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On Saturday - Easter Devotional - March 31

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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Good Friday to the Extreme - Easter Devotional - March 30

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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The Life-Changing Power of the Cross and the Resurrection - Easter Devotional - March 29

By Debbie McDaniel

“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

The cross is empty and so is the tomb.

You can try to bury Power, but it won't stay there. You can try to bury Truth, but it is not dead. You can try to bury Love, but it cannot be contained.

Jesus is alive, He won the victory of sin and death. And He’s still the same, even in all the days after the Easter weekend. He never changes.

He made a way for us to live free.

No other truth in history has the ability to change our lives and affect our future like this. Yet so many still choose to reject Christ’s sacrifice and love. He offers us a choice today, and it’s the best decision you could ever make.

What Christ’s Death on the Cross and the Power of His Resurrection Offers:

-It provides a bridge, a way, to God. It gives us an opportunity to have a personal relationship with the very God who made us and loves us more than we could imagine. Without the cross, there is no way to cross over to the other side of relationship with him. Any attempt will fail. He is the Only Way.

-It provides opportunity for forgiveness of sin. Through the price that Jesus paid on Calvary, we have the chance to be forgiven of our own sin. He took our sin and shame upon his very shoulders. He took the blows on our behalf so we wouldn’t have to suffer. Such incredible love. Such amazing sacrifice.

-It provides freedom to all those who believe. Freedom from the shackles of sin. Freedom from shame. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from hopelessness. Freedom from despair. Freedom from addiction. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from darkness and eternal separation from God.

-It provides new life. We are not only forgiven and set free, but we have a whole new life and destiny through Christ. We are changed, from the inside. He renews our minds. He changes our hearts and desires. He gives us fresh purpose for every day set before us.

-It provides power for us to live today. When Jesus died on the cross, and was buried, it didn’t stop there. The final picture of all that the cross provides lies in the powerful Resurrection of our Lord. He won. He didn’t stay dead. His power broke through, and that same power is alive within us today. As believers, God gives us the power of the Holy Spirit, living and moving through us each day.

-It provides the way to have victory over the enemy. We don’t have to fear him or his attacks. As we live aware of his traps, the power of Christ over our lives gives us a covering and protection from his evil schemes. We’re not left to fend for ourselves. We don’t fight in our own strength. We can stand strong in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ.

-It provides for us an eternal heavenly home. We never need to fear about what will happen when we die. In Christ we have been given the gift of eternal life. This earth is only our temporary home. God is preparing a place for us, with him, to live forever. And you can be assured it will be far greater than we could ever imagine.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor.15:57

Intersecting Faith & Life: Dear God, thank you for your great gift of love and sacrifice, so that we can live free. Thank you for the power of the cross and the Resurrection. We ask that the truth of it all sinks deeply into our hearts and changes us forever. Fill us fresh with your Spirit today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Further Reading:
2 Corinthians 5:17
John 8:36
Ephesians 1:7
Acts 1:8

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The Tomb Was Empty - Easter Devotional - March 28

by Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

He is not here; He has risen! (Luke 24:6, NIV).

Friend to Friend

The boys and girls in Mrs. Stephens’ fourth grade Sunday school class entered the room and quickly found their seats. The girls were dressed in frills and lace and chatting excitedly about the candy-filled baskets they had received that morning. The boys pulled at the unfamiliar ties around their necks and quickly discarded the sports coats they had obviously been forced to wear. The room was filled with excitement – for good reason. It was Easter Sunday.

Mrs. Stephens wanted to help her students understand that there is so much more to the Easter holiday than new clothes, chocolate bunnies, and egg hunts. Easter is more than family gatherings and tables filled with luscious food. Easter is about life. Easter celebrates the certainty of Jesus’ death on the cross, the fact that He was buried, and that He came out of a burial tomb to conquer death so that we can live now and eternally.

Mrs. Stephens came up with a plan. After sharing the Bible story of Jesus’ resurrection, she gave each one of her students an empty plastic egg and said, “We are going to take a walk outside, and I want each one of you to find one sign of life and put it in your plastic egg.”

