Hallelujah, He Has Risen!

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‘He is not here; he has risen!
Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 
‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners,
be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”  
Then they remembered his words.’
Luke 24: 6 – 8 (NIV)
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  
1 Corinthians 15: 55 – 57 (NIV)
 

One perfect man was the supreme sacrifice for all.  The unblemished Lamb of God shed His blood on the cross to pay for all our mistakes and wrong-doings.

His glorious resurrection fulfilled the prophesy of the Scriptures, verified the exact words that he told His disciples, and provided the ultimate proof that He is truly The Son of God, the Messiah.  Because He lives, death has been conquered, the grave has no power over His children, and and all who believe in Jesus will live with Him for all of eternity.

‘The Lord says,
“It was my will that he should suffer;
    his death was a sacrifice to bring forgiveness.
And so he will see his descendants;
    he will live a long life,
    and through him my purpose will succeed.”‘
Isaiah 53:10 (MSG)

Thanks be to God!

 

The Good News of Good Friday

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IMG_7286 - Version 2“~ the message concerning faith that we proclaim:  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord  will be saved.

Romans 8b-10, 13 (NIV)

Faith is not something we do. It is a response to what God has done already on our behalf…

The message of salvation is beautifully simple:

1. Believe in your heart and

2. Say with your mouth that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15

God’s Help When We are Powerless to Help Ourselves

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What a wonderful God we have—
He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the source of every mercy,
and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.
And why does he do this?
So that when others are troubled,
needing our sympathy and encouragement,
we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:3 – 4 (TLB)
 

“I think you ought to know, dear brothers, about the hard time we went through…We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through itWe felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead. And he did help us and saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect him to do it again and again.”  2 Corinthians 1:8 – 10 (TLB)

Have you ever been in a perilous situation where you felt “crushed and overwhelmed,” where the circumstances were so dire that you feared you might not live through it, and you were powerless to help yourself?  It’s these types of extreme difficulties that drive us to our knees…because we have no where else to go.   At some point we come to the end of ourselves, and we have nothing left to cling to except God Himself.  During severe trials, our faith is stretched beyond the limits, and it emerges on the other side of the hardship much stronger and deeper than ever before.  When we experience such extraordinary suffering, we learn to rely not on our own strength or abilities for deliverance, but only on God.  We learn to set our hope on Him alone and trust that the One who raised the dead can surely save us too!

It is our precious Savior who says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”  He graciously speaks peace into troubled souls, calms our raging fears, comforts with His tender mercies, binds up the broken-hearted, heals the most painful wounds, strengthens the weak, and provides hope and joy during the heaviest of sorrows.  We must learn to put everything in the capable hands of our Heavenly Father who loves us and who alone can save us.

When There Are No Words

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Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights.
No one said a word to Job,
for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.
Job 2:13 (NLT)
 
 

Have you ever seen a friend or loved one suffering so greatly that the situation was too difficult for words?  You wish you could do something to help, but there’s noting you can do or say that will make things different or take the terrible pain away?  Often when the trouble is so extreme, we don’t know what to do, so we simply do nothing.  Yet in the book of Job we find a great example of what to do for a friend who is suffering like this:

 Three of Job’s friends heard of all the trouble that had fallen on him. Each traveled from his own country—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuhah, Zophar from Naamath—and went together to Job to keep him company and comfort him. When they first caught sight of him, they couldn’t believe what they saw—they hardly recognized him! They cried out in lament, ripped their robes, and dumped dirt on their heads as a sign of their grief. Then they sat with him on the ground. Seven days and nights they sat there without saying a word. They could see how rotten he felt, how deeply he was suffering.  Job 2:11-13 (MSG) 
 

