A Post-Easter Devotional

A Post-Easter Devotional

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:6).

Let me encourage you to not let go of the Resurrection Celebration so quickly.  I know, Easter has passed; we are back to work; and the kids will soon be back to school.  Things will now go back to “normal” (whatever that is).

Yet, those of us who have surrendered to the saving work and lordship of Jesus Christ have been changed forever.  We do not live by resurrection power only one day of the year.  We are encouraged to go forward with boldness and the power of the resurrection every day of our lives.  Yes, it is easy to fall into the mundane routine of things and to forget all of the benefits of what the Lord has done for us.  But, let's make a point to battle.  Let's resolve to fight against the urge to fall into mundanity.

We have so much for which to be thankful (almost sounds cliché, and yet it is true); we have spiritual comfort in this life; and we have great promises for the age to come.  The very same Spirit who rose Jesus from the dead now dwells in us to give us life (Rom 8:11); to transform us from the inside-out (Rom 8:13); to pour the love of God into our hearts (Rom 5:5); and to tell us that we are His children (Rom 8:16).  Move forward in the Spirit!  Christ was not in that tomb on the Third Day.  He is risen.  Likewise, we are no longer in the tomb.  We are not in the pit of despair.  We have been united with Christ through baptism that just as He died and rose again, we, too, have been brought from death into life (Rom 6:5).

Now, let’s obey the Resurrection mandate to, “Go and tell.”  Go to work, go to school, go to the store, go to the post office—wherever you go—go forth in the power of the Spirit of Life, and tell others (whenever the opportunity arises) that they can experience the very same blessings.

Joy in Believing

Joy in Believing

As many of you know, my slogan for ministry has been, “For Progress and Joy in Christ.”  This comes from Phil 1:25-26 where the apostle says, “And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all foryour progressand joyof faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant inJesus Christby my coming to you again.” I have made it my mission to help the church (and however many Christians I can) to make progress in their faith.  I want to help believers to develop a stronger, more resilient faith; to make progress toward holiness; and to grow in their understanding of the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I also want the church to have joy in and through this progress in Christ.

Joy is all over the Bible.  During His farewell address on the night that He was betrayed, Jesus told His disciples, “Your sorrow will be turned into joy.”  He went on to say, “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you;” as well as, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”  That same night He also said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full;” and He prayed to the Father that His disciples, “may have [His] joy fulfilled in themselves.”  

The apostle commanded in Phil 4:4 and 1 Thess 5:16 that we rejoice in the Lord always, and he told us in Gal 5:22 that Spirit wills to produce joy in us.  He works in us what He requires from us.  The Proverbs instruct us that “the hope of the righteous brings joy” and that “a joyful heart is good medicine.”

All of this is written to provide a little context to what I would like to share next.  For whatever reason, I have been meditating on a particular thought for about a month now.  My thought has been, “There is joy in believing.”  I knew that there was a Scripture that stated this idea, but I did not know where it was until I looked it up.  The closest passage to this idea is actually a benediction from Rom 15:13 which encourages, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  The Lord has certainly filled me with joy in believing.  This idea/verse really helps me put a finger on these “feelings.”

There are so many important aspects to the Christian life.  For example, the Christian worldview is the only one that makes any sense to me; it answers all of the major life-questions.  Another example of the importance of Christianity is that there is no atonement for sin outside of the atoning work of Christ.  Yet, we can leave the conversation in simple terms by saying that there is joy in believing.  I know that many of you have this same mind in you.  From the time I was a child even until now, I have always had joy by being with the church; I have always had joy singing the hymns; I have always had joy in reading the Bible, hearing it taught, and teaching it myself.  I have always had joy in believing.  There is a joy that the Christian life offers that is not experienced anywhere else. There is joy in hope, peace, freedom, etc.  There are many reasons to grow in our knowledge of Christ and His Word—one of the big reasons is that we get so much joy out of the growth!  Let me encourage you to find your joy in Christ.  Bask in the joy of being united with Him, receiving His accomplishments as your own, getting to know Him better, and being with His people.  There is joy in believing!

Irreverent Babble (2 Timothy 2:16)

Irreverent Babble

2 Timothy 2:16 in the NKJV says, “But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” Doesn’t the image of a group of ducks fit this verse perfectly?  So many Christians spend their time going on and on about nonsense and ungodly things. Several subjects could fit into this category: coarse joking, gossiping, slandering, cursing, demeaning, and engaging in discussions that will only lead to a dead-end, etc.

More specifically, Timothy was faced in Ephesus with the challenge of avoiding irreverent babbling concerning doctrine. The Apostle Paul’s point was not that Christians should not teach, learn, and discuss doctrine.  His point was that Christians should not spend too much time discussing the peripheral subjects.  We should not spend all of our time debating things that we will not be able to resolve.  There were even some in Ephesus who were making up doctrines from obscure figures in the Old Testament genealogies (1 Tim 1:4).  Things had gotten out-of-hand, so Paul tells Timothy to avoid these kinds of people and these kinds of disputes.  Profane (idle, godless, irreverent) babble will only lead to more and more ungodliness.  We have to keep the first things as the first things and not set our hearts and minds on sideline issues.

Not only was this counsel important for Timothy in the first century, but it is also relevant for us in the twenty-first century.  How often are we tempted to jump into a conversation that is ultimately going to be pointless?  Especially now that we live in a social media world where we are tempted to reply to comments on Facebook and/or @reply to a tweet on Twitter, we must guard our own hearts and mouths (and thumbs) all the more vigorously.  Moreover, the same is true of something as simple as family get-togethers around the holidays.  How often have chats about marginal topics become heated debates around the dining room table?  It happens quite often.

Let us simply avoid irreverent babblings.  I like the older language that sounds more deliberate: Let us shun godless chatter.  In doing so, we will avoid the increase of ungodliness in our lives.