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On Saturday - Easter Devotional - April 20

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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Stinky Feet - Easter Devotional - April 18

by Laura MacCorkle

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:34-35, NIV

Do you celebrate Maundy Thursday?

The word maundy means "a new commandment" and is derived from the Latin word Mandatum in translating Jesus' commandment in John 13:34-35.

Before He said that, Jesus had demonstrated His love that same evening during the Last Supper, as He humbled Himself and washed His disciples' feet (John 13:4-5). This act perfectly illustrated His new command.

So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

After reading this, I can only imagine what washing someone else's stinky feet must be like.

Think about where your feet have been, especially if you live in a back-to-nature, shoe-optional locale. This starts getting very up close and personal. And, depending on the individual and their hygiene habits or lack thereof, perhaps not too pleasant. Washing another's feet is not a glamorous act of service at all. But neither is anything related to the role of a servant, since it represents a position of humility and a mindset of putting others first.

In this day and age, I know there are certain churches that do have foot-washing services on Maundy Thursday to commemorate Christ's actions and his command. I have not participated in one like this, but I am sure it is a great object lesson to help all ages understand how to love one another.

Taking this a step further, The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to say about foot-washing:

"Foot-washing was needed in Palestine. The streets were dusty and people wore sandals without socks or stockings. It was a mark of honor for a host to provide a servant to wash a guest's feet; it was a breach of hospitality not to provide for it. ...[Jesus] had done a humble service for [the disciples]. Meeting others' needs self-sacrificially is what they ought to do too. This passage emphasizes inner humility, not a physical rite. Not to follow the example of Jesus is to exalt oneself above Him and to live in pride. No servant is greater than his master (cf John 12;26)."

So when we humble ourselves and serve the Lord as He served us, it is He who lifts us up. When we love Christ, He changes our hearts and motivates us to love others. And if showing this love means washing some stinky feet, then so be it.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and keep my laws (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Who is God impressing upon your heart today?

Is he calling you to show love to this person?

Determine your course of action that will show a humble heart: make a phone call, send a note, lend a hand, speak a kind word or wash some feet! And then follow through as you love one another!

Further Reading

Luke 10:27

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Resurrected - Easter Devotional - April 16

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.

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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Resurrected - Easter Devotional - April 16

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.

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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Palm Sunday - Easter Devotional - April 14

By Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries

Hindsight is always 20/20. Yet while we are in a particular situation, we tend to make things out to be what theyaren’t and infer wrong meanings. We kick ourselves, thinking, If only I had known then what I know now!

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem must have been one of those moments for His disciples. It had appeared to be such a wonderful day for them—and it was, but for different reasons than they realized. They thought the Messiah had come to reestablish Israel’s power in the world. But God had something else in mind.

The disciples weren’t the only ones who had misconceptions about the Messiah. Many Jews of the day expected Him to be an earthly king. When the crowds heard Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they cheered, “Hosanna! ” which means, “Save now!” They saw Him as their new King, come to bring salvation from political and societal oppression. He raised the dead—no doubt he could also restore the kingdom of David and free them from Roman rule.

Seated upon a donkey, Jesus resembled a ruler returning to his city in peacetime, loyal subjects lining his path with coats and palm fronds. Even the Pharisees were there watching in indignation, saying, “Look, the world has gone after Him” (John 12:19).

This week, think back to those times when circumstances looked one way but turned out to be something else entirely. Remember when you realized God was different than you imagined and saw His will unfold in surprising ways. Look for an opportunity to share your insight with a friend or loved one.

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Waiting for Resurrection - Easter Devotional - April 13

by LB Cowman, (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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Finished! - Easter Devotional - April 12

by Greg Laurie

When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit. —John 19:30

The cross was the goal of Jesus from the very beginning. His birth was so there would be His death. The incarnation was for our atonement. He was born to die so that we might live. And when He had accomplished the purpose He had come to fulfill, He summed it up with a single word: “finished.”