As the children filed out of the room, Mrs. Stephens noticed Danny, a little boy with Down syndrome who had been coming to her class for some time. His bright smile and sunny disposition had immediately won her heart. In fact, when it came to Danny, she often thought he had taught her so much more about the unconditional love of God and the joy of simply being a child of God than she could ever teach him. When she heard the other children make fun of him, it broke her heart. She always corrected the children and tried to help them see just how special Danny was, but Danny seemed oblivious to their hurtful words, and thought of each child as his “buddy.”

The children soon returned from their walk, depositing their eggs on the teacher’s desk as they made their way to their seats. Inside one student's egg was a lady bug. In another was an ant. Others had collected flowers, twigs, blades of grass and leaves to fill their eggs. But one egg had nothing in it. Everyone knew whose egg it was. Mrs. Stephens silenced the giggles with a look of warning. When she asked Danny why he had not put anything inside his egg to show signs of life, his face broke into a huge grin as he responded, "Because the tomb was empty."

Danny got it. He truly understood the profound truth of Easter. The empty tomb is the ultimate sign of life and a miracle like none other.

Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. The women knew Jesus was dead. Some of them had seen Him die. And they were sure His body was in the tomb; it had been there since Friday. But when they went to anoint the body on that Sunday morning, the tomb was empty! The body could not have been stolen. Nobody was playing tricks on them. They were not merely fooling themselves. The miracle was real. They could see the empty tomb with their own eyes. Jesus Christ really had risen from the dead!

I would love to have been there that morning when the women went to the tomb – expecting to deal with death and instead found life, wouldn’t you? You may be dealing with death in your own life – the loss of a loved one – the death of a dream – the pain of a broken body. Just as Jesus Christ rose from the dead, He can breathe new life into your heart and mind. Right now, quietly turn to Jesus. He is waiting for you – healing and restoration and new life are in His hands.

Let’s Pray

Father, Thank You for the miracle of life – abundant life here, and eternal life with You in Heaven. Help me celebrate that life every day as I seek You and follow Your plan for my life. Today, I say with the Apostle Paul, “Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Consider this truth: Satan has no answer for the empty tomb. What does the resurrection of Jesus Christ really mean to you?

Set aside time today to remember what Christ has done for you through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. Read Luke 24 and celebrate the life only He can give.


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The Ultimate Lifesaver - Easter Devotional - March 27

by Jim Liebelt

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. —John 15:13

An article in Reader’s Digest described the actions of Dave Shoemaker, captain of the 180-foot fishing vessel, “Galaxy,” somewhere off Alaska’s St. Paul Island. The article read, “When a disastrous engine fire wreaked havoc for the Galaxy and its crew, Captain Shoemaker bravely walked through the smoke and flames with no protection but a bandanna around his mouth to radio for help. Shoemaker continued to put the lives of his crew first and worked to help them to safety despite incurring three broken ribs, extensive burns to his skin and the increasing chance of going down with the ship. Like a true captain, he made certain he was the last of the crew to be rescued by the Coast Guard, who arrived thanks to his initial Mayday call. The Galaxy was completely lost, but thanks in great part to Shoemaker's courage under fire, 21 of the 25 crew members survived.” Captain Shoemaker, a modern day hero, put his own life on the line in order to save the life of his crewmembers.

Let’s reflect on our ultimate lifesaver, the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Remember that he willingly suffered, bled and died—taking our own sin and shame on Himself as He hung on a cross— that we might be saved from an eternity of separation from God. In his resurrection from the grave, Jesus broke the power of sin and death—and guaranteed rescue—to anyone who believes in Him. He is our most shining example of heroism in action.

Yet, the story doesn’t end here. We, in fact, are destined to become part of the story. For Jesus calls all of us who have experienced His rescue to become part of his rescue team—to act heroically, willingly putting our lives on the line—in order to help rescue others. “Snatch others from the fire and save them,” is how the New Testament book of Jude puts it. It’s a simple act of gratitude for we who have been given a lifeline, to share a lifeline with someone else.

Today, offer a prayer of thanks to Jesus, our ultimate lifesaver and consider someone around you with whom you can share your own Easter story of rescue. You never know. In doing so, you just might “snatch someone from the fire.”

