussed or mentioned. In fact, two gospels don't even say anything about it.

But the resurrection? That's a different story. In every part of the New Testament, it comes up again and again. Read the Acts 4:28. When the first Christians preached, they didn't mention Bethlehem; they talked about the empty tomb. They never got over the fact that on Easter Sunday when they went to the tomb, Jesus was gone.

Excerpted from "Easter Questions" by Keep Believing Ministries (used by permission).

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Easter Devotions for February 13-14

Firstborn from the Dead - Easter Devotional - February 13
by ray@keepbelieving.com.

“Jesus Christ, who is... the firstborn from the dead” (Revelation 1:5).

When Jesus rose from the dead, he was the “firstborn from the dead.” What exactly does that mean? It means he is the first person who ever rose from the dead never to die again. During his ministry Jesus raised several people from the dead, including Lazarus who had been dead four days (John 11). Each occasion was a remarkable miracle, but they had this in common. All of the people Jesus raised would eventually die again.

But not Jesus himself.

When he came forth from the tomb on Easter Sunday morning, he rose once and for all. When he left the grave, he left for good. Jesus is the firstborn from the dead in the sense that he is the first in a long line of people who will be raised from the dead never to die again.

I find great comfort in this. Over the years I have presided at many funerals. I know what it’s like to stand at the graveside and try to say something hopeful in the calloused face of death. It’s not easy to pray when someone you love has been taken from you. No wonder the Bible calls death “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

In those moments I find strength in one thing and one thing only. Jesus has conquered the grave and done what no mortal man has ever done. He has come back from the dead never to die again. What happens to those who believe in him? Thank God, we are not left to wonder or to speculate. God himself has spoken on that subject. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (NASB) says, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”

“If we believe.” It is as simple and as difficult as that. You will never convince yourself of the resurrection by camping out in a cemetery. If you go to a cemetery and wait for a resurrection, you’ll have to wait a long time. After all, the last one happened over 2,000 years ago. But we have the word of God that overrides anything we can see with our eyes. Our faith in the resurrection of the dead does not rest in what our eyes can see. Our faith rests in that act of God whereby he raised Jesus from the dead. If God can do that, he can do anything.

My Lord, when I am tempted to doubt your promises, remind me that you rose from the dead just as you said. Thank you that my future is secure because you are the first but not the last to rise from the dead. Amen.

Beyond the Bunny - Easter Devotional - February 14

By Daniel Darling,.

1 Corinthians 15

What does Easter mean for you? If you go to church, then I'm guessing everyone you know there is making a huge deal out of Easter. Special services. Communion. Cool banners with great graphics. Easter egg hunts. All kinds of neat stuff.

But why is it that the church tries so hard to get people to come on Easter? And why is it that Easter is probably the one time of year when everyone - even those who really don't believe in God at all - go to church?

It is because what happened at Easter is the fountain of our faith. This is what a man named Paul said. Paul was a skeptic of Christianity until he met the Lord in a very dramatic way while traveling on a busy Roman highway. He became one of the most passionate evangelists in the history of the church.

Paul said that if what happened on Easter—Jesus Christ rising from the dead—than we are "of all men most miserable." This is how we would say it today.

If Easter is just a nice religious holiday with candy and bunnies and family and Jesus Christ really didn't rise again from the dead on the third day—then Christians are a really sorry lot. We might as well pack our Bibles and hymnals up and go home.

But the truth is—Jesus Christ did rise again from the dead. It's a historical fact. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul lays out the evidence. 500 witnesses saw Jesus Christ in the flesh after he had died and been buried in the tomb. You can't get 500 people to agree on anything, but they all testified that indeed Jesus Christ was alive after He wasn't supposed to have been.

Let's bottom line this. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in human history. It's the most important event in your life and in mine.

The events at Easter are the only source of hope in this world. Thru Jesus Christ shed blood on the cross, his payment for your sin and for mine, and his resurrection from the dead give you and me new life. Eternal life forever, in only you believe (John 3:16: John 6:47; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Because of Easter, you and I don't have to be chained with the shackles of sin. We're free to live the life God intended. And one day we'll live forever in a place called Heaven, created just for our pleasure.

Because of Easter, we can walk with the God of the Universe as if He is our friend.