In the original Greek, it was a common word. Jesus probably used it after He finished a project that He and Joseph might have been working on together in the carpentry shop. Jesus might have turned to Joseph and said, “Finished. Now let’s go have lunch.” It is finished. Mission accomplished. It is done. It is made an end of.

So what was finished? Finished and completed were the horrendous sufferings of Christ. Never again would He experience pain at the hand of wicked men. Never again would He have to bear the sins of the world. Never again would He, even for a moment, be forsaken of God. That was completed. That was taken care of.

Also finished was Satan’s stronghold on humanity. Jesus came to deal a decisive blow against the devil and his demons at the cross of Calvary. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.” This means that you no longer have to be under the power of sin. Because of Jesus’ accomplishment at the cross, finished was the stronghold of Satan on humanity.

And lastly, finished was our salvation. It is completed. It is done. All of our sins were transferred to Jesus when He hung on the cross. His righteousness was transferred to our account.

So Jesus cried out the words, “It is finished!” It was God’s deliberate and well-thought-out plan. It is finished—so rejoice!

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Good News! - Easter Devotional - April 11

By Pastor Jack Graham

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
--1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Doesn't it seem that bad news is all around us? It's always the top story on the news or the main headline in the paper.

But as believers, we know the best news we could ever hear… and we celebrate it this month.

Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. This is the event that conquered sin… it conquered death… and it made it possible for you and me to have a personal relationship with God!

Perhaps, today, this is the first time you've ever heard or understood this Good News.

If so, I want to tell you something: Jesus died on the cross for you. He wore a crown of thorns and was nailed to a tree because He loves you… and He wants to have a personal relationship with you today.

Will you accept this Good News today?

THIS EASTER SEASON, SHARE THE GOOD NEWS WITH SOMEONE WHO NEEDS TO HEAR IT!


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The Satisfaction of the Cross - Easter Devotional - April 10

by Rachel Olsen

"When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. Isaiah 53:11 (NLT)

Devotion:

Approximately 600 years before Jesus was condemned to the cross, the prophet Isaiah foretold of the event. Open up and invite those words to penetrate your soul today:

"See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. Many were amazed when they saw him beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person. And he will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about.

Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.

But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners." Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12 (NLT)

Approximately 2,000 years after Jesus hung on the cross, the passion of our Christ is still the power of God unto salvation. His suffering accomplished righteousness for us, and through it, both He and we are satisfied.

Dear Lord, may I realize afresh today what Your death and resurrection mean for me. Forgiveness … Freedom … and the ability to walk with You through this fallen world into eternity. May I always find my satisfaction in You and Your willingness to offer Yourself to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Do You Know The Christ?

Application Steps:

Take satisfaction in the love and power of God today - it is given for, and directed at, you!

Reflections:

What sins do I need to confess and release under the power of the cross?

Am I walking in the freedom Christ accomplished for me?

Power Verses:

Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (ESV)

2 Corinthians 5:17, "Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence." (GWT)

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Our Ultimate Hooray - Easter Devotional - April 8

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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What Children Need to Know - Easter Devotional - April 6

by Family Life Ministries

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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Jesus is my All, I came to know Jesus as my Personal Savior on August 15, 1977 and I have never looked back...

Come as You Are This Easter - Easter Devotional - April 5

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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New Life for Us All - Easter Devotional - April 4

By Greg Laurie

New Life for Us All

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
—1 Peter 1:3

A couple from Chicago was planning a vacation to a warmer climate, but the wife couldn't join her husband until the next day, because she was on a business trip. Her husband scribbled down her e-mail address on a little scrap of paper, but upon his arrival, he discovered that he had lost it. He wanted to send off a quick e-mail to let her know he had arrived safely. So trying his best to remember her e-mail address, he composed a brief message and sent it off.

Unfortunately, his e-mail did not reach his wife. Instead, it went to a grieving widow who had just lost her husband, a preacher, the day before. She had gone to her computer and was checking her e-mail when she let out a loud shriek and fainted on the spot. Her family came rushing in to see what was on the screen: "Dearest wife, I just checked in. Everything is prepared for your arrival tomorrow. P. S.: It sure is hot down here!"

