Monthly Archives: March 2018

Risen Indeed

One of my favorite places to visit in Israel is The Garden Tomb. With all the craziness of Jerusalem going on outside of this garden, there is a bubble of peace resting over it. When you visit the tomb, there is a door instead of a stone. On the door is a sign that reads, “He is not here – For He is risen”. It’s such a great reminder that He conquered death, Hell and the grave so that you and I could be with Him one day.

It wasn’t enough that He was born and became a man. It wasn’t enough that He lived a sinless life. It wasn’t enough that He died. Yes, He needed to in order to pay the debt for our sins, but it’s His resurrection that gives us eternal life and hope. It is the cornerstone of our faith. The empty tomb represents redemption for mankind and a restored relationship with our creator. This weekend, don’t just focus on the death of Jesus. Celebrate that there is an empty tomb, and that gives us life.

Here are verses about Jesus and the resurrection.

1. David saw what God was going to do in the future, and so he spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah when he said, “He was not abandoned in the world of the dead; his body did not rot in the grave.”

Acts 2:31 GNT

2. Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies; and everyone who lives and believes in Me [as Savior] will never die. Do you believe this?”

JOHN 11:25-26 AMP

3. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

1 Corinthians 15:16-17 NASB

4. Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

2 Corinthians 5:15 MSG

5. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.”

Matthew 28:5-6 NLT

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Saving Jesus

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

A few years ago, I played the part of Pilate for a church’s Easter drama. As I rehearsed my lines and got into character, it dawned on me that I was the one sentencing Jesus to death. My first thought was, “I don’t know that I want to play this part.” Of all the characters in the drama, I’m the one who has the power to save Him and keep Him from being crucified. Even though I find no fault in Him, I still have to release Him to the mob to be killed. I have to give in to the mob rather than stand up for the truth. I have to disregard my wife’s warning and set a guilty man free instead.

As I struggled with playing that character, it hit me that it wasn’t Pilate who sentenced Jesus to death. It was me. Me! Chris Hendrix. It was my sin that condemned Him. It was my faults that nailed Him to the cross. These are things that I’ve known my whole life, but as I began to play the part of Pilate, I realized I’ve not really fully accepted that blame. I’ve been shifting it to those who actually crucified Him. It’s easier to point fingers and wash our hands of the guilt, but the truth is that water doesn’t take away the blame.

Each of us in our own way condemned Him to death. Even though I thought that as Pilate I had the power to save Him, I really didn’t. His ultimate plan was to die on the cross. If He hadn’t been crucified, we would still be in our sins and without hope. He kept that in mind as they hurled their accusations at Him. He loved them enough to stay silent in the face of their lies. He loved them enough to not perform a miracle for Herod. He loved you enough that He willingly died so He could pay the price for your sin. The real power was in His hands, not Pilate’s, and He used it for us. He took our “guilty” verdict on Himself to make us “innocent”. This Easter weekend, if you haven’t thanked Him for that, let me encourage you to. If you’ve never accepted Him for who He was and is, it’s time to recognize Him as the Son of God and invite Him to be Lord of your life. He died for you. Will you live for Him?

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A Painful Promise

I’ve always wanted to know more about the two criminals that were crucified on either side of Jesus. The Bible introduces us to them, we hear briefly from them and then they’re gone. In Luke 23:39 we hear one say, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” Then the other one says, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (NLT).

Both of these men are in agony as well. They have nails in their hands and feet, and they are suspended above the crowd. You can hear the bitterness in the first man’s words. He’s facing certain death, and he’s angry instead of being repentant for the wrongs he’s done. The other man understands that he’s being given what he deserves, yet it leads him to seek forgiveness. Jesus responds to him, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” I think it’s incredible that when we are in pain, it either makes us bitter or drives us closer to God.

There’s not one of us who won’t have to deal with pain or consequences in our lives. The pain may be physical or emotional, but we are all going to experience it. When we are experiencing it, we can choose to let it make us bitter or better. God uses pain to get our attention because sometimes that’s the only way we will listen. He will do whatever it takes to get our attention to keep us from spending eternity without Him. He sent His only Son to die on the cross to show us He loves us. He forgave the criminal beside Him who had committed a crime worthy of death. He can forgive you too. If you’re in pain today, don’t let it push you away from God. Let it make you more dependent on Him than ever.

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Save Yourself

From the time Jesus left Pilate’s court until He arrived at Golgotha, there was a crowd of people. Some people in that crowd were people who loved Him and were for Him. Some were people who were passing by and got caught up in it. Then there were those who were railing against Him while the top religious leaders were trying to create a mob to make sure Jesus wouldn’t be rescued. There were so many people that Pilate assigned an entire battalion of 600 guards to the crucifixion.

After being severely beaten, and paraded through the streets, Jesus made His way outside of the city walls to the place of the skull. There, after they nailed Him to those roughly cut boards,, they raised Him up for all to see. The crowd began to taunt Him even more. Matthew 27:40 records them as saying, “‘Look at you now!’ they yelled at him. ‘You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!’” (NLT)

I often wonder where I would have been in the crowd that day. It’s easy to think I would have been with the disciples, quietly watching in shock. Jesus’ accusers knew His sermons. They were quoting the things He had said. These were people who saw the miracles and shouted, “Hosanna” just a week before, yet here they were mocking Him. Would you and I have been caught up in the rush of the moment to attack a person who was being humiliated publicly? We do it every day on social media. Why would this have been different?

I’m sure every bit of Jesus’ human nature was screaming at Him to come off the cross to prove to them that He was the Son of God and to silence them. Thankfully He obeyed the Spirit’s voice that had Him die on the cross that day. Because He stayed on the cross, He was able to open the doors of Heaven to all those in the crowd that day who were insulting Him. His blood that was spilled that day was enough to pay the debt of any sin that was ever committed or ever would be. He didn’t save Himself that day so that He could save you and me.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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Lessons From Simon

Have you ever been at the wrong place at the wrong time? That’s what happened to a man named Simon. He was traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. As he was heading into the city, a large crowd was coming out. They were shouting and yelling at a man who was badly beaten. He was struggling to walk under the heavy load of the cross He was carrying. As he watched, the man must have fallen right in front of him, and it was clear He couldn’t go any further.

Matthew 27:32 says, “Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross” (NLT). The word “forced” catches my attention here. Jesus asked us to voluntarily take up our cross daily, but Simon was forced to do it. I believe that he stuck around to watch the crucifixion and later learned to take up his dross daily on his own.

If you think about it, He was also turned around. He was headed into the city, and because he carried the cross, he had to make an about face to head the other direction. When we accept Jesus as our savior, we are to repent of our sins. That word “repent” means to turn away and go the other direction. As Simon watched Jesus forgive those who crucified Him, he too repented of the sins he had committed and began to live different.

You and I have to learn to take up our cross daily, crucify our fleshly desires to it and turn away from those desires daily. When God’s spirit resides in us, there is a constant battle between His spirit and our flesh. If we’re willing to crucify our sinful nature and obey God’s voice, our lives will be forever changed. It’s up to each one of us to learn the lessons from Simon’s brief mention in the Bible. He is a picture of what God wants to do in each of our lives.

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Seeking Wisdom

My son recently asked me, “Dada, do I have a lot of knowledge?” I replied, “Yes, for someone your age. What you really want though is wisdom.” He then wanted to know what wisdom was and how to get it. I explained that knowledge was easy to come by, but wisdom only comes in one of two ways. You can gain it from learning from your mistakes or God can give it to you. Since we all make mistakes, we all have the opportunity to gain wisdom. The problem is that most of us would rather beat ourselves up over failure rather than to see it as a place to grow.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Solomon. When he became king of Israel, God let him ask for one thing. Solomon asked for wisdom to rule the people, and God blessed him for that request. I believe you and I can ask for that too. This world is getting more complicated by the minute, and Christians are in need of wisdom now more than ever. Pray that God would give you wisdom over your finances, your relationships and how you share the Gospel. I believe God will honor that prayer.

Here are some Bible verses on wisdom.

1. Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.

ROMANS 12:10-13 AMP

2. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 2:6 NLT

3. Get wisdom—it’s worth more than money; choose insight over income every time.

Proverbs 16:16 MSG

4. Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people].

EPHESIANS 5:15 AMP

5. But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.

James 1:5 GNT

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Being Shepherded

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

Psalm 23 has to be the most memorized chapter in the Bible. Like me, you may have memorized it as a child. If you’ve seen any funeral in a movie or TV, you’ve definitely heard it being read. When something like that is ingrained in us, we tend to glaze over it when we hear it. We know we know it, so we don’t really pay attention to what it’s saying. If you stop and think about it, there are some powerful truths just in the first few verses.

In the first verse, we read, “THE Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack” (AMP). Think about that. The Lord watches over you personally like a shepherd watches sheep. He makes sure that you are fed, protected, and on the right path. You have everything you need in Him. There’s no need to panic today because your shepherd is watching over you making sure you have everything you need.

Verse two says, “He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.” God knows we all need times of rest and refreshing. We are constantly on the go, looking for greener pastures. God says to us, “Follow me and I will give you rest.” You don’t have to go looking for them, you just have to be willing to be led by Him. You have to give up your rights and submit to the authority of your shepherd. When you do, you will find the greener pastures and rest you’ve been looking for.

Verse three confirms that by saying, “He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.” Not only does God refresh you, He restores you. He gives back what has been taken from you. He also leads you into the paths of life that please Him. He does all of this not because you’ve done anything. He does it because He loves you and cares for you.

Even if you’ve been the sheep that has gone astray or fought against being shepherded, we know that God loves you enough to find you where you are, in the condition you’re in, to lovingly bring you to the fold. He doesn’t wait for lost sheep to find Him. He’s proactively looking for you because He knows your life will be better with His flock. He will leave 99 to find just one sheep. That’s the kind of shepherd we have. He gives us everything we need, He leads us to restful places, and He restores our lives. We just have to be willing to be a part of His flock and to submit to His shepherding.

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