More Jesus; less me.

“To preach Christianity meant (to the Apostles) primarily to preach the Resurrection. … The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequesnces, were the ‘gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought.”  CS Lewis in Miracles

The central theme of Christianity is not about what Christians do, but about what God has done for Christians in raising Jesus from the dead.  This is very important.  Many Christians and people who know a little about Christianity think that the story is about us and how good we are.  People think that it’s about being the best person you can be, but it’s NOT!  The central theme of the Christian message has nothing to do with what WE do, but everything with what GOD does.  It’s all about JESUS!

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I know that My Redeemer Lives: forever AND today!

Easter has meaning for me today AND for eternity. Easter means that after I die I will one day also rise.  There’s more to it than that though.  Easter means that Jesus is alive TODAY!  Because He lives today He is able to be my God TODAY.  I love that the great Easter hymn, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” conveys BOTH messages of hope: Hope for tomorrow and hope for today.

1 I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever-living Head.

2 He lives triumphant from the grave;
He lives eternally to save;
He lives all-glorious in the sky;
He lives exalted there on high.

3 He lives to bless me with His love,
He lives to plead for me above;
He lives my hungry soul to feed;
He lives to help in time of need.

4 He lives to grant me rich supply;
He lives to guide me with His eye;
He lives to comfort me when faint;
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.

5 He lives to silence all my fears;
He lives to wipe away my tears;
He lives to calm my troubled heart;
He lives all blessings to impart.

6 He lives, my kind, wise, heav’nly Friend;
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while He lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.

7 He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death;
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.

8 He lives, all glory to His name!
He lives, my Jesus, still the same;
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives;
I know that my Redeemer lives!

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A matter of death and LIFE!

I’ve always heard the phrase, “It’s a matter of life and death.” It means that something is REALLY important. If it doesn’t happen, or you make the wrong decision, or something gets in the way then life as you know it will be over. Death ensues literally, or sometimes only figuratively. Either way, something that is a matter of life and death is REALLY important. If it ends well you live, if not? It’s over.

Or is it? Easter flips this completely upside down. Easter isn’t a matter of life or death, but a matter of death and LIFE! The order is REALLY important. If death comes last then we’re in real trouble. The angel’s words to the women at the tomb recorded in Luke remind us that Jesus has overturned the normal order of things: “Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.’”

Death THEN life. That’s a new order of events! Death is no longer the final step. The grave isn’t the end. LIFE happens AFTER death! Easter turns over the normal order of things. It’s not longer a matter of life and death, but Easter is a matter of death and LIFE!

Thank you Jesus for defeating death and bringing LIFE. Amen!

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Happy Easter!

He Is Risen! From what? Not from a nap. Not from a coma. Not from a hiding place. He is risen from the dead! Good Friday happened first as Jesus offered himself as the perfect sacrifice through his death on the cross. He was placed in a public tomb in a public way, and then showed himself publicly to many people before his Ascension to his throne in heaven. He is risen from the dead! That’s good news because it means that we will also rise from the dead. Death is not the final stop. LIFE is! Thank your Jesus for dying for us. Thank you Father for raising Jesus to LIFE and sharing that life with us! Amen.

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Onward! Ephesians 6

Onward Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before! (LSB 662, refrain)

The refrain of “Onward Christian Soldiers” begs the question: Who is the enemy? How do we fight? Ephesians 6 answers these clearly. The war is against the devil and his hoards. The war is NOT against people. Not against people who disagree with us. Not against people who hate Jesus. Not against people who would harm us because we love Jesus. Not against people at all! The battle is against the devil and the dark spiritual forces of this world. This is really important for us to remember, especially in these days that we live in.

How do we fight? Again, Ephesians 6 gives us the clear answer: Pray. The battle is won from our knees. Luther says it best in the explanation to the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “How is God’s will done? God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come…”

Prayer allows us to fight the enemy. Let’s use it!

Dear Jesus, thank you for leading us into battle and hearing our prayers! Amen.

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Children of Light: Ephesians 5

Since we’re on a hymn kick this week let’s take a look at another favorite that fits Ephesians 5:8-9 “I want to walk as a child of the light” is a hymn that makes a great prayer complete with a refrain of praise, and verse that point us directly to Jesus.

 

1 I want to walk as a child of the light;
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world;
The star of my life is Jesus.

Refrain:
In him there is no darkness at all;
The night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

2 I want to see the brightness of God;
I want to look at Jesus.
Clear Sun of Righteousness, shine on my path
And show me the way to the Father. [Refrain]

3 I’m looking for the coming of Christ;
I want to be with Jesus.
When we have run with patience the race,
We shall know the joy of Jesus. [Refrain]

Dear Jesus, Thank you for shining in my life! Amen.

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Jesus, our Anchor. Ephesians 4

The stormy waves are expected. The option isn’t waves or no waves. The option is to let the waves push me around or be anchored in Jesus. In Ephesians 4 Paul warns about the coming waves and encourages all believers to find themselves anchored securely in Jesus.  The famous hymn “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” uses the nautical imagery and paints a picture of how Jesus pilots us safely through the waves of life:

Jesus, savior, pilot me over life’s tempestuous sea;

Unknown waves before me roll, hiding rock and treach’rous shoal.

Chart and Compass come from Thee.  Jesus, savior, pilot me.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for anchoring my life! Amen.

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