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It’s a frosty morning here in the northland. As I took the dog out to do his morning duties I noticed that shadow of our house neatly outlined with the morning frost.

The difference? The warmth of the sun had not yet risen high enough to melt the coldness from the night before. It was the warmth of the rising sun that made all the difference. It was the warmth of the riding sun that dissolved the darkness and brought life.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. The day we remember when another SON rose from the darkness. He too dissolves the darkness and melts the coldness of our hearts. The more he rises in our lives the less coldness and darkness have a chance!

Hallelujah for the RISEN SON!

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Matthew 26:17 (NLT)


To make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity;

To put in a proper state of mind.

Have you ever considered the many ways that we prepare for something? Life throws a multitude of events in our lives that require preparation. Some preparation is enjoyable, even if stressful. For example, the preparing for the holidays is full of activity. There’s baking to be done, gifts to buy, holiday parties to plan, host or attend, family gatherings to travel to. Stressful? Certainly, but those are the things that memories are made of and the stress is forgotten long before the memories grow stale.

Other things of life may not be positive. Preparing for the funeral of a loved one is difficult at best. Making the arrangements; comforting those who have come to comfort you; reliving the many stories and memories; picking up the pieces left by the hole in your life all demand preparation in before life can return to normal. There is no time to prepare for these kinds of events.

Sometimes preparation can involve every kind of emotion thrown together into one huge melting pot. Life changes such as divorce can be the healthiest thing for you physically or emotionally even though it carries the pain that is very similar to the death of a spouse. Graduation forces you to look ahead to the next chapter of life with excitement, anticipation, fear, hope and virtually every other emotion known to mankind. Retirement can be exciting to look forward to, but many, upon reaching that time period are at a loss as to what to do to fill their time or feel value.

For the Jew, living in Jesus day, Passover was a mixed bag of emotion. On the one hand they celebrated the deliverance of God’s people from Egyptian slavery. They had been called to follow a leader who was a known failure; to pursue a promise that had been long forgotten; to heed the call of a God who had been silent for hundreds of years.

As a result they’d enjoyed miraculous miracles and political supremacy which brought peace and prosperity to the nation. Now, under Roman bondage, they looked forward to a new kingdom which they thought was a physical reinstatement of political prominence. Messiah, when he came would be cause for celebration once more.

Some church bodies spend the weeks leading up to Easter and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection in a period of preparation called Lent. For some, this is a time of sacrifice, but Lent should be a time of celebration, not sacrifice, a time of celebration, not mourning. Jesus Christ came to sacrifice his body for us. Now, scripture tells us there is no more need for sacrifice; no more need for mourning.

With this in mind, let us approach this season with celebration. Rather than asking ourselves, “What can I give up for Lent”, let’s ask Jesus what more we can do for his kingdom. The work of the cross was final. Now it’s time to celebrate! Now it’s time to let the world know that when the Son sets us free, we are free indeed!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, as we begin the journey of remembrance of your sacrificial giving for us may we find new ways to serve you. Renew in us a new spiritual vigor to share the freedom we have in you with those in bondage. Thank you for setting us free! Amen.

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Matthew 28:6a

Life can take turns we don’t expect. Sometimes those turns blindside us, catching us off guard and forcing us off the main road onto some narrow and treacherous wilderness path.

Relationships fail. Friends and family we always thought we could count on abandon us or alienate us because they feel betrayed or are apathetic to our pain. Lovers we thought would always be there for us change their minds and look for a ‘better offer’. Careers once thought secure go down in smoke.

Sometimes the biggest disappointments in life come from our own failures. Try as we might, we can’t kick the addictions. We struggle with lust. We want, so we spend money we don’t have to get what we don’t need and find ourselves buried in the canyons of debt.

Like the Apostle Paul, our life battle cry seems to be, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Romans 7:15 (NLT) We strive so hard to be faithful, but worry and doubt when God doesn’t do what we were hoping He’d do. We try to be Christ-like in thoughts and words and deeds until that person, our nemesis, attacks us again and we retaliate. And with each brick of failure we build a wall that imprisons us and keeps us from experiencing the fullness of life.

And then, on those days when we aren’t beating ourselves into the ground there are those who are more than willing to point out our failures. They attempt to force us into their molds. They question our faith, our sincerity, our ability…and even our sanity! And we add another brick.

That’s why I believe in Easter. Easter reminds me that all of this isn’t about me. It’s not about the church I attend. It’s not about religious dogma and tradition. It’s not about these distinctives or that doctrine. It’s not about the songs we sing, the instruments we play or the name on the sign on the church I attend. It’s not about my marital status, my bank account, my credit rating or the past mistakes I’ve made.  It simply is NOT about me.

