April 16, 2014

Today is the Day

Yesterday is forever gone.
Today is beyond our reach.
Today is the only time and place
Where we can learn, think, or teach.

We cannot return to yesterday,
Tomorrow’s where we cannot be.
Today is where we face life now
And face our own Eternity.

Yesterday counts the good we’ve done,
Our tomorrows all remain unknown.
Today may count for good, or not,
We’ll only know when it has flown.

Yesterdays are what they were.
Tomorrow we may never see,
So trust Him for today, this day,
And things that for us are to be.

– Donald G. Mashburn

A Prayer for Today

Lord, today help to accept that I am not responsible for the response of others to me, but I am responsible for loving them.

And Lord, help me to forget offenses against me, but help never to forget an act of kindness.

The Priceless Gift of Easter

by Donald G. Mashburn

This Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday to many Christians, is a time for remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. We worship Him because we believe and accept Him for who He said He was, the Son of God, “Emanuel, God with us.”

He predicted He would die for our sins, and would rise again. He promised us eternal life if we believed in Him and His Father who sent Him. If we could not believe those claims, we would have little on which to base our faith, or our hopes in this life or the next.

One foundational statement Jesus made was the one predicting His own death: “Then Jesus … said to them, ‘The Son of Man will be betrayed … and they will condemn Him to death, and the third day He will rise again.’” (Matt. 20:18-19, NKJV)

If his statement had turned out to be not true, then how could we believe any of His other statements? His claim that He would “on the third day … rise again,” was out there before His disciples to be proved true or false in His lifetime.

Then, once His death became a fact, the whole of Christianity, then and now, rested on what happened at the tomb on the Sunday after His crucifixion. If the grave still held His body, it would indicate that the claims of divinity and being the Son of God would be untrue.

But for Christians around the world, it has made all the difference that His word proved to be true when it was confirmed by one of the most wonderful utterances of hope ever heard by a mortal being: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. (Matt. 28:6)

The empty tomb sent other strong messages. Jesus was who He said He was. God, in raising Him from the dead, accepted His divine offering as an acceptable sacrifice for our sins, a sacrifice we ourselves could not present to a Holy God.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Holy Lamb of God, with His own blood paid a debt for us which we could not pay, and a debt He did not owe.

Christians have countless reasons to worship our Redeemer on Resurrection Sunday, and our joy is sufficient to let us tolerate the use of Easter Sunday by others, as they worship Him. But we receive other blessings from this “Easter Season.” We are strengthened in our awareness of God’s love for us, of our Lord’s death and resurrection, and the knowledge that “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Because Easter comes in the Spring, we get some extra bonuses from its arrival, whether it comes early or late. Easter refreshes us in many ways. The on-again, off-again Winter has been wearying this year. The calendar says Spring has arrived, but yesterday, Tuesday, we set a record low of 27 degrees Fahrenheit for the date, breaking the old record of 30 degrees that had stood since 1928.

Elsewhere in the news, Congress is exhibiting its usual dysfunctional ineffectiveness. The stock market is in a correction. We don’t expect good news from war zones, and as a rule they don’t disappoint. We aren’t likely to be hearing about victory in the long ongoing war in Afghanistan.

All these things can bring on a blue funk that a truckload of Prozac won’t help.

The wobbly economy still has the wobblies. And the big spenders in Washington still don’t get it, that if you spend more than you have coming in your debt increases.

The occupant of the White House seems more interested in golfing, vacationing and fund raising than staying on the job and buckling down and doing the hard work it’s going to take to fix what’s broken.

The network news comes daily at 5:00 p.m. Central Blues time.

Spring can help draw our thoughts to new life, but Hope must have a higher origin.

Hope often seems beyond our reach. But then, just in time, Easter arrives. This year, praise the Lord, it looks as if we can look forward to a stretch of mild weather. We can agree that we should call it Resurrection Sunday, for that’s what it is, but if folks honor the Lord on Easter, let’s enjoy Easter and share it whenever we can.

Easter is a day of hope, a day that tells us that the world may not be well, but that all’s well for those who believe in the Christ of Easter. When the realities of the world shake our faith in the future, Easter restores us.

For some, “Easter Break” is a time of self-indulgence. For Christians, Easter is the story of a life given to save others. It’s a day of thanksgiving, for the day they shed the rags of the world and donned the spotless robe of the Redeemed.

One would think that, worldwide, people would welcome the redemption message of Easter. Sadly, however, anti-Christian forces will continue to try to tarnish the holiness of Easter with the ugliness of commercialism. They flood us with commercial messages that try to reduce God to myth, and Christ to “right wing” religious fanaticism.

However, the true Easter Story is about an agonizing death on a cross, of a perfect, sinless man, followed by the earth-shaking event of that Man, three days later, walking out of the grave. This man, fully man, fully God, Jesus Christ, Son of God, could have avoided dying, and had the power to destroy all those who caused Him to be crucified.

But He came not to destroy human life, but to give eternal life. As He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, “He who believes in me has everlasting life” (John 6:47, NKJV).

His coming and His ministry was followed by His suffering and death on the cross. His agonizing death at Calvary led to His glorious resurrection that made that first Easter the most significant event in the history of mankind since He created all things.

He paid a debt we could not pay, a debt He did not owe. He gave Himself to give us eternal life for, in His words, “he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent Me” (John 5:24 NKJV).

What a priceless gift is Easter, His Resurrection Day, to all who believe in the risen Christ! Priceless in that we cannot express its value, but it came at a terrible price to a loving God and His beloved Son who purchased our pardon at Calvary.

But the glory of Easter is that Jesus stayed on the cross, but He did NOT stay in the grave. He was who He said He was, and God confirmed Him by His resurrection. Jesus chose to do His Father’s will, to pay our sin debt so that we might be made righteous in the eyes of a holy God.

Jesus loved us enough to suffer the humiliation, agony, and death of the cross, so that through His resurrection we might know, and through faith believe, that He is indeed the Son of God.

Many will let Easter pass and little note it. Secular television may reduce it to Easter egg hunts and parades. And many in the media will work to avoid mentioning Christ and His resurrection.

But to Christians, one salient fact makes Easter special for all mankind: On that first Easter morning, the tomb was empty! And Believers will sing confidently, “He arose, He arose, Hallelujah, Christ arose!”

To join that chorus is easy: Believe in the resurrected Christ, and receive as a free gift “the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3:22 NKJV).