Devotional

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday – Part Two of Two: A Journey from the Cross to Christ’s Resurrection

Jesus said to the disciples, “Thus it was written and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.” Luke 24:46-48 NKJV

Imagine the disciples’ dismay as they saw the Lord Jesus go to the Cross. Their leader was gone. They expected He would set up His earthly kingdom. Instead Jesus wore a crown of thorns. Killed between thieves, Jesus lay dead in a rich man’s tomb, as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53; Matthew 27).  

They didn’t understand Jesus’ words that He would die and then rise again in three days. They saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, but had anyone ever raised themselves? How hard it was for the words to be real to them.

Then Sunday morning came. Resurrection Sunday! The faithful women who went to anoint Jesus’ body discovered the empty tomb! An angel of the Lord told them, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell the disciples that He is risen from the dead…” Matthew 28:5-7 NKJV

The disciples thought the women’s words were idle tales. Jesus appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus, to Simon, and to the disciples in the upper room before they believed Jesus was alive! (See Mark 16; Luke 24; John 21)

Believing in the risen Lord changed the disciples’ lives! No longer fearful and hiding from authorities in a locked room, the disciples became courageous for the message of Jesus, making disciples and teaching people to obey Jesus.

Would I have believed the women? Would I have been like Thomas and doubted all of the reports? Thomas did not believe until Jesus came saying “Reach…look…Do not be unbelieving but believing.” John 20:24-29

I believe that Jesus is God and that he died and rose again. It is the day-to-day living I struggle with. Sometimes I forget that Jesus’ promises apply to me. Remission of sins…My head agrees, but how quickly I listen to the devil’s accusations that I am not good enough or obedient enough for God.

Jesus promised “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. When things are going badly, it is hard for the words to be real to me.

  If I lived like I believed Jesus was always with me, would I be fearful when facing difficulty? Should I instead trust Him in all things? Yes, in all things.

How about you? Do you believe that Jesus is the risen Lord? Do you doubt like the disciples did? Or do you stand firm in God’s promises?

Let’s bring our doubts and fears to Jesus. He triumphed over the grave! Is there anything too hard for Him? Jesus can change us!

Dear Lord Jesus, Please help me to trust You in all things. When trials come, help my heart and my head to both say “I believe in You, and that You keep Your promises.”  Forgive me of my doubts and attitudes that reflect me and not You. Help me be a witness for You. Amen.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience. The previous devotional follows this one on the web page.

Devotional

A Journey From Palm Sunday through Good Friday and the Cross

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday – Part One of Two

Yet it was the LORD’s will to bruise him; He put Him to grief. When His soul shall constitute an offering for sin, He shall see His followers, He shall prolong His days, by His hand shall the LORD’s will advance. The results of the sufferings of His life He shall see—He shall be satisfied. By knowledge of Him shall My Righteous Servant make many righteous, for He shall bear their guilt.  Isaiah 53:10-11 MLV  

Resurrection Sunday is coming! It’s a joyful time for Christians, of far greater importance than Easter egg hunts and candy. Yet before we can get to Resurrection Sunday, we must journey from Palm Sunday through Good Friday and the Cross. Without remembering the significance of the Cross, Easter Sunday has little meaning.

Picture the crowd on Palm Sunday, placing branches down on the path before Jesus as He came into Jerusalem on a donkey. They shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! The King of Israel!” (John 12:12-19) Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead and fed the multitudes. The crowd was ready for Him to be king.

Being a political king was not Jesus Christ’s purpose of coming to earth. During His illegal trial before Pontius Pilate, Jesus told him, “You say that I am king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” John 18:37 RSV 

It was not truth the people were interested in. How quickly the crowd was swayed to shout “Crucify Him!”

The Cross did not surprise Jesus. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that the cup of His sacrificial death would pass from Him, but He willingly submitted to His Heavenly Father and to all He knew was coming. “…Not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39) Jesus was committed to His Father’s will. His love for mankind prompted Him to provide the rescue for us even while we were yet unfaithful to Him.      

