May 2 – Jesus: The Resurrection and the Life – From Death to Life!

Read Colossians 3:1-17

“…you were dead in your sins…” “…God made you alive with Christ…” “…you died with Christ…” (Col. 2:13, 20)

Apart from the written revelation of God in Colossians 2 (with parallel ideas in Ephesians 2 and Romans 6), I don’t think I would be aware of these spiritual realities. I would likely not have known that I was spiritually dead before I came to Christ. Or that, at conversion, I was infused with spiritual life. And when I placed faith in Jesus, the old man and my sinful nature was put to death. Those are not typically experiences that we “feel” happening as we become Christ-followers. They are not necessarily things of which we are experientially aware.

But they are true! Whether you were aware or not, those things really took place. And, because they are spiritual realities, Paul admonishes readers like you to bring your life conduct in line with them. Because you have been raised with Christ, your thoughts and your pursuits are to change. Now, rather than focusing on and seeking after things that the earth offers, you are to raise your sights and energies to bring them in line with those of heaven.

And since, at conversion the old “you” was put to death, your life should reflect that. Things like immorality, impurity, greed, anger, and slander are to be things that once characterized our past, not the present or the future. They are replaced by godly qualities like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love, and peace. These are the kinds of qualities that God, through His Spirit, builds into us as we allow the truth of Scripture to “richly dwell” in us.

Don’t misunderstand this. At conversion, you did not become perfect. Because of conversion, you will not, in this life, achieve perfection (1 Jn. 1:8-10). Nevertheless, you are not to throw in the towel in surrender to sinful patterns that have characterized your life. God wants to bring about practical life change that is consistent with your spiritual experience. That requires your wholehearted cooperation!

Steve Kern

May 1 – Jesus: The Resurrection and the Life – The Resurrection and the Life

Read John 11:1-44

I am the resurrection and the life.  (John 11:25a)

I was a new believer in my teen years, when I faced one of my first encounters with sickness and death. My uncle’s health was declining. Having read enough in the gospels to realize that Jesus had some amazing miraculous abilities, I essentially did what Mary and Martha did. I sent for Jesus…OK, not quite the way that the sisters did by sending a person. Instead, through prayer, I invited him to come and heal. But much like Mary and Martha observed with Lazarus, my uncle’s health declined still further…and he died.

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

Both Mary and Martha voiced those words (vv. 21, 32). And those words were running through my mind after hearing of my uncle’s passing. The presence of death somehow indicated the absence of God. Don’t believe that for a moment!

Remember what Psalm 23 tells us?

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me… (Ps. 23:4)

Later, the psalmist tells us,

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.  (Ps. 116:15)

It is true that God allows and even finds joy in the passing of His children. Physical death does not indicate His absence.

In addition, death does not signal His helplessness. As I walked past my uncle’s coffin, there was nothing he could do and nothing I could do. But the Jesus whose birth and resurrection we celebrate is both “resurrection” and “life.” He imparts eternal life to all who, by faith, appropriate His cross-work to their lives.

Deceased followers of Christ are still very much alive. Though they are “away from the body,” they are “at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8) And the day will come at His return at an event we refer to as the “rapture,” when He will resurrect their decayed bodies. More than just restoring them to life, He will glorify them!

Because He is the resurrection and the life, death implies neither His absence, nor His helplessness! We have hope because Jesus is alive.

Steve Kern

April 30 – Jesus: The Resurrection and the Life – Why Being New Matters

Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-6:2

He spoke at Creation, that first day amid the darkness and formless.

“Let there be light,” and there was light. (Gen. 1:3)

He spoke light with a Word, and it was. The Word created light and life.

Then the Word came, the image of God Himself in human form. And the Word gave life. The Word gave His very own life.

Jesus Christ, the Word in flesh, spoke light into the darkness of sin and death. He conquered death with the power that is His alone. He braved the pain of suffering, and He died so that mankind could live.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (5:21)

Now we carry around His death so that His real life, the kind of living designed by God Himself, might be revealed in our earthly bodies. Not only that, but now that we are really alive, we die daily to ourselves and our expectations and our own motives. We do it so we might display the true life He has given us. We die daily to death-living because of the true hope that the very God who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us . . . in his presence (4:14).

