Twist And Shout

Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?

Today is the greatest day of the Christian year as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. If one day a year should be filled with celebration, this is it!

If we truly understood the significance of this day, I think all of us would jump up and down and shout, “HE IS RISEN! JESUS HAS CONQUERED DEATH AND HELL!” And I think it would change the way we live.

Please join me this resurrection Sunday as we explore this topic.

If you don’t have plans for celebrating Easter today and you live in the Denver, Colorado area, please join me at The Neighborhood Church. We meet at 10:00 a.m.

TODAY’S READING

Deuteronomy 26:1-27:26
Luke 10:38-11:13
Psalm 76:1-12
Proverbs 12:15-17

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Deuteronomy 26. I love the perspective Moses takes at the beginning of this chapter: “When you have entered the land…and have taken possession of it…” Moses refers to the Promised Land as if God had already given it to them—and he had.

All too often, I think we get caught in a time warp and believe that time is unraveling before us. But it isn’t. We live within the realm of time but God isn’t limited by it. From God’s vantage point, all human history is past tense. In fact, Revelation 13:8 tells us that Jesus was “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” In other words, Jesus was crucified before the creation of the world.

While this fact shouldn’t cause us to live in morbid fatalism, it should alleviate some of the pressure we easily take upon ourselves. For this reason we can trust that God has everything under control.

The reference in verse 5 to the “wandering Aramean” is speaking of Jacob.

Deuteronomy 27. We’ll probably return to this theme periodically in the next few books, but I find it significant that God commanded the Israelites to etch the law on stones coated with plaster and place them on Mt. Ebal (which was later accomplished in Joshua 8).

Visual reminders not only jog our memory but they also transport us back in time to significant moments in our lives. Take photos, for instance. We store them in our photo albums or on our computers because they bring our past experiences into the present.

Most covenant agreements included a section where curses would be listed for people who violated the covenant. Verses 14-26 serve this purpose.

Luke 10:38-42. I’ve listened to numerous Bible studies and sermons on Mary and Martha. Nevertheless, I need to take a close look at the story again. Basically, Mary refused to allow her “responsibilities” to get in the way of being with Jesus. Martha, on the other hand, got so caught up in taking care of Jesus that she neglected him.

This isn’t a lesson in the contemplative life versus a life of action, but it is a lesson in being so busy—even with spiritual things—that we miss Jesus in the process. Ouch!

Luke 11:1-13. The first part of this chapter is Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer (the better known version is found in Matthew 6:9-13).

In verses 5-8, Jesus offers us insight into the kind of prayer our society doesn’t like to hear. He gives an example of a person who pesters his neighbor for bread until his request is granted. In an age where people complain when their broadband connection moves too slow, Jesus tells us that God values the kind of prayer that refuses to give up. Praying for a need one time is good. Praying for the need repeatedly is even better. Much better.

Proverbs 12:15. “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” Defensiveness is a sign of foolishness.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

Like yesterday, I decided to stray from our normal routine and include a prolonged quote on Easter by an influential writer. Yesterday, Oswald Chambers addressed us. Today, Dietrich Bonhoeffer will be our guest. Although he died at the young age of 39, Bonhoeffer impacted the 20th century church like few others. If you’d like to learn more about him, click here.

We pay more attention to dying than to death. We’re more concerned to get over the act of dying than to overcome death. Socrates mastered the art of dying; Christ overcame death as the last enemy. There is a real difference between the two things; the one is within the scope of human possibilities, the other means resurrection. It’s not from dying but from the resurrection of Christ, that a new and purifying wind can blow through our present world.

Here is the answer to Archimedes’ challenge: “Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth.” If only a few people really believed that and acted on it in their daily lives, a great deal would be changed.

To live in the light of the resurrection—that is what Easter means.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How does knowing that all human history (including your life) is “past tense” affect the stresses and pressures you face today? What does this tell you about God?
  3. What visual reminders have you displayed in your home that remind you of God’s love and faithfulness? What other artifacts from your life could you use as visual reminders?
  4. What “spiritual” activities cause you to neglect Jesus?
  5. What does it mean for you to live in light of the resurrection?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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