GOING DEEPER:

1. Who had the courage to share the news of Jesus' resurrection with you? Pray and thank God for using this person in your life. If possible, thank them personally for being willing to be used by God in your life.

2. In your circle of relationships, who might benefit from hearing your story of God’s rescue in your life? Will you commit to sharing your story with this person in the coming week?

FURTHER READING:

John 10:11-18; Luke 9:23-26; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21


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Our Ultimate Hooray - Easter Devotional - March 26

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.


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The Resurrection - Easter Devotional - March 25

by Daily in Your Presence

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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Remembering His Sacrifice - Easter Devotional - March 24

by Senior Living Ministries

And they crucified Him.
--Mark 15:24

A medical doctor once gave a detailed description of what happens when someone is crucified:

"The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders again the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place.

"The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain--the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid the stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet.

"As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream. Spasmodically he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen.

"Hours of this...pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

It is now almost over--the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level--the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues--the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. He can feel the chill of death creeping through his tissues...finally he can allow his body to die."

The Bible records this process of death by crucifixion in just a few simple words. How often we take for granted the pain and suffering Jesus endured when He died on the cross for you and me. Let us remember this Easter the sacrifice He made.

PRAYER CHALLENGE: Thank Jesus for the price He paid for your sins through His painful death on the cross.

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Resurrected - Easter Devotional - March 23

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 month. 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, Easter 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.

Second, 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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What Children Need to Know - Easter Devotional - March 18

From Family Life: Couples Website

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?

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Come As You Are This Easter - Easter Devotional - March 17

by Rick Warren

“He will send down help from heaven to save me because of his love” (Psalm 57:3a TLB).

There’s a myth that says you’ve got to clean up your act before you can come to God: “I’ve got to get it all together. There are a few things I’ve got to get right in my life first, and then I’ll come to God.”

It’s like brushing your teeth before going to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned or washing the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher or picking up the house before the maid gets there! Why do we do this?

The truth is, God doesn’t expect us to clean up our act before we approach him. The death and Resurrection of Jesus is God’s statement on that. Jesus spread out his arms and said, “I love you this much. Now, just come as you are.”

In Psalm 57:3, the Bible says, “He will send down help from heaven to save me because of his love” (TLB). That’s what Jesus did on Easter. And that’s why we can bring our messes and failures to God.

There are people you know who think God will never love them because they’ve made such a mess of their lives. But you know God wants them to come as they are. Help them hear the Good News from Jesus. Invite them to come to church with you this Easter. It’s such a simple thing to do, but it can make a difference that will last for eternity.

Talk It Over

• What messes from your past do you have a hard time believing that God can forgive?

• Who do you need to invite to Easter service so that he or she can hear the Good News of God’s love and grace?

• Why do you think people feel like they have to clean up their lives or their appearance before they even walk through the doors of a church?

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A Faith Worth Practicing - Easter Devotional - March 16

From In Touch Ministries

1 Corinthians 15:15-19

A person's attitude about the resurrection is important any time of the year, not simply at Easter. If we are going to accept or reject a scriptural truth, we should understand how that principle impacts not only our faith but also our witness.

The greatest implication of claiming Jesus remained in the grave is that we are left with no hope of salvation. This, in turn, makes telling others about the Lord pointless. Jesus is the One who brings life-giving force to the Gospel message. Without Him, sharing the Word would have as much effect on someone's life as reciting, "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Further, we would be lying about God when we witnessed according to Scripture, saying He raised Jesus when He actually had not. If the Father didn't resurrect the Son, then He must also be dishonest about the eternal nature of believers. How could we ever hope to be "absent from the body and… at home with the Lord" upon death if the blameless Son Himself did not receive such treatment? (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Without Christ's resurrection, we have no saving Lord, no powerful Word, no hope of eternity, and a dead faith. A religion with those characteristics hardly seems worth practicing. Yet, church members embrace this and other fallacies without thought. A wise believer studies Scripture and, therefore, recognizes how God's salvation plan fits together from Genesis to Revelation. The only legitimate basis for eternal hope is receiving Jesus Christ's sacrifice for our transgressions and believing He conquered sin and death to rise again.

