teachings and Devotionals
As we approach the Easter season, my mind has been captivated by my study of the Scriptures surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ. Today, I want to share with you a thought that God gave to me, which was an encouragement to me, and I trust will be to you as well.
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A VICTORIOUS BENEFIT OF EASTER
I am in the midst of writing a book explaining how the Gospel lifts people from every background, country, and religion, out of the effects of sin and into sufficiency and blessing. At the beginning of the book, I needed to describe the supernatural miracle of being born again and thus describe what a Christian looks like within and without, anywhere in the world.
As I recalled in my memory many of the believers I have met around the world, God spoke to my heart about one overriding and consistent characteristic that is evident — optimism. When a person is truly born again, they begin to look at life differently. They instantly awaken to, and are convinced of, the fact that Jesus is alive and now lives in their hearts. A new believer begins to experience a positive way of looking at life that they had never known before — they have optimism about their lives and their future. This optimism separates us from everyone else in the world who are not believers. The term in the Book of Revelation used to describe non-believers is “earth-dwellers” (Rev. 11:10 NASB). Earth-dwellers hope. Believers are confident.
If you have experienced the new birth, others will notice this buoyant confidence and optimistic spirit that you now possess. It cannot be hidden. And it is all due to the miracle of Easter that we celebrate in a few days. The Scriptures that describe the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ, are replete with examples showing us that Jesus really died, and that He really did come back to life again, proving it to His disciples and others over a period of 40 days. And He lives today! For His disciples, there was no shadow of doubt concerning the fact that He was the Son of God and the Living Savior. This conviction motivated them to go forward with confidence and optimism, and not hide in fear and doubt as they did at His arrest and crucifixion.
When I travel the world and meet with national “born-again” believers and leaders, the first thing that strikes me is the resurrection-based optimism that almost exudes from their pores. For me personally, their powerful testimonies of meeting Jesus in their hearts convinces me over and over and over again that my Jesus lives. And this renews my optimism for the future in a world that is growing increasingly more unstable and dangerous.
The greatest gift I can extend to you and your family this Easter is the following report from a visit I had with a Chinese pastor, whose code name is Mark. His testimony confirms my beliefs. I share this for your encouragement.
On one visit to China, I met Mark, who was the leader of 2,000 house churches. This relatively small and slim man had been recently released from prison, after being arrested and locked up by the authorities. Mark had been teaching in an underground Bible School when the police raided the gathering of 80 believers (some pastors and some students). He told me that he begged the officers to take only him and let the others go because he was the leader and responsible. They agreed.
For one year, Mark lost total freedom in prison, but he firmly stated that it was the most intense time of intimacy that he had ever experienced with the Lord. While he was there, Mark worked 14-16 hour days making wigs, with an impossible quota imposed upon him to meet each day. He was given a little bun daily to eat as his only food. While this was going on, he stated that he was beaten repeatedly, primarily by the guards who questioned him constantly about his religious activities, but also by the prisoners who would be paid with extra food for beating him.
After 30 minutes of sitting quietly as I listened to this brother tell of his experiences, Mark then shared the following compelling thoughts as he continued to reflect on that difficult time:
Sometimes we do suffer a little for the Lord, but it isn’t a big thing. As the Apostle Paul said, we may suffer, but compared with the Lord’s grace, it is nothing. The Lord is using different methods to train us to do His work.
Before I was released, all the guards who had beaten me and all the prisoners (including many of whom I had led to Christ) told me that I was a true example of a Christian, based upon my behavior. I was always happy, never complaining and always hopeful because I knew Jesus was in that prison with me, through every beating and every trial.
As I look into the future, everything will be ok. I ask the Lord to protect me and my family, and I ask the Holy Spirit to guide us. When we focus on Jesus only, then He will bring us victory, for God has already won the battle.
The Believer's Secret Weapon
Optimism for the future because Jesus lives today is the secret weapon that Christians possess. If you want more proof of a risen Christ than what is contained in the Bible, then follow me around the world. Look into the eyes of enthusiastic new believers out of Islