The Message of Easter

On the very first Easter Sunday, 2000 years ago, Mary Magdalene met Jesus outside of the tomb, yet at first she did not know Him. She saw someone who she thought was just the gardener. That is the way we are in our lives today. Jesus is near but until He shows himself to us we do not know. But what is He really like? How would it be like to meet with Jesus. Here is what John the Apostle says of his own unexpected meeting with Jesus on the Island of Patmos.

Revelation 1:14  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire.

Wow! Can you even begin to imagine how John felt? How do we relate to a God who sees everything with eyes like flames that see into the darkest and deepest places of our soul. David when he gets this realization starts out by saying,

Where can I go from your Spirit, where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7

When John first saw Jesus he tells us that he fell down in a dead faint! Who else wouldn’t do the same thing? It was just too overwhelming seeing Jesus as He really was, even for a moment! But Jesus came and put out his hand to touch John and said:

 …Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last. I am the Living one. I was dead and now look I am alive for ever and ever! Revelation 1:17

Easter means putting our trust in Jesus. He knows every detail of our lives, and He has come to help us through. Discovering Him on Easter means allowing him to come into our deep places of pain,sorrow and fear so He can bring the healing and restoration of heaven. Easter Sunday means finding Jesus is not only alive, but alive and wanting to be with us. Are you waiting outside a tomb of dying hopes and wondering where Jesus is today? The amazing secret of Easter is that He will come and show himself to us just when we least expect. He knows all about us and He is waiting to come and touch us and change our lives forever! What an wonderful Lord is our Jesus! What a Savior we have waiting for us again this Easter!

Loving Enemies: Part Two

So if we are going to love our enemies and pray for them, what does that look like in real life?  Is there something more than just putting up with them? Are we still on the inside thinking, “Just give me ten minutes Lord and I’ll fix them!!” ? God uses the Apostle Paul to give us some specific guidelines that help us to know both what to do and how to do it.
It is interesting that God uses Paul in this way since he was for his time, Public Enemy #1 to the Christian church. Paul was akin to being a card carrying Al Queda member. He was imprisoning Christians, beating them and constantly trying to force them to renounce their faith. He had in his hands a letter authorizing him to set up shop in Damascus  and to continue to pursue those who ran away from his hit squads.Then a strange thing happened to Paul, when Jesus met him along the way. Jesus came and started a relationship with a question, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” If Jesus had just wanted to stop Paul, he could have sent down fire and burned him up. But instead of anger, Jesus shined a light and showed Paul, just who He really was.

From that experience, Paul could say later in his letter to the Romans; Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:21

So in our own everyday life, how does that work? Are we just to go around handing out milk and cookies to evil men? Are we to simply ignore the harm that these people are doing? In the war with evil we have different and better weapons, than the weapons that God’s enemies use. Remember that Jesus told us:

Luke 12:4 Do not be afraid of those who want to kill your body, they cannot do any more to you after that…

In other words it is pointless to fight back with the same worthless weapons of evil. We will never win out using the same tactics of the losing side! For God’s good to win out, it must win out first in our own lives. “Don’t let evil conquer you…” When God’s goodness wins inside of us then we have a source and a well of grace to draw from in facing evil. In the  hour of battle, God will give us the resources we need. Romans 12:20 When your enemy is hungry give him something to eat… To feed our enemies means, being close enough to know they are hungry and brave enough to give them something to eat. Until we are willing to follow Jesus in doing good to enemies, we will keep running away from them or trying to fight back with their own weapons. Jesus wants us to stand our ground and not allow fear to rule us. If we trust Him totally He just might come and and get a hold of a 21st century Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus!