HOPE OF EASTER DEVOTIONAL SERIES - FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH DALLAS
Why do we have hope because of Easter?
When we read the Easter story in Scripture, we see a host of themes: betrayal, death, redemption, life. Most, if not all of us, have felt one of these at one time or another. We can relate to experiencing the birth of a baby or losing a loved one. We understand the sting of betrayal or rejection and the joy of relationships restored.
Jesus experienced these emotions and moments, as well. We do not have a Savior who is unacquainted with life. Philippians 2:7-8 says Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
God had a master plan. He created a way for healing, restoration, and hope by sending His only Son, Jesus. This world is not all there is. One day, Jesus will return, and those of us who have trusted in His death and resurrection will experience an eternity with Him.
That’s the reason we have hope. The story is only beginning. Join us for the next 21 days of devotionals as we seek to encourage you, challenge you, and remind you of the hope we have in this season. Hope reigns. Jesus lives. That’s what Easter is about.
THE DENIAL “Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, ‘You are not also one of His disciples, are you?’ He denied it, and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with Him?’ Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.”
John 18:25-27 When we think about the events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus, no doubt one of the low points was Peter’s denials of Christ. Three times Peter was asked by total strangers whether or not he knew Jesus, and three times he denied Christ, the third time with oaths and curses.
It’s so easy for us to judge Peter. After all, Peter and Jesus had been BFF’s for three years. They did life together, ate together, worked together, walked together, studied Scripture together. They did everything together. They were brothers. In John 13, Peter even declared that he was ready to die for Jesus.
But the real question remained: was Peter ready to live for Jesus? Was he willing to suffer rejection, loneliness, ridicule, and shame in the name of Jesus? You see, when Jesus was performing miracles and preaching love, it was fun to follow Jesus. But when things got real and things got tough, living for Jesus would become a real test of faith.
Three times Peter missed his chance to stand up for his friend and teacher. Three times he failed.
As Jesus suffered and died on the cross, I wonder how Peter felt, knowing that the last thing that his friend and Lord ever heard him say was to swear that he never knew Him.
But three days later, Jesus rose with resurrection power!
I imagine Peter had some mixed emotions—of course, he would have been ecstatic that Jesus had risen. But…I wonder if Jesus reminded him of the times he let his friend and Savior down in His time of greatest need.
Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. One morning after breakfast, Jesus and Peter had a moment together, which we read about in John 21.
Jesus asked Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
Three times Jesus asked, and three times Jesus affirmed him, one for each of Peter’s three denials.
It was a moment of open-heart surgery, emotionally and spiritually for Peter. “You’re willing to die for Me, but are you willing to live for Me every single day?”
As Jesus forgives and affirms Peter, we see what a real Savior does. He not only forgave, but He reinstated Peter to fellowship and leadership. He restored him.
Failure would not become the last word of Peter’s life, but rather “FORGIVEN.”
Too many Christians live like practical atheists—they say they are Christians, but when Jesus or the Bible doesn’t fit what they like or what our culture says, suddenly they forget Jesus even exists. Before you declare that you are willing to die for Jesus, ask yourself, “Am I really ready to live for Jesus?”
Let’s not be practical. Let’s be passionate, sold-out followers for our faithful Lord Jesus.
Questions for Thought Would you say that you are bold with your faith at home, school, or work? Would people know that you are a Christian, not just by what you do but also by what you say? How does Peter’s story encourage you in your walk with God if you have stumbled along the way? Daily Challenge Make a list of ways you can be bold in your faith for Jesus. Don’t be afraid to list the hard things, the things that you will need God’s help alone to accomplish. What bold steps do you need to take to make it happen today?
DOUBT AND TRUST “And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?’”
Luke 24:38 Have you ever struggled with doubt? While we expect this of lost people, even true believers can descend into doubt when God acts in a way that doesn’t meet our expectations, or He doesn’t answer in the way or time period we want. We can find ourselves disappointed and dejected, doubting God’s love or concern for us.
In Luke 24, after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared on the road to Emmaus to two men who were discussing all the recent events in Jerusalem. Sad and despondent, they confessed, “But we had hoped that He [Jesus] was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). They knew all the correct facts and even heard about the empty grave, but doubt clouded their ability to arrive at the right conclusion. Jesus told them, “O foolish ones and slow to believe” (Luke 24:25).
In Matthew 11, John the Baptist was in prison and sent some of His disciples to get clarification about whether Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus replied, “…the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me” (Matthew 11:5-6). This unusual response made it clear that Jesus understood that God’s good and perfect plan may work itself out in a way that challenges human reason, and we are simply left to trust. Despite the wonderful things that were happening, John was stuck in jail.
I spent some time in college sharing my faith with a confessed atheist. His initial response was, “That’s great. I’m glad that works for you.” As I continued to talk with him over the next several days, he finally shot back, “If there is a God, why did he let my little girl die?” His response amazed me. Someone who at first seemed like a hardened unbeliever was actually letting hurt and anger keep him from the God he held responsible for his loss.
The level of trust God requires involves death to self. Paul tells us, “…I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). God’s relentless insistence on this high standard can make Him seem like an uncaring friend, and the enemy can begin to wedge a foothold of doubt into your life. Know God’s promises. Cling to them in the way Job did when he declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him!” (Job 13:15)
Questions for Thought Is God using life experiences to challenge your level of trust? Are you tempted to choose the path of doubt when you know God’s promises?
Daily Challenge Be in the Word so that you know God’s promises. Cling to them in faith, believing that God has an unseen plan that is good and perfect for His glory.
“They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer! Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, “A wild beast devoured him.” Then let us see what will become of his dreams!’ So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; and they took him and threw him into the pit.”
Genesis 37:19-20, 23-24
It hurts when someone betrays you! As the saying goes, “The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies.” The Old Testament character of Joseph certainly knew betrayal, in fact, his family was the center of it!
Joseph’s betrayal comes at the convergence of several streams of jealousy and pride. You might call it the dysfunctional family’s perfect storm. You have Father Jacob playing favorites, having learned nothing from his family of origin were his own parents did the same. Jacob gave Joseph an ornate robe, which is a constant visual reminder of his status as the favorite child.
Then there are Joseph’s dreams, one in which his brothers bow down to him, and the second in which his brothers, and even his parents bow down to him. Joseph had shared the dreams proudly with his family, and it did not go over well.
The straw that breaks the camel’s back is the “bad report” Joseph brings to his father: he snitches on his older brothers. All of these factors set up the perfect storm of pride, hatred, jealousy, and betrayal.
Clearly, we can all see and know that people are not perfect. And if you stay in a relationship with someone, anyone, the inevitable truth is, that person will let you down. It may not be to the full extent of the betrayal, but any person will let you down at some point. We are all sinners. We have all gone astray, according to the Bible (Romans 3:23, Isaiah 53:6). And we will disappoint each other. It’s hard to hear, but it’s true.
But we can be absolutely certain of one thing: God will see you through.
Joseph’s story is amazing, so full of ups and downs that no one could make it up. Indeed, truth is stranger than fiction! Joseph finds favor as a slave in the home of an Egyptian official, Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife tries to entice Joseph to go to bed with her. When he refuses, she falsely accuses him of rape and has him thrown in prison.
Joseph languishes in that Egyptian prison for years. Finally, his God-given dream interpreting abilities land him with an audience with Pharaoh. Joseph predicts out of Pharaoh’s dream a seven-year period of plenty followed by a seven-year drought. Joseph recommends that Pharaoh store up grain now all over the land so that Egypt will be prepared when the drought hits. Pharaoh says, “Good idea. And since you’re obviously a good planner, make it happen!” Joseph goes from slave to prisoner to prime minister, second only to Pharaoh in the land.
Joseph oversees Egypt’s preparation for the great drought. And when it hits, not only is Egypt affected, but the whole known world. People travel from all over to come to Egypt and buy food. God uses Joseph to save not only the people of Egypt, but also his own family.
Even though Joseph had been prideful, he didn’t deserve what his brothers did to him. Joseph knew firsthand the pain of betrayal. But God used that circumstance to help him endure, mature, and discover that God used circumstances for good. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
When you suffer the pain of betrayal, God will see you through. God will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Through the hardships you endure, He will develop your character. And He may even use the circumstances of your life to bring about good for many.
Questions for Thought Have you ever been betrayed? How did you respond? Have you forgiven those who betrayed you, and if not, why?
Daily Challenge Think back on a past betrayal or rejection and pray this: “Father, you know firsthand the pain of betrayal, as Your own Son, Jesus, was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver and nailed to a cross, even though He did nothing to deserve such a fate. When I feel the pain of betrayal, help me to keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. Help me to persevere with His help, trusting that You will bring me through, that You will grow my character, and that You will bring good out of my situation. I pray this in the name of Jesus, amen.”
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
In John 20:6-9, we see Peter and John hurry to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. Their hearts must have been racing and not because they had just run to the burial place. They had followed Jesus for three years and seen the miracles and heard His powerful teaching. Suddenly, He was taken from them by the soldiers and crucified. That must have created much anxiety for the disciples.
And three times Peter had denied that he was one of Jesus’ followers. He was likely struggling with the guilt of this denial and feeling uncertain about his future. So much time and energy invested in Someone who was now dead.
The year I graduated from high school, Don Francisco released an album containing the song “He Is Alive.” The lyrics describe how Peter must have felt following Jesus’ death, and how we are prone to feel at times in our own lives. The last two lines of the final verse are especially powerful.
Something strange had happened there but what I did not know, John believed a miracle but I just turned to go, Circumstance and speculation couldn’t lift me very high, ‘Cause I’d seen them crucify Him and then I’d watched Him die, Back inside the house again all the guilt and anguish came, Everything I’d promised Him just added to my shame, But at last, it came to choices I denied I knew His name, Even if He was alive it wouldn’t be the same.
But suddenly the air was filled with a strange and sweet perfume, The light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room, Jesus stood before me with His arms held open wide, And I fell down on my knees and clung to Him and cried, He raised me to my feet and as I looked into His eyes, Love was shining out from Him like sunlight from the sky, Guilt and my confusion disappeared in sweet release, And every fear I’d ever had just melted into peace.
He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive and I’m forgiven, Heaven’s gates are open wide. He’s alive!
Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb. Peter and John’s anxiety and uncertainty did not have the final say. Jesus rose! Because Jesus is alive and in us by the Holy Spirit, His life is available to us in any situation we face. He will bring peace where we have been in bondage to anxiety or anything else that the Enemy uses to rob us of a life of peace in Christ.
Questions for Thought When circumstances in life tempt you to fear and behave in a way that is contrary to who you are in Christ, will you choose to trust Him or lean on your own understanding? Does it make a difference in your daily life to remember that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you?
Daily Challenge Every day for the next week, read Romans 8. Read it in different translations. Ask God to show you how the truth of this chapter may help you face the situations confronting you. You can use www.biblegateway.com for this challenge.
“And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:27-28
As a young kid, I only knew of a few professions one could become as an adult: lawyer, doctor, engineer, or accountant. They were the only professions my parents mentioned as possibilities. Yet somehow my younger sister found out—to my dad’s bewilderment—that other careers existed. She said, “Dad, I want to be a chef.” “Well, you can be a chef and a doctor,” he replied.
Parents want what is best for their children. We want them to grow up and do great things. I imagine this was the sentiment of the mother of two disciples, James and John. She came to Jesus and asked only the best for her sons, a seat at His right and left in the new kingdom. Mrs. Zebedee shot for the highest and most notable positions available. She aspired to be the proud mother of sons ruling under Jesus: “Assistants to the King of Kings,” “Deputies to the Lord of Lords.” Whatever office was next to Jesus, she wanted it for her boys.
When I became older, I asked Dad, “Why did you want those specific careers for your kids?” He responded, “I do not want you to live life answering to someone. I’d rather people answer to you.” For my parents, it was not just about money, but also about status and power.
It is easy to see why the mother of James and John made the request. She wanted her boys in the position of authority with people serving them. When the other disciples heard her appeal, they became angry. If the brothers were given positions of power, they would be in the role of servants.
Jesus immediately recognized the problem and as the Good Teacher, provide a superior understanding of true power and greatness. He told them, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”
The position of “servant” that many avoid is what Jesus says is best, but it requires humility. We can have power and influence, but without humility we have nothing. Our Lord led by example, holding the greatest status in heaven and earth, yet He humbly served the least. He could have called down angels from heaven to rescue Him. Instead, He endured to serve us. “He did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
In all that we do, may humility be the posture of our hearts. For it is only with a humble heart that are we able to come before God.
Questions for Thought What does it mean to be humble like Christ? In what ways can you use your influence to serve God and others?
Daily Challenge Evaluate your last 24 hours. Do you see characteristics of humility and service, or pride and selfishness?
“Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Matthew 4:17
Have you ever had your mind changed about something before? You believed something for so long but then gathered new information and it radically changed the way you see it? I remember the day that I changed my mind about where I was going to attend college.
