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Hope Springs Eternal

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“But 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.”  Romans 8:11

 On a regular basis, I deal with situations of deep and overwhelming heartbreak.  It is an occupational hazard for me.  I am regularly at hospitals, funeral homes and cemeteries.  In these moments, we pray for God’s healing.  I believe that God does answer prayers, and even brings healing in many cases.  However, He does not always heal someone when we ask Him to.  Sometimes He answers by allowing the illness to progress or He even allows death itself to come.  We pray for miracles and yet He has perfect knowledge and perfect timing in these moments, even when we cannot see His orchestration of events from our limited viewpoint. All we can see is illness ravaging our loved one’s body.  We see death’s definitive reality.  It feels hopeless. It seems like our hearts will never heal.  We cannot see the divine workings around us and through us.

This must have been how the disciples’ felt.  They saw the soldiers arrest Jesus.  Some of them followed along to the place of His trials.  They saw Him crucified, and they watched Him die.  Two of His disciples took His dead body down from the cross and placed it in a tomb nearby.  Grief, pain, heartache, disillusionment, anger, despair, and much, much more, must have dominated the thinking and emotions of the disciples.  Their pain was so deep that they may have literally felt death’s grip on themselves as they contemplated the death of Christ.  “He’s gone.”  “Our lives were a fraud.”  “We have followed Him in vain.” “We should have never gotten involved.”  “If we had stayed in Galilee and minded our own business, our ignorance of these events could have provided protection from this painful reality.”  “My heart aches to the point of breaking beyond any repair.”  God allowed the three days of overwhelming, penetrating loneliness to permeate the lives of these followers.  His message to them was painfully clear.  “Here is the reality of sin and death.”  “Here is the reality of brokenness in this life.”  The disciples were going to minister to a fledgling church racked with persecution, suffering, and even death.  God gave the disciples the clearest demonstration of the penetrating impact of the ravages of human sin.  Then, like the breaking of the dawn as it defeats the power of the night’s darkness, God demonstrated His victory over death.  God breathes life back into Jesus Christ.  In that one moment, in that first inhale of oxygen into Christ’s lungs, God shattered the power of sin and death forever in our lives.  It took the disciples all day long to grapple with the meaning of it all.  From despair, to confusion, to doubts, to wonder, to faith, to joy, on the day Christ had risen from the dead the disciples processed all that had transpired.  God had instantly destroyed all the power of sin and death over His chosen ones.  It took these disciples all day, even several days, to understand it all.  

It is not surprising that we take time to work through similar emotions.  When someone is sick or dies we, like the disciples, work through a series of emotions.  We despair.  We are confused.  We doubt.  We then begin to see these trials in light of the breaking dawn of the resurrection of Christ.  We begin to imagine the implications of His empty tomb, especially in the life of our precious husband, wife or child.  Faith is renewed through the work of God’s gracious presence.  Faith is established through our contemplation of His Word.  The final, victorious emotion comes after days, weeks, months or even years: Joy.  Victorious joy comes and overpowers our despair.  This joy is ours as we allow the truth of what God has done in Christ to seep into the crevasses of our mind.  Why does the resurrection of Christ bring hope when my spouse, parent or child dies?  Because God has a habit of bringing His children back from the dead.  In Romans 8:11, Paul tells us that in the same way that God raised Jesus Christ, He will also raise us up.  The Spirit of God dwells in us and accomplishes many things in our lives.  There is a work to be done by the Holy Spirit that is in the future.  He will bring life to our mortal bodies.  He will do this.  We know that He will because He already has.  God has a habit of bringing life into the mortal bodies of His beloved children. Hope springs eternal.  Even now Lord Jesus, come.

Posted by Daniel Sweet with

Resurrection Sunday of the 40 Days of Prayer, 1 Day of Celebrations

Resurrection Sunday, April 1 of the 40 Days of Prayer, 1 Day of Celebration: The 2018 prayer focus in preparation of our worship of Christ for His death for our sins and the celebration for His resurrection that gives us eternal life.

Verses of the Day:  
Matthew 28:5-7  The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

Philippians 2:9-11 “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Prayer for the Day:
Jesus, we declare that You are Lord.  You were Lord over Your own life, with all authority You laid it down for us and took it up again.  You are Lord over sin, death and the grave, having died and risen again.  You were Lord of the heavens and Lord of the earth since the beginning of time.  You forever reign over all of the created universe.  You are the Lord of my life both now and forever.  You are Lord of eternity and Lord over the church.  You are the risen and exalted Lord.

Posted by Daniel Sweet with

Good Friday of the 40 Days of Prayer, 1 Day of Celebrations

Good Friday, March 30 of the 40 Days of Prayer, 1 Day of Celebration: The 2018 prayer focus in preparation of our worship of Christ for His death for our sins and the celebration for His resurrection that gives us eternal life.

Verses of the Day:
Luke 23:50-56 And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Prayer for the Day:
Lord Jesus, they laid Your body in the tomb.  The hopelessness and despair of that moment, that would be my hopelessness and despair were it not for Your resurrection from the dead.  On Friday, death had won and the grave was victorious, but only for a moment in time.  As we remember Your sacrifice today and as we set aside time tonight to worship You for Your work of redemption, may the weight of our own hopelessness and despair, apart from You, flood our souls.  May the joy of Your victorious death and resurrection wash over us as well.  Your victory over sin, death and the grave is now my victory too.  I was lost but You found me.  I was condemned but You justified me.  I was dead but You raised me.

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