Saturday, April 19, 2014

He Is Risen! - Lenten Journey Day 40 Devotional - April 19, 2014

And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” – Revelation 1:18

An Empty Tomb. 

Historical scholars, regardless of faith, do not deny that Jesus walked the earth.  His presence is recorded throughout a variety of secular and religious documents. 

And while the weight and magnitude of Jesus’ crucifixion rest differently on the hearts of non-believers vs. believers, nobody denies this either, for it is thoroughly chronicled in art and text. 

But, that is not where the story ends.

See, if Jesus was just a man who came, did good works, and proclaimed that he died for us, the most I could do is to remember Jesus of Nazareth, a courageous and loving martyr for mankind. 

But that’s not what I call Him. 

An empty tomb forces all of us to turn the page.

From death to life. 

From a crucified Lamb to a resurrected King; it is here I find my Christ Jesus.

The Anointed One and His anointing. 

Don’t get me wrong, His sacrifice cries out to me three compelling words, “I love you”.  It echoes into my very spirit. 

I love Him because He died for me. 

However, I WORSHIP Him because of three other words…..“He is RISEN.” 

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen… - Matthew 28:5-6

These three words bring me to my knees to worship my Savior, who died, returned to life, and is alive today!  

As we’ve walked through this Lenten journey, God has shown us many things. As we picked up our Cross and walked along Jesus to Good Friday, He has shown us the areas in our life that need to die: unforgiveness, materialism, addictions, greed, poor self-esteem, fear, lust, anger, excuses.  He placed the nails in our hands and said, leave these on the Cross.

On Ash Wednesday, I sat in our chapel with a paper in my hand.  I asked God, “what do you want me to lay down for this season?” 

In that moment He gave me a glimpse into this Journey.  I saw tears, gladness, frustration, peace, fear, and faith.  I saw myself being confronted with my own insecurities and imperfections.  I saw myself stripped of my normal securities and left with nothing to pacify me.  I saw an old self dying away.  Then God added, “and, you’re going to write about it and share it with others.”

So with shaky hands I wrote one word on that paper, “ME”. 

It was “me” that I needed to lie down and I was afraid because I knew this was our last encounter; some can return to their Lenten sacrifice after forty days, but I would never get to pick her back up again. 

But here’s what I do know about that version of me after forty days – I don’t want her back.  I echo Paul’s words, “my old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). 

This Lenten Journey was a challenging one.  With the focus on giving up and sacrifice, at times it felt very uninviting.  But as I approach the Empty Tomb today I rejoice, because Christ's final call to you and me through this journey is not to die…

It is a call to walk in our destiny.
It is a call not to compromise.
It is a call to lay down our own strength and grab a hold of his promises with both hands.

It is a call to LIVE.

Because the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in us!

It is a call to stop holding back and unleash His resurrection power.

I know what He can do.  You are reading the words of someone who didn’t think she had a day’s worth of words to share with you, let alone forty!  Yet here we are.   You’re reading the words of someone who has seen a period of unemployment lead to miraculous encounters that money could never buy.  

I have seen God do the impossible. 

And you know what?  He’s not done yet. 

I believe that God wants to continue to transform each of us so that we can transform the lives of those around us.  I believe our Christ journey as friends will continue.  I believe today, we will step out of that Empty Tomb into the fullness of His power!

Let’s continue to grow together, shall we?

Happy Resurrection Sunday to you all!

I conclude this Lenten Journey and speak Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14 over you:

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

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