Tag: easter

Life and Death

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As of today we officially have 3 teenage boys in our house. Soon enough there will be 4. For their 13th Birthdays we like to take them to the local cemetery just to let the brevity of life sink in. ¬†At least that’s the tradition we started today ūüôā Our destination was actually a nearby pond where Nathan wanted to try out his new bass rod and reel. The pond happens to be adjacent to an old cemetery that we have explored numerous times but today as the boys fished and Tom read, there was a new poignancy about the place as I wandered around the 150-year-old markers.

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The stories one reads between the lines of birth and death on the stones are pioneering dramas, written with the blood, sweat, and tears of mountain life and loss. ¬†Ol’ Mr. Breckenridge who was “killed by Indians.” The 1 and 4 year-old siblings who died just 4 days apart. The Kirkland babies–one died at 11 months and 3 years later her sister was born only to die that same day. ¬†The 2 unnamed Osborne babies. ¬†And right nearby, the 3 unnamed Wooley children. ¬†The heart wrenching sorrow and pain speak on through the stoney silence.

I was using my time there today to memorize the next couple verses in the Romans 8 Memory Challenge (click here for more info on that). ¬†“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirt of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:14,15). Looking around me I realized I was standing in the middle of everyone’s very worst fears. ¬†The pervasive fear of death, of sickness, of suffering, of loss now controlling every aspect of our country can only be described as a Spirit of slavery. ¬†Fear so paralyzing it inhibits any sense of sound judgement and judicious reasoning seems to have shackled the whole world.

Romans 8 says those who are led by the Spirit of God are His children, ¬†“fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him (Rom. 8:17). ¬†Whoa. That’s a big caveat there, Pauly. “PROVIDED WE SUFFER WITH HIM.” If you have received the Spirit of adoption, if you are a child of God, ¬†you’ve been bequeathed a remarkable inheritance. The gift of suffering has been entrusted to God’s family. ¬†But it’s not the kind of suffering the world is living in so much fear of today. ¬†On the outside our suffering might look very much like Mr. Breckenridge’s, or the Kirklands’ or the Osbornes’ or the Wooleys’. ¬†It might look like Covid-19 or the extraordinary loss of freedom and financial security that has accompanied it. But suffering WITH Christ is a thing altogether different. Verse 17 continues by explaining the distinction with just these few words, “in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”

Some 2 millennia ago. Christ subjected Himself to murder by the hands of the sinful men He created. He did this to satisfy the wrath of a Holy Father against all ungodliness and to purchase by His blood a people, spiritual sons and daughters, who through His Spirit can cry “Abba! Father!” That same Christ was buried in a real tomb in a real cemetery full of the corruption and decay and stories of suffering like I was surrounded by today.

But because He was God, that same Christ, by the power of His own Spirit, did what no other corpse could do. He rose victoriously, gloriously from the grave!  Conquering, crushing, smashing sin and destroying death! The result is this stunning proclamation in Romans 8:1,

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ¬†For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

Brothers and Sisters! ¬†We are no longer slaves of sin or sickness or the kind of suffering that leads to death. Our suffering can lead only to one thing and that is the thing for which it was intended. GLORY! That glory was bought through Christ’s own suffering and secured through His resurrection and ascension. ¬†As surely as we will share with Him in His suffering, we will be glorified with Him through the resurrection of the dead. ¬†Verse 11 assures us that,

“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to many people, including 7 fisherman who had caught nothing all night. He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and when they did they hauled in 153 fish. ¬†“Come and have breakfast,” ¬†He said to them. And there on the shore around a charcoal fire they dined together on bread and fish with their risen Lord (John 21:1-14).

Tomorrow is our emancipation day. The day we celebrate being set free from sin and death and the fear that enslaves us. ¬†We will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord sure of the hope of glory that event secured for all who believe. ¬†We will face the strangeness of isolation from our extended families and church bodies at this time knowing “the suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be reveled to us” (Rom. 8:18).

And we will, at least our family will, eat fish. Course with all these teenage boys now I may need 153 to fill them up.

He is risen!

Devo 27

‚ÄúAnd we have this prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.‚Ä̬† 2 Peter 1:19

Have you ever felt yourself in a dark place?  Friend, even without feeling it, without Christ you are there now!  So please, pay attention!  I’m about to shine a lamp for you and Lord willing daylight will dawn, and the Bright and Morning Star will rise in your heart. You see, without Christ, your situation is just like that of the Israelites in Isaiah 59:2,3.

‚ÄúYour iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden HIs face from you so that He does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity;¬† your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.‚ÄĚ ¬†

In verse 9-13 Isaiah describes clearly the human condition because of our sin.

‚ÄúWe hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes‚Ķ We hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.¬† For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us;¬† for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.‚ÄĚ

This is a dark and hopeless situation indeed.¬† But Isaiah continues and offers the very kind of illuminating and hope-filled prophetic word Peter was confirming in the passage above. ¬†In verse 16, God affirms that due to fallenness of our nature there is not a single thing we can do to make things right with Him. ¬†So get this. ¬†“His own arm brought him salvation.” ¬†He knew we couldn’t save ourselves so He came down and made atonement for us. ¬†But how? ¬†The very next chapter in Isaiah gives us a hint of what’s to come.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. ¬†For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; ¬†but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. ¬†And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

First, Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, was born in human form.  Right before that a man name John was born who was appointed to

“go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of ¬†death.”

Next, Jesus lived a perfect sinless life, fulfilling the righteous requirements of God in every way thus becoming the spotless lamb, willing and able to give His life as a sacrifice for all who lived in rebellion against Him.  The Son of God handed over His body to be brutally beaten and hung on a Roman cross, a laughing stock to those He came to save.  And as he He hung there, this rejected Savior of man, this forsaken Son of God, thick darkness came over the land.  He died.  He was buried.

Three days later, after the sun had risen, Jesus’ friends came to His tomb. ¬†But THE SON had RISEN! ¬†Not only had He conquered sin, He had beaten death! ¬†And He offers that same sin slaying, death destroying power of new, everlasting life to all who trust in His righteousness alone as the means by which they can stand before a holy, wrathful, and yet graciously merciful God.

Do you see this lamp shining, showing you the only way out of your eternal peril? ¬†Has the Son of God, the Bright Morning Star risen in your own heart? ¬†He IS risen, friend. ¬†He IS risen indeed. ¬†And He’s coming again as judge. ¬†Are you ready to stand before His soul- penetrating light in life or in death? ¬†Today can be the day of salvation for you! ¬†Call on Jesus and be saved!