I had everything set to attend the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor at the end of my senior year of high school, but because I still had one excusable absence in my calendar, I decided to take a day off at the end of my last semester to come to Dallas for the day and revisit Dallas Baptist University. They told me about a new accelerated program they were starting for ministry students, and I was sold. New information can alter our trajectory.
This was especially true when Jesus began His ministry. Emerging from the desert after His temptation by Satan, Jesus began preaching a powerful message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” We often look at this word “repent” and say it simply means to change one’s mind, but it’s so much stronger. A better translation would be something along the lines of: “Listen, I’m about to tell you something that is going to totally transform the way you think about something, and when I say it, you must respond.”
What was the radical, transformative information Jesus was giving the crowds? The kingdom of heaven was at hand. This would have immediately resonated with His audience. In their minds, it would have taken them back to the Garden of Eden and the relationship God had with His creation. God’s space and our space were ones and the same. Jesus was preaching the reality that through Him, God’s space and our space were one and the same again.
Jesus came to make humanity whole again and restore our relationship with the Father in His life, death, and resurrection. This is good news, and it was new information for the people He shared it with. They needed to repent—to hear His message, understand its implications, and then respond accordingly. They had to grasp their desire to rule their own kingdom, to rebel against God, and live life the way they wanted and then surrender it over to God and follow after Jesus.
The same is true for us. Jesus has invited us to encounter the Father in His name through the power of the Holy Spirit, but we can only accept this invitation by repentance. The relationship between God and humanity that existed in the Garden can be a reality for us in Christ. The intimate closeness of the God who loves us is possible through Jesus’ sacrifice and our ability to repent from ruling over our own kingdom by surrendering ourselves into the kingdom of heaven. So the question that remains for us now is this: “Will we repent?”
Questions for Thought What is the one thing that is hardest for you to turn from in your own life? What are the necessary steps you need to take to surrender it over to God? C.S. Lewis said “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” How much different would your relationships look like if you saw people as eternal beings that either exist within or outside of the kingdom of heaven?
Daily Challenge The gospel according to Matthew records the concept of “The Kingdom” 55 times. Spend time in this text today and highlight each of the occurrences. Pray and contemplate this topic’s importance to Jesus’ ministry and how we are to live today.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
I’ll never forget the day that we had our babies dedicated. The days leading up to the selected Sunday were filled with shopping for just the right outfit, inviting friends and family, selecting the food to celebrate with our loved ones, and finally hurrying around the house, getting ourselves ready for the big moment.
Of course, there are those unspoken challenges of finding the next best outfit when our honored child decided to soil the first one in various ways, and then the next best outfit for me since, I too, had found myself in the way of the projectile. Oh the stress that we went through to make that moment special and memorable in our hearts. It makes me wonder why we put ourselves through all of the stress and scramble for a few minutes of celebration and ceremony.
After some study, I have discovered why dedication is important to Christian families. Dedication is defined as “an act of setting apart or consecrating persons or things to God.” The act is usually accompanied by an announcement of what is being done or intended and by prayer asking for God’s approval and blessing. You see, it was the Lord Himself who instituted the ceremony of dedication. In the Old Testament, He dedicated, or set apart, the nation of Israel, the Levitical priests, the altar in the temple, and the walls of Jerusalem to name a few. And in the New Testament, He set apart His Church to Himself. Every believer is set apart, sanctified, dedicated “to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
And here we find the focus and intent of God’s plan through the dedication of His only Son Jesus. Jesus describes His own dedication in John 10 by describing Himself as the door of the sheep, and that He has come that we might have life in abundance. He continues by calling himself the Good Shepherd, who knows His sheep and will lay down His life for them.
It is right here in John 10:22-42 that we discover that we are set apart, sanctified, dedicated to Jesus from our Father in heaven. On the day that Jesus rose from the grave and fulfilled what the Lord had dedicated Him to do, He dedicated every believer to Himself forever, never losing one, never having one snatched from His hand.
So this is why we celebrate in ceremony through dedication. The Lord began the act by dedicating His Son to be the Savior of the world, and as believers we are dedicated to the Savior to offer the sacrifice of worship, praise, and adoration to Him. I’d say this is worth every minute of the sacrifice to make our dedication to the Lord known to all and to commemorate in every way that we can.
