Many of us face difficulties, but how do you hold out hope when life continues to push you back down, leaving you broken?
Shea Watson has seen some of the worst that life can bring. From times of brokenness and not being able to see any hope at all, he’s now able to offer lasting hope to others, a hope that transcends it all.
“This is a message that heals people, and that healing … I can’t even describe the healing but I know that it’s there and I know that it’s real and it hasn’t gone away.” – Shea Watson
It all stands or falls on this. There’s no middle ground. Jesus’ life isn’t simply an object lesson on living well.
The faith of many millions over centuries hinges on the resurrection that Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday (and throughout the year). If that one moment in history didn’t happen then our faith is a complete farce.
In a letter that he wrote to the church at Corinth a couple of thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul claims that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the whole Christian faith is useless and all the world’s Christians are poor suckers who should be pitied.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
Paul’s saying that the idea of Jesus being a good teacher who said some interesting things isn’t an option. He’s telling us that the whole Christian belief rests on the crucifixion and resurrection being historical fact.
For many, that’s too much of a stretch to believe. How can it be true that someone could be brutally killed yet return to life three days later?
But imagine for a moment that it is true. That would mean that death doesn’t have to be the end because it has been beaten at its own game.
We’ve all been inspired by the lives of others, even knowing that they have died or will at some stage die. Once they’re gone the story of their life, their trials and triumphs continue to influence and motivate us. Surely the story of someone who even triumphed over death itself should give rise to even greater admiration and inspiration … but of course only if the story of them defeating death is true.
When we look at the evidence, the truth of the resurrection emerges very clearly as the best explanation. There is no other theory that even come close to accounting for the evidence. Therefore, there is solid historical grounds for the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. – Matt Perman
In an article written some years ago titled Historical Evidence for the Resurrection, Matt Perman takes a brief look at some of the reasons that many people over the past two thousand years have believed that Jesus rising from the dead isn’t just a nice story, it’s fact.
I don’t have time for a useless faith.
I’m not prepared to believe fairy tales and so while many will scoff and think I must be crazy, I will say that I believe that death has lost its sting because God raised his son Jesus from the dead.
That’s what I’ll be celebrating today and for all eternity.
I pray that you’ll take time to consider the significance of the Easter story this Resurrection Sunday.
The good news is that God, out of His love, became man in Jesus Christ in order to pay the penalty for sinners. On the cross, Jesus died in the place of those who would come to believe in Him. He took upon Himself the very death that we deserve. The apostle Paul says “He was delivered up because of our sins.” But the apostle Paul goes on to say “He was raised to life because of our justification.” Paul is saying that Christ’s resurrection proves that His mission to conquer sin was successful. His resurrection proves that He is a Savior who is not only willing, but also able, to deliver us from the wrath of God that is coming on the day of judgment. The forgiveness that Jesus died and rose to provide is given to those who trust in Him for salvation and a happy future. – Matt Perman
Yes, you might think it sounds like a fairytale, but what if it’s true? What if death can be conquered?
For over two thousand years, millions of people have placed their faith in Jesus as the one who overcame death and now offers the same to those who would believe. Are you going to dismiss that possibility without even looking at the evidence?
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Sometimes we find ourselves in a place where God begins to speak louder and more clearly than previously. Through the Holy Spirit, His voice directs us, challenges us, comforts us. So how do we capture those promptings and ensure they have more than a passing effect?
Over the past couple of months as I cycled across Australia, God used that radical change in daily routines to speak to me. It wasn’t as if I had extra time to hear from God. My ‘busyness’ levels were higher than ever but when we’re placed into different circumstances we can’t just fall into mindless routines. We’re forced to think differently.
I’m not sure I could even articulate everything God has been saying. Some of the conversation has been an invitation to go deeper, to seek greater closeness, to explore more of who He is and what that means for me. God reinforced care for the poor and care for those we encounter every day.
As life starts returning to ‘normal’ (whatever that is) there is the very real danger that the voice that was so clear in past weeks will grow increasingly silent. It won’t happen intentionally but everyday, ordinary life has a habit of crowding out the extraordinary. So how do times of the extraordinary help form a ‘new normal’?
Routines are helpful and the day to day stuff of life demands our attention but how do we intentionally grab hold of those times of difference and ensure they continue to reform the everyday stuff of life? How do we ensure that we are the ‘good soil’ that doesn’t let our busy lives choke out what’s important?
“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” – Mark 4:3-8 ESV
I think part of the answer is in examining routines and deciding if there are any that we need to let go to make way for more helpful routines. We need to make way for those moments where God has our attention and can speak. We need to reset our priorities regularly to see if those things that are lasting and eternal have given way to the temporary and passing pursuits of this world.
We also need to act on what we hear, we need to practice obedience to what God is calling us to do or be.
Perhaps we should be writing down those ‘nudges’ the Holy Spirit gives us and returning to those notes often so that the directions we are given become part of our new routines.
How about sharing what God is saying with others so that they can be part of the journey you’re taking?
These are just a few thoughts and really only scratch the surface. I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do we ensure the voice we heard so clearly does not become silent?
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It’s a weird concept but I’ve been thinking again recently about the self-discipline we require to do the things we love.
We might imagine that we’ll just get on and do the stuff we love doing and that we only need to discipline ourselves to do the things that we don’t like to do; the things we have to anyway.
It takes real discipline and resolve for me to do any gardening and a bunch of other things that aren’t really my thing but what about the things I really enjoy doing?
Shouldn’t those things come easily to me?
Perth’s beautiful weather makes my city the perfect place for cycling. It’s one of my favourite passtimes yet if I don’t discipline myself to get out there on my bike I’ll miss out on something I love. It’s easy to sleep in on a Saturday morning instead of rising early to ride with my cycling friends but I know that if I put in the effort I’ll get greater benefits from cycling than I would from an extra hour in bed.
When I force myself into the habit of regular cycling I feel fitter and more energised, yet that discipline can slip away so easily. With a ride right across Australia on the horizon next year, I’d better get that discipline happening soon or I’ll miss out on my big adventure.
If I love reading so much why do I need to discipline myself to sit down with a book for an hour?
A week or two can often go past without me sitting down to soak in some words from the pages of a good book yet when I make the time to read I can easily get lost among the words and I thoroughly enjoy every moment of it. Sitting down with a coffee in one hand and a book in the other is one of the most satisfying things in the world yet I can waste my time on the trivial things of life rather than reading.
We need to work on our relationships.
Some relationships are easier than others, but we even need to put in a great deal of effort on our relationships with those we love.
Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well. ? Theodore Roosevelt
Do you find the same thing happening?
Are there things that you really love yet you find you have to discipline yourself to invest your time pursuing them?
I find the same thing with my faith. I’m never happier than when I feel that I’m in tune with the Creator yet I can let time slip through my fingers without making the effort to recharge my spiritual batteries.
The simple spiritual disciplines of prayer, reading the scriptures, reflecting and others that are absolutely life giving can be easily crowded out in our busy world.
Why do we let ourselves get robbed of the real stuff of life?
It’s somehow strange that we should have to exercise discipline and self-control to do the things that make us feel most alive but sadly it’s true. I guess that’s where priority setting comes into play.
What are you like at doing the things that you love? Are there things you love, things that truly energise you, that you have let slip away?
(This post previously published here at RodneyOlsen.net)
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