Sunday Devotional: Mark 16:1-8

“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so they could go and anoint Him.  Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb at sunrise.  They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?”  Looking up, they observed that the stone—which was very large—had been rolled away.  When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; they were amazed and alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he told them. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been resurrected! He is not here! See the place where they put Him.  But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there just as He told you.’”

So they went out and started running from the tomb, because trembling and astonishment overwhelmed them. And they said nothing to anyone, since they were afraid.”  (Mark 16:1-8)

Today is Resurrection Sunday.  Today is the culmination of all that transpired during Holy Week.  Today is the day we celebrate that there is an empty tomb.  Today is the day we celebrate that Jesus was resurrected.

Even some nearly 2,000 years later, it is something that is simply amazing.  Death could not keep Jesus in the tomb.  The hope of salvation rung out and stepped out of that tomb.  We who follow Him now can follow Him into new life.  He paid the price for our sins on the cross.  Now we get to celebrate in the new life that we have and that will culminate in His return.

It was a shock to those followers who came to the tomb to see there was no body.  They were astonished.  I imagine if we had been there that Sunday morning that we would’ve had the same emotions and thoughts.  It took a while (and several visits from Jesus himself) for it to really sink into their hearts and minds that Jesus had truly risen.  And for us, it may take a long time for it truly to sink in what all it means for Christ’s death and resurrection.  But the good news is that God is patient with us and loves us.

Today (and everyday) let us celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  Let us celebrate the hope that has come from His death and the new life that has come from his resurrection.  He is Risen!

Sunday Devotional: Colossians 3:14-17

“Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.  And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.  Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  (Colossians 3:14-17)

Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, was always one to encourage.  Here he encouraged them to be about love.  Love towards one another and love to those around them.  This love is possible because of what Jesus was doing in and through them.  Because of Jesus, we are able to love.  We are able to be united.  We are able to be thankful.  We are able to sing.

Paul also tells the Colossians that “whatever” they do, they should do it in Jesus’ name.  Because He should be all about what we say and do.  This week, let us be about that as well.  Let us love and encourage one another.  Let us in whatever we say and do, do it for the glory of God because of Jesus.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 105:1-4

“Give thanks to Yahweh, call on His name;
proclaim His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praise to Him;
tell about all His wonderful works!
Honor His holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice.
Search for the Lord and for His strength;
seek His face always.”  (Psalm 105:1-4)

One of the great things about Psalms is the reminder of God’s goodness and His faithfulness.  There are many psalms throughout the book that sing of these attributes.  Not only that, they call us to remember them daily.  These verses are a part of just such a psalm.

We have so much to be thankful for that God has given to us.  We can rejoice and be glad.  But we are not just to keep it to ourselves.  We are to share them with everyone around us.  We are to “proclaim His deeds among the people.”  It should just burst forth because we have been blessed so much to share that with others.

The other key part in these verses is the psalmist says we should seek God’s face always.  We should always be pursing being before God.  So this week, let us be thankful, let us be sharing and let us be seeking.  Let us be thankful for all that God has given us.  Let us be sharing with others about what God has done.  And let us be seeking the Lord every day.

Sunday Devotional: 1 Peter 4:7-11

“Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)

Peter wrote these words to fellow believers in one of his letters to the churches.  These verses are a part of the end of the letter as he is beginning to wrap up his thoughts.

There are many passages that deal with how to handle the “end times”.  Some of them are prophetic of the actual “day of the Lord” and some are more of the times that are to signal the “day of the Lord”.  This is one of those passages that’s the latter.  Peter is telling the readers (and in turn telling us) that we should be prepared for when the Lord returns.

How are we to prepare?  First, we need to be all about prayer.  Praying to God giving thanks, praying for strength to endure, praying for others and their needs.  We need to be praying.  Second, we need to show love to one another.  Peter says to “maintain an intense love”.  In the world right now we see hate permeate.  But we know that God is love and when we are connected to Him then we are able to love one another better.  Third, our words and actions should reflect the Father.  We are here to advance the Kingdom of God and proclaim the Good News.  Our words and actions should be all about that.

In these times now more than ever, let us be about praying, let us be about loving, let us be about serving and let us be about sharing the Good news of Jesus.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 6:27-36

“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either.  Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back.  Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil.  Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”  (Luke 6:27-36)

Jesus shared this words to His disciples as well as the large crowds that gathered to hear Him speak.  These words are a part of His Sermon on the Mount (also found in the book of Matthew).  He made a point to tell His disciples that being a follower of Jesus meant loving others even your enemies.  Loving one’s enemies goes against what people think and feel.  People who are one’s friends are to be loved, people who are one’s enemies are to be hated.  But Jesus made it a point to so say “love your enemies” and to bless them.

When He said this, there was no guarantee that the enemy would love back.  In fact, He says to “expect nothing in return”.  Those enemies may keep on hating, may keep on taking, may keep on being ungrateful and hurtful.  Yet, as followers of Jesus, we are called to love them.

We live in a day and age where divisiveness is prevalent.  Hate is almost celebrated and anger is cheered.  Yet even in the midst of this, Jesus’ calling for us to love our enemies still rings true.  We are still called to love our enemies.  We are still called to bless those that curse us.  We are still called to do what is good and lend expecting nothing in return.  Because that is what Jesus would do and being a follower of Jesus means doing what He would do.

This week let us demonstrate that love to others.  Let us show love and let us show mercy.  This world needs that desperately.

Sunday Devotional: Ephesians 5:1-2

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, wanted to encourage and exhort the people there (as he would at all the churches he helped to plant).  In this part of the letter, he wanted them to be “imitators of God”.  In the verses just prior, Paul said to “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

To imitate God is to show grace and mercy.  God has shown grace and mercy to us through His son Jesus.  Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life as a sacrifice for us even though we did not deserve it.  He loved us so that we wouldn’t have to remain in sin but that we could be forgiven of our sins and adopted as children into the family of God.

This week let us walk in love.  Let us be imitators of God.  Let us show grace and mercy to others.  Let our words be spoken with truth in love.  And let us share the good news of Christ to a world that needs to hear this good news.

Thursday Quote Day: C.S. Lewis

This week’s Thursday Quote Day features another quote from author and theologian C.S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”  (C.S. Lewis The Four Loves)