Category Archives: Devotional

Act Your Age

1031121453Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Philippians 1:27 – 30

 

Every kid has heard it at some point whether from a parent, a teacher or even a friend. You know when your just having lots of fun and your behavior begins to cross the line between silly and crazy. What is it they say, “Why don’t you act your age!” This of course leads to the inevitable question, “how is someone my age suppose to act?” It is a reasonable response, I mean who knows what the proper way to act is for someones age. (Well apparently mothers know, but none of the rest of us do.)

The truth is that there is no clear definition of how people act at a certain age. The real meaning behind what is being said is that your behavior is embarrassing me. When you are out in public, you represent this family and you behavior is making all of us look bad. Your conduct is leaving a bad impression on people who are seeing you . It should serve to remind us that the way we conduct ourselves can effect the way people view us or those we represent.

In Philippians 1:27 Paul reminds believers of this fact when he says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” He is saying, “Don’t forget that you represent Christ to the world around you. What you do, will reflect on people’s impression of Christ.”   This is the same message that Peter reminds us of when he writes, “ but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15 – 16)

This is what we are called to do. To “conduct (ourselves) in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” And so that is what we do as a Christian. We always act the way we should. . . . That would be nice, wouldn’t it, but far to often we find ourselves not living in a manner worthy of Christ. Instead we find ourselves caught up in our own self-interest. We worry more about what people will think of us, than what they will think of Christ. We find ourselves caught up in petty squabbles with those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. As a result the world does not see the unity in Christ that should abound, but a people divided and tearing each other apart. We allow our self-righteous indignation to replace the love of Christ. As a result, the world sees only judgement and not forgiveness.

Paul reminds the Philippian believers that when their conduct is worthy, it will be evident. He writes, “whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit.” Yet at the same time, we are to stand for the truth. We must strive “together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose” the gospel. It is only when we stand solid in God’s truth, while “conducting (ourselves) in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” that the world will see Christ in us. It is through seeing Christ in our lives that the world will come to know Him.

So the next time you catch yourself acting in an unworthy manner, stop and ask yourself. Is this really how I want to represent Christ? Will people know Christ for who he is and what he offers through my behavior? If not, then take a step back and choose a new course of action that is worthy of the gospel of Christ.

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Everyone Wants To Go To Heaven, But No One Wants To Go First

I had a friend in fire safety who used to use the expression, “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to go first.” I would dare say there is great truth in this statement. Think about it, most of us are excited about the prospect of going to heaven, of being in God’s presence surrounded by fellow believers.  Yet there are so many things in this world that we want to experience first. We have what is often called a “Bucket List.”

For many we want to go to college. We want to get married. We want to have children. We want to see our children grow up. We want to see our children get married. For others there are things like, I want to see the Grand Canyon. I want to visit every continent. I want to climb a mountain.

So many things we have that we want to do in this life. Once we have done these, then we will be ready to go to heaven. Once we have experienced all this life has to offer, then we will be ready to experience the next life. Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to go first.”

So how is it then that Paul can declare with such confidence, in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” “To die is gain?” Is Paul saying that dying is better than living? Is he saying that he wants to die? I certainly don’t think this is the case.

When we take the time to look at this statement in context, the real meaning begins to become clear to us. Paul had been arrested, basically, for preaching the Gospel, for fulfilling the call that God had placed on his life. When he was about to be beaten for declaring the truth he revealed to the Roman guards that he was a Roman citizen. As a result he was not beaten, but taken in to be questioned.  After bouncing around to a few different locations, it began to become clear that he was not guilty of what the others had charged him with. As the time went on  he took an unexpected step, he chose to appeal his case to Caesar, the right of a Roman citizen. As a result he had been transferred to Rome where he was held prisoner awaiting trial. While he awaited trial, he continued to preach the gospel to those who would listen. While under house arrest in Rome he learned that others were continuing to preach the gospel with passion. This is where we find Paul. Invigorated by the opportunity to preach the gospel to those in Caesar’s palace. Encouraged by the news that the Gospel continued to be preached by others. Yet keenly aware that Caesar could quite possibly order his death.