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Easter Words of Forgiveness - Easter Devotional - March 14

By Pastor 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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Waiting for Resurrection - Easter Devotional - March 12

From Streams in the Desert

And there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre (Matthew 27:61).

How strangely stupid is grief. It neither learns nor knows nor wishes to learn or know. When the sorrowing sisters sat over against the door of God's sepulchre, did they see the two thousand years that have passed triumphing away? Did they see any thing but this: "Our Christ is gone!"

Your Christ and my Christ came from their loss; Myriad mourning hearts have had resurrection in the midst of their grief; and yet the sorrowing watchers looked at the seed-form of this result, and saw nothing. What they regarded as the end of life was the very preparation for coronation; for Christ was silent that He might live again in tenfold power.

They saw it not. They mourned, they wept, and went away, and came again, driven by their hearts to the sepulchre. Still it was a sepulchre, unprophetic, voiceless, lusterless.

So with us. Every man sits over against the sepulchre in his garden, in the first instance, and says, "This woe is irremediable. I see no benefit in it. I will take no comfort in it." And yet, right in our deepest and worst mishaps, often, our Christ is lying, waiting for resurrection.

Where our death seems to be, there our Saviour is. Where the end of hope is, there is the brightest beginning of fruition. Where the darkness is thickest, there the bright beaming light that never is set is about to emerge. When the whole experience is consummated, then we find that a garden is not disfigured by a sepulchre. Our joys are made better if there be sorrow in the midst of them. And our sorrows are made bright by the joys that God has planted around about them. The flowers may not be pleasing to us, they may not be such as we are fond of plucking, but they are heart-flowers, love, hope, faith, joy, peace--these are flowers which are planted around about every grave that is sunk in the Christian heart.

'Twas by a path of sorrows drear
Christ entered into rest;
And shall I look for roses here,
Or think that earth is blessed?
Heaven's whitest lilies blow
From earth's sharp crown of woe.
Who here his cross can meekly bear,
Shall wear the kingly purple there.

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Triumph in Tragedy - Easter Devotional - March 11

by Max Lucado

What do you say we have a chat about grave-clothes? 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 grave-clothes. No one discusses grave-clothes. 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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Your Dead Will Live - Easter Devotional - March 10

by Debbie Holloway

“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?

Further Reading

Book of Titus

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The Death of Death - Easter Devotional - March 9

by Greg Laurie

Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:26)

When Jesus died on the cross, He conquered sin. But when He rose again from the dead, He defeated death.

Death is not a subject we usually want to discuss. But when you get down to it, that is what Easter is all about. Easter is about the death of death, because Jesus came to conquer death.

We don’t like to discuss this subject of dying. It is a hard subject for us to talk about. Many don’t even want to use the word death. They will use other words, like passed away or expired. We will refer to someone who has died as “the dearly departed.”

Some, in an attempt to avoid its seriousness, will make light of it with expressions like “kicked the bucket” or “cashed in their chips.” We don’t want to deal with death. It is a hard subject to grapple with.

Easter is a day that marks the death of death. Death died when Christ rose. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).

You may be thinking, “Greg, are you crazy? What are you talking about—death died? People still die. Don’t you watch the news? Haven’t you heard about all of the horrible things that are happening in our world right now and the deaths of so many people? How can you say that death died?”

I understand that we die. I understand that our bodies go into a grave. But here is what I am saying to you: death is not the end. Sure our bodies go into the ground, but the soul lives on forever. The Bible says that one day our bodies will be resurrected as well.

This is the hope of Easter. Death is not the end of the road; it is only a bend in the road. When Jesus died and rose, He rendered death powerless.

Summary: This is the hope of Easter: Death is not the end.

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The Life-Changing Power of the Cross and the Resurrection - Easter Devotional - March 8

By Debbie McDaniel

“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

The cross is empty and so is the tomb.

You can try to bury Power, but it won't stay there. You can try to bury Truth, but it is not dead. You can try to bury Love, but it cannot be contained.