The good news is that because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we don't have to be afraid of that real place that is hot down there. In fact, we don't even have to fear death. Because Christ died and rose again from the dead, we know that for us as believers, there is life beyond the grave.

If that were all the resurrection did for us, it would be worth the price of the ticket. Of course, we didn't buy the ticket. Christ did. But if all that Christianity offered was the hope of life beyond the grave, it still would be worth it to be a Christian.

But there is a whole lot more that the resurrection has for us. Our risen Lord will give us a new heart and put a new spirit within us (see Ezekiel 36:26). He will give us new knowledge, new comfort, new peace, and a new life in Him.

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It Didn't End at the Cross - Easter Devotional - April 3

By Senior Living Ministries

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
--1 Peter 1:3-5

A little boy born with Down syndrome attended his third-grade Sunday School class faithfully each week. As you can expect, the other children did not readily accept the boy because he seemed different.

The Sunday after Easter, their teacher brought in small boxes--one for each child. The children were told to go outside, find some symbols of new life, and put them in their containers. So the children ran wildly throughout the property looking for something to fill their boxes.

Once they returned to the classroom, they began to share their discoveries with the class. One by one they opened their boxes to show flowers, butterflies, leaves, and more. Each time the class would "ooh" and "ahh."

Then the child with Down syndrome opened his box to reveal nothing inside. The children exclaimed, "That's stupid! It's not fair! He didn't do the assignment right!"

The little boy exclaimed, "I did so do it! It's empty...because the tomb where Jesus laid was found empty!"

If Jesus had not risen from the dead, our faith would be foolish and fake. But He did rise from death, confirming His life and message. The resurrection of Jesus is the basis for our hope of life eternal beyond the grave.

Don't ever forget to include the resurrection of Christ from the dead when speaking of His death on the cross. For because He conquered sin on the cross and death through His resurrection, we can have unmistakable hope in Him for eternity.

PRAYER CHALLENGE:

Praise God that you serve a risen Savior! Thank Him for His sacrifice on the cross and for defeating death so that you and I may experience eternal life with Him one day.

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The Weekend That Changed the World - Easter Devotional - April 1

By Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries

When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:33-34a

The weekend of March 14-16, 1986 will always be special to my wife and me. It was on that weekend we were married. Friday night was the wedding rehearsal, Saturday night was the main event, and Sunday kicked off our first day as husband and wife. The course of our lives was changed as God brought us together to be one until death.

That weekend in March is special to us… but there was a weekend in early April, nearly 2000 years ago, that is special to all of humanity.

It was the weekend of brutality and bloodshed as the righteous died for the unrighteous.
It was the weekend that began with tremendous agony, but ended with tremendous victory.
It was the weekend when Jesus Christ gave Himself up for sinful man.
It was the weekend when Jesus Christ conquered sin, death, hell, and the grave.
It was the weekend that changed the world for all history and eternity.

PERSONALLY ENCOUNTERING THAT WEEKEND

From the time I was little, my parents taught me about that weekend when Jesus died and rose again. I believed the report. I believed He died on the cross and rose from the grave. The only problem I had was that I believed it as facts on a printed page. I believed in Jesus in the same way I believed in George Washington. I had a mental assent to the truths of history. But those truths didn’t make one bit of difference in my daily life. In short, I was like the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians—I had head knowledge of Jesus, but no heart knowledge of Him. I believed on paper, but not in practice. I didn’t really know Him, I just simply knew about Him.

I was 17 years-old when the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection made a connection from my head to my heart. The Lord revealed to me that I was a sinner, totally deserving of death and hell—with no way out, in and of myself. It was at that moment that the cross and the empty tomb took on real meaning as I cried out to Jesus for salvation. Alone in my bedroom on a Monday night in early 1980, I got down on my knees, and with all my heart prayed this simple prayer, “Save me, Jesus.”

And you know what? He did!