Questions for Thought
What does dedication look like in your daily walk with Jesus?
As you read John 10, what are the ways that Jesus describes Himself to those who have been dedicated to Him (His sheep)?
Make a list of how you can you better acknowledge and live surrendered to the life Jesus dedicated you to.
RESCUED. RESTORED. REDEEMED - Day 8 - By Ashley Gross
“O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption.”
In Psalm 130, the psalmist cries out to God from the depths of despair and turmoil. He pleads for the Lord to listen to him while he wrestles with the fact that if the account of his sin was measured against the righteousness of God, he would most definitely fall short.
But oh, how the psalmist turns to praise God for His forgiveness! His soul waits on the Lord, and he exclaims that with God, there is hope. Freedom. Forgiveness. Unfailing love. Abundant redemption.
Warren Wiersbe defines redemption as “setting someone free by paying a price.” Wikipedia (a less reliable source, but still noteworthy nonetheless) defines redemption as “to purchase, buy back; deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity.”
Redemption is a common theme throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament, we see:
Isaac was rescued at the last minute by the angel of the Lord, and the ram caught in the bushes became the sacrifice instead.
Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, only to later become second in command of the entire kingdom and save his family from famine.
The Israelites were miraculously rescued from their captivity in Egypt and saw the power of God split the sea in two to allow them a way of escape.
Ruth lost her husband and moved to a foreign land, but God provided Boaz as her kinsman redeemer and caretaker. She is even included in the line of Jesus!
Job, though considered a righteous man, was afflicted with unbearable loss, betrayal, physical pain, bad advice, sorrow, and the like. Yet he still reflected on the goodness of His Savior: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth” (Job 19:25).
And some examples in the New Testament:
The prodigal son returned home to his father after he squandered his inheritance. His father threw a feast and celebrated that the lost had been found.
The woman caught in adultery was freed from death when Jesus intervened.
Barabbas, a “notorious criminal” and murderer, was spared prison and execution, only to have our perfect and sinless Savior put to death instead.
Saul, on his way to persecute Christians, met the Lord on the road to Damascus, and that encounter changed the trajectory of his entire life’s purpose.
In His righteousness, God doesn’t overlook sin. There is a price to be paid, and the book of Romans tells us that the wages of sin is death. The price of sin had to be paid in full in order for us to be restored back to a holy God.
Before the world began, God had a plan to rescue us from our sin. Jesus is our Redeemer. He bought us back. We are no longer in captivity! We are rescued, restored, and redeemed.
While God allows certain circumstances that we may not understand, He is in control of all things, sovereign on His throne. We can trust that God has our best in mind, working all things together for our good and His glory. God does not waste a single moment.
On the cross, the debt of our sin was satisfied. Paid in full. The power of sin has been defeated. When Christ returns, He will extinguish the presence of sin once and for all. Our Redeemer lives, and in the end, He will reign victorious!
Questions for Thought
Are you in a current season of waiting on the Lord to redeem your pain or affliction? Name specific ways God has remained faithful to you in the past.
Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Redeemer, the One who saves, rescues, restores, and sets the captives free?
Take a few moments today to read Psalm 130 (It’s only 8 verses!). Reflect on God’s goodness, mercy, faithfulness, and His steadfastness. Praise God for His forgiveness, redemption, and rescue from sin.
IS THIS PART OF YOUR COMMUNITY SERVICE? - By Ryan Sadler -Day 9
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
When I was in college, I attended a Bible study at the college minister’s house basically because it was the cool thing to do and, more importantly, there was a girl I really liked who also attended. I did ultimately convince Julia to marry me, but the truth is, God used that Bible study in one other very specific way. He used it to speak to me in a way I will never forget.
One night, our Bible study leader was teaching verse-by-verse through the book of Romans, and at the end of this particular evening, a challenge was issued. He asked: “What evidence of service in your life can you point to that would reveal you belong to Christ?” That question hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been serving as an eighth grade boys Sunday School teacher for a while, but to me that wasn’t service because it was natural and fun. This question plagued me, because God was telling me to serve in a capacity that wasn’t comfortable and one that would stretch my faith.
