Easter Every Day

hand-of-christ-reaching-down
He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. —Matthew 28:6

A friend of mine, who is a preschool teacher, overheard an animated conversation among her students. Little Maria threw out the question: “Who loves God?” All of them responded, “I do! I do! I do!” Billy said, “I love Jesus.” Kelly protested, “But He died.” Billy said, “Yeah, but every Easter He rises from the dead!”

Obviously, young Billy’s understanding of the meaning of Easter is still developing. We know that Jesus died once for all (Rom. 6:10; Heb. 10:12) and, of course, rose from the dead once. Three days after paying the penalty of our sins on the cross, the sinless Jesus conquered death by rising from the grave and breaking the power of sin. It was this final sacrifice of blood that opened the only way for us to have a relationship with God now and a home with Him forevermore.

“Christ died for our sins, . . . He was buried, and . . . He rose again the third day” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). He has promised that He is preparing a place for us (John 14:1-4), and He will someday return. One day we will be with our risen Savior.

That’s why every year at Eastertime—in fact, every day of the year—we have reason to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Ps. 34:1).
Christ’s resurrection is cause for our celebration.

Every Word: The Problem With Parables

Parables have been difficult for some to understand.

A worship-pastor friend of mine out in California recently told me about his adventures into the world of country music. Though he had never been a big fan of the Nashville sound, he soon found himself immersed in a sea of steel guitars, cowboy boots, and George Strait records when his church decided to hold country worship services on Sunday nights.

While my friend is still getting used to the pinch of his new cowboy boots and learning all the lyrics to Brad Paisley’s “When I Get Where I’m Going,” he understands and fully supports the goal of the new service: to open a door for people to hear the gospel—people who might otherwise miss out. For the members of my friend’s church, Wrangler jeans and banjo-led worship help them keep in step with the apostle Paul’s strategy to “become all things to all men” for the sake of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:22).

So what are we to make of Jesus, who appears to be doing just the opposite by speaking in parables? He says to His disciples, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, so that ‘while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven’” (Mark 4:11-12). Instead of tearing down barriers that keep people from hearing God’s truth, He seems to be building up walls to make sure they don’t!

But Jesus is borrowing from the book of Isaiah—and it’s to that book we must go if we are to properly understand His words.

In the sixth chapter, Isaiah is caught up in a vision of the heavenly temple, standing before the throne of almighty God. At the time of Isaiah’s vision, the people of Judah were in a deep season of rebellion, worshipping false gods and walking in outright disobedience to the true Lord of the universe. As a result, the people had hardened their hearts so that they were no longer receptive to the voice of God or His prophets. And so God gave them over to their own stubbornness. In essence, He gave Isaiah this message for the people: “If you don’t want to listen, that’s your choice. Be always hearing but never understanding. That’s what your hard hearts are doing to you anyway!”

The word “parable” literally means, “to throw alongside.” Parables are stories or sayings that have two meanings—a plain one on the surface, and another that is less apparent, covered over by the details of the parable. The power of parables lies in the discovery of the truth—the Aha! moment when a person realizes what the speaker is really saying. A parable about a treasure hidden in a field is not really about gold and silver, and a lesson about a wayward and sinful son demanding his inheritance early is not really about a dysfunctional family at all.

The moment of truth—when a person gets the point behind one of Jesus’ parables—is a moment of decision, a confrontation that can’t be avoided. His use of parables, then, is both a form of judgment and a wonderful kindness to people far away from God. As a judgment, they allow stubborn people who refuse to accept or even acknowledge the truth to take a trajectory toward death and eternal separation from God. But as an act of grace, parables provide men and women with an opportunity to discover just how hard their hearts have become. The Aha! moment for these folks comes when they find they are walking in outright rebellion against God and need a Savior.

In this way, Jesus is, like Paul or a cowboy church service, providing people with a compelling occasion to stand before the truth of God’s Word. They must either take the hand of the Savior who loves them or walk away and miss out on the greatest invitation ever offered. It’s ferocious grace in action from the One who would pay the unthinkable price to offer it.

by John Greco

He Shall Prolong His Days

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” (Isaiah 53:10)

In this one verse, found in the wonderful 53rd chapter of Isaiah, there is an amazing prophecy of the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins, His resurrection from the dead, and the resulting salvation of many lost sinners.

This Old Testament chapter, written 600 years before Christ, contains probably the most complete and cogent exposition of the saving work of Christ on the cross to be found in the entire Bible.

How could it “please” the Lord to bruise His only begotten Son? It could only be because of the great work this would accomplish.

Then, indeed, “the pleasure of the Lord” would be realized. As to the Son, “he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11).

After the Father has allowed the enemies of His Son to “bruise him” to death, it would be soon known that this was actually “an offering for sin” and that, having satisfied the requirements of God’s holiness, the Son “shall prolong his days.” Though He died and actually “made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death” (v. 9), death could not hold Him and “he shall prolong his days.” As He would later proclaim: “I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18).

And because He has done this, He “shall see his seed.” “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10). What a wonderful Savior! HMM

The Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in all ways

The Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in all ways.—2 Thessalonians 3:16 (R. V.).
Thou shall hide them in the secret of Thy presence.—Psalm 31:20.

LET my life be hid in Thee,
Life of life and Light of light!
Love’s illimitable sea,
Depth of peace, of power the height!
Let my life be hid in Thee
From vexation and annoy;
Calm in Thy tranquillity,
All my mourning turned to joy.
JOHN BULL.

IT is small things that, just because of their smallness, distress and overset us. I mean the weight of daily care, which in their small details of personal expenditure, and in the careful routine of a household, and in the rearing of
children, and in the society of friends, and in the outside duty, and in private affairs, singly and separately is sufficiently burdensome; but altogether, and on one set of shoulders, is sometimes felt to be more than the strength can bear.

Those anxious lives, tempted to be fretful, and hasty, and self-important, and fussed with their incessant activities, may, if rightly interpreted, and manfully grasped, settle down into round and sunny centers of regular, and peaceful, and
fruitful activities. Where there is prayer, there is peace; and God, who makes every duty possible, knows, helps, and cares. ANTHONY W. THUROLD

Who art thou Lord? I am Jesus

Who art thou Lord? I am Jesus. Acts 26:15

It is I; be not afraid. — When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, … thy Saviour.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. — Emmanuel, God with us.

Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. — If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. — Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, ornakedness, or peril, or sword?

Matthew 14:27. Isaiah 43:2,3. Psalm 23:4. Matthew 1:23. Matthew 1:21. 1 John 2:1.

There shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand

There shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand. Deuteronomy 13:1,7

Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing. — Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. — Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Beloved, now are we the sons of God … And it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

—The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

2 Corinthians 6:17. 1 Peter 2:11. Jude 23. 1 John 3:2,3. Titus 2:11-14.