The Savior’s death should not have surprised the disciples.  Jesus told them, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” (Matthew 26:1-2 NKJV) At the upper room Jesus said, “One of you will betray Me.” The disciples were unaware that Judas Iscariot had made arrangements with the chief priests to betray the Savior for thirty pieces of silver, as prophesied by the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-16, 20-25) Mary of Bethany was one of the few to understand He would die; she anointed Him for His burial. (John 12:1-8)

How can we prepare our hearts as we journey from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday?

  • Reflect on why Jesus came to earth. He bore our guilt to make us righteous through belief in Him.
  • Set aside time to thank God for His love for us. Let’s remember what His love cost Him.
  • Let’s examine the areas where we struggle and need to be faithful to Jesus.
  • Seek truth.

The second part of this devotional series will go into the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

Lord Jesus, may I never take Your love for me for granted. Thank you for suffering and dying for my sins. Thank you for the hope I have in You because You live! In Jesus name, Amen.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience. The previous devotional follows this one on the web page.

Devotional

A Call to Prayer

Therefore I exhort first of all that all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.    I Timothy 2:1-4 NKJV

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the focal point of the news and of conversations. Hospitals are bombed. People flee Ukraine for neighboring countries and beyond, as refugees without a home. Wounded and dead on both sides leave grieving families.

It’s tragic, but what can we do?

Pray.

Praying for a friend or family member who is ill or facing a crisis is natural. We love them, so their anguish tugs at our hearts. To pray for someone unknown to us may not come readily to our minds. Yet we are called to pray not only for those we know but for all people.

Pray for kings and all who are in authority, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy. Pray for the governments of the Ukraine, Russia, and others around the world involved in trying to stop the war in Ukraine by sanctions or other means. Let’s pray for our own country and local government as well, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.

Pray for peace.

Pray for peoples’ salvation. God desires all people to be saved regardless of political persuasion or nationality.  

Pray for truth to be known.

Pray for those who suffer. See James 5:13-15. Help if possible. During Paul’s missionary journeys, he gathered an offering for the Church in Jerusalem to help them in time of great need. Look for reputable organizations that are helping the refugees and the country of Ukraine.

Pray for other Christians at home, church, locally, and far away, including Christian brothers and sisters in Russia and in the Ukraine. Pray that they will stand firm in faith in the Lord and that they will follow the Lord in all things. Pray that they will not be swayed by false teaching. Paul prayed regularly for the churches where he sent his epistles. Paul prayed for those he knew, and he also prayed for those he hadn’t met. Paul had never been in Colosse, yet he wrote to the Colossians that he and Timothy gave “thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints…” Colossians 1:3, 4 NKJV

Pray for the persecuted. Many Christians in other countries fear letting others know they are believers in Christ Jesus because it is a death sentence where they live.

Pray for enemies. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 NKJV.  When Paul instructed that prayers be made for kings, Nero was on the throne of the Roman Empire, the same Emperor that was killing Christians.   

Pray with a clean heart. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s time to act. Let’s pray.

Dear Lord God, I come to You, confessing my sins. Clean my heart, Lord. I pray for peace, and for the leaders of the governments involved. I pray for the people of the Ukraine and of Russia, especially for those who are suffering, and for the believers in those countries. Please use this conflict to bring people to salvation through Christ Jesus. Amen.


Thank you for joining me and for reading my blog. Devotionals post every other Thursday, with past devotionals still available under Devotionals. You may follow my blog and it will be sent to you. Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! ~ Kathryn

Devotional

Press On to Win the Prize! Part 2 of 2

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NIV (Emphasis mine)

Failures and setbacks can so easily derail us. In the midst of difficulties it is tempting to give up. If our focus is on the problems and on the past, it can shape our future by preventing us from pressing on. This is true in our physical lives and in our spiritual lives.

Our enemy, the devil, would like nothing better than to see us defeated, and for us to not realize who we are in Christ Jesus. The enemy wants us to believe his lies. He knows that we are conquerors in Christ, but he tells us that we are failures, or that we are unlovable, or that God is angry with us. The enemy wants us to be ineffective in our Christian walk. If he can keep people from coming in faith to Jesus, it delights the devil. Giving up or only partially trying results in defeat.

We can learn from Men’s Figure Skater Nathan Chen. After Chens’s three mistakes in the short program in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, he was 13th in ranking. In his interview with NBC Sports [i], he shared that he felt like giving up. “There’s no point.” He said. “I should just go home.” He was encouraged to stay and finish the competition.

Chen finished and found redemption. How? Chen said he adjusted his mind set. “I was no longer over analyzing things or putting as much pressure on myself.” He reverted to his training and utilized what he had worked on in his training.  He stated, “I can never go back and adjust it [his short skate program]…just look forward…clean up the mistakes that I made.” Chen did so well in the longer free skate that followed that he earned 215 points, better than his previous best of 204 points. He placed 5th in PyeongChang in 2018. Chen said, “We definitely learn from our failures the best, so I’m not going to forget what happened in 2018… Just take it for what it is. Learn from whatever I can and continue moving forward.” Now, four years later at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, I think Chen continued to learn from his past failures and continued moving forward. He won the Olympic gold medal in Men’s Figure Skating.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Our goal is to win the prize for which God has called us. That calling of God goes throughout our lives until we are in heaven with Him.

Let’s adjust our mindset. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, may we learn from them so that we don’t repeat them. Let’s not listen to the enemy’s accusations or to his lies that we will never be good enough for God to care about us.

Let’s go back to our training, to the fundamentals of faith. Here is a partial list:

  • Recognize that we are all sinners (Romans 2:23). Confess sin moment by moment as needed. Keep the communication line clear with our Coach, the Holy Spirit.
  • Remember that when we confess our sin, God doesn’t keep bringing it up again. He forgives us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 NKJV) It is the devil who accuses. Jesus stands beside our Heavenly Father as our advocate and defender. (I John 2:1)
  • Know Who God really is, not the box we may put Him into. Read Scripture about God’s character and attributes.
  • Regularly read and follow the training manual, the Bible. Memorize verses that give instruction to living a godly life. Work on the training we receive.
  • Obey what God says. Apply what God teaches.
  • Pray. God wants us to come to Him. Prayer is talking with God, and listening for His reply. It may not be in an audible voice, but the Holy Spirit will guide us. We need to be quiet to listen to Him.
  • Remember that we belong to Him. God is with us and in us. The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (I John 4:4 b )
  • Tell the good news of Jesus Christ to others.
  • Fellowship with other believers.

Let’s forget what is behind and press on toward the goal. Finish well.

Dear Lord, Help me to press ahead and follow You every day. Please help me to finish my race well. Amen.  


[i] How Nathan Chen’s redemptive Olympic free skate made him the best skater in the world | NBC Sports https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports


 Thank you for joining me and for reading my blog. Devotionals post every other Thursday, with past devotionals still available under Devotionals. You may follow my blog and it will be sent to you. Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! ~ Kathryn

Devotional

Press On to Win the Prize! Part 1 of 2

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 NIV

The Apostle Paul told the Christians in Philippi that he counted everything as loss because of the unsurpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ and having a righteousness through faith in Christ. He wanted to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. How did he prepare for the prize? One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. He kept his focus on the goal despite setbacks, persecution, prison, and a “thorn in the flesh.”

As I join the nations in watching the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in China, I am impressed by the stories of athletes who have gone through trials and setbacks that threatened to keep them from competitions, yet they press on to compete in the Olympics. Allow me share a couple of their stories, and the thoughts I have of how the athletes’ perseverance can also be applied in our Christian race for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  

The first thing I noted was the media focus on the past and present failures the athletes had. The world is watching the athletes, and it is watching us, noting failures as well as success. How we deal with our falls will determine how we do in the future.