Knowing this true and real hope, living this authentic life, the very gift of God, this is how we withstand hard times. When we hold this gift, this real and true living with tenacity and hope, we find strength to hold up under pressure. The stress of trials and troubles that sometimes threaten to overwhelm don’t touch us when we fix our eyes on the truth that we have died, and are dying, to ourselves. We are alive only in Christ Jesus, the God of all.

He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (5:15)

The very God Who spoke light into Creation spoke light into our hearts with the Word, Jesus Christ. He gave us this light that He might draw all men to Himself. That we might become His ambassadors, shining His light, living His life, for all to see His creation power and know His life.

Bria Wasson

April 29 – Jesus: The Resurrection and the Life – Three Days? Just Right!

Read Luke 24:1-53

You have probably heard some great stories of rescue through resuscitation. Some people that flat lined were brought back by CPR. In other instances, a defibrillator jump started life all over again. Time is critical when that happens. I have heard of a few extreme cases where someone was brought back after an extended time in cold water, but typically, we are talking seconds or minutes.

In contrast, three days seem impossible…even laughable!

It’s true, the reports had trickled in that first Easter morning. A stone rolled away. An empty tomb. An angelic encounter. Grave clothes left behind. But still, it all seemed so unbelievable…illogical…scientifically impossible.

Two men had even given up. They had packed their bags and started on a seven mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were leaving hope behind, perhaps moving on with life. To them, Jesus had seemed like a powerful prophet, who had done some pretty impressive things. But their hopes that He was Israel’s redeemer had been dashed by His untimely and unfortunate death at the hands of His enemies. Now, three days later, they were moving on in disappointment. Three days was a long time…too long.

But their eyes had been blinded…blinded to the fact that a crucifixion was necessary in order to truly redeem and rescue…blinded by the natural human thought that the resurrection was just a pipe dream…blinded by the idea that three days is not too long…and blinded in their ability to recognize that Jesus Himself was walking with them.

Blind, that is, until He broke the bread.

Suddenly, their fatigue melted into renewed strength. Suddenly, they understood why their hearts warmed and even skipped a beat as He spoke with them. He was alive! And even though they had been ready to call it a day, they raced back over the same seven-mile stretch of road they had just covered. This was news that had to be shared. The crucifixion had been a necessity, and the resurrection was a reality. They were eyewitnesses. They went back to announce that the rescue was complete.

Three days wasn’t too long! It was just right.

Steve Kern

April 28 – Jesus: The Resurrection and the Life – How the Resurrection Changed Everything

Read John 20:1-31

When He showed up at the disciples’ secret meeting, Jesus spoke peace. He breathed His very Spirit. God Himself dwelling in man because of Jesus Christ.

Life had conquered death. No more just surviving or hiding out. The Victor had staked His claim, and it included true blessing, peace, real living.

Jesus Christ, dead three days, was alive. God Himself, the Author of life, rose up straight from the tomb, and everything changed. For the disciples. For Mary Magdalene. For you. For me. Everything. Changed.

The shame that haunted Peter since that dreadful night by the fire — the servant girl, all those denials, and then that wretched rooster — all that shame had been nailed to the cross. And now Peter could dive in head first. He could soak in and live out this life of His best friend and Savior.

The fear that had the disciples hiding out with the doors locked up had been laid to rest when God Himself killed the system of this world in His own body. Jesus Christ conquered the fear of death and the dread of darkness.

Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. (20:21)

Because of His victory, they could go and tell all about the God Who gave everything so they wouldn’t have to. Because of His resurrection, they could bear the very Name of God within themselves.

Yes, everything changed when God killed death with the perfect life of His Son Jesus Christ.

And His victory remains. His life still saves. When Jesus Christ left that grave, He left behind the shame and the death and darkness and the sin that we couldn’t conquer ourselves.

When Jesus Christ rose up from the grave, He changed everything about life for the disciples and for us. Now we don’t have to life by just surviving. When we trust Him for real life, hand Him all our shame and wickedness, He hands us the victory and the living He died to bring us.

