April 13 – Life from Death

Read John 11:1-46

In October of 2016, our 24 year old daughter moved 1700 miles away.  It was hard to see her go, but it was also exciting to see her start a new adventure.  In October of 2017, she got married.  Unfortunately, she became a widow three short months later.

A few months after our son-in-law’s death, I mentioned to a friend that I missed Kelsey.  She said, “You’ve been missing her since she moved.’  I said, ‘That’s true but this missing is new…I miss when life wasn’t about death.  Everything we do now and talk about revolves around death.  I miss when we just texted or called to talk about nothing.”

I’ve thought about that conversation a lot.  I said I missed when life wasn’t about death but isn’t life always about death?  We can’t have one and not the other, and, as morbid as that sounds, it’s good for us to embrace.

We’ve evolved in knowledge and understanding as a human race but we’ve never been able to eliminate our death problem.  In some ways, I wish we could, but I know us, if we never had to know death, we wouldn’t bother knowing God.

Mary and Martha knew where to turn when their brother got sick.  Jesus could do anything.  He was their friend and Savior so they called on Him for help.  When Lazarus died before Jesus arrived, they thought it was over; they thought He was too late, but He was right on time.

For His glory.  This tiny, but humbling and powerful phrase goes through my mind all the time since I’ve tasted the death of someone dear.  We had plans and dreams, but God had something different in mind.  He’s always at work, drawing people to Himself.  He’s always about life…eternal life.  He wants all humankind to find the way to eternity.  His mission is paramount.  His timing is perfect.  His compassion is incomparable.  His love and salvation have the power to bring the dead to life.

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

We die.  We can’t escape the coming end of our earthly life, but, through faith in Jesus, when our eyes close for the last time on earth, we will open them to see Jesus face to face.  And as my husband reminds me often…because of the promise and hope of Heaven that Jesus provides, we will have an immeasurable amount of time and memories on the other side with Him and our loved ones who put their faith in Him.  This beautifully and miraculously will totally overshadow the minuscule slice we get here on earth.

Shelly Eberly

 

 

 

April 12 – Life from Death

Read Luke 7:1-10 ; 8:43-48

As we talk about life arising from death in this series, it is almost impossible to NOT talk about the trust that comes into play when we walk hand in hand with God.

How often do you go through a trial or tribulation within your own life and lose faith?
I will be the first to admit that, in these last few months leading up to two of our son’s surgeries, it’s been hard to grasp this strength in faith (Thank God for the husband He has blessed me with to lean on!). It’s been hard to put my anger and sadness aside and just praise Christ’s name…but I did. Because, when we sing His praises, Death IS DEFEATED!! When we proclaim His name, healing transpires and hope instills.

As I read this passage of Luke, I am reminded of the amount of faith certain people had in Jesus’ name, power and sovereignty. This commander had a tremendous amount of faith that he knew Jesus didn’t NEED to be in his friend’s presence to heal, that all He had to do was speak it and it would be. Only several chapters later, we are introduced to the woman who bled for 12 years and, in this culture, at this time, she was considered unclean and most likely had no friendships. Yet, in the midst of crowds of people, she touched Christ’s cloak as He walked by and she was healed. She exemplified such faith that He didn’t even need to know she was there…all she had to do was touch Him and she knew she would be whole and clean again.  In both of these people’s hearts was this momentous belief that Jesus could bring the death they knew back to life.

Easter Sunday is one that causes me to not only have gratitude that Christ came and took my punishment so that I could live forever with Him in Heaven, but I am hit with the powerful reminder that He brings life from death every day.

As we approach this weekend, may we look backwards with praise for He conquered the grave. May we look forward in anticipation of the day we get to live in His presence and may we look at our present lives with a hunger for more change, for more death defying power that only comes from the God we serve.

Kelly Lawson

 

April 11 – Life from Death

Read Mark 5:35-40

“Then He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).”

Jesus walked among the lifeless and exchanged death with life. He traded fear for faith, even as He told the man whose daughter lay dying just steps from their path, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” Moments before, He’d unknowingly moved an outcast from mere survival to true life when she reached out in faith for the One whom she believed to be the Messiah, her Healer. Now an important Jewish leader would see Jesus replace the death of his daughter with the miracle of her life. A touch of Jesus’ hand made hope out of mourning. The stroke of His voice composed a new beginning. The little girl was dead. But Jesus spoke, and then she was alive.

I have never seen a daughter being raised to life, but that doesn’t make the truth of this story any less real. Jesus Christ makes life out of nothing. He takes what is not and turns it into what is.

I have, however, seen Jesus turn fear into strength. He’s taken a dying relationship and made it thrive. He turned depression into purpose, created joy where guilt once paralyzed, turned anxious into calm. If you think about it hard enough, you’ve likely seen His transforming work, too.

Where faith in Jesus comes in, new life prevails. Where have you seen His power at work? What can He transform in you even today? Is there a piece of you that must die, like the little girl, so He can breathe His transforming life into it?

Don’t be afraid. Just believe.

Bria Wasson

 

April 10 – Life from Death

Read Matthew 27:45-54

I love spring.  I walk around the yard looking for the delicate white flowers that bloom even while the harsh winds and cold temperatures seem unrelenting.   I shouldn’t be surprised, but I always am, and I marvel at these little flowers that pop up.  In my mind, they beat the odds and make it through the cold and long winter.  They symbolize to me the struggle as we walk through the harshness of life.

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have the privilege to experience real life here and with Him in heaven eternally.  Paul describes this in 2 Corinthians 5:2 in terms of groaning that happens because we would prefer to be “clothed with our heavenly dwelling.”

Life in the here and now can certainly feel like we are just waiting for spring.  Like we are the delicate flower under the muddy soil waiting for the miracle of a change so we can bloom again.

In the passage you read today, Jesus has been obediently following His heavenly Father’s will and is now hanging on a cross, alone.  He asks His Father a question: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Jesus was in emotional and physical agony. This doesn’t seem like it should be happening.

Paul describes what happened in 2 Corinthians 5:19: “God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ.” He took the punishment on that cross so I wouldn’t have to pay the price for my sin.  My sin killed the Son of God.  He was sacrificed, forsaken and humiliated, so I could be righteous before God (2 Cor. 5:21).  Jesus did this all out of love for me and for you.

After Jesus died that day, this passage reveals unusual events.  “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”  The battle was and is real.  Death wants to be the victor but because of Jesus, death, sin and the grave are defeated.  Jesus came back to life and lives today!

We can’t always explain the difficult and decaying experiences we go through. Our lives have been impacted by our own sin, the sin of others, and the fallen world. We can, however, with certainty, accept His sacrifice and follow Him by faith.  This is the real life experience He desires for us. And, because of His victory over death, we live in anticipation of our own resurrection. One day, the harsh winter of our lives will be over. Eternal spring of life with Him will be our experience.

Celeste Kern

 

 

 

 

April 9 – Life from Death

Read Ezekiel 37:1-14

Those were discouraging days for the nation of Israel. Due to their own rebellion, God brought judgment upon them. He used a godless nation and king (Jeremiah 25) as His rod of correction. Under King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon invaded Jerusalem, destroyed the temple and city, and carted Jews off into exile. As a result, the background of Ezekiel 37 reflects people who were distant from God and now also distant from their homeland.

In all likelihood, you, too, can point to times when God felt far away. The situations and circumstances of your life may have seemed virtually hopeless. Perhaps you felt alienated and exiled from the blessing of God. It was a spiritual desert.

Welcome to the valley!

That’s where God took Ezekiel. As he looked across the valley, lifeless bones littered the ground. The bones were indicative of countless Israelites who were spiritually (and some physically) dead. As a nation, it must have seemed as if there was no future…no hope. And this visual of dry bones probably only confirmed that. But, in the back of Ezekiel’s mind, he knew that all things were possible with God. When asked if the bones could live, his response was very cautious. He replied, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know” (v. 3).

What followed was a description of the miraculous. God caused the bones to rattle. He added tendons, flesh, and skin. Then, the Spirit of God brought new life. All of that pointed to the restoration that God brought to the nation years later…and it points to the resurrection of believing Jews in years to come.

God is able to bring life from death. He can do that in your situation as well. He can give hope in the midst of your hopelessness. He can breathe new life into what seems to be lifeless. Be careful, though. There are no guarantees that He always will do that. There must be for all of us a worshipful and even expectant recognition of what He can do. At the same time, there must be a humble acceptance of what He chooses to do.

In the end, if you are a Jesus follower, you can count on a future resurrection that will cause your once temporal body to be raised as a glorious one. He will bring life from death!

Steve Kern

 

April 8 – Life from Death

Read 1 Kings 17:17-24

As a parent, I find myself so drawn to this widow at the beginning of the passage. Whether you’re a parent or not, many of us have faced heart-breaking, gut wrenching circumstances in life that have left us in a state of complete helplessness.

There is a saying that goes, “God will never give you more than you can handle”.  The very passage of scripture in 1 Kings proves that the previous saying couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only does the widow face starvation for herself and her son, she goes on to watch her son take his last breath. This is, by far, more than this woman can handle.

I don’t believe there is any way to prepare ourselves for difficulties in life like this widow faced. I do believe, however, that God shows us a way, through His word, to prepare ourselves for complete reliance on Him in the midst of life’s deepest hurts.

Today, I need to start by praying and asking God to know Him better. The more I know the very character of God, the better I will be at seeking His will over my life. As Paul said in Philippines 3:10, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”  Most of us want to know the power of His resurrection and to become like him in His death but we skip over the middle . . .  to participate in his sufferings. To fully know Christ, I need to know His hurts, too, and that is a very tough prayer to pray.

Lord, if your will is for people to see me walk through brokenness, to be able to see the hope that only You can give, I need to be all in! Help me to focus more on Your purposes and less on my plans. Lead me in pursuing more of who You are and less of what You can do. Align my thoughts on all You have given and not on what I have lost. In the precious name of Jesus, I cry out to You. Amen.

Rayonna Miller

 

April 7 – Life from Death

Read John 5:19-29

“Oh, man,” you mutter to yourself, “I did it again.” You open your eyes wide and stretch the tiredness out of your body. You look to your right and your soldier buddy is passed out against the huge rock turned tomb. The thought crosses your mind to wake him but the truth is that you’ve been standing at the entrance of this tomb for going on three days now. You’re still not sure what the big deal is but your commander’s orders are still burning into your mind: “Stand on both sides of the entrance and kill anything that comes close to you that isn’t Roman.” This dead preacher seems to be a big deal. You look in the distance as the sun is rising over the Israeli mountains. “Shoot,” your buddy says as he realizes that he had also fallen asleep. Seeing you, he is relieved to say, “Well, at least you’re up”. You look at him and nod towards the rising sun when it happens.

The earth shakes so violently that you are immediately dropped to your backside. In front of you, the trees seem to be completely sideways due to what could only be an earthquake. Just as you seem to catch your bearings, a light shines so bright you think the sun is 10 feet in front of you. You are so discombobulated that your eyes are as big as stones and your heart has long skipped a beat. After what feels like hours of the earth shaking and the light shining, everything stops.

Silence.

You make sure you’re in one piece and rub your eyes; that’s when you see the unthinkable. A man, who is walking away from you, turns to look at you. Your eyes turn to be as wide as a piece of fruit as you jerk your head towards the tomb to see that the entrance is exposed…the seal broken. In disbelief you look back at the man. As a smirk comes across his lips, He turns and leaves the garden. “It can’t be!” you whisper in disbelief.

Life from death.

In John 5, Jesus explains to His disciples that the works of the Son (himself) are the works of the Father and how He is the only way to eternal life. Jesus goes on to explain that, when you believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, you aren’t destined for wrath or judgment anymore. Instead, you pass from death into life.

From death to life.

Around this time of year, we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Because of His resurrection, we will experience one as well. The Easter story is one that instills hope and excitement in our hearts. As we lead up to Easter, read on as our team looks at other passages in the Bible where someone passed from death to life. Through all of this, keep in mind that, through Christ, death doesn’t have to be the end. In Christ, we have hope for a better tomorrow…an eternity with Him.

Do you have hope in Christ for a better tomorrow?

Jake Lawson