Tag Archive | devotional

The Resurrection and Our Hope No Matter What

What is the correct response to the coronavirus? Should we have fear or faith?

Well, the answer to that question depends on where you’re coming from and your understanding of this world…

The Bible teaches Christians that through Christ, no matter what we face, we can have faith. We can have hope.

Reflecting on the resurrection of Jesus helps us have faith. It helps us see that we have a solid, untouchable hope.

In Acts chapter 2, Peter refers to Psalm 16 which is a Psalm that king David wrote. Psalm 16:27 says, “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.” In Peter’s message he said: Friends, I can confidently tell you something about king David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us today (Acts 2:29). David is dead and his body rotted.

David did, however, as a prophet tell us that one of his descendants would sit on his throne (v. 30). So, David saw in advance and told us about “the resurrection of the Messiah: ‘His body was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did His body see decay’” (v. 31).

Paul tells us the same thing but he says it a little differently. He says King “David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption” (Acts 13:36). King David saw corruption. His body decomposed. So, David is not the “Holy One” that the Psalm refers to.

Paul goes on to say, “But He whom God raised up did not see corruption” (v. 37). Ding, ding, ding! Jesus is the Holy One! He is the long-awaited Messiah and forever King!

Jesus is the fulfillment of David’s prophecy. Jesus was neither abandoned to the grave nor did His body undergo decay. Peter said that God raised Him up and that he was a witness of that truth (Acts 2:32). And so Peter, the faithless denier, became faithful even to the point of death, and even the death of upside-down crucifixion.[1]

Therefore, Peter’s body, and our bodies can dwell in hope (Ps. 16: 9) even when they are buried six-feet under because of the resurrection of Messiah Jesus![2] So, when those in Christ die we grieve but not as those with no hope (1 Thess. 4:13). We have hope because of Jesus’ resurrection (v. 14)!

Jesus is the first bodily resurrection in a long line of resurrections. Therefore, no matter what we face—“tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine”—nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (see Rom. 8:31-39).

Therefore, we don’t need to fear famine, we don’t need to panic at the prospect of a pandemic. Why not? Because Jesus says, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore” (Rev. 1:17-18).

I’m not sure what the mortality rate of the coronavirus but the mortality rate for all of us is 100%. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that the Judgment.”

We will all die so what hope do we have? Jesus! His body did not see corruption! He is the suffering one as promised in Psalm 22 and He is the Holy One as promised in Psalm 16.

Through Jesus we have hope. His body did not see corruption, He rose from the dead. And all those who trust in Him will rise as He was raised. And so, “Fear not” (Rev. 1:17). Jesus is the First and the Last, He is the Living One. He died but behold He is alive forevermore.

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[1] Tradition says that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome under Emperor Nero. See also John 21:18-19.

[2] This is true of David’s body, Peter’s body, and it’s true of all those in Christ, because Jesus, though crucified, did not see corruption! Jesus rose from the dead and He will bring a large host with Him (Is. 53:11, 12)! 1 Corinthians 15 talks about Jesus being the firstfruits, and there’s a ton of more “fruit” to come (v. 20, 23)!

Not Afraid, Really?…

Photo by JR Korpa 

“I will not be afraid of tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me on every side” (Psalm 3:6).

This verse by itself makes no sense and is even dangerous. I would be afraid and very afraid if thousands of people had it out for me. This would especially be the case if they were on every side. 😬

How could the psalmist write this? Why would David, the author, be so puffed up? It seems he’s either arrogant or amazingly naive.

Of course, with anything that’s written, no less the Bible, context is absolutely vital!

What we did not see yet about Psalm 3 is that David had already written, “I cried to the LORD, and He answered me” (v. 4). And so David could rest even in the midst of a very scary situation. David says, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me” (v. 5).

In the midst of all the many difficulties we face, may we with David confess: “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (v. 8). May we cry out to the LORD for help. May we take comfort knowing that He is our shield (v. 3). And then May we rest in His powerful and capable care.

“Be kind to one another”

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).

There is a right way and a wrong way to live. That is not popular to say but it is the undiluted truth. The right way is in accord with “the way [we] learned Christ” (Eph. 4:20). The wrong way to live involves “hardness of heart” (Eph. 4:18), callousness (Eph. 4:19), and corruption through deceitful desires (Eph. 4:22).

So, there are certain things we should not do. There is a wrong way to live and act. It is damaging and even devilish (James 3:15). 

Therefore, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” We should not be resentful. Sinful anger should have no place in our lives. Foolish arguments should never be heard to come from our mouths. We should never speak wrong of others. How can we try to tarnish a person made in God’s image (James 3:9)?! Lastly, how can we have ill-will for someone when God the Son paid the ultimate price for us?! How can we not be transformed by our heavenly Father’s sacrificial love so that we extend grace and love even to our enemies?!

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Be Eager to Maintain Unity

“Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2).

I quoted this verse to my daughter today and she looked at me with a confused look and said, “What does that mean?” 

