Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Hero Lives!

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Romans 8:11 

Our culture continually produces TV shows and movies about great adventures. They are usually stories of good vs. evil. The adventure recounts the journey of the good side defeating the dark side, usually through a hero. 

Everywhere I see the Christian story retold ... or at least longed for! We are inspired by a hero. We cheer him on and rejoice in his victories. We want and need a hero.

Christ's disciples had a Hero. They lived with him and watched him restore sight to the blind. They saw him free people from the prison of guilt and shame brought on by their sinful lives. They watched their Hero heal lepers in an instant and command paralytics to walk with a word. They sighed in relief while he calmed fierce storms and watched in awe while he walked on water. 

Some even saw him bring dead people back to life!

Through all these miracles, Jesus showed his authority over disease, sin, nature ... and even death. Whether we think he does or not, the creator of the world has complete authority over his creation. This includes you and me.

After years of Christianity, one day it all became real for me. A heartfelt prayer on my knees during a desperate time was answered. When I asked God if He was really real, He showed me His face. After years attending church, I met my Hero face to face and heart to heart. And in that precious moment I discovered something that changed my life.

He loves me!

He loves me, and He accepts and embraces me completely. As His Word promises, I asked and I received. I looked for Him and found Him. I knocked and the door to a full life was opened wide, never to be shut again!

Jesus Christ revealed Himself and I entered the greatest adventure of life--a life of getting to know the ultimate Hero in a personal way, every day, for the rest of my days. 

Thank You, Lord, for the joy of Easter! Thank You that I know You are alive because I've met You. Thank You that You are indeed real and You care deeply about this world and about me!

Thank you that as we seek You, we discover that You've been here all along, for You are a living God. Thank You, Lord, that Your love changes us, and that the closer we know You and experience Your love and acceptance, the more we want to live for You. 

Your plan, Lord, is perfect. Thank You that I am a part of it. Help me today to reveal Your glory in the world, for our broken and sinful world needs a Hero, one who can save, redeem, restore, and recreate. Thank You, Lord, that You make everything new and that, when we meet You and give our lives to You, the world's best adventure begins.

Have a blessed and joyful Easter rejoicing in what God has done! 

Dr Mari

For more on the miracle of Easter, read He Is Risen! So What Does That Mean To you and Me?

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 
1 Corinthians 15:20-22 

 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
Matthew 7:7

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John 3:21

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Ephesians 4:1

Friday, April 18, 2014

It's Friday ... but Sunday's Coming!

Yesterday was my favorite day in the church's calendar yearMaundy Thursday. We set aside this day to remember what happened the day before Jesus died. We remember the humility and vulnerability of Jesus wrapping a towel around His waist and stooping down to wash His disciples' feet. We remember the command He gave us on the night He was betrayed to love one another. 

I've often wondered ... did any of them get up and offer to wash His feet? Probably not. They were likely too stunned to think of that.

With clean, fresh feet, the disciples then enjoyed one last meal with their Rabbi, though they didn't comprehend the depth of what was taking place. In the Last Supper, Jesus shared with His disciples a heavenly secret they'd not grasp until later, after His resurrection. Jesus would leave behind a way to abide in each of them (and us!) in the mystery of the Eucharist.

After these moving acts of grace that were so packed with meaning, Jesus went to Gethsemane to engage the forces of evil in an unequaled spiritual battle. Through agonizing prayers, Jesus gave up His will entirely to His Father, reminding us that the victory against temptation begins in the mind and heart and is fueled by prayerful surrender to God. 

Yes, Jesus would go to the Cross for you and me. Why? Jesus deemed us worthy

The perfect, blameless One would give up His life for broken, imperfect, sinning you and me.

The spotless Lamb of God would fall so that this fallen race could rise.

Nothing in all of life reveals our exceeding worth as human beings like the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God Himself, would choose to give His life for each of us. 

This certainty fills me with the desire to give my life for Him, becoming a living sacrifice like Him.

This knowledge makes me want to live a life worthy of Christ's great sacrifice.

And, thankfully, the Spirit that comes to live within me as I receive Christ's sacrifice on my behalf enables me to live a life worthy of His sacrifice. As John 14:18 assures us, He did not leave us as orphans, but He left His Spirit to empower us to live for Him.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for Jesus' disciples to suddenly see Him hanging on the Cross He freely chose. This short video brings it home and points to the Hope of Easter. Before you go watch it, ponder this great truth with me:

Jesus thinks you're worthy of His death. 
How does this change you?

Worthy!
Dr Mari

For if, by the trespass of the one man (Adam), death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 
Romans 5:16-18
 
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 
2 Corinthians 5:20-21

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.
Philippians 3:7-9 

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:9-14 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  
Romans 12:1-3

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.
1 Peter 2:4-5

For more Lent reflections, read What's So Good About Good Friday?