It is in this light that Paul declares, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul realized that his whole life was declaring the gospel of Christ, and that as long as he lived he could continue to encourage others in seeking Him. “To live is Christ.” Yet at the same time Paul longed to be in the presence of his Lord and Savior, a place he knew he would be should the end result be death. “To die is gain.” What a position to find himself in. What an attitude to have. This is what Donald Sunukjian refers to as a “Win – Win situation” in his book, “An Invitation To Philippians.”

As I think about it, I have to ask myself, “Could I have this same attitude?” “What would it take for me to view my life the same way?”

I certainly understand the first part of embracing my life for what I value, what I find important. But how can I bring myself to see the end of my life being even better? Part of the answer is found in my embracing what is important to my life and what Paul embraced as important to his life.  Paul did not say, “to live is to spend time with my family.” He did not say, “to live is to see amazing things.” And he did not say, “to live is to enjoy life.”

No, what Paul said was “to live is Christ.”  Now do you see the difference, “Christ.” What was important in Paul’s life was Christ. This is not to say that he did not enjoy things of this world, but that he saw everything he did as being for Christ. Christ was the center of his life. “To live is Christ.” This is the key to Paul being able to say, “to die is gain.” For if Christ was his whole life, what greater conclusion could there be than to stand in His presence. What greater joy could there be than to hear his Savior declare, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23) It is no wonder that Paul could say that “to die is gain.”

As believers in Christ there is no doubt that we do want to go to heaven. I pray for the day that I shall stand in his presence and hear his voice welcome me home. But are we ready to say that to die is gain and mean it? Are we ready to set aside the things of this world that hold our attention and distract us from Christ?  Only when we embrace that the purpose of our lives as believers is to glorify God and to make Him known.  Only when we live our lives for Him will we truly be able to join with Paul and declare with true belief that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Life Isn’t Fair, But Opportunities Abound

Have you ever had one of those days.  The ones where everything goes wrong.  The ones when, from the moment you get up in morning to when you eventually get to bed, anything that can possibly go contrary to your plans, does. You want more than anything to either go in you room and hide under the covers in hopes that tomorrow will be better, or climb up on the roof top and scream at the top of you lungs, “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME!”

Now imagine it is more than a day.  Imagine it continues for days, weeks, months, even years. What are you supposed to do with that?  How do you keep going on?  You have plans for your life, what you think you should be doing, but your life seems to be sending you in an entirely different direction. Where do you go from there?

This is the situation that Paul find’s himself in as he is writing his letter to the Philippians. Paul was on track to become a leading member of the Jewish community. Christ himself reached out to Paul. He called him to reach the gentile world, and Paul embraced his new mission.  He had turned his whole life over to proclaiming God’s word. But in the midst of his preaching he has found himself thrown into jail and brought up on charges before the courts. How could things have possibly gone so far astray? He did nothing to find himself in this place but preach the gospel, yet here he was.

If this wasn’t enough, there were those who claimed to have the same goal of preaching the gospel, yet they seemed to be taking advantage of his situation. They were actually preaching the gospel that he had set out to proclaim in order to spite him. They knew he was incarcerated, unable to go around preaching, and they wanted to rub his nose in it. It was as if they were saying, “See you’re not so important, we can preach the gospel just as well without you.”

Talk about Murphy’s law. It certainly seemed that everything that could go wrong, was. Yet while most of us would find out selves throwing a pity-party, saying “It’s not fair”, this was not Paul’s response.  Instead Paul writes, “But What does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” Even in the midst of all these trouble, Paul did not get caught up in what was going wrong in his life, but kept his focus on the proclamation of the Gospel. He saw all that he was going through not as problems for him, but opportunities for God’s word to be proclaimed.  In his book, “Invitation to Philippians” Dr. Donald Sunukjian puts it this way. “His concern was not ‘Is it fair?’ but ‘Is it accomplishing anything for God? Is what’s happening to me being useful to God in some way? Is it furthering his purposes in the world?'”

