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Monday, April 5, 2010

Yellow daffodil (photo by Doris High)
Daffodil bloom
(Photo by Doris High)

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"Risen Indeed!"

"The Lord is risen indeed" (Luke 24:34). "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:20).

What a joy to gather yesterday with other believers and express the glorious truth and power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I still recall the powerful narration line in an Easter musical Brooksyne led years ago that declares, "It's not a fable nor a fairy tale but a true accounting of Jesus Christ, God's only Son." AMEN!

Our church sang several of the traditional Easter hymns yesterday including "Christ Arose", "Christ The Lord Is Risen Today" and "He Lives", which we sang at the closing of our service. My favorite line in this hymn written by Alfred Ackley is, "You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart."

In 1932 Ackley, a minister of the gospel, met a Jewish man to whom he began witnessing in evangelistic meetings, but the man resisted the Christian faith. He asked, "Why should I worship a dead Jew?"

That statement played on Alfred's mind as he prepared his Easter Sunday message. Rising early to prepare for the day, Alfred flipped on the radio as he shaved and was astonished to hear a famous liberal preacher in New York say, "Good morning – it's Easter! You know, folks, it really doesn't make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not. As far as I am concerned, His body could be as dust in some Palestinian tomb. The main thing is, His truth goes marching on!"

Alfred wanted to fling the radio across the room. "It's a lie!" he exclaimed. His wife rushed into the bathroom, asking, "Why are you shouting so early in the morning?"

"Didn't you hear what that good-for-nothing preacher said?" Alfred replied.

That morning, Ackley preached with great vigor on the reality of Christ's Resurrection and he did the same at the evening service. But later that night, he was still worked up about his friend's question and the morning's radio sermon. "Listen here, Alfred Ackley," his wife said at last. "It's time you did that which you can do best. Why don't you write a song about it and then maybe you'll feel better?"

Alfred went to his study, opened the Bible, and re-read the Resurrection account from Mark's Gospel. A thrill went through him, and he began writing the words to "He Lives." A few minutes later he was at the piano putting it to music, not dreaming it would become one of the church's most triumphant Easter hymns. (Story from "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert J. Morgan.)

The daily text is an ancient declaration of faith which can too easily become a mere cliché. However in just five words it expresses the bedrock truth of Christian faith, "The Lord is risen indeed" and we, like Ackley, need to feel it with strong conviction deep within our soul. This is especially important as true believers present the message of their resurrected Lord to the world. The Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and Santa Claus are thought of by many as wholesome children's tales and the story of the Lord Jesus can easily be reckoned the same way. Some may smile and say regarding the message of Christ, "That is a touching story isn't it?" Many have "Easter faith" expressed by those who "believe" when they attend church on Easter or other special occasions. But then they go about their lives ignoring God, at least until the next special church event!

But authentic, saving faith is life transforming in the lives of believers 365 days a year - for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a genuine, historical event, validated by clear accounts of eyewitnesses. The Scriptures strongly denounce any notion of it being merely a touching story. "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

Two early eyewitnesses declared to the disciples, "The Lord is risen indeed." For forty days after His resurrection, He showed Himself and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive (Acts 1:3). And many years later a mightily transformed Peter reminds his readers that, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).

Today let us faithfully serve this risen Lord. Let us boldly declare to the world that our Lord is risen indeed as we walk daily in the resurrected power of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, Your Word declares that Jesus rose from the dead. The eyewitnesses to this glorious miracle were initially in disbelief but when they were face to face with Jesus they were filled with jubilant hope. It is because You live that we live also. You've put our sin nature to death and raised our spiritual nature to life. And one day our physical nature will give way to death but because of Your power over the grave we will be resurrected to eternal life. Praise be to God, the Lord is risen indeed! Amen.

Cows resting in pasture 4/4/10
One of the most pleasant farm sights for me is seeing cows out in the pasture. These cows certainly appear to be enjoying the Spring day yesterday.

Rutt farm 4/4/10
Here's a farm we pass during our walk.
We often see sheep grazing in the meadow in the foreground.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"He Lives" (I serve a risen Savior)  Video  Instrumental piano version of the song in today's message. I was unable to find a suitable online vocal version.

"Christ The Lord Is Risen Today"

"Christ Arose" (Low in the grave He lay)  Video  As I was searching for this song I came across this video and rejoiced that it is being sung in various languages.

"He Lives/He's Alive"  Video  A new song (to me anyway) I came across.

As we drove to church early yesterday morning through the beautiful Lancaster County countryside Brooksyne and I reminisced concerning several songs on the resurrection we enjoyed as young Christians.  I found recordings of them and they still touch our hearts.

"He's Alive"  Video  Don Francisco

"I'll Rise Again"  Video  Dallas Holm

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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