Jesus is alive, He won the victory of sin and death. And He’s still the same, even in all the days after the Easter weekend. He never changes.

He made a way for us to live free.

No other truth in history has the ability to change our lives and affect our future like this. Yet so many still choose to reject Christ’s sacrifice and love. He offers us a choice today, and it’s the best decision you could ever make.

What Christ’s Death on the Cross and the Power of His Resurrection Offers:

-It provides a bridge, a way, to God. It gives us an opportunity to have a personal relationship with the very God who made us and loves us more than we could imagine. Without the cross, there is no way to cross over to the other side of relationship with him. Any attempt will fail. He is the Only Way.

-It provides opportunity for forgiveness of sin. Through the price that Jesus paid on Calvary, we have the chance to be forgiven of our own sin. He took our sin and shame upon his very shoulders. He took the blows on our behalf so we wouldn’t have to suffer. Such incredible love. Such amazing sacrifice.

-It provides freedom to all those who believe. Freedom from the shackles of sin. Freedom from shame. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from hopelessness. Freedom from despair. Freedom from addiction. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from darkness and eternal separation from God.

-It provides new life. We are not only forgiven and set free, but we have a whole new life and destiny through Christ. We are changed, from the inside. He renews our minds. He changes our hearts and desires. He gives us fresh purpose for every day set before us.

-It provides power for us to live today. When Jesus died on the cross, and was buried, it didn’t stop there. The final picture of all that the cross provides lies in the powerful Resurrection of our Lord. He won. He didn’t stay dead. His power broke through, and that same power is alive within us today. As believers, God gives us the power of the Holy Spirit, living and moving through us each day.

-It provides the way to have victory over the enemy. We don’t have to fear him or his attacks. As we live aware of his traps, the power of Christ over our lives gives us a covering and protection from his evil schemes. We’re not left to fend for ourselves. We don’t fight in our own strength. We can stand strong in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ.

-It provides for us an eternal heavenly home. We never need to fear about what will happen when we die. In Christ we have been given the gift of eternal life. This earth is only our temporary home. God is preparing a place for us, with him, to live forever. And you can be assured it will be far greater than we could ever imagine.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor.15:57

Intersecting Faith & Life: Dear God, thank you for your great gift of love and sacrifice, so that we can live free. Thank you for the power of the cross and the Resurrection. We ask that the truth of it all sinks deeply into our hearts and changes us forever. Fill us fresh with your Spirit today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Further Reading:

2 Corinthians 5:17

John 8:36

Ephesians 1:7

Acts 1:8

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Resurrection! - Easter Devotional - March 7

by Charles Stanley/In Touch Ministries

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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Hope Beyond this Life - Easter Devotional - March 6

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.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 3/7/2018 (23:27)
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The Year I Didn’t Want to Buy an Easter Dress - Easter Devotional - March 5

by TRACIE MILES

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 (ESV)

Last year as Easter quickly approached, my daughter Kaitlyn asked me to take her dress shopping, which we’ve done every year since my daughters were little.

We spent hours looking until she finally found the perfect dress. As we were paying, she asked, “Hey Mom, aren’t you going to buy an Easter dress this year?”

I responded, saying, “I have lots of dresses. I don’t really need to spend money on a new one,” but my next sentence made my heart skip a beat: “Besides, I’m not that excited about Easter this year anyway.”

She shrugged with a faint smile and muttered, “Oh, okay,” with a little hug as we picked up our bags.

Driving home, tears trickled down my face. What kind of mother tells her child she isn’t excited about Easter? How could I say I wasn’t enthusiastic about the celebration of the resurrection of the Son of God? What kind of Christian says that?

I felt so ashamed for having those thoughts, much less speaking them aloud to my precious child. Mercy.

But I knew this Easter was going to be incredibly different and hard. It would be the first Easter Sunday in 26 years where my family wouldn’t attend church together. Instead of looking forward to the celebration for all the right reasons, I was secretly dreading it, knowing it would be difficult to get through the day.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, my husband and I had abruptly separated six months earlier. Holidays look different through the lens of a broken heart and a broken family, and I thought and felt differently about them too. Rather than focusing on the meaning of the resurrection, my thoughts centered around my earthly problems. Sometimes when life is heavy, our hearts and minds can get heavy, too.