So, this Easter, don't let it be all about the bunny. Stop, worship the One who gave you life. Jesus Christ.

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All That Matters vs. All I Live For -Easter Devotional - February 12

by Shawn McEvoy, Crosswalk.com Managing Editor

He has risen, just as He said. Matthew 28:6, NIV

What would I ever do if someone I knew came back from the dead? Especially if he had said he would, and if he had spent a couple nights in a grave already?

Seriously, what would I do? What would you do? Wouldn't I blab to everyone I know - and most people I don't - about this miraculous event? Heck, I tell everyone when I'm feeling under the weather or when I saw a good movie.

Then factor in that the same guy was now telling us that because of what he had done, none of the rest of us would ever have to suffer death. What's more, simply by believing what we had seen, no matter our background, history, race, or education, we could restore our long-lost connection with the Almighty, and live forever.

Man... unfortunately, I'm having a hard time conceiving what I would do. Or, even if I can conceive it, I can't quite believe it, because honestly, I have seen this, I do believe this, and yet my daily reaction to it doesn't exactly line up with The Acts of the Apostles.

Has the news of a resurrected savior really become passe?

Why don't I want to read Acts?

What am I afraid of?

That I'll be rejected?

(He who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 4:8)).

That I won't be powerful enough?

(God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7)).

That the good news isn't relevant enough?

Salvation and the message of the resurrection, the miracle of born again-ness, is a salve to all wounds.

This Easter I'll join choruses like "He's Alive" while pondering and praising the miracle, but when it comes time for the next day of my life to begin, a day and a life that means nothing if not lived for my Savior, it'll be all about me again and my troubles and making my way and who cut me off and what I have to get done and who I don't like and what can we complain about today.

Yuck.

I want this Easter to be real. Because I did see it happen (so to speak; the resulting spread of those who ran to the corners of the earth to tell the story with no regard for personal safety is traceable to this day), it is real, and I'm cheating life and people God loves if I'm not shouting those facts from every corner and rooftop I can find. Everything else is just window dressing; "Christian living" is often just how we pass all our extra time in this country where so many of our basic needs are so easily met, and where we can cordon ourselves off from each other. What matters in life?
1. That there is life, and...
2. how it came about that there might never be death, but...
3. there are still dead men walking.

Really, why else are we here if not to keep excitedly shouting the truth of the miracle as if we'd just experienced it with our own eyes yesterday?

Intersecting Faith & Life: For the longest time, I've felt a leading in my heart to launch out into a complete study of the book of Acts, something I've never fully done. For some reason, I continue to put it off. But in my quest this year to make Easter real, I'm beginning a study of what those who witnessed the resurrection couldn't keep themselves from going out and doing. Care to join me?

Further Reading
Acts 1:1

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And such a wonderful blessing we have received! Thanks for posting this lesson!

Thank God in all things!


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Easter Brings Hope - Easter Devotional - February 11

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."
—John 11:25

Easter is not about brightly colored eggs, wearing pastels, or enjoying a big meal, although it could include these. Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For some, Easter will be a great day, spent surrounded by family and friends. But for others, it will be a sad day, because Easter is a reminder of a loved one who has died and is now desperately missed.

Death seems so cruel, so harsh, and so final. That is what the disciples were feeling when they saw their Lord, whom they had left everything to follow, hanging on the cross. They were devastated. Death had crushed them. But if they would have gone back in their memories, they would have recalled an important event and statement Jesus had made.

They would have remembered Jesus standing at the tomb of his close friend Lazarus. They would have remembered that Jesus did something completely unexpected: He wept (see John 11:35). Jesus wept, because He knew that death was not part of God's original plan.

Humanity was not meant to grow old, to suffer with disease, or to die. But because of the sin of Adam and Eve, sin entered the human race, and death followed with it. And death spread to all of us. Jesus wept, because it broke His heart.

But standing there at Lazarus' tomb, Jesus also delivered these hope-filled words: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25). Death is not the end. And the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves it.

If you have put your faith in Christ, then Easter means that you will live forever in the presence of God. Easter brings hope to the person who has been devastated by death.

For more relevant and biblical teaching from Pastor Greg Laurie, go to www.harvest.org

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