And now everything is changed because Jesus is alive.

Bria Wasson

April 26: From Death to Life

Read Colossians 3:1-17

“…you were dead in your sins…” “…God made you alive with Christ…” “…you died with Christ…” (Col. 2:13, 20)

Apart from the written revelation of God in Colossians 2 (with parallel ideas in Ephesians 2 and Romans 6), I don’t think I would be aware of these spiritual realities. I would likely not have known that I was spiritually dead before I came to Christ. Or that, at conversion, I was infused with spiritual life. And when I placed faith in Jesus, the old man and my sinful nature was put to death. Those are not typically experiences that we “feel” happening as we become Christ-followers. They are not necessarily things of which we are experientially aware.

But they are true! Whether you were aware or not, those things really took place. And, because they are spiritual realities, Paul admonishes readers like you to bring your life conduct in line with them. Because you have been raised with Christ, your thoughts and your pursuits are to change. Now, rather than focusing on and seeking after things that the earth offers, you are to raise your sights and energies to bring them in line with those of heaven.

And since, at conversion the old “you” was put to death, your life should reflect that. Things like immorality, impurity, greed, anger, and slander are to be things that once characterized our past, not the present or the future. They are replaced by godly qualities like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love, and peace. These are the kinds of qualities that God, through His Spirit, builds into us as we allow the truth of Scripture to “richly dwell” in us.

Don’t misunderstand this. At conversion, you did not become perfect. Because of conversion, you will not, in this life, achieve perfection (1 Jn. 1:8-10). Nevertheless, you are not to throw in the towel in surrender to sinful patterns that have characterized your life. God wants to bring about practical life change that is consistent with your spiritual experience. That requires your wholehearted cooperation!

sbk

April 25: Hope Soars!

Read Mark 16:1-20

Each of the four gospels offers us a different vantage point on the resurrection of Jesus. Mark’s description is the shortest but vitally important. (By the way, you may have noticed a footnote in your Bible indicating that some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20. We turn our attention to the first eight verses.)

I wonder if the ladies that went to the tomb that morning felt like they had been passengers on the Millennium Force roller coaster at the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. You see, after boarding the coaster in the station, the thrill seekers plunge 300 feet at an 80-degree angle with speeds up to 93 miles per hour. From there, the ride continues through a series of other steep ascents and descents and sharp right and left turns. The adventure is not for the faint of heart.

Neither was the experience of the women who went to the tomb that morning. Many of them had experienced the highs of being with Jesus during His earthly ministry. But then, just days before, the coaster went screaming downward as they watched Jesus die. Their emotions had hit the extremes in both directions.

The following three days had been difficult ones…probably mixed with tears but perhaps helped by the fact that they did something constructive by assembling spices for the anointing. Early on that Sunday morning, they met and walked with their aromatic treasures to the tomb. What they discovered there wasn’t at all what they expected…it wasn’t at all what they had seen 3 days earlier. They had seen the place where His body had been laid. They saw the stone that had been rolled against the entrance. But as they arrived that Sunday morning, it all looked different! The stone had been rolled away. A young man dressed in white sat inside the tomb and spoke to them. The body of Jesus was nowhere to be seen. According to the man, Jesus had risen. Frightened and confused, the women left. Dare they allow their hopes to soar once again?

Indeed, our hopes do soar because Jesus has risen from the dead. The other gospels tell us that they later saw Him…as did more than 500 others. Thomas touched Him. People watched while He ate. He spoke to them. He is alive! Hope is renewed!

sbk

April 24: The Resurrection and The Life

Read John 11:1-44

I am the resurrection and the life.  (John 11:25a)

I was a new believer in my teen years, when I faced one of my first encounters with sickness and death. My uncle’s health was declining. Having read enough in the gospels to realize that Jesus had some amazing miraculous abilities, I essentially did what Mary and Martha did. I sent for Jesus…OK, not quite the way that the sisters did by sending a person. Instead, through prayer, I invited him to come and heal. But much like Mary and Martha observed with Lazarus, my uncle’s health declined still further…and he died.

