Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Hallelujah! He is risen … He is risen indeed! Who but God Himself could raise Jesus, the Son of Man, from the gates of hell to life eternal, now seated at His right hand? Who but God Himself could tear the heavy temple curtain from top to bottom, allowing access to Him so we, too, can have life eternal with Him?



The Power of Resurrection

I love spring when warm winds and rains melt the snow. Seeds buried beneath are resurrected into beautiful flowers. Last autumn’s cocoons morph into colorful butterflies. Human spirits are lifted from winter’s doldrums. How can such power make that happen? Though science can explain it, the human heart is awed by it.

Speaking of the human heart, sometimes resurrection happens to it, also. Patients have returned from death through heroic efforts of medical personnel, ordinary citizens, and even supernaturally.

The Bible gives several instances of people resurrected from death. A widow's only son was brought to life by Elisha the prophet. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after the body had lain in a tomb for several days. He also raised the daughter of a synagogue ruler named Jairus. Eutychus fell out of a third-story window as he listened to Paul preach, and revived from death.

These people eventually died a second time, proving that though their resurrection constituted a miracle of God, it was not permanent.

Jesus' death on the cross, however, was not final. His resurrection proves He truly is the Son of God. His resurrection assures believers of their future inheritance in heaven and their own resurrection when Jesus returns. He appeared to many people for 40 days following His resurrection and prior to His ascension to heaven.

God is a God of powerful and mighty acts, the resurrection of His only Son being the most power-filled of all. The substantiated truth of Jesus’ resurrection has kept Christianity alive through centuries. Faith in His resurrection has brought about—and still brings about—the death of countless Christians who are willing to suffer and die for their Savior. All but one of Jesus' 12 apostles went to their death for His sake.

The apostle Paul spent his life spreading the Gospel of Christ. "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:10-11)

Christians are called to do the same today. When we have the hope and promise of being resurrected from the dead and given a new, incorruptible life with Christ, it becomes incumbent on us to share that good news. No other religion offers such a hope and promise. Like Jesus' apostles and His followers throughout history, we can rejoice in the power of His resurrection.

Lord, we rejoice in Your resurrection power. We thank You that we can declare, "He lives!" Bless us as we share the good news of Your resurrection. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, March 18, 2013


God truly does bring good from negative circumstances. We can’t predict what lies ahead (what a blessing that is!), but we can depend on God using it to bring us to a closer relationship with Him. And that always gives our hearts the peace and joy He wants us to experience. God is good all the time. In the midst of good and bad alike.


More Love to Thee

A woman by the name of Elizabeth Prentiss was known for her quick wit and for her happiness in and devotion to her family. Though strong in spirit, however, she was physically frail almost to the point of being an invalid. And she suffered greatly from the loss of two children. In her journal she wrote, "Empty hands, a worn-out, exhausted body, and unutterable longings to flee from a world that has so many sharp experiences." Her words tell a story of inconsolable grief.

Life may be happy and carefree for us one day and then, boom! Something happens to bring us down into despair. Or perhaps our despair creeps up on us slowly until it becomes too heavy to bear. At times we may long to flee from our harsh world.

Elizabeth Prentiss’s faith remained firm, however. One day while meditating on the Bible story of Jacob and how God met him in a special way during his time of need and sorrow, she prayed that she too might have a similar experience. Out of her time of meditation came the inspired words to the hymn—"More Love to Thee." The words have become a universal prayer for believers everywhere.

"More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee! Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee; this is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee … Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest; now Thee alone I seek—give what is best; this all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ, to Thee … Let sorrow do its work, send grief and pain; sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain, when they can sing with me, more love, O Christ, to Thee … Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise; this be the parting cry my heart shall raise; this still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ, to Thee."

During this season of meditating on Christ’s death and resurrection, we can be encouraged by His example. Knowing what faced Him, He remained focused on demonstrating His Father’s love to those around Him.

The words to this old hymn remind us to look beyond our problems, resolving to love Christ more and more, regardless of our circumstances.