Two days later, I started volunteering at our town’s homeless shelter. I woke up every Thursday morning at five to help serve breakfast to homeless men and women. I would arrive early to help prepare the meal, and I would stay after to help clean up while doing my best to minister to and pray that the men participating in the program would get back on their feet. At first, I started receiving questions like: “Is this part of your community service?” and “What are you doing here?” And that’s when it dawned on me! I wasn’t just there to serve breakfast. Questions like that opened up opportunity after opportunity to share the gospel to countless people. God had me at that mission for a season, but it was for a completely different reason than I anticipated.
Jesus said this about service in Mark 10:45: “ For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” I don’t share this story to boast or attempt to prove that I’m a great servant. I actually think the opposite is true. I share this story because of the unexpected and exciting experiences I received as a result of obeying the Lord when He told me that as His child I am required to follow His example of service.
Questions for Thought
Are you following Jesus’ example of service in your life? In other words, “What evidence of service in your life can you point to that would reveal you belong to Christ?”
What is keeping you from stepping into a place of service? Who may be able to help you get in the game?
This week, ask yourself one question when you walk out of the door of your home, “What is one thing I can do today to serve those God has placed in my life?”
“But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
It is very easy as people in a physical world to be preoccupied with all that is physical. We can be focused only on that which can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched. If we are not careful, we will miss that which is of utmost importance—our spiritual lives.
When God knelt as it were on the ground, and formed man, the crown of His creation, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul. Our souls will live eternally in one of two places. Either we will exist eternally in heaven, or we will live eternally in the absence of God in hell, a place reserved for the devil and his demons. True saving faith is the pivotal element that determines the direction of our lives here on this physical earth and in eternity.
Hebrews 10:38-11:1 accentuates the importance of our faith, and in the context of the book, this faith is in Jesus Christ. The rest of chapter 11 is a list of the Old Testament saints who lived in faith regarding the promises of God that they never saw in their lifetimes.
Those who belong to God have faith. That means they are persuaded of the truth, convicted of the truth, rely on the truth, and continue in the truth. Those who shrink back, do not please God. Hebrews 11:6 tells us: “Without faith, it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarded of those who seek Him.” Faith is what preserves the soul. And “faith” is the substance or “body” or “weight” of things hoped for and the evidence of what is not seen. For those who embrace the promises of God in Christ, it preserves the soul and gives them a place in heaven.
Christians have faith in things hoped for, things we don’t possess, things we haven’t seen, and things yet to come. But faith gives them present substance, present reality. Those who live only by their senses believe it is foolish to believe in what they cannot see.
One commentator says “… the difference is, they don’t have anything to believe in; we have the Word of God to believe in. Our faith is anchored to the Word of God to such a degree that we would be willing, like Moses, to suffer the loss of everything we have in this world to hold on to the promises in Christ.” As we celebrate Easter in the days ahead, it is important that we do not simply embrace the knowledge of the facts about the resurrection of Jesus. We must be persuaded of the truth, convicted of the truth, rely on the truth, and continue in the truth. That is true saving faith. Embrace Jesus Christ, who brings us victory over sin and death.
Questions for Thought
Have you just accepted the truths of the gospel, or have you truly received the Lord Jesus Christ?
Are you leading the way for others in your family to come to faith in Jesus Christ?
I encourage you to pray for and invite those you know who are not saved to join you in church on Palm Sunday and again on Easter Sunday.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
I have always loved spring. Maybe it’s the bursting forth of newness all around us and a sense of optimism that seems to fill the air when it arrives. The sounds, fresh smells, and hope displacing the dreariness of winter. It’s a time for new beginnings and fresh starts.
As a kid, my favorite sport was baseball. My love for the game has only grown as the years have passed. The sounds on a baseball diamond come to life each spring as players prepare for the upcoming season. Spring training is an opportunity for every fan, player, and team to start anew. An opportunity to dream and hope for what might be.
As much as I love baseball,there is something I love even more about the spring. It’s the week of Easter. It is the reminder of the most important and pivotal event in all of human history—the remembrance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
For the believer, Easter is the realization of the fulfillment of God’s promise of eternal life for those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. But it is also a reminder of the promise of a fresh start for those who need to know God’s love and redemption.
As believers, we know intimately the love of Christ and understand the significance of Easter. However, every one of us know people for whom Easter is nothing more than colored eggs and chocolate rabbits. Sadly, lost on them is the real meaning and significance of Easter. Maybe because no one has ever sat down and shared God’s love and promise of a fresh start.
We were all there at some point. In need of a new beginning. In need of a fresh start. In need of receiving and knowing God’s love and forgiveness.
