Thursday, March 28, 2013

On Easter Weekend

Twenty four years ago on Easter weekend, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. At just six years old, I knew that I needed Him, and I loved Him. I had heard from my parents, pastor, and Sunday school teachers that each of us has sin, and it separates us from God. So we need someone to rescue us. Jesus is that someone.

As God’s Son, Jesus came into our world as a baby, and grew up with life’s struggles and battles. But He never sinned. His mission was to show people who God is (John 1:18, 14:9), and the fullest expression of God’s love was the cross (Romans 5:8). On the cross, Jesus died for every person’s sin who has ever lived. Nothing deterred Him from the mission—not being betrayed, denied, and arrested. Not being mocked, beaten, and scourged. Not being forsaken by His closest friends and from God Himself (He had to be separated from God to bear our sin). He was true to the mission even though it cost Him so much suffering. Why? Love.
For love’s sake, Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sin. But the story doesn’t end there. Sorrow on Good Friday turned into joy on Easter Sunday when He was raised from the dead. His death was sufficient to pay for our sin, and God raised Him from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Alive again. Reunited with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Seen by witnesses. His death was real, and so was His resurrection.

Jesus is alive today, and cares about each of us. He wants every person to know Him and to spend the rest of eternity knowing God and loving Him. Jesus is the someone who can rescue us from a life without hope, who can heal our hearts when they’ve been crushed, who can save us from our sin and from eternal separation from God. He is the Hero. There is no better person to love and cherish the most.
On Good Friday, He died for us. On Easter, He was raised to life. This Easter weekend, may Jesus’ love flood your heart as we celebrate His death and resurrection! He is a living Savior, a personal Savior. With a Savior like this, we have much to celebrate!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Soak It Up

I was trying not to be sad. A few days after my grandmother passed away this year, my family went to a florist shop to pick out flowers for her burial. We wanted something beautiful and elegant, but not overdone.

I was doing pretty well emotionally until the florist pulled out a catalog of arrangements for us to look at. I stepped away from the counter, letting my mom and aunt flip through the book. Flowers are the main thing I remember from the funerals I attended as a child. To me, flowers are supposed to be a symbol of joyous occasions and times of celebration. I needed to remember they are also used to honor someone special.
The florist led us to the backroom of the shop, where she had just completed a lovely arrangement of white flowers. While my mom and aunt talked with her, I joined my dad in the adjoining workroom and noticed something sitting on the workbench. A glass vase held some flowers as blue as the water they stood in. I had no idea what color the flowers originally were, but because they had soaked up the blue water, they were the most vibrant, charming shade of blue I have ever seen.

What are you standing in? If we choose to stand in sorrow, fear, or guilt, we will soak it up like those cut flowers. It will color our outlook on life and our enthusiasm. But if we stand in God’s hand and look to Him, we will soak up His love, joy, and peace. The warmth of His love, the vibrancy of His joy, and the relief of His peace will fill us, and He will provide the hope, healing, and momentum that we need.
Don’t let your “vase” be filled with the wrong thing. Stand in God’s grace, and allow Him to fill you with His love and power. Soak up His goodness, and let Him bring your color back to life.

God gave my family grace to bear the passing of my grandmother. Although it was hard, we bore it together and held a touching burial to honor her long life of eighty years. As Mark Twain's eulogy for a beloved family member says, “Good night, dear heart, good night.”  (Mark Twain’s full eulogy is engraved on my great-great-great grandfather’s tombstone, just across the cemetery from my grandmother’s resting place.)


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Renewed Hope

This morning I noticed buds on the trees for the first time. Spring is coming. After an exceptionally rainy winter, I am ready for spring—to walk outside in the sunshine, hear the birds sing, and delight in bright blossoms and bright days. I know the rain was needed, and perhaps it’s the winter rains that make spring even brighter. But now, I am grateful for the sunshine.

In life, we go through seasons of winter rains and spring sunshine. We cherish the good times, but when hard times cloud our sunny days, we can have renewed hope that God will use it for good. He will use the winds and rain of adversity to produce within us strength, beauty, and sound character. No raindrop goes unused. God is working to make us stronger and more useful in His eternal plan. Joy comes even in the rain, as God shines His light in our hearts, helping us to know Him in ways we might not have otherwise.
So cherish the sunshine. But also, see the good in the rain, and may this spring bring you renewed hope of all that God can do in you and through you.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18, NKJV