That’s exactly why in today’s key verse (Colossians 3:2), Paul encourages us to set our minds on the things above — not the problems of this world. Because whatever we set our minds on determines our thoughts, drives our emotions, fuels our words and actions, and ultimately steers the direction of our faith. When our thoughts are sinking, our hearts will too.

However, if we intentionally fix our attention on “things that are above,” — what makes us joyful, hopeful and positive — like the resurrection of Jesus Christ, eternal life, hope found in our Savior and blessings of all kinds that make us smile, then our attitudes can stay uplifted, despite our circumstances.

God gave us free will to choose mind over matter or let the matters of life control our minds. The choice is ours, and that important choice will determine the direction of our faith and our ability to enjoy God’s joy and peace, even when our hearts are heavy. Unsinkable optimism, hope and faith hinge on where we choose to focus our thoughts, not on life’s circumstances.

This brief conversation with Kaitlyn was a wake-up call. I didn’t realize the toll my thoughts, heartache and emotions were having on my outlook, much less my faith walk, until the second I spoke those unfortunate words. Yes, life was hard in the moment. Things certainly hadn’t turned out the way I’d hoped. But hard things in life don’t have to harden my heart. I prayed all the way home from our shopping trip that day, asking God to restore my joy and peace, refocus my thoughts, and change my mind from the inside out.

We all experience hardships in life, but regardless of what we face, Jesus died on the cross for our sins, rose on the third day and ascended to sit at the right hand of our Father. He assures us a beautiful future in heaven with Him, even when life gets ugly. Those divine truths are reason enough to celebrate Easter with an overflowing heart of gratitude and praise. And certainly enough reason to buy a new dress.

Dear Lord, draw my thoughts upward toward You every minute of every day, but especially this Easter. Help me resist the temptation to focus on the painful things of this earthly life and learn to control my thoughts so they don’t sink my faith or joy in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Romans 12:2a, “Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (NLT)

Romans 8:6, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (NIV)

Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.” (NASB)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

Is it possible your thoughts and feelings about negative circumstances have stolen your joy, optimism or enthusiasm for celebrating Easter? Spend some time with God today, and invite Him to begin a positive transformation in your thoughts.

Spend time in prayer, thanking Jesus for giving His life on the cross for you. Make a commitment to focus on Him and His goodness instead of the things of this world.

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Rejected by His Father - Easter Devotional - March 3

Dave Wyrtzen/ Truth Encounter Ministries

Matthew 27:45-56

“Son, I don’t want anything to do with you!” These are the most devastating words a son can hear. It’s worse when the father says nothing, but simply turns his back and walks away. Jesus faced this rejection from His Father as He breathed out His life on the cross.

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The scourging, beatings, and ridicule were unbearable, but this rejection by His Father was worse. Darkness over Jerusalem from 12:00 till 3:00 p.m. dramatically underscored the chaos and devastation of this rejection. But Matthew did give us an answer to Jesus' question. Remember the name the angel gave to Joseph at the beginning in the birth narrative? "You will call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 11:21).

God rejected His Son so that we could be forgiven. Because God turned away from His Son at Calvary, He will never turn away from those of us who trust His Son's payment for our sins. The Apostle Paul put it like this, “He who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

LORD, I know how much it hurts me when I’m rejected, but I’ll never begin to know your agony when You screamed out as your Father turned away. Challenged about your identity as God’s Son and ridiculed as powerless to do anything about your shame—if proof is needed that we humans deserve eternal punishment, it was proved by those who mocked and watched at the foot of the cross. Why You took our death sentence, I will never understand, but help me never stop singing,

“He left His Father’s throne above, So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam’s helpless race.
Amazing love! How can it be That Thou my God, shouldst die for me!”

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Why Didn't Jesus Defend Himself? - Easter Devotional - March 1

By Rick Warren

“But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’” (Mark 14:61 NIV)

What’s so important about Easter? It’s important because it proved that Jesus was who he claimed to be. He was God in the flesh, and he came to Earth to save us.