The Bible speaks about new beginnings. One of my favorite verses is found in 2 Corinthians. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” This Easter, what would it look like for you to show someone how they can have a new beginning with Christ?
Questions for Thought
Who do you know that needs to experience a fresh start and a new beginning?
What can you do today that would encourage someone you care about to experience a new beginning in Christ?
Spend time thinking about when you experienced your new beginning with Christ. Then spend time in prayer, thanking God for the hope He gives and the promise of new beginnings that Easter represents.
“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18
The Indiana Jones series of movies starring Harrison Ford was an interesting blend of history, legend, and fiction. In the third installment, Indiana Jones and his father have been forced by Nazi sympathizers to help locate the cup of Christ, the Holy Grail. The backdrop for this scene is the sandstone carving of a temple entrance at Petra. In order to pass the “tests” ahead, Indiana is challenged by Dr. Donovan saying, “It’s time to ask yourself what you believe.” Indeed, Indiana Jones has to place his faith in his father’s historical research regarding these three tests in order to retrieve the cup of Christ and save his father’s life.
Even if you’ve never seen this thrilling trilogy, Dr. Donovan poses an interesting question that we should all consider: “What do you believe?” In our deteriorating culture where lines have been blurred and most black and white has become gray, we must all ask ourselves just what it is that we believe. For those of us who memorized Scripture from an early age, we were taught John 3:16, but very few of us memorized the rest of the passage. Since context is everything, let’s review John 3:16-21:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
For many, we stop at our own belief when we accept salvation in Christ. We do not always grasp or remember the judgment to fall upon those who do not believe. In other Scripture, Christ is clear to say that only HE is the way, the truth, and the life. He talks about the narrow path. He reminds His audience that no one can approach the Father except through HIM. Otherwise, the passage here tells us that without belief in Christ as Lord, we too stand condemned. We condemn ourselves through our unbelief. We relish in darkness and avoid the light. So what do you believe?
As per Scripture, I believe that Christ suffered merciless beatings at the hands of His captors. I believe that the fake trials held in the dead of night were illegal, yet utilized as a way to keep His captors’ activities secret. I believe that on that Friday morning, Jesus was forced to carry His cross to Calvary where He suffered and died for our sins. I believe that His punishment brings us an opportunity for salvation and reconciliation to the Father. I believe that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection fulfills an ancient promise and provides a solution for our separation from God. I believe that without Christ, I am (we are) eternally separated from God because of our sinfulness.
Because I believe, I am thankful that we can be restored in right relationship with God the Father because Christ took our punishment upon Himself. When He said from the cross, “it is finished,” He was saying that the redemptive work has been completed. No longer would blood be required as a sacrifice for sin. Because I believe, I have confidence that in spite of my sinful flesh, I can spend eternity with Christ in heaven.
This same gift is available to ANYONE who would believe. Whosoever will may come! Knowing this, now is the time for you to ask yourself just what it is that you believe. Then don’t stop at your own belief. Share with everyone the hope they can find when they believe in Christ.
Questions for Thought Who is one person in your life who needs to be challenged with this pivotal question: “What do you believe?” Are there areas in your life where you struggle to believe in the character or Word of God?
Daily Challenge What do you believe? Stop and consider this question for yourself. See if there are any lies you are believing about the Lord or His Word that hinder your belief or your obedience to Christ’s command to share the gospel. Pray that God would help you take Him at His Word and walk in full belief and assurance of who He is and what His Word says.
“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” Matthew 18:21-22
Maybe you’ve heard the saying: “failing to forgive is like swallowing poison and then waiting for the other person to die.” Failing to forgive leads to bitterness. 8A number of years ago, my wife, Deb, and I watched some very special people become bitter and angry after being hurt very badly. That bitterness eventually affected every part of their lives, their relationships, and their health.
Sometime after that, Deb and I went through one of the most painful rejections of our ministry. People that we considered family turned against us and ostracized us, affecting our ministry and financial security. We found ourselves without a job, no means of supporting my family, and no severance, through no fault of my own. When I came home and told Deb, I realized that we could fall into the same trap of hurt and anger that could lead to bitterness, thus depriving us of the blessing of God.
Deb was obviously hurt. I think when our spouses are hurt, the hurt we feel is compounded. As the leader of my home, I did not want to have the Lord remove His hand of blessing from us, so I set some boundaries for us to get through the hurt. I told Deb we had a week to yell, scream, cuss, and punch holes in the wall, but that after that week we would pray every day for those who hurt us to be blessed by the Lord. We would pray that God would not allow us to be soaked in bitterness derived from anger.
