Today, I am posting four short, themed devotionals that are just right for the days following Resurrection Day. Feel free to read all at once, or pick the one that speaks to your heart, or return here daily over the next few days to read each one. May you find the hope of Jesus in these words today. (Feel free to share with friends on social media, or print & share!)
For those dealing with disappointment or fear
Easter has come, but do you secretly feel like it's a little dark around you? Are you still carrying the weight of disappointment and the burden of fear?
I've been there, too, friend.
In those dark moments, I try to remember this little gem in the Easter story.
"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb" (John 20:1). The stone had been rolled away, and Jesus was gone. A couple of disciples investigated, and then, ... they went home.
But Mary stayed.
That's when the light broke into the darkness.
That light was Jesus. Alive. Risen! Just as He said.
Sometimes, it will look like the darkness is winning all around us. But in the ultimate plot twist, Easter happened. Jesus rose, bringing light to all of our darkness. And because Mary was brave enough to stand there in the darkness, Mary became (as my pastor says) "the world's first evangelist."
When life feels dark, let's wait like Mary Magdalene at the tomb. Let's not be afraid of the dark. Because the darkness has not overcome the light.
That light is Jesus, who illuminates the path before us and shows us how to live.
Arise, shine, our light has come.
Let's get out there, friend ... and tell our world.
For those questioning their purpose
Those were the two words racing through my head last night, after Easter Sunday, my favorite day of the year.
I love Easter. I love the celebration, the music, the hands raised, the empty tomb, the story. But the story didn't end at the tomb. Jesus was just getting started.
Now what are we gonna do with the greatest story to hit the world? Now what are we gonna do about the minutes, hours, days, and years that God has given to us? Now what we are gonna do about that "nudge" to step out of our comfort zone? Now what we are gonna do about our excuses, our grudges, our bitterness, our pain? Now what are gonna do about working toward true unity in the church? Now what are we gonna do about injustice in the world?
We are not a powerless people. We have more power than we can even fathom.
"The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you" (Romans 8:11).
Remember how Paul encountered believers in Ephesus? Yeah, so they believed Jesus rose from the dead. But when pressed by Paul about the Holy Spirit, they were all like: "We’ve never even heard of that—the Holy Spirit? God within us?" (See Acts 19).
GOD. WITHIN. US. Whoa.
Check it out: God was working so powerfully that people would touch Paul's handkerchiefs and be healed! People started bringing their sick people along the roadsides, on the chance that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by, so they would be healed!
It's our turn. We are the generation of people called to do more than stand in awe at the empty tomb. We are called to move, to run, to preach, to serve, to dance, to minister, to pray, to take risks, to believe this truth: The SAME POWER that raised Jesus from the DEAD lives in us.
So ... now what?
For those who are living in the past
I visited a place recently from my past. When I walked through the door, memories flooded my mind. I immediately felt a sense of shame and condemnation, even though the faded memories were from half a lifetime ago!
Shame wrapped itself around me, like an icy blanket. And for a moment, I forgot that I am not who I was. I am not my past. I am not my mistakes. I am not my sin.
The enemy would have loved to hold me hostage to my past. But God doesn’t consult with the enemy about my past when He is mapping out my future.
That day, I felt God whisper into my heart, “Girl. I already rescued you from that pit. There’s no good reason to go back.” His words were warm enough to melt the icy blanket that had wrapped itself around me.
Where are you today?
Are you in a pit? Are you in need of a rescue? Maybe your pit is shaped like mine — in the form of your past mistakes. Or maybe you've fallen into a pit on account of what happened to you. Maybe you are in that pit right now, overwhelmed by the circumstances of your life.
No matter the shape of your pit, you probably know that it’s impossible to climb out on your own. Most of us reach a point in our lives where we’ve fallen into a pit so deep that we think we’re beyond rescue. No matter how deep we have fallen, God’s love is deeper still.
God’s arm is “not too short to save” you from wherever you are right now (Isaiah 59:1).
No matter how deep your shame, He is deeper still.
No matter how deep your grief, He is deeper still.
No matter how deep your debt, He is deeper still.
No matter how deep your loneliness, He is deeper still.
No matter how deep your trouble, He is deeper still.
No matter how deep your personal hell, He is deeper still.
For those who are suffering
One of the most comforting truths of our faith is this: that God does not abandon us in our suffering.
And one of the biggest misconceptions is this: That God caused the suffering and brought evil upon you.
Yes, we all suffer. Some of the most faithful Christians I know have endured great pain and suffering. And yes, I know that because God is Redeemer, He can bring great good out of great suffering. But the God I know did not give you cancer, harm your kid, tempt the gunman, or send the hurricane to your city. (If that were the case, imagine how this would feel: the God you really needed to comfort you during your time of trial ... has been identified as the one who brought this hell upon you.)
If you are in emotional or physical pain today, know that God is not the source of your suffering. He is the source of your comfort.
I recently read a stunningly beautiful new book about grief written by my friend Adriel Booker. It hasn't been released yet, but you might want to preorder a copy, especially if you've experienced miscarriage. (Details below).
Adriel knows suffering. She experienced three consecutive miscarriages. From that place of brokenness and pain, she writes words that whisper hope and healing:
"God did not lead you into this present suffering, but he has promised he'll stay with you there. He's promised to mend every broken thing. This is the hope of resurrection."
Thank You, Jesus.
Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss by Adriel Booker
To order Adriel's book, click here.
To take advantage of her preorder incentives, click here.
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Each week, I host an encouraging community of bloggers who are telling their stories around the web and across the world. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT) on my blog. If you are a blogger who loves to encourage others with stories of faith and hope, you are welcome to link up with us.
Each week, I feature one of the writers in our #TellHisStory community. Our featured writer this week is Tammy Mashburn. I love the title of Tammy's post... Light in The Darkness: Hope In Your Weary Days of Heavy. If that's you, I encourage you to click over and read her words. Find Tammy here.
To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. That badge can be found here. xo Jennifer