Our race can be filled with difficulties of all sorts. Some are of our own doing: sin and its accompanying bad choices cause additional problems, pain in relationships, distance between us and God, and sometimes, scandal. When we fall into sin, we need to stop our sin, accept the consequences, and ask Christ’s forgiveness which He freely gives to us.

Other trials may include health issues, separation from others, financial difficulties, fear, or other issues that make the race hard. Many of the Olympian athletes were returning from injuries that could have stopped their quest for the medals even after their injuries healed.

Consider the hardships faced by Team USA’s Elana Meyers Taylor and Kaillie Humphries, both bobsled pilots, four time Olympians and until last week, three time medalists. They spent the first week of their time in Beijing in quarantine. Meyers Taylor tested positive for COVID-19. Humphries was a close contact. That quarantine time impacted their ability to train before their bobsled events, and especially training for the debut of the monobob event. On Meyers Taylor’s first training run back, she finished fifth; and 10th on her second run.[i]

Meyers Taylor and Humphries pressed on through the competition over the following days. Meyers Taylor won silver, Humphries won gold. After their wins, Meyers Taylor shared her feeling about it. “It feels better than gold.” Meyers Taylor said. When she tested positive for COVID-19, she spent a week in isolation away from her husband and almost-two-year-old son, Nico.  “This is definitely the most difficult medal I’ve ever earned,” she continued. “It’s definitely been the hardest journey to get here. I am so excited to take this medal back to my son.” [ii]

Some athletes never make it to the Olympics. “Speed skater Erin Jackson, the first Black woman to make the American long track team in 2018 and the number one in the world at 500m, finished third at the U.S. trials in January” after slipping. It knocked her from the Olympic competition —until the selfless act of her friend and teammate Brittany Bowe. “Bowe went on to win the 500m as a result. Having already qualified in her better events, the 1000m and 1500m, Bowe gave up her spot” to her friend.[iii]

We also have fallen, each of us. We don’t deserve the chance of the prize. Our own teammate, Jesus, took our penalty for sin with His death on the cross. His selfless act allows us, through faith, to win the prize of being found in His righteousness and knowing Christ!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Like Paul, our prize is so much greater than a gold, silver, or bronze medal. Let’s keep our focus on the goal.

In Part Two, I’ll share some lessons on overcoming failure shared by Olympians which may be applied in our own lives.

Dear Lord, Thank you for the prize of the unsurpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ and having a righteousness through faith in Christ. Help us keep our focus on You and Your Word. Amen.

_______________________________


[i] KAILLIE HUMPHRIES AND ELANA MEYERS TAYLOR MAKE THEIR DEBUT IN OLYMPIC MONOBOB By Lisa Costantini | Feb. 13, 2022, 1:12 a.m. (ET)

https://www.teamusa.org/News/2022/February/13/Kaillie-Humphries-and-Elana-Meyers-Taylor-Make-Their-Debut-In-Olympic-Monobob

[ii] KAILLIE HUMPHRIES & ELANA MEYERS TAYLOR WIN GOLD & SILVER IN INAUGURAL OLYMPIC MONOBOB By Peggy Shinn | Feb. 14, 2022, 2:46 a.m. (ET)

https://www.teamusa.org/News/2022/February/14/Kaillie-Humphries-Elana-Meyers-Taylor-Win-Gold-Silver-In-Inaugural-Olympic-Monobob

[iii] Erin Jackson’s gold-medal story, co-written by Brittany Bowe, is “unbelievable”By Shintaro Kano| 13 February 2022 6:57 https://olympics.com/en/news/beijing-speed-skating-women-500-erin-jackson


Photo at top by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my blog. Devotionals post every other Thursday, with past devotionals still available under Devotionals. You may follow my blog and it will be sent to you. Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! ~ Kathryn