Easter Sunday: He is Risen!

RisenJesusFrom the Word Among Us:

He saw and believed. (John 20:8)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Father, we exult in your glory! We rejoice, turning our thoughts to the One who lives, who is seated at your right hand above every power and authority and dominion.

He’s alive! Mary’s thoughts spun at the empty tomb: Jesus is missing! What happened? Who took his body? But we fix our eyes on the living Christ. Our thoughts don’t have to spin fruitlessly, hopelessly grasping at “reasonable” explanations. Because Jesus lives, we have hope. We are a new creation. We can look at life through new eyes, think with life-giving thoughts, and speak words of wisdom and understanding. Because he lives, we have peace. The unknown doesn’t have to shake us. God is for us, and nothing can separate us from his love.

He’s alive! Peter’s thoughts, perhaps, churned in regret: “I failed him. I said I would die for him, but I ran away. Now he’s gone.” But there is now no condemnation. Jesus has reconciled us to himself. We are seated with him at God’s right hand. Because he is alive, we are free from the law of sin and death. We are forgiven. Period. Jesus’ blood has cleansed us, and because he lives eternally, this cleansing is powerful. Though our lives are hidden in Christ now, one day we will appear with him in glory.

He’s alive! John saw the same empty tomb—and believed. He might not have understood fully, but still he believed. He recalled Jesus’ promises, and seeing the evidence of the empty tomb, he trusted them more than his own thoughts.

He’s alive! What about you? Jesus’ promise of life that never ends, a life full of grace and glory, freedom and endless joy. Though for a time (like Lent) we endure want and difficulties, we still fix our eyes on what is above, knowing what the empty tomb really points to. Christ is risen, and in him we now share in the promise of eternal life!

“Jesus, you’re alive! In you I live and move and have my being! Alleluia!”

Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4

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Have a Blessed Easter!

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Good Friday Meditation

goodfriday1

From The Word Among Us:

Into your hands I commend my spirit. (Psalm 31:6)

It’s Good Friday, the very day for which Jesus was born into the world. His whole life, everything he ever said or did, had been leading up to this day. Every miracle, every sermon, every word of forgiveness or challenge—none of them makes sense apart from the cross. And today, we are invited to join millions of people all over the world in gazing upon the Lamb who was slain for our sin.

So let’s follow Pilate’s words and “behold the man” (John 19:5). Come and behold the Christ in his humanity. Recall his humble beginnings as a newborn in a manger. Wonder at his hidden years as he grew in stature and grace.

Come and behold the One on whom the Holy Spirit rested as a dove. See him in his humility, trust, and surrender to his Father as he walked with God each and every day. Behold the One who prayed, “Into your hands I commend my spirit” (Psalm 31:6). See how this prayer, which he breathed with his dying breath, was but the full expression of a lifetime of yielding to his Father.

Come and behold the One who said, “I thirst” (John 19:28). Gaze upon the One who experienced hunger, thirst, and pain, both physically and spiritually. He came not to be served but to serve. He washed his friends’ feet. He dined with sinners and touched lepers. He poured out his life day after day for his people. And now here he is, crucified, betrayed, and abandoned. He is nailed to a cross, and he is still pouring out his life.

“Behold, your king!” (John 19:14). Before his pierced and bloodstained feet, we bow our knees, anticipating the day when every person will kneel before him. Look upon this ravaged rabbi, and see here your eternal King, the One through whom all things were created. See your high priest seated in heaven, even now constantly interceding for you, just as he did on the cross.

Behold Jesus. The sky blackens. The earth shakes. The rocks rend. His body lies still for now. His majesty is emptied but for a season. Here is your King.

“Jesus, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Isaiah 52:13–53:12; Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

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Lenten Meditation: Ask, Seek, Trust

LentWow, is today’s Lenten Meditation from The Word Among Us perfect for me or what? The life of a freelance writer/author/social media marketer has always been my chosen path from the time I was old enough to talk (ok, the technologically advanced social media part came much later) — the God-given purpose I knew was uniquely mine, though I spent many, many years doing the “practical”, “corporate” and “acceptable” thing, partly to make others happy and partly because I liked the security. During this past week, I’ve dealt with some well-meaning, but misguided naysayers who believe that ghostwriting a book is something a person does “part-time”, while working full-time somewhere else.

Funny, I tried that before and it didn’t work. The project stalled for the simple reason that it requires full-time attention. And the fact that the client approached me after two years, adamant that I was the only person who could properly bring his vision to life, proves my point. Thus, I find myself being paid to write a book full-time, which still allows me to pick up a social media or freelance project here and there.

God works in mysterious ways if we just learn to trust Him:

Ask … seek … knock. (Matthew 7:7)

Christopher Columbus. Ferdinand Magellan. Vasco Da Gama. These men are considered some of history’s greatest explorers. But what enabled them to cross vast oceans at great risk just to reach their goal? Mostly it was their determination to succeed no matter what. It also took a lot of trust. They had to trust in their ships, in their navigational instruments and charts, and ultimately, in God.

This is the kind of attitude that Jesus is asking us to have in prayer. For there’s a certain level of tenacity implied in the advice he gives us today: ask, seek, and knock. Jesus is telling us that not only should we request things of God, we should actively seek him out for these things. In fact, he invites us to knock right on his front door! He tells us to be persistent as well. We can’t give up just because we don’t see tangible results right away. We need to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking.

This means that trust has to be at the heart of our prayer—trust based on knowing how much the Lord cares for us. It’s a trust in his promise: “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). It’s a trust based on the fact that our Father loves us so much that he sent his only Son to die a sinner’s death for us. It’s the trust that tells us that our God will never abandon us. He is our Father, not just our Maker, and he doesn’t hand out snakes to his children!

In prayer today, take a cue from the great explorers. You may have been seeking something for a long time—perhaps a job or healing from an illness. Don’t give up! Your persistence will pay off as you draw closer to God—and as he draws closer to you. So give your worries to him. Even if he doesn’t answer your prayer the way you had hoped, he will answer in the way that is best for you. The only thing he can’t do is ask for you—that part is up to you!

“Lord, teach me to pray with persistence and with faith in your love and care. Help me to trust that you are always with me—no matter what the challenge may be.”

Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Psalm 138:1-3, 7-8

Emphasis mine, as trust is something I have to develop and nurture daily.

Funny that this meditation also alludes to Christopher Columbus and other great explorers. A family friend once told me I have the “Christopher Columbus” gene, due to my desire and willingness to seek out new professional adventures, people and places to live. The paradox, of course, is that at the same time I am very family-oriented, which adds to the bittersweetness of it all. So I am still learning to trust in God as this prayer urges, and to keep abiding by His guidance. Perhaps the naysayers exist to reinforce the bond of trust between God and the individual. No one ever promised an obstacle-free path and sometimes those obstacles arise in the form of loving people who are so focused on their own God-given purpose that they cannot understand why someone else’s differs so dramatically from their own. Particularly if that someone else is a close family member or friend.

Is there something in your life you feel called to do, yet are under pressure from those around you to make a different choice? Take today’s meditation to heart, talk to God daily and follow His purpose for your own unique life.

P.S. Quite ironically, today’s #Writestream Chat with author John D. Gresham will revolve around the topic: “How to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer.” Join us at 11 a.m. Eastern!

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