That’s always a good question. I explained to her that in the Church we are all one big family and so we need to stay together and get along. We need to make sure that even when we’re mad and hurt by each other we work at still forgiving each other.

It is very necessary that we read this verse and heed its exhortation. It will inevitably be a verse we have to apply in our own lives. So, as my daughter asked, “what does it mean?” And I would add, “how do we do it?” and “what motivation are we given to obey?”

What does this verse mean?

It says to be “eager”? That means to want to do or have something very much. What do you do when you want something really bad? You pursue it. You work to get it. Even if there are opticals you keep at it. That needs to be us. We need to be zealous in our pursuit of unity. 

Notice also that we are to want to “maintain” the unity. Unity is not just important at one point in one situation. We should desire and work towards maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace at all times and through all situations. 

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All His Benefits

“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).

If we are to rightly praise the LORD then we must know the LORD. We must know things about Him. We must know things about what He has done. We must know and not forget all His benefits.

“All His benefits.” I like that phrase.

When someone is thinking about taking a job they consider what the benefits of the job are. “Will I get enough vacation? Is the health insurance good enough?”

Yet the Lord gives “all His benefits” for free! Not as payment for work. The LORD heaps benefits on all those “who fear Him” (v. 11) because God is a God of “steadfast love and mercy” (v. 4).

God does not pay us for our sins as we deserve (v. 10). If He did that would be bad news and we certainly wouldn’t get all the benefits we enjoy. Just like a good Father, however, God shows great compassion and care to all who fear Him (v. 13).

The LORD forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies, and strengthens (v. 3-5). The LORD is merciful and gracious and slow to anger (v. 6). The LORD’s love is vast beyond comprehension. It is high—higher than the heavens, it is vast—further than the east is from the west, and it is long—from everlasting to everlasting (v. 11, 12, 17).

So, praise the LORD! Praise the LORD because He shows mercy and withholds the punishment we deserve. Praise the LORD because He shows grace and heaps on all sorts of blessings we don’t deserve. Praise the LORD because of who He is and all He has done.

Why did Jesus flip over tables?

“And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And He would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple” (Mark 11:15-16).

Why did Jesus drive out those who sold and bought in the temple? Why did He flip over tables? That seems pretty extreme. Why was He so worked up? What was such a big deal? I mean in some ways the moneychangers actually helped people it would seem.

When I was in Germany, for instance, I had to go to the “moneychangers” to get euros. Without the moneychangers, after all, I would have had no schnitzel. Further, pigeons were sold. That is actually pretty convenient. Because who wants to have to haul a pigeon halfway across the known world? Not me. So, what was the deal with Jesus getting upset?

It seems that money was not the only issue. In fact, maybe not the biggest issue. Though, Jesus does mention that the moneychangers were essentially robbers (again, reminds me of the bank in Germany where I got my euros). But I think the bigger issue is what the Temple was intended to be and what it had become. It clearly was never meant to be “a den of robbers” but “a house of prayer.” A house of prayer “for all peoples,” it says.

The moneychangers were in the “Court of the Gentiles,” that’s basically equivalent to where Gentiles (non-Jews/”the nations”) would worship. As you can imagine that would obstruct worship. It would be a hindrance from Gentiles, “the nations,” from worshiping the Lord. This is the converse, as Jesus pointed out, of what Isaiah said: “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Is. 56:7).

Jesus brings blessing and salvation to all peoples but at the temple people were hindered from worshiping. That is why Jesus was furious. And rightly so. May we never be worthy of Jesus’ wrath for that same sin. 

May we never prevent or hinder people from coming to the LORD, even if they are convenient or important things that we don’t want to give up. May we work to destroy unnecessary stumbling blocks. And may the church be a house and family that welcomes all people in!

We Harvest what we Plant

“If you sow to the flesh you will reap from the flesh, reap corruption. But if you sow to the Spirit you will reap from the Spirit, reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8).

Sowing and reaping are not things most of us are really familiar with, let alone sewing and weeping. So, what does it mean to sow? To sow means to plant seeds. 

What does it mean to reap? To reap means to gather, to harvest what was planted.

If a farmer plants corn what do they collect at the end? They gather corn. Whatever we plant we harvest. You can’t plant beans and expect wheat to grow. That’s not how things work.

In life it is the same way. What we plant we gather. Where we work is where we get paid. What we sow we reap.

In this verse, we see that in life there are only two types of seeds to plant. There are only two options of things that we can harvest at the end. 

We can plant towards the flesh, that is, we can just care about and live for our physical and material life. What, however, is the end of all physical life? It is death and decay. It is corruption. It is decomposition. If we live merely for the flesh we don’t get a very good return on our work.

If we plant towards the Spirit the harvest is much different. At the end, there will be eternal life. And because this is the case, we have huge motivation to continue planting towards the Spirit. Because we will reap at the appointed time if we don’t give up (Gal. 5:9).

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