He’s Alive

Acts 1: 3

To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of things regarding the kingdom of God.

I have been thinking about Easter, as, I am sure, many of you have as well. What new can be said about the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of our Lord? Nothing perhaps, but what I have been thinking is that he is alive. Now, we all know that, but I wonder if I act like it is true. We sometimes know things in our minds which aren’t quite realities in our hearts.

So, what is the message of Easter? There are so many important concepts which flow from the cross but the one I am wrapped up in is that Jesus is alive, and more to the point, his life is now in me. We are each renewed, not just from a theoretical or theological point of view but instead, renewed and reborn as new creations in his blood. Our hearts and spirits are washed and new. In the surrender to Jesus’ saving grace, is our forgiveness of ourselves and our remaking. We’ve seen how David failed, how Moses stumbled. Peter, one of the great apostles, denied Jesus three times and worse yet, he did so at Jesus’ hour of greatest torment.

I have been listening to the song, “He’s Alive.” It is an account of Peter’s reconciliation with Christ after his denial of Jesus. The songwriter, Don Francisco expressed this much better than I can. Peter is speaking:

When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
Even if He was alive
It wouldn’t be the same

Suddenly the air was filled
With strange and sweet perfume
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 just 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 skies

Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had
Just melted into peace.

Peter’s story is our story. Each of us has doubted, feared and denied Jesus. We have all fallen short of our own aims, much less the worthiness of Christ’s sacrifice. None the less, Jesus reaches out and takes us into his arms. As we look in his eyes, we see none of the judgment or recrimination we deserve. He doesn’t even have to say a word; his eyes and his gentle smile tell us that he loves us and that we are accepted. “Enter into my grace,” he might say to us, “Enter and find peace.”

Jesus is alive and what that means to me this Easter is that we can all throw ourselves at his feet with our burdens of guilt and shame. Easter means that like Jesus, we arise. As he lifts us up, our burdens fall from us and we become holy because he is holy. He is alive and we are okay because he buried our sin and guilt.

Praise the Father of our Lord Jesus and bless Jesus’ name forever. Glory to Father, Son and Spirit! Cause your Spirit to rest upon us, dear Father, refreshing us in your glory and grace. And let us dwell in your presence and abide in your love today and evermore!

Click below to watch a video of David Phelps singing “He’s Alive!”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gGa1w_bnvM

Thirty-Seven

Mark 15: 46

Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb which had been cut out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

In the attitude of seeking the Lord and reaffirming my devotion to Him, I have been thinking of Easter differently. As we near the Easter celebration I am pondering my life on this side of the grave but with a view from the other side. Here is what I mean by that.

Imagine yourself standing before the tomb in which Jesus would later be laid. Perhaps you are one of his disciples and you know what is about to occur. See yourself standing there, looking at Jesus’ burial chamber knowing his dead body will soon lie there. What emotions rise up in you? What does devotion and seeking him mean from that side of the grave when you have the knowledge of what will occur? In other words, what would the idea of devotion and dedication mean to you if I could, right this moment, transport you to the tomb which received Jesus while at the same time translate you to mere days before his crucifixion? If I could send you back with all your present knowledge, to stand before Jesus’ grave, what would that feel like?

I am asking myself if my devotion to him would be changed in an instant. Would I burst into tears knowing about the cross or would I shout praises thinking of his resurrection? Perhaps I would run through the town desperately seeking him. I sorta think my reaction would be the latter. I think I would be frantic to find him. Now here is the question I am asking myself as I face the cross, “Why am I not seeking him as desperately right now?” Easter is 37 days away, by my reckoning. The cross and the tomb loom before me. The truth of his resurrection burns in my bones. I am faced with his coming torture, death, burial and eventual victorious resurrection. It is fresh and new, not 2000 years old. I am facing that reality now. Why don’t I shout, sing, cry, pray or praise? Why am I not moved to great acts of seeking him?

This is one devotional where I will ask you not to imitate me. Be more devout in your search for his heart. Chase him down in the streets and demand his attention. Go with him, following every step he takes. Listen to every word he speaks and cherish each one as a precious pearl.