Easter, like life itself, is about Jesus. He left Heaven to live among us beggars and show us how to love each other as servants. He died to take the punishment we deserved and by so doing, to make forgiveness available to me. He rose so that someday I can go home to be with Him. I can’t wait. I love the beauty of this world but it’s nothing compared to what waits for me on the other side.

The longer I travel on life’s journey the more I realize that no one; NO ONE understands like Jesus. He has seen me through life’s darkest times. He’s been there when I’ve been abandoned and when I’ve ignored Him. He’s welcomed me back when I’ve rebelled and come back beaten and battered. He is, has been and will be a friend that will never, ever leave me.  He’s proven himself to be a friend that is closer than a brother.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. My friend, my comfort and my protection. On this day, more than any other I’m reminded of how unworthy I am to be able to call You Lord. I bow before you in gratitude for all you have done in my life. For the times You’ve opened your arms to me when I’ve failed and comforted me when others have failed me. Thank you for forgiving my stubborn rebellion. Thank you for giving me second and third and forth chances. Thank you that I am your number one. Your masterpiece. That even though I feel like a failure at times You look on me with pride. Amen.

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.  Isaiah 51:1

Stonehenge is a mysterious collection of rocks in England. For years the question of who built it, when they built it and how they built it has mystified scholars. It has stood for thousands of years as a monument to human achievement and creativity. It has weathered world wars, famines, disease and the ravages of time itself.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of the righteous as being those that God has ‘cut from a rock’ and ‘hewn from a quarry’. He’s referring to those who would one day receive the promise of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In Isaiah’s day people looked forward to that rock. Today we look back. But the rock is the same, the promise is intact.

Isaiah says we are cut from a rock, not a bunch of rocks, not a series of quarries. Jehovah God fashioned us just as he wanted so that we would endure the tests of time. Life gets us down from time to time. We can lose site of the rock, lose our energy to go on. But Isaiah reminds us that we are all cut from the same stone; the stone that Adam, David, Ruth, Solomon, Paul, Peter and all the other great men and women of faith were cut from.

It’s not about how much money you make. It’s not about the job you have, the house you live in, or your grade point average, or any other number of things people tend to judge us by. It’s not about the music you like or the church you attend. It’s about realizing that YOU were made by the Creator God for a special purpose. He cut you from rock so that you will endure everything life can through at you. Then he gave you forgiveness through His Son Jesus and power to life through His Holy Spirit.

The next time the enemy attacks, remember who made you and what you are made of!

PRAYER: Creator God, I thank you today that you crafted me from rock that I can withstand all the elements and attacks of the world around me. I humbly accept your forgiveness for the many times I’ve failed to do the things I know I should do. Please help me to allow the Holy Spirit to direct my every thought. Keep me focused on who I am in you. Amen.

Do you have eyes but fail to see and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? Mark 8:18

It’s the inner quality of life that matters most. Too often we become discouraged and distracted by the external circumstances of life and forget the important things. One day when Jesus and the disciples were on a journey it was discovered that they’d failed to bring enough bread for the trip. This shouldn’t have mattered to the disciples. In the past couple weeks they’d seen Jesus miraculously multiply bread and fish to feed 4,000 and 5,000 people respectfully.

Jesus tried to use this opportunity to remind the disciples of the danger of yeast in their lives. In the Bible yeast is used as a symbol of sin. Yeast isn’t seen but it takes very little to change the entire loaf of bread. It wasn’t the lack of bread Jesus was concerned about. It was the hidden doubts and worries that had overtaken the disciples that day. Doubt and worry keeps us from being all God intends for us to be.

I imagine it was with some amazement that Jesus asks the disciples. Don’t you remember what I’ve done in the past? Why are you focusing on issues I can take care of? Guard yourselves from the little things in life that can pull you away from me. Look back at what I’ve done for you. Haven’t I provided more than what you’ve needed in the past? It isn’t the things that you see that will cause you to stumble. It’s those little things, the hidden things in life that can sneak in and steal away your joy, your victory, your success.

Keep your eyes and heart focused on what you’ve seen Jesus do in the past. If He did that for you then, imagine the great things He has in store for your future! Measure tomorrow’s problems by the measuring stick of God’s provision in the past. He has never failed to fulfill his promises. Throughout history he has done just what he said he would do. God has promised us, as His children, that he will never leave you and never forsake you. He will always provide just what you need.

Prayer: Heavenly Father. Thank you that you have given me permission to call you Daddy. Thank you for the promises that you have given to me in the past. As I face the challenges before me help me to remember that you have given me everything I need to succeed in living for you. Help me to set aside my own strength so that I can rely on yours and trust your provision. Amen

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