Paul could see beyond his situation to what was important.  Those who wanted to stick it to him by showing that he was not that important and that the gospel could still be preached without him had missed the point.  This was Paul’s mindset all along.  All that mattered was that the gospel was preached.  He lived the words of John the Baptist as found in John 3:30, “He must become greater; I must become less.”

But Paul did not stop with joy that the gospel was still preached. Even in his situation, he continued to preach.  He shared the gospel with the guards who watch over him.  He did it with the understanding that he was simply a link in a greater chain.  For those he shared the gospel with, even in his setting, could then bring the gospel to those they came in contact with, on they in turn could take it even further. In Paul’s case, it was the Imperial Guard of Rome who watched over him and, in turn, they could take the gospel to the very halls of the emperor’s palace. So Paul declared in Philippians 1:12 – 13 “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”

But that of course was Paul, what about us today.  Allow me to share a short story from my life.  I worked in university security for 20 years.  During that time I worked my way up from part-time to being the Director.  During my time I built a department that was respected and year after year increased in student satisfaction.  After nine years, the rug was pulled out from under me.  I was called into the Vice President’s office and told that due to financial situations, I was being let go. I spent the next six months unemployed, followed by 4 1/2 years split between four part-time jobs. I could easily have been caught up in looking for pity for my situation, and admittedly there were low moments, but I saw things differently.

When I was laid off, I didn’t complain.  I voluntarily came in for several days to wrap things up and make an easier transition for the person taking over my responsibilities. I wrote an open letter to those who knew me to let them know of my situation and asking them for their prayers for the university and those left to pick up the slack. I took opportunities to preach at churches. When I finally got a part-time job I found new opportunities to speak to people about their faith. I invested more time into volunteering with organizations. I began regularly preaching at a hospital chapel service. I took on an internship with my church. I found that being bogged down in self-pity would do no one any good, but as I embraced the opportunities that had been set before me, I found more and more opportunities to be involved in people lives. I found opportunities to share my faith with others. I found that I grew in my faith. I can only imagine what secondary impacts may have come from those I had contact with.

Even with all of these experiences, I still have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter that things seem unfair, all that matters is that God is glorified. So I ask you, as much as myself, what is your attitude in life? What is your reaction to the trials you face? Do you feel sorry for yourself? Do you become jealous of others who are out proclaiming the gospel, with opportunities that you think you should have? Do you find yourself unable to continue filled with self-pity, preventing you from making the best of your situation? Do you see situations as a  hinderance, or as an opportunity?

We need to understand that if we find ourselves caught up in the unfairness of life, we will miss the opportunities God sets before us. If we are so caught up in things not going the way we have planned, we will miss that God has a far greater plan for us.  But when our focus is on how God can use us, wherever we are, we will see a whole new world of opportunities open up for us. When we understand that even if we only impact one person we are brought into contact with, we may start a chain of events that could have a huge impact on the world down the road. When we realize that our focus should be on God’s glory and not our own recognition, we can join with Paul, when we see others proclaim the gospel, declaring that we “will continue to rejoice.” (Phil 1:18)

Doing What’s Best

You’ve seen them before. Young boys bustling with energy. Each of them wearing a blue shirt, with red numbers on the sleeve. Sometimes wearing an orange, or gold, or blue neckerchief. On the pocket of the shirt you find patches of tigers, bobcats, wolves and bear. I’m talking about Cub Scouts. Each learning and growing everyday and trying to live by the Cub Scout motto, “Do Your Best.”

This is a noble endeavor that we all should seek to live by.  But when you have to make a decision, how do you know what is best and why does it matter? The apostle Paul tells us in  Philippians 1:9 – 11 “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

“Discern what is best.” In Dr. Don Sunukjian’s book, “Invitation to Philippians,” he list the answer he sees in this passage.  He list two reasons found in this passage for why it is important that we make the best choice. “First, so that no one else will have anything against us, and second, so that we ourselves will know that we’ve pleased God in every way?”

I readily agree that it is important to make the best choice so that we can please God. Pleasing God is what is most important in our lives as Christians. 1 Thessalonians 2:4 tells us that “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” We are trying to please God. This is the role of a Christian, that everything we do is pleasing to God.

But what of his first point, “so that no one else will have anything against us.” Is this really our concern. Doesn’t Galatians 1:10 tell us, ” If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” At first glance, I would have to question the validity of this option.  But as I look closer at it I begin to see that it is not as far off as my initial thoughts would place it. Sunukjian said that it is important that we make the right decisions so that people will have nothing against us.  He did not say that we should do it to make people happy with us, that is to say, that we are not tying to please them.

Well, what exactly is the difference? After all, if people are happy with us, then they certainly will have nothing against us. While this is true, the reverse is not. In other words, even if a person has nothing against us, it does not mean that they will always be happy with us.

I know that there are people who I do not agree with. People whose choices do not please me, but I can not help but be impressed by their integrity. They are genuine about who they are. They do not simply act the way people want to make them happy. They make their choices because they truly believe in them.

You see our best choices are not simply to keep everyone happy. If we claim to be Christians, then our choices, our life styles, need to be consistent with that belief. When this is the case we please God, and give others nothing to hold against us for our behavior. This is what Peter is talking about in 1 Peter 2:12 when he writes, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Doing our best means making choices that please God, choices that are consistent with what we believe.  When we do this, we will be sure to glorify God in our actions and allow our witness to stand before others. But to do this, we must know what pleases God and how to live. The only way to do this is to spend time with Him and in His word. That is our best choice. That is how we are “able to discern what is best” and how we are able to “be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” So spend time daily in His word.  Spend time daily in prayer. Walk with Christ. Get to know Him and what He desires from you. Then you to can do what is best.

 

 

 

Christian Hospitality

What does the word “hospitality” mean? For many, the first thing that goes through their minds is the hospitality industry. According to Wikipedia this would include:

“a broad category of fields within the service industry that includes lodging, event planning, theme parks, transportation, cruise line, and additional fields within the tourism industry.”

But is this really what hospitality is all about?

In Dr. Donald Sunukjian’s book, “Invitation To Philippians” he discusses why Paul can say, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) In his sermon on Philippians 1:1 – 8, he identifies three specific things that Paul remembers, allowing him to speak with such confidence.  One of these three items is found in verse five which reads, “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

And what partnership is it that was there from the first day? Sunukjian draws us back to the events of Acts 16:11 – 15.

” From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay at my house.’ And she persuaded us.”

Here we see that Lydia, from the very beginning opened her home to Paul and his companions, for the purpose of the furtherance of the gospel. Based on this, Sunukjian proposes that hospitality is not simply an industry, but is an evidence of God working in the life of a Christian.

This led me to think, what is real hospitality? What does it look like?  Is it reasonable for all of us to be able to open our homes to others in the manner Lydia did? Can we show hospitality without having people in our homes? Is hospitality unique to Christian’s? And if not, what distinguishes it from hospitality shown by other?

 Real Hospitality

So what is hospitality anyway? Of course it is more than just a business, but is it simply opening your home?  If I tell people that they can use my house, but spend the time complaining of their presence I am surely not showing hospitality. Hospitality involves more than simply opening your home. It involves graciously welcoming guest. It involves a heart of service toward others. True hospitality is not done to receive something in return, but comes from the heart.

What If My Home Is Small

This is what we are called to as believers. We are called to share our lives with one another. But let’s be honest, not everyone is blessed with a home that they can open up to others.  I will readily admit that it is a challenge for me, not because I am not willing, but because my home is under 1,000 square feet with five people, three of which are teenagers. So what if my home is small, can I show hospitality without opening my home to others?

First you need to ask yourself, “Why do I not want people in my home?” Is it because I like my privacy and want to keep people out? If this is the case then we need to examine our hearts more closely, for this is what we are called to do.  In Matthew 25:35 we read, “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” These are the words that Jesus uses to describe those who know Him.  If our objection is simply because we do not want to deal with strangers, then we are failing to live up to God’ call on our lives.  However, if it is a logistical reason, such as there is simply not enough room, then I believe you can still show hospitality without having people into your home.  That having been said, who knows what we are missing by not doing so, for as the writer of Hebrews writes in 13:2, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

How Can We Show Hospitality

So what do we do in the event it is not reasonable to open our homes. I believe Jesus Himself answers this in Matthew 25:35 – 36 when He says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 

Each of these is an act of hospitality.  They involve going out of our way to meet the needs of others.  Perhaps you donate food to help feed the hungry, you give clothes to those in need. Perhaps you travel to visit shut-ins or prisoners.  Yes, hospitality does not always requiring opening your door to others. What hospitality does involve is a Philippians 2:3 attitude, “in humility value others above yourselves.”

Christian Hospitality

So if this is hospitality, is there validity to Sunukjian’s proposal that “one way you can be confident that people are committed to the work of the Lord – their homes are available?” The problem is that there are many people who are not Christian’s who show great hospitality as well.  People who are always willing to have others over, people who are willing to provide a meal, yet they are not Christians. So if hospitality is not uniquely Christian, what is it that distinguishes Christian Hospitality?

We need to look at the reason behind the acts of hospitality. What is it that drives people to desire to open their homes and care for others? For some, it can be a deep-seated to need to be accepted.  “If I can be the person who provides for others, maybe they will like me.” For others, it can be a need to be in control. “If I am the one opening my home, then I can control the situation.” And for still others, it can be a genuine desire to serve others. “I simply find joy in serving others.”

Christian Hospitality is certainly not based in a desire to be accepted or be in control. And while each of us may know those who could fall into these categories, such reasons are, in fact, self-serving and fly in opposition to the Philippians 2:3 attitude. It is the genuine desire to serve others that begins to draw us closer to Christian Hospitality. To fully reach there we must look at the source of that desire.  When our hospitality is based on our Christian Faith,  the source of our desire is not simply the joy of serving others, but a desire to see God glorified in our actions. This is what distinguishes Christian Hospitality.

Final Thoughts

Is hospitality an evidence of God working in the heart of a believer? The answer is yes.  And while there are many non-Christians who show hospitality, Christian’s who do so out of desire to see God glorified, demonstrate His working in them.

How can we show hospitality? If you are able, open your home for prayer time, a small group, a Bible study or simply a get together.  If this is not possible, look for other opportunities.  When someone has a baby, provide meals for them (as they are going to be quite busy for a while). If someone needs a ride to the hospital and you have a car, take the time to provide it. If you know someone who is a shut-in, take the time visit and spend time with them.

There are many ways to show hospitality that go beyond opening your home.  Examine your heart, and ensure that your first desire is to Glorify God. Next, take the time to think outside the box. Then set things in motion.

He Lives!

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.
He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!

In all the world around me I see His loving care;
And tho’ my heart grows weary, I never will despair.
I know that He is leading thro’ all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing will come at last.
He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind. [Refrain]
He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!

Words and Music by Alfred H. Ackley, 1933

 


But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
I Corinthians 15:12 – 21


 

There are lots of things that we learn over the years. After all, we spend at least 13 or the first 18 years of our lives in school. We read books, we learn facts, we study and we test our knowledge. Yes,at the end of the time we know a lot. (In fact as most of us have observed, 18 year olds often seem to think they know everything.) But as much as we have learned there is so much more that we do not know. Book knowledge only gets us so far, but real knowledge comes from experience. There are somethings that can really only be known through experience. It is this knowledge that runs through Alfred Ackley’s, “I Serve A Risen Savior.”

The hymn declares that “I know that He is living, whatever men may say.” This is the challenge that so many of us face. The world around us questions, “How can you know that Jesus is alive?” A valid question, after all just because we read something is a book, does not make it true. Yes, the book in question is the Bible, the inspired Word of God which we believe as an act of faith, but there is something more than simple faith to knowing the Jesus lives.

So the hymn continues, “I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.” Those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ have experienced something that goes beyond words. They have been forgiven, renewed and restored. They have experienced the very presence of God in the mercy he has poured out. They have felt His presence in those darkest moments, when they felt all alone and forgotten. Christ was there, saying “Come to me.”

And so the hymn continues to build on the truth of knowing Jesus as we read, “In all the world around me I see His loving care.” We live in an amazing world. A world that sits in a tedious balance, a balance that necessary for the very existence of life. And while all experience tells us that things eventually wind done and fall apart, this world remains. It maintains this balance. This is the very hand of God, holding the world together. We can see it all around us.

It continues, “And tho’ my heart grows weary, I never will despair. I know that He is leading thro’ all the stormy blast; The day of His appearing will come at last.” It is because of this knowledge that we can have true hope. (I Corinthians 15:12 – 21) Not simply wishful thinking, but a confidence in what the future holds. This is the hope about which Ackley speaks when he writes,”The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find.”

Why can we say that we know? It is simple in that if we believe in Jesus Christ, all will begin to come clear. Yet it is challenging, in seeing past the business of our lives to look and listen for Him.

Yes, He live and wants to be part of our lives, if we will put our faith in Him. When we do, we can join with the final truth of the chorus as we declare, “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!”

 

 

Read more about “I Serve A Risen Savior.

Christ The Lord Is Risen Today!

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

Words by Charles Wesley, 1739
Music by unknown composer, ca. 1708

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them,“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Matthew 28:1 – 10

“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55 – 57

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2


The old saying is that bad news travel quickly. Of this, I have little doubt. Life experience has confirmed it. But if bad news travels quickly what happens with Good News? Well, there is good news that simply is nice to know and there is good news that you can not keep to yourself. It is this latter good news which is declared in Charles Wesley’s, “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today.”

The account of that Sunday Morning gives us the greatest good news ever. In Matthew 28:1 – 6 we are told:

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”

He is risen! What more joyous message could you imagine. These people who saw their friend and Savior die on the cross, had now received the news that He was no longer dead, that he had risen.

Upon receiving such incredible news what would you do? Imagine to be the first to hear the words that He was alive. This message that the angels shared was followed with instructions. In Matthew 28:6 – 7 we read “Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’”

Go and tell! This is the instruction given to the first to hear the truth. But need it be said. If you were to learn that one you loved with all your heart was actually alive, would you wait for instruction or would you want everyone to know right away. This is the message declared in the hymn when it reads, “Christ, the Lord, is risen today.” He is alive and I want the world to know!

The hymn continues, “Sons of men and angels say, . . . Raise your joys and triumphs high, . . . Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply.” Jesus is alive! Let the news echo throughout all the earth. All creation join in with celebration.

The hymn declares, “Lives again our glorious King, . . . Where, O death, is now thy sting? . . . Once He died our souls to save, . . . Where thy victory, O grave?” Jesus death on the cross, was but a step in the plan of salvation. It paid to penalty that we owed, but was not the end. His resurrection showed him victorious not only over sin, but death itself. This is why Paul writes in I Corinthians 15:55 – 57, “’O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Not only do we celebrate that He is alive, but that through Jesus death and resurrection we to share in the victory. This is why the hymn continues, “Love’s redeeming work is done, . . . Fought the fight, the battle won.” Jesus has won. In Him alone the work is done. Nothing we could do, would prove victorious, yet we may share in His victory when we accept his gift of salvation through His work.

Yes, He is Risen, and there is no greater news that could fill this earth. In Him we claim the victory that He has won. We know that we shall be “made like him.” (1 John 3:2) So we join in with the voices of those who came before and those who will come knowing that in Him all is “Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.”

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Read more about “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today.

Read the full text of “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today.

Traditional Choral Arrangement