That night, I put my faith and trust in Jesus and Jesus alone for my salvation. In that split second of time, I passed from death to life (John 5:24). I went from being a child of wrath to a child of God (Ephesians 2:3, John 1:12). I was spiritually transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Son (Colossians 1:13). I was born again and changed forever. The Lord had come into my life to live in me and through me. I certainly didn’t understand it all at the time, but I knew within a couple of weeks that my life could never be the same.

IT MUST BE PERSONAL TO BE EFFECTUAL

Has the message of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection made it from your head to your heart? Jesus didn’t die for a faceless humanity, He died for you (Galatians 2:20). He rose again for you. He wants you to know Him, not just know about Him. You see, it must be personal in order for His death and resurrection to be effectual in your life.

Let me encourage you this Easter weekend to make sure you don’t just simply go through the motions. The worst thing that could ever happen to anyone is to know the plan of salvation and not the Man of salvation… to know the way to heaven and yet fail to go that way.

Jesus is indeed the One and only Savior. He will save anyone who will cry out to Him in repentance and faith. His cross and empty tomb changed the world as they made it possible for sinful man to have a personal relationship with Holy God. Receive Christ into your heart. Don’t just tip your hat to Him, bow your knee. The surrender of your heart makes it personal, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 4/1/2019 (05:40)
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The Death of Death - Easter Devotional - March 31

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.

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Triumph in Tragedy - Easter Devotional - March 30

by Max Lucado

What do you say we have a chat about graveclothes? 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 graveclothes. No one discusses graveclothes. 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 29

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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Hope Beyond This Life - Easter Devotional - March 28

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.

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Hope Beyond This Life - Easter Devotional - March 28

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.

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Resurrection! - Easter Devotional - March 27

By 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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Resurrection Culture - Easter Devotional - March 26

By Resurrection Culture

Weekly Overview:

We serve a God of powerful transformations. All throughout Scripture God takes those whom the world deemed the lowest, the hopeless, and the helpless and uses them to change the world. You are not beyond transformation. God longs to break off that which inhibits you from experiencing fullness of life. He longs to heal you, deliver you, and set you free. May your life be forever changed as we spend time discovering God’s heart for transformation.
Scripture:“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

Devotional:

Through the resurrection of Jesus, we have been given the opportunity to live life in a new way. Romans 6:4 says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” The power of the resurrection is not just over our deaths, but over our lives. God didn’t just pay for our freedom for all of eternity, but for right now—for this very moment. He’s calling you and me to live a resurrected lifestyle. He’s ushering us into a resurrection culture.

Romans 8:9 says, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 even says, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Your life is changed because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Because Christ rose from the dead, you have been raised from spiritual death.

Too often we are content to live our lives apart from the present reality of new life in Jesus. Too often we are satisfied living according to the flesh when we have been given a whole new way of living according the very Spirit of God who dwells within us as believers. Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” We have been freed from condemnation through the new law of the Spirit ratified by the death and resurrection of Christ. “There is therefore now no condemnation.” Let that sink in for a minute.

Through the grace of God, not by anything you could ever do, you have been freed from condemnation. The only one who could ever truly condemn you is now your heavenly Father.

You are the child of the only Judge, and he has offered you continual and uncompromising pardon because of his love for you.

And past being pardoned from condemnation, Romans 8 tells us that we have now been crowned as co-heirs with Christ. Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” Because of the life we have been given in the Spirit, we are “fellow heirs with Christ.” I’m not sure we even fully understand all that means for us. So often we live as if we are forced into submission to the world. We live according to the principles of the flesh rather than life in the Spirit. You have been freed from slavery to sin. You have been freed from the condemnation of the world. Christ defeated the enemy at the cross, and through him you have obtained total and complete victory. You are now crowned with Christ and given his authority to see heaven come to earth through your life.

And most importantly, Romans 8 concludes by telling us of the incredible love available to us in our resurrection and victory with Christ. Romans 8:37-39 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is nothing you or anyone else could do to separate you from the love of God.

Through Christ’s resurrection, you have been offered unchanging and unshakable love. Living life in the Spirit is living with the constant knowledge that you are and will forever be loved.