Three events occurred in dramatic succession on that Easter weekend: the trial of Jesus, then the death of Jesus, and finally the Resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus actually went through six trials. In that one night, he was brought before Annas (the father-in-law of Caiaphas), Caiaphas (the high priest), the Sanhedrin (the religious Supreme Court), Pilate (the governor of Jerusalem), Herod (the governor of Galilee), and then Pilate again.

At the end of those six trials, what did they find to accuse him of? Nothing. He had done nothing wrong. They brought in people to make up phony charges, but those didn’t stick. Finally they convicted him on one count: claiming to be the Son of God. That’s the sole reason Jesus went to the cross.

Everyone who has ever been introduced to Jesus has already made some kind of decision about who he is. You either believe he’s a liar or you believe he’s a lunatic or you believe he’s the Lord. It can’t just be, “I believe he was a good teacher.” He couldn’t be just a good teacher, because a good teacher would not say, “I’m God, and I’m the only way to Heaven.” A good person would not say that unless it was the truth.

Jesus claimed to be the Savior of the world. In John 12:47, he is recorded as saying: “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (NIV). He allowed himself to be put on trial so there would be no doubt about who he was. He could have stopped the trial at any moment; he knew he would be proven guilty and put on the cross. But he allowed it to happen. It was all part of the plan.

Talk It Over

• Why do you think God allowed Jesus to be put to death, even though he was innocent? What does it say about God’s character?
• What was your reaction when you were first introduced to Jesus?
• What do you believe about Jesus now?

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Unshakeable - Easter Devotional - February 28

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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Easter Celebrates That Jesus is Alive Today - Easter Devotional - February 27

By Rick Warren

“The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:3-4 NLT, second edition).

Although we study the passion of Jesus, his death on the cross, Easter is a celebration of his Resurrection: God brought Jesus back from the dead, proving he’d broken the power of sin and death.

After Jesus died, they took his body down and put him in the tomb, and a giant millstone was set in front of the cave. The religious leaders, worried that Jesus’ body might be stolen, asked for Roman guards to be posted in front of the tomb. They didn’t want him coming out!

But of course, he did.

You know the story. But it’s important to remember that Easter is not some memorial to a nice, good religious teacher who lived 2,000 years ago. It’s a celebration of the fact that he is alive today!

I’m living proof — and so are the approximately 1 billion Christians who celebrate Easter. Jesus “was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4 NLT, second edition).

Easter is the Good News about God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who came to Earth as a human baby, born into King David’s royal family line. Four historical records say that after his Resurrection he showed himself to 500 people at one gathering.

Can you imagine witnessing his death and then seeing him walking around Jerusalem three days later? What an amazing thing!

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the skeptics and critics mocked him and said, “If you’re the Son of God, why don’t you just pull yourself down from that cross? Why don’t you just come down and show that you’re really God?”

Jesus had something more spectacular planned. He said, “I’m going to let you bury me for three days, and then I’ll come back to life to prove that I am who I say I am.”

Talk It Over

• Why is it important to remember Jesus’ death and his Resurrection at Easter?
• What did Jesus’ death accomplish? What did his Resurrection accomplish?
• How do you think it felt for the people who knew that Jesus had been killed but saw him in the flesh a few days later?

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Trading Spaces - Easter Devotional - February 26

by Ed Young

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Christ traded spaces with us on the cross. He died in our place, for our sin. But if you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, you only believe one-half of the Gospel. The other half of the Gospel is the fact that Christ fulfilled God's standard perfectly. He was 100% righteous. So, had Christ been 90% righteous or 80% righteous, his sacrifice would not meet God's demands. He was 100% righteous.

So, once you bow the knee to Christ and ask him to come into your life to take residence, to come into the dwelling place of your heart, then the righteousness of Christ is imputed into your life. Thus, when God sees you, he sees Jesus and his perfect character. This is only able to take place because of the resurrection power.