Thirty-seven days. On this side of history, we know what the next thirty-seven days would mean in the life of Christ. I guess the question is, what do those thirty-seven days mean to our lives?

Easter in Christmas

1 Peter 1: 20        TPT

This was part of God’s plan, for he was chosen and destined for this before the foundation of the earth was laid, but he has been made manifest in these last days for you.

I really enjoy Christmas and I feel extra close to Jesus during the Christmas season. Yesterday I was celebrating Jesus’ birth and said to him, “Jesus, thank you for being born.” Just think about that.

Jesus was with God when Yahweh created the earth (John 1: 1 – 3). He witnessed and participated in the creation of the world and everything in it. In today’s verse we see that God had a plan for redemption before the earth was even formed. That means that when God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were creating the earth, there was already a plan which involved Jesus coming into the earth as a human being in order to save all humanity. So, what was it like on that Christmas morn 2000 years ago?

Jesus already knew that he was to be born of a virgin as a human baby. He also knew that he would have to sacrifice himself if he was to redeem our lives from the pit of hell. So how did that conversation go?

God: Jesus, it’s time.
Jesus: Time for me to go earth as a flesh and blood person?
God: Yes. It is time for you to leave our heavenly home and to be born a baby, a human baby. You will leave your deity here and become fully human. You will be born a human, live as a human and die a human death. Your birth will be cause for a great celebration which will be remembered for all time. In the shadow of the great event of your birth will be the certainty of sacrifice and death. Are you willing to go?
Jesus: Yes!
God: Are you ready?
Jesus: Yes.
God: Then go, my son. Be born of Mary. Bring joy to the world and save every person the earth has ever or will ever know from the torture of eternal death.
Jesus: Yes, Father. All this I will do.
God: I am proud of you and I love you.

So, in the celebration of Jesus’ birth is the foreshadowing and the promise of Easter. He came to give us life, but our life was in his death and resurrection. That is why I thank Jesus for being born. Had he not said, “Yes” to Christmas, there would be no Easter. Praise God! Thank you, Jesus, for Christmas. Let every human voice be raised in song as we celebrate the savior’s birth.

Face to Face

Psalm 16: 10 – 11           TPT

For you will not abandon me to the realm of death, nor will you allow your Holy One to experience corruption. For you bring me a continual revelation of resurrection life, the path to the bliss that brings me face-to-face with you.

I am not ready to leave behind the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. Perhaps you are still in the Easter mood, or if you prefer, Resurrection Sunday. Forgive me if I still use the term Easter. I guess I am nostalgic about the whole Easter season, as an event that encompasses more than one day.

We’ve kept with our Monday psalm, but I went back to the sixteenth psalm just to think a bit more about Jesus and the resurrection. David wrote this psalm and it seems pretty clear that he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write these words. He wrote that God would not allow His Holy One to experience corruption. Other translations say that God did not allow His Holy One to decay. Though David wrote this long before Jesus was born, he had a revelation about the Messiah’s journey in the earth. Jesus had to come and had to die and be buried as any other human, but God did not leave him in the grave. He never experienced decay because life returned to him and, as you know, he arose from death to live evermore. There is great exultation in that event. It is fascinating that David celebrated it long before it became a reality.

Truly, as we read this psalm, we can hear that it speaks of Jesus and us at the same time. Because we are in him, his resurrection is ours too. David wrote that we can have a continual revelation of resurrection life. The life that Jesus died to give us is continually, day by day, being revealed to us. There is more resurrection life than we first realized, in other words. The revelation of the fullness of life Jesus give us takes a lifetime and beyond to realize. It keeps getting better and better as that revelation brings us face to face with the Father. We are intended to dwell in his presence continually. So, the day after resurrection day is a whole new life for us. What the Father did on that momentous day has given us life and today we live in the resurrection life of Jesus. It is eternal. There is no death in it because Jesus will never die. He died once for all and death has been defeated.

Today, you can live in the presence of God because of what He and Jesus did for us on that fateful day. Father wants us all to live face to face with Him. We can live in a bigger and bigger revelation of what that means daily. What is it to be face to face with God? What does God have in mind? As you continue to revel in the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, ask yourself what living in the continual revelation of resurrection life means in your daily walk.