It was a hard three months—no job, no income, rejected by those we trusted. We agreed to hold each other accountable and to confront each other if we slipped back into a place of hurt or anger. While those are legitimate God-given feelings, allowing them to root into bitterness is not what God wants from us. And, wow, did God bless us! In that three months of no job and no income, we did not miss one bill or payment, and we didn’t miss a meal! God miraculously provided. We would receive gift cards and checks in the mail. A couple with no source of income themselves, brought us a $300 gift card. And His greatest blessing was giving me the job of my dreams at First Baptist Dallas.
Forgiveness is not about the person who hurt you. It’s about you and God and keeping a short account of wrong. Jesus demonstrated this when He said on the cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” His Word says that “while we were yet sinners he died for us.” And in 1 Corinthians 13, we are reminded to keep no record of wrongs. How could we not forgive and pray for those that persecuted us when He has forgiven us so much?
Recently, an old friend came to me, and in a loving and gentle manner shared how I had hurt him. That took great courage. He also shared how my actions had also hurt his wife. I asked him to forgive me and told him when I had an opportunity I’d also ask for his wife’s forgiveness. What an incredible gift to receive forgiveness from both of them and to have fellowship restored.
Questions for Thought Is there a root of bitterness in your heart due to unforgiveness? What steps do you need to take to seek reconciliation and restoration?
Daily Challenge Make a “list of hurts” that you may be harboring. Pray for the ones who hurt you every day for a week. If you have wronged your brother, go to them and ask them to forgive you today.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 1 Corinthians 15:57
On July 19, 1941, as Great Britain faced seemingly insurmountable odds in their standoff against Hitler’s Third Reich, Winston Churchill inspired millions to take courage and stand strong by triumphantly raising his hand and extending his index and middle fingers in the shape of a “V”— almost as though he was guaranteeing an Allied victory. Churchill’s “V for Victory” symbolized unwavering resistance against the enemy and a dogged resolution to overcome the Axis of evil. Though many dark days were yet to come, Churchill’s early claim to victory inspired his troops to continue fighting “with growing confidence and growing strength,” “in the air . . . on the seas and oceans . . . on the beaches and landing grounds . . . in the fields and streets,” and to never surrender!
Long before Nazi Germany reared its ugly head, an even greater enemy sought to destroy God’s people. In fact, the epic battle against those created in God’s image began in the Garden of Eden, when Satan tempted Adam and Eve to defy God and sin entered into the world through man’s rebellion (Genesis 3). However, even on that somber day, the Lord announced the protoevangelium —the first good news—that His Son, Jesus Christ, would defeat the enemy and reconcile a people holy unto God (Genesis 3:15).
Do you feel like chatting or leaving a message? Keep it nice
davidsheep88: Hello and how are we all ;D ? working hard but personal promblems
Jun 24, 2022 1:07:32 GMT
davidsheep88: fix them all got things done.
Jun 24, 2022 1:07:55 GMT
Anna: That's what you do davidssheep88. You plow through and get it done. ::lxQP6r:: If you need prayers, we have a section for that, and it seems to stay busy w/ guests in there. ::SRtMXu::
Jun 24, 2022 7:14:21 GMT
Anna: The Prayer request section has been moved. It is no longer included with the Praise section. I've been wanting to do that for a long time. I'm such a procrastinator. It's why we can't have nice things.
Jun 24, 2022 7:34:32 GMT
Anna: I hope all Americans are having a very nice Happy 4th of July weekend. Sorry I haven't been on much, I haven't been home much. ::Mp9fJC::
Jul 3, 2022 16:51:09 GMT
Anna: Getting closer to the weekend. ::n8Rcdq::
Jul 14, 2022 20:46:00 GMT
Anna: I hope everyone is having a nice weekend. ::gPBcdD::
Jul 16, 2022 6:31:04 GMT
davidsheep88: Hello there having A good day.
Jul 21, 2022 7:18:24 GMT
Anna: I hope ya'll are enjoying the music tonight. ::iFtk3E::
Jul 22, 2022 7:44:28 GMT
Anna: I hope everyone is resting in body spirit and mind; at least 2 out of 3.
Jul 23, 2022 22:12:18 GMT