When Job’s friends heard of the tragedy that had occurred in his life, they all came together to be with their friend.  The distance didn’t matter to them.  What mattered was the fact that their dear friend was hurting, and they gathered to keep him company and comfort him.  When they finally got to their friend’s side and saw his terrible condition, they were overcome with grief for him, and they wept with him.  And even though there was absolutely nothing they could do or say to take away Job’s pain or remove the torment he felt, they simply sat by his side for seven days and nights without saying a word.  This was one of those times in life when no words were necessary…just the silent, comforting presence of precious friends.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our troubles,

so that we can comfort those in any trouble

with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1: 3  - 4

God Bends Down To Hear Your Prayers

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I love the Lord because He hears my prayers and answers them.
Because He bends down and listens,
I will pray as long as I breathe!  
Psalm 116:1 – 2 TLB
 

Imagine this scene:  “He bends down and listens”…the Creator of the Universe bends down from heaven to hear the prayer you whisper from your lips…the King of Glory stoops down from His throne to incline His ear to your request…your loving Heavenly Father leans down close enough to listen to the words of His precious child….

This awe-inspiring scene is actually our reality.  The blessed truth is that your prayer will always reach God’s ear.  He knows your unique voice, and He hears each plea, request, and petition.  He listens carefully to each prayer of adoration, thanks and supplication.  Not only does He hear your prayers, but He also answers them. He doesn’t always answer them exactly how we think they should be answered, but He answers them according to His best for you.

If you are lonely, God is near.  If you are discouraged, God is listening.  If you are worried, God is attentive to your cares.  If you are afraid, God hears your pleas for help.  If you are heartbroken, God is leaning close enough to hear your cries.

“I love the Lord because He hears my prayers and answers them…”  Because of this amazing truth, “I will pray as long as I breathe!”

A New Perspective

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The Lord helps the fallen

and lifts up those bent beneath their loads.

Psalm 145:14 (NLT)

As I awaited departure for my flight home, I worried that my trip would be delayed or cancelled due to the ominous appearance of the brewing winter storm.  The dark, billowing clouds matched my dreary mood.  Thankfully, the flight took off as scheduled, and we ascended through the turbulent mass of clouds.  For a while, I saw nothing out of my window seat view except gray wisps of thick foggy vapor mixed with icy rain droplets streaking across my window.  As the plane punched through the cloud ceiling and reached its cruising altitude, I was blinded by the glorious light of the setting sun.  My spirit instantly brightened, and it amazed me to think about the stark contrast of this majestic site above the cloud canopy, compared to the gloomy conditions below.

This experience reminded me of how often we allow burdensome circumstances in life to weigh us down and make us feel that we are “bent beneath our loads.”   Our outlook is gloomy because we only focus on the worrisome details of our lives, and we lose sight of the fact that the Son is up above us watching over every moment of our day.  He cares about our burdens and wants to lift us up and give us a new perspective.

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came to His ears.  He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under His feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness His canopy around Him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.  Out of the brightness of His presence bolts of lightning blazed forth. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.”  2 Samuel 22:7,10-13,17

Your distress might be in the form of financial struggles, a health crisis, career concerns, parenting issues, addiction battles or relationship strife.  But regardless of what load you are carrying, it can be overwhelming.  God listens to each whispered prayer, and your cry for help reaches His ears –He loves you and He wants to help.  He will lift up those bent beneath their load.  He doesn’t always completely remove the burden, but by lifting your focus from doom and gloom to His majestic glory, your soul is strengthened, and you will have renewed stamina to keep moving forward.

“…the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.”

Psalm 146:8 (NIV)

Love Never Fails

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And so faith, hope, love remain
[faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things;
hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation;
love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us],
these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (AMP)
 
 

LOVE

is patient.
is kind.
does not envy.
does not boast.
is not proud.
does not dishonor others.
is not self-seeking.
is not easily angered.
keeps no record of wrongs.
does not delight in evil.
rejoices with the truth.
always protects.
always trusts.
always hopes.
always perseveres.
never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8a)
 

Love never gives up.  It is kind and puts others first.  Love is not jealous or envious and doesn’t brag or boast.  It doesn’t force itself on others, nor fly off the handle. Love doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, and always takes pleasure in the truth.  Love always protects and trusts.  It always looks for the best in others and never looks back. Love keeps going to the end.  Love never ends.
 
“Whoever does not love, does not know God, because                             

God…is love.”

 (1 John 4:8)