Spend time today allowing the word and presence of God to stir up your desire to live according to the Spirit rather than the flesh.

Guided Prayer:

1. Meditate on the life available to you in the Spirit. Allow your desire to walk in fullness of life to be stirred up by God’s word.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” Romans 8:16-17

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

2. Reflect on your own life. Where are you still living your life according to the flesh? Where do you feel condemned or unloved? Where do you feel conquered rather than a conqueror?

3. Ask the Lord to guide you into life in the Spirit today. Life your live with a renewed mind according to God’s word.

As you go throughout your day, know that you have the choice to live your life differently. You are not bound by the way you’ve lived your life in the past. There is “newness of life” available to you every single day through the power of the Spirit working in you as a believer. Yield to the Spirit’s leadership and live in light of the freedom purchased for you by the death of Jesus.

Extended Reading: Romans 8


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The Life-Changing Power of the Cross and the Resurrection - Easter Devotional - March 25

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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Good News! - Easter Devotional - March 24

By Pastor Jack Graham

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
--1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Doesn't it seem that bad news is all around us? It's always the top story on the news or the main headline in the paper.

But as believers, we know the best news we could ever hear… and we celebrate it this month.
Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. This is the event that conquered sin… it conquered death… and it made it possible for you and me to have a personal relationship with God!

Perhaps, today, this is the first time you've ever heard or understood this Good News.
If so, I want to tell you something: Jesus died on the cross for you. He wore a crown of thorns and was nailed to a tree because He loves you… and He wants to have a personal relationship with you today.

Will you accept this Good News today?

THIS EASTER SEASON, SHARE THE GOOD NEWS WITH SOMEONE WHO NEEDS TO HEAR IT!

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3/23/19 4:36 P

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The Year I Didn’t Want to Buy an Easter Dress - Easter Devotional - March 23

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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3/22/19 10:35 A

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Thank God It's Friday - Easter Devotional - March 22

By Liz Curtis Higgs

“Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10 (NIV)

What’s so good about the Friday when Jesus sacrificed His life for us? Everything.

Around the world, this sacred day is known as Holy Friday, Mourning Friday, Silent Friday, High Friday, Sorrowful Friday, and especially, Good Friday, which some say began as God’s Friday.

Yes, it certainly was. And is. And always shall be.

In Denmark, it’s called Long Friday — a fitting name for the brutal hours that stretched from sunrise to sunset, from His beating to His burial.

“Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer …” (Isaiah 53:10a). Of all the powerful verses in the Bible, this one brings me to my knees. How much does God the Father love us? Enough to sacrifice His only Son.

I love you, dear friend, but I could never give up my only son, or my only daughter, for your sake. I’m sure you feel the same.

Even so, “it pleased the LORD to bruise Him” (Isaiah 53:10a, KJ21). That’s right: God the Father “wanted to crush him and to make him suffer” (CEB). Why? Because the atoning death of His Son would bring salvation to His children. That means salvation to you and to me and to all who know Him as Savior and Lord.

Today’s verse continues, “… and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin …” (Isaiah 53:10b, NIV). Not only was God the Father willing to crush His Son, the Son was also willing to be crushed. Our staggering debt of sin — past, present and still to come — was paid in full when Jesus put Himself “in sin’s dark place, in the pit of wrongdoing” (VOICE). Separated from His Father, He was forsaken for our sake.

And because of His sacrifice on the first Good Friday, grace poured out like living water, bringing the gift of forgiveness to a hurting, dying, sin-filled world.
But there’s more, beloved. So much more.

Then came Easter morning and the angel’s shout of triumph: “He has risen!” (Luke 24:6b, NIV) Not only did He set us free from the penalty of sin, but He also gave us the assurance of eternal life. In the same way Christ rose from the dead, so will we. Just imagine it!
In the face of imminent betrayal, abandonment, torture and death, Jesus had told His disciples,

“But after I have been raised from the dead …” (Matthew 26:32a, NLT). There was no doubt in His mind, and there must be no doubt in ours. He died agonizingly at the hands of men, and He rose victoriously at the hands of God, defeating death, and making a way for His followers to do the same.

