After Jesus was crucified, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea, took our Savior’s body and placed it in his own tomb. A massive stone was then rolled in place to seal the entrance to the tomb — causing all those around the Master to feel profoundly heartbroken and despondent. Scripture says a group of women, including Mary Magdalene, sat opposite the tomb, probably asking, “What will happen now that Jesus is gone? How do we go on?” (see Matthew 27: 57-61).
Then there were the disciples, who shut themselves up in a room, paralyzed with fear. “The doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). What were these disciples thinking? They could hardly imagine what was going to become of them all now that Jesus was gone.
We cannot fathom what Jesus’ death meant to his passionate followers. Their Master, the hope of the world, had healed the sick and lame, raised the dead, set captives free, and preached the good news of salvation. He was the embodiment of the new kingdom he preached about and when he said, “It is finished,” they must have thought he meant, “It’s over. I did everything I could but I couldn’t make it happen. This is the end of the story.” They were all looking at things with the attitudes they held before the resurrection. But today we know the glorious end of the story.
Sadly, all too often Christians believe the wrong message as they endure the trials of life. They see no hope beyond their difficult situation, as if a stone permanently separates them from confidence and trust in the promises of God. Like the women at the tomb or the dejected disciples, all they can see before them is defeat — but Jesus has the last word!
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15, NIV). Jesus triumphed over all principalities and powers when he rose from the grave. His victory has overcome all your failures! His power can set you free from addiction; his healing can restore broken relationships; his love can conquer every evil that tries to beat you down.
Know this! Jesus is always working on your behalf and he is on the move in your life at this very moment.
God spoke to Isaiah about a certain servant who delights his heart: “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights” (Isaiah 42:1). Who is this one whom God sustains and upholds, guarding his every step? Who is his chosen, his elect — the one in whom he so delights?
We find the answer in Matthew’s gospel: “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:16-17). The original word for “I am well pleased” here is “delight.” God was saying, “My soul delights in my son, Jesus Christ!”
Throughout the Old Testament, untold numbers of sheep and cattle were offered to the Lord as sacrifices, yet the Bible says none of these sacrifices brought the Lord any pleasure: “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure” (Hebrews 10:6). Yet, in the very next verse we read these wonderful words from Jesus: “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come … to do Your will, O God’” (10:7).
Christ came to earth to do what no animal sacrifice could do. God had prepared a physical body for him here on earth — a body that would provide the final, perfect sacrifice. In short, God abased himself for our sake. Encasing himself in a human womb, he took on our nature. He gave up the riches of heaven to become poor for us, giving his life to ransom us.
From the foundation of the world, God had only one plan: to reconcile fallen, sinful humankind and bring us back into his good graces. God’s plan for doing this was simple. He said, “I’m going to send forth my son as a deliverer and after he has died, risen, and stands before me, I will recognize only him.”
The Lord said, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). God would never accept any works by human flesh, no matter how good they might appear. He would recognize only Christ, the servant who perfectly pleased and delighted him!
Sundays used to be the day set aside as the Lord’s Day, a day to worship God and rest from all other activities. Today, however, Sunday is no longer a hallowed day. Sadly, many Christians no longer look on Sunday as a day to prioritize Christian activities. Millions of believers can be seen heading for their family hideaway — a cabin in the mountains, a house in the country, a chalet at the lake. For them, Sunday is one big play day of boating, swimming, skiing, going on cruises or outings.
What does the Lord have to say about the Sabbath? Well, in one place, Moses said, “The Lord has given you the Sabbath … so the people rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:29-30). In other words, the Sabbath was meant as a gift from God to man — and it had a holy purpose. You see, sabbath means, literally, “to cease,” or, “to stop what you’re doing.” And the fourth commandment tells us, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).
The Bible describes it this way: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work …for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lords blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:9-11).
What does it mean to keep the Sabbath holy? If it is not just a matter of legalistic obedience, and is rather a spiritual observance, then what must we do?
It definitely involves rest — physical rest — but there’s a holy rest that begins in the soul: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). What is this rest? It is the laying of all our sin-burdens on Christ! God calls us to live all our days free of fear, worry and anxiety — to walk in the Spirit, with no more heavy burdens.
Beloved, rejoice over your position in Christ and let every day be a day of Sabbath as you honor him.
“We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5). By faith, we are the very members of Christ’s body, adopted into one family. There is no longer black, white, yellow, brown, Jew or Gentile. We are all of one blood — one new man — in Christ Jesus! And because of Christ’s work on the cross, man couldn’t become holy by good works, righteous deeds, human effort or strivings of the flesh.
“Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:15). Only one man would be accepted by the Father: the new, resurrected man. And when this new man presented to his Father all who had faith in him, the Father responded, “I receive you all as holy, because you are in my holy son!”
We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. “That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ … In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:10, 13). So you see, holiness is not something we do, or attain, or work up. Rather, it is something we believe! The path to holiness is not through human ability but through faith.
God’s message about holiness isn’t about outward things. It is about faith—and he makes it very clear and simple. This is his wonderful answer to the anxious cries of multitudes of Christians who thirst for the understanding of how to be holy. We are holy as we rest in his holiness!
Beloved, put off all reliance on the flesh and make this your declaration: “I claim my holiness that is in Christ Jesus. I’m a part of his body and my Father sees me as holy — because I am in Christ!”
God the Father enthroned Christ as king over all nations and all nature, and as Lord over the church. It doesn’t matter what things look like on the outside. Everything may seem out of control and look like the devil has taken power, but the truth is, God has put all things under Jesus’ feet.
All around us today, we see our society and government dethroning Christ — refusing to acknowledge his authority and kingship. God is being removed from our schools and courts and is being ignored in making our laws. The problem of Christ’s dethroning is much worse than America’s rejection of Jesus’ authority because it also is happening in his church!
You may say, “I want Jesus to be king of my life. I want to do everything he commands.” God says, “If you want to know abundant life — true, full life — then submit yourself to me and I’ll give you life without fear, guilt or condemnation.”
Those who submit to Christ’s lordship will walk in peace. Submitted Christians don’t live in fear, turmoil or anxiety. They’re clothed in peace: “Grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear …to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:74 and 79).
What a wonderful promise! If we yield our lives to him, he will shine his light into our darkness, remove the shadow of death, and guide us into peace and rest. He essentially says, “I’ll clear up all the confusion in your life and you’ll be able to walk in peace.”
Psalm 121 sums up the attitude we are to have: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved … the Lord shall preserve you from all evil” (Psalm 121:1-3, 7).
Put Christ on the throne of you heart today — and live!