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

Both Mary and Martha voiced those words (vv. 21, 32). And those words were running through my mind after hearing of my uncle’s passing. The presence of death somehow indicated the absence of God. Don’t believe that for a moment!

Remember what Psalm 23 tells us?

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me… (Ps. 23:4)

Later, the psalmist tells us,

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.  (Ps. 116:15)

It is true that God allows and even finds joy in the passing of His children. Physical death does not indicate His absence.

In addition, death does not signal His helplessness. As I walked past my uncle’s coffin, there was nothing he could do and nothing I could do. But the Jesus whose birth we celebrate in this season is both “resurrection” and “life.” He imparts eternal life to all who, by faith, appropriate His cross-work to their lives.

Deceased followers of Christ are still very much alive. Though they are “away from the body,” they are “at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8) And the day will come at His return at an event we refer to as the “rapture,” when He will resurrect their decayed bodies. More than just restoring them to life, He will glorify them!

Because He is the resurrection and the life, death implies neither His absence, nor His helplessness! We have hope because Jesus is alive.

sbk

April 23: Why Being New Matters

Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-6:2

He spoke at Creation, that first day amid the darkness and formless.

“Let there be light,” and there was light. (Gen. 1:3)

He spoke light with a Word, and it was. The Word created light and life.

Then the Word came, the image of God Himself in human form. And the Word gave life. The Word gave His very own life.

Jesus Christ, the Word in flesh, spoke light into the darkness of sin and death. He conquered death with the power that is His alone. He braved the pain of suffering, and He died so that mankind could live.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (5:21)

Now we carry around His death so that His real life, the kind of living designed by God Himself, might be revealed in our earthly bodies. Not only that, but now that we are really alive, we die daily to ourselves and our expectations and our own motives. We do it so we might display the true life He has given us. We die daily to death-living because of the true hope that the very God who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us . . . in his presence (4:14).

Knowing this true and real hope, living this authentic life, the very gift of God, this is how we withstand hard times. When we hold this gift, this real and true living with tenacity and hope, we find strength to hold up under pressure. The stress of trials and troubles that sometimes threaten to overwhelm don’t touch us when we fix our eyes on the truth that we have died, and are dying, to ourselves. We are alive only in Christ Jesus, the God of all.

He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (5:15)

The very God Who spoke light into Creation spoke light into our hearts with the Word, Jesus Christ. He gave us this light that He might draw all men to Himself. That we might become His ambassadors, shining His light, living His life, for all to see His creation power and know His life.

brw

April 21: Three Days? Just Right!

Read Luke 24:1-53

You have probably heard some great stories of rescue through resuscitation. Some people that flat lined were brought back by CPR. In other instances, a defibrillator jump started life all over again. Time is critical when that happens. I have heard of a few extreme cases where someone was brought back after an extended time in cold water, but typically, we are talking seconds or minutes.

In contrast, three days seem impossible…even laughable!

It’s true, the reports had trickled in that first Easter morning. A stone rolled away. An empty tomb. An angelic encounter. Grave clothes left behind. But still, it all seemed so unbelievable…illogical…scientifically impossible.

Two men had even given up. They had packed their bags and started on a seven mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were leaving hope behind, perhaps moving on with life. To them, Jesus had seemed like a powerful prophet, who had done some pretty impressive things. But their hopes that He was Israel’s redeemer had been dashed by His untimely and unfortunate death at the hands of His enemies. Now, three days later, they were moving on in disappointment. Three days was a long time…too long.

But their eyes had been blinded…blinded to the fact that a crucifixion was necessary in order to truly redeem and rescue…blinded by the natural human thought that the resurrection was just a pipedream…blinded by the idea that three days is not too long…and blinded in their ability to recognize that Jesus Himself was walking with them.

Blind, that is, until He broke the bread.

Suddenly, their fatigue melted into renewed strength. Suddenly, they understood why their hearts warmed and even skipped a beat as He spoke with them. He was alive! And even though they had been ready to call it a day, they raced back over the same seven-mile stretch of road they had just covered. This was news that had to be shared. The crucifixion had been a necessity, and the resurrection was a reality. They were eyewitnesses. They went back to announce that the rescue was complete.

Three days wasn’t too long! It was just right.

sbk