That's the power that can renovate our minds and hearts today and that will one day completely renovate and restore our sin-torn bodies into glorified bodies that will live forever in heaven. The resurrection is the final hope of every Christ-follower. It is the "final reveal" of God's design and renovation: the perfection of our mind, body, and spirit. On the other side of the grave, when God says, "Okay, open your eyes and see your new space," you will open your eyes in a resurrected, recreated body, a completely new space that you will inhabit for eternity.

It will be the perfect space, designed by the perfect Designer (God the Father), rebuilt by the perfect Carpenter (Jesus Christ) and purchased at the ultimate cost (Christ's precious blood). But you've got to make the choice: Are you going to keep trying on your own to rebuild the rubble left by sin or are you going to let the Carpenter renovate your life into the perfect space.

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An Easter Prayer of Celebration: He Is Risen! - Easter Devotional - February 25

By Debbie McDaniel

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said…” Matthew 28:6

Such incredible, miraculous, life-changing words. “He is not here, for he has risen…”

His power could not be contained in a grave. His love could not be conquered by death. His truth could never be buried and forgotten.

Jesus Christ rose again, He is Victorious!

And He makes all things new.

The very purpose of this Easter weekend reminds us, that no matter what we’ve been through in the past, what we might be facing today, or what uncertainties tomorrow may hold, Christ alone is our Hope. He conquered death, He rose from the grave, He is all Powerful.

He breathes new life, so that we can live…free.

We have so much to celebrate today, for He has risen!

He has risen indeed!

Dear God,

Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for the Victory and Power in your Name. Thank you that you hold the keys over death, and that by your might, Christ was raised from the grave, paving the way for us to live free. Thank you that you had plan, thank you that you made a way.

We praise you for your great strength, we praise you for your lavish love. We praise you for you are Conqueror, Victor, Redeemer, and Friend. We praise you that you alone are our Deliverer, you are Worthy, you are our everlasting Father, our great and awesome God.

We confess our need for you. We ask that you would renew our hearts, minds, and lives, for the days ahead. We pray for your spirit of refreshing to fill us again.

Keep your words of truth planted firmly within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right, give us the power to be obedient to your word. And when the enemy reminds us of where we have been, whispering his lies and hurling attacks our way, may he be reminded again of his future. For we have a future and a hope in you. We’ve been set free, redeemed, the old has lost its grip, the new has come.

Shine your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes. Set you way before us. May all your plans succeed. We may reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing.

Thanks be to you God, for your indescribable gift!

To you be glory and honor, on this Resurrection Day, and forever.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

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Resurrection Power - Easter Devotional - Friday/Saturday February 23-24

by Dr. James MacDonald

30When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32They 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?” 33And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35Then 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.

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The Angelic Perspective on Easter - Easter Devotional - February 22

by Fred Alberti

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Colossians 1:15-16

During this time of remembrance of Christ's sacrifice I am prone to wonder about the angels.

I see them standing at attention internally grieving over the suffering of their creator. Jesus was not merely the creator of just mankind. The Bible says that it was by Him that all things were created. This was their creator in the flesh suffering a brutal death.

I imagine more than a few wishing to dispense with the humans who were causing this atrocity. Matthew records Jesus stating, "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). What incredible self-control! What awesome love to bear the punishment of the cross when it could have all ended so easily.

In talking about the prophets, Peter reveals that the angels long to look into this whole business about redemption and the good news of the Gospel (1 Peter 1:12).

They didn't understand why all this was happening. All they knew was their King was being murdered.

Then I hear amongst the mass chaos of the darkness and the rumbling of the earthquake as the Roman Centurion and the witnesses to Jesus death beat their chests proclaiming, "Surely this man was the Son of God!" (Read Luke 23:47-48 and Matthew 27:54).

It was over. Jesus was dead. Now it was time to bury Him in a borrowed tomb.

Three days later I imagine the angels clamoring to be on the special detail that was posted. Who would get to roll back the stone? Who would get to wait in the empty tomb to deliver the wonderful news?

"He is not here, He has risen" (Matthew 28:6).

Oh, what a glorious pronouncement. I wonder just how the angels rejoiced. Were they slapping each other on the back? Were they shouting in victory? Were they beaming with joy over the news that their King was no longer in the grave?

Further Reading

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/ea
ster-devotionals/

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