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12)

Lord, like Elizabeth Prentiss, we pray for our hearts to love You more so we can show Your love to everyone we meet. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Loving our Unlovable Neighbor is not Easy, but Do-able with God’s Help

Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Could He mean the grouch who never says “thank you?” The boss who criticizes you for praying over your lunch? The sibling who steals your parents’ inheritance? The so-called friend who tells lies about you? Such actions easily bring strong reactions: avoidance, anger, hatred, retaliation, or worse. But Jesus said we are to pray for our enemies. Rather than react to their wrong deeds, we are to act in love. As Jesus did on our behalf. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things … and endures all things. Love never fails.


Second Best
Containers of food pantry items often overflow with boxes of cereal, packages of rice, and other items to be distributed to homeless and low-income people. What a great contribution from those with a generous heart! On the other hand, some people donate only their throw-aways. Why should the recipients have to eat our stale, worthless food—our dregs?

Perhaps food shelf organizations should insist on inspecting all donations before accepting them. That would surely mean fewer donations, more work on the part of volunteers, and perhaps anger from the donors. Yet, how would we feel if we were on the receiving end? Would we be thankful for any free food? Would we feel slighted at receiving old stuff, believing that the church or organization didn’t care that much about us? Would we vow never to accept handouts or ask for help again?

The burden of responsibility and action must be on the donor. The Bible has much to say about giving our best. The Israelites were told to offer the fat of animals—the most prized portion of the meat—as a sacrifice to God. And they were to give their best with willing hearts.

Jesus also taught about responsible giving. After following God’s first commandment to love Him with our whole heart, soul, and mind, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Who among us would not want the best portion? We all strive to be the best, have the best, and glory in our best—selfish humans as we are. Yet Jesus tells us to love others as much as we love ourselves. Such a command is not easy. It requires sacrifice. Love. Humility. Giving our best to those we dislike and disdain.

Jesus’ parable about God’s judgment teaches us about sacrificial giving, about giving our best. “I was hungry and you gave Me food … thirsty and you gave Me drink … a stranger and you took Me in … naked and you clothed Me … sick and you visited Me … in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)

When the righteous asked how that could be, He answered: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (verse 40)

Lord, we want to give our best to You and to Your people. Help us release our selfish hold on things for the sake of those in need. We want to follow Your example of sacrificial love and generosity. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Hold Fast to the Things Eternal

I can hardly believe how easy it is to let go of the important things while keeping a death-hold on the things that are worthless. Join me in prayer today for the will and desire to release our hold on “the things which are seen (that) are temporary” so we can grasp the unseen, eternal truths of our Lord.


Holding On

I have an unwanted guest in my house. His name is Arthur-itis. You may know him well. Sometimes he causes me to lose my grip on things. At other times, he seizes my joints until I can’t let go, causing pain and anguish. And he leaves his calling card as he follows me around—red, swollen, misshapen lumps on my fingers.

Osteoarthritis is a common malady among us older folks. There are remedies that can help—a change in diet, exercise, heat therapy, and certain pain medications. But it takes persistence and patience, prayer and planning to reduce the hold arthritis has on our bodies and the effect it has on our minds. Even though we may suffer from the malady, we don’t have to let it take hold of our life.

I suffered from another itis in my younger days. I call it sin-itis. I brought it on myself, partying at the neglect of my family and my health. Oh, I clung to my faith with one weak pinkie, so to speak, yet knew it wasn’t enough. I knew that the stubborn hold I had on my lifestyle would eventually destroy me. Nothing would change until I surrendered to God and accepted His perfect will, releasing the hold on my flawed self-will. Finally, through God’s supernatural grace, I let go.

We tend to hold on to many worthless things. Remember reading about the man who insisted he be buried sitting in his classic car? Though a far-fetched, silly example, it gives us pause to think about the things we also hold onto, things we aren’t willing to let go. Such things don’t have to be visible. For instance, we can hold onto bad habits and bad attitudes as well as anger or unforgiveness. Anything we cling to that does not promote our well-being or our relationship with people and with God can choke us with pain and anguish, as surely as osteoarthritis can.

Jesus said we should “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Paul writes about the importance of “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 ….” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)

Lord, help us relinquish our hold on physical things, bad habits, and bad attitudes—anything that keep us from loving You above all else and from seeking to follow You. In Jesus’ name, amen.