Our verse also declares, “… he will see his offspring and prolong his days …” (Isaiah 53:10c), meaning the Son will have “a multitude of children, many heirs” (TLB). Thousands, millions, tens of millions, century after century, shining like stars, holding firmly to the word of life.

Then comes this final promise, “… and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand” (Isaiah 53:10d). It’s a lifetime guarantee, written in the blood of the Lamb. Since Jesus “did everything the LORD had planned” (CEV), you can be sure “the LORD’s plans will come to fruition through him” (CEB). As commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “He has vanquished principalities and powers, sin and Satan, death and hell, the world and the flesh.”

What a hero! What a Savior!

Lord, how can we ever thank You enough? You endured more pain, more shame, more sorrow, more grief than we can possibly fathom. Help us remember why You gave Your life. Because of love. Because of mercy. Because we desperately need them both. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Philippians 2:8, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (NIV)

1 John 2:2, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (NIV)

1 John 2:25, “And this is what he promised us — eternal life.” (NIV

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

On this holy day, we look back 2,000 years, perhaps with tears in our eyes, undone by the depth of Jesus’ suffering. How might you express your gratitude for His sacrificial gift?

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3/18/19 9:41 A

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Unshakeable - Easter Devotional - March 18

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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Trading Spaces - Easter Devotional - March 17

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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3/16/19 10:27 A

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An Easter Prayer of Celebration: He Is Risen! - Easter Devotional - March 16

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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3/15/19 3:52 P

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The Angelic Perspective on Easter - Easter Devotional - March 15

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?

How will we celebrate that day?

How will we honor the death and resurrection of the creator of the universe?

Further Reading

1 Corinthians 15:3-4


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What Sorts of Folks Got Crucified? - Easter Devotional - March 14

by Senior Living Ministries

[Jesus said]: "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
--John 5:24

Early in Julius Caesar's political career, the people of Rome hated him so badly that he thought it best to leave his country. He sailed for the Aegean island of Rhodes, but on the way pirates attacked his ship and Caesar was captured.

The pirates demanded a ransom of 12,000 gold pieces, and Caesar's staff was sent to make the arrangements for payment. For almost 40 days, the pirates held Caesar captive.

He would jokingly tell them that he would someday capture and crucify them. The amused kidnappers dismissed his threats. But when the ransom was paid and Caesar was released, the first thing he did was gather his army together to pursue the pirates.

The pirates indeed were captured and crucified!

This was the Romans' attitude toward crucifixion. This cruel death was reserved only for the worst criminals. It was meant to show extreme contempt for the condemned. And the pain and humiliation experienced by someone crucified by the Romans was unmatched by any other.

They condemned and humiliated the person and name of Jesus thousands of years ago just as many people do today. And even though He died a lowly death, we as believers can rejoice in knowing that "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification" (Romans 4:25).

Jesus died for the sins of all--including those who beat Him and nailed Him to the cross. You may know of someone today who doesn't know Jesus. Will you be the one to tell them about the forgiveness He gives? Will you be the one who points them toward eternal life through Jesus?

PRAYER CHALLENGE: Ask the Lord to bring someone into your life this Easter who you can share the story of His death, burial, and resurrection, and the price He paid for their sins.


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3/13/19 1:06 P

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Easter Is for Second Chances - Easter Devotional - March 13

by Pastor Greg Laurie

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” —Mark 16:6–7

Do you need a second chance today? On the first Easter morning, Peter needed one. There in the Upper Room, he had insisted that he would never deny Christ. But just as Jesus had predicted, Peter not only denied the Lord, but he denied Him three times. The last glimpse Peter had of Jesus before His crucifixion was in the glow of the fire in the high priest’s courtyard, where he actually made eye contact with Jesus. And then he went out and wept bitterly.

What kind of look do you think Jesus gave Peter when their eyes met? Do you think it was one of those I-told-you-so looks? Do you think it was one of scorn, as if to say, “How could you betray Me?” I don’t think it was either one. I think it was a look of love, a look of compassion that said, “I still love you, Peter.” And I believe that is why Peter went out and wept bitterly. He had failed the Lord so miserably. He probably thought there was no hope for him.

But then a message went out from the empty tomb that Jesus had risen, followed by these instructions, “Go, tell His disciples—and Peter. . . .” It was not, “Go tell the disciples, including Peter, James, and John. . . .” It was just Peter, because Peter needed a special word of encouragement.

Do you need encouragement today? Maybe you have fallen short. You didn’t plan on it, but it happened. And like Peter, maybe you ended up with the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time, ultimately doing the wrong thing.
God gave Peter a second chance. And He will give you one, too—because Easter is for the person who needs a second chance.

Copyright © 2016 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.


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3/13/19 2:32 A

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God's Easter Promise for You - Easter Devotional - March 12

By Rick Warren

“By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also” (1 Corinthians 6:14 NIV).

Millions and millions of Christians around the world celebrate Easter every year. But for far too many of us the story has become boring and rote. We have the basic facts down. Jesus was arrested. He was crucified. And three days later, God raised him from the dead.

Yet we miss something very important. We miss what turns Easter from a one-dimensional holiday to a multi-dimensional, life-transforming way of life.

We miss that the story of the Resurrection isn’t just Jesus’ story — it’s our story as well.

You see, you are a part of the Resurrection. Jesus’ death and Resurrection didn’t just prove there was life after death. The Resurrection proves you can have life after death, that there’s life beyond your grave.

Jesus says, if you trust in him, death becomes a transition, not an ending point.

One day your heart will stop. That will be the end of your body. But it will not be the end of you. God made you to last forever. That’s why you often have a feeling there’s more to life than this. Jesus made this amazing promise in John 11: 25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (NIV).

That’s quite a promise! Jesus proved he could do it by resurrecting himself. Otherwise, we would have no reason to believe it. If Jesus hadn’t died on the cross and been resurrected more than 2,000 years ago, you would have zero chance of getting to Heaven — no hope of the afterlife and no eternal life.

The Bible says, “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also” (1 Corinthians 6:14).

As Easter comes our way this year, that’s a truth to hang our lives upon. It’s great news that Jesus rose from the dead. But what turns that truth from black and white to living color is that one day — if you trust in him — he will raise you from the grave, too.

That’s the promise of Easter.

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3/11/19 1:02 P

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Easter Brings Hope - Easter Devotional - March 11

by Pastor Greg Laurie

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."
—John 11:25

Easter is not about brightly colored eggs, wearing pastels, or enjoying a big meal, although it could include these. Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For some, Easter will be a great day, spent surrounded by family and friends. But for others, it will be a sad day, because Easter is a reminder of a loved one who has died and is now desperately missed.

Death seems so cruel, so harsh, and so final. That is what the disciples were feeling when they saw their Lord, whom they had left everything to follow, hanging on the cross. They were devastated. Death had crushed them. But if they would have gone back in their memories, they would have recalled an important event and statement Jesus had made.

They would have remembered Jesus standing at the tomb of his close friend Lazarus. They would have remembered that Jesus did something completely unexpected: He wept (see John 11:35). Jesus wept, because He knew that death was not part of God's original plan. Humanity was not meant to grow old, to suffer with disease, or to die. But because of the sin of Adam and Eve, sin entered the human race, and death followed with it. And death spread to all of us. Jesus wept, because it broke His heart.

But standing there at Lazarus' tomb, Jesus also delivered these hope-filled words: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25). Death is not the end. And the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves it.

If you have put your faith in Christ, then Easter means that you will live forever in the presence of God. Easter brings hope to the person who has been devastated by death.

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3/8/19 11:52 P

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Easter: Bigger Than Christmas? - Easter Devotional - March 8

By Ray Pritchard

Quote of the Day

"It is impossible to omit from that ascended and reigning One the wounds He bears. They are part of His Personality and speak of the fulfillment of a purpose which was the purpose of God, and which was carried out by God in and through Jesus."

~G. Campbell Morgan (from "Does Jesus Still Have His Wounds?")

In our society there are two great religious holidays-Christmas and Easter. For most of us Christmas is the bigger and greater season of the year. It's the time of year when we gather with family and friends to sing carols, decorate the tree, and exchange gifts. Christmas is the climax of the whole year. Easter? Well, for most people it's just another long weekend, another chance to get away for a few days.

Even Christians view Easter as a second-rate holiday!

Somehow we've gotten our thinking badly mixed up. If Easter had not happened, Christmas would have no meaning. If the tomb is not empty, the cradle makes no difference. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then he really is just a misguided Jewish rabbi with delusions of grandeur. If Easter is not true, then Christmas is only the story of an obscure baby born in an out-of-the-way village in a forgotten land 2000 years ago. It is Easter that gives Christmas its meaning.

You want proof? In all the New Testament no major doctrinal point is ever built upon the the virgin birth of Christ. Not one. It's true. It happened. But it's never discussed or mentioned. In fact, two gospels don't even say anything about it.

But the resurrection? That's a different story. In every part of the New Testament, it comes up again and again. Read the Acts 4:28. When the first Christians preached, they didn't mention Bethlehem; they talked about the empty tomb. They never got over the fact that on Easter Sunday when they went to the tomb, Jesus was gone.

by Keep Believing Ministries (used by permission).

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3/8/19 2:29 A

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Welcome to this New Devotional's that will be brought to you from a variety of groups and or Ministers from Crosswalk.com daily devotions, Hope you will join me and enjoy the following daily devotions about Easter. God Bless....

The Cradle of Hope - Easter Devotional - March 7

by Max Lucado

Christ rose first; then when Christ comes back, all his people will become alive again.
1 Corinthians 15:23 TLB

Let's go to the tomb, for Jesus lies in the tomb.

Still. Cold. Stiff. Death has claimed its greatest trophy. He is not asleep in the tomb or resting in the tomb or comatose in the tomb; he is dead in the tomb. No air in his lungs. No thoughts in his brain. No feeling in his limbs. His body is as lifeless as the stone slab upon which he has been laid.

The executioners made sure of it. When Pilate learned that Jesus was dead, he asked the soldiers if they were certain. They were. Had they seen the Nazarene twitch, had they heard even one moan, they would have broken his legs to speed his end. But there was no need. The thrust of a spear removed all doubt. The Romans knew their job. And their job was finished. They pried loose the nails, lowered his body, and gave it to Joseph and Nicodemus.

Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus the Pharisee. Jesus had answered the prayer of their hearts, the prayer for the Messiah. As much as the soldiers wanted him dead, even more these men wanted him alive.

As they sponged the blood from his beard, don't you know they listened for his breath? As they wrapped the cloth around his hands, don't you know they hoped for a pulse? Don't you know they searched for life?

But they didn't find it.

So they do with him what they were expected to do with a dead man. They wrap his body in clean linen and place it in a tomb. Joseph's tomb. Roman guards are stationed to guard the corpse. And a Roman seal is set on the rock of the tomb. For three days, no one gets close to the grave.

But then, Sunday arrives. And with Sunday comes light — a light within the tomb. A bright light? A soft light? Flashing? Hovering? We don't know. But there was a light. For he is the light. And with the light came life. Just as the darkness was banished, now the decay is reversed. Heaven blows and Jesus breathes. His chest expands. Waxy lips open. Wooden fingers lift. Heart valves swish and hinged joints bend.

And, as we envision the moment, we stand in awe.

We stand in awe not just because of what we see, but because of what we know. We know that we, too, will die. We know that we, too, will be buried. Our lungs, like his, will empty. Our hands, like his, will stiffen. But the rising of his body and the rolling of the stone give birth to a mighty belief: "What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ's sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us" (Rom. 6:5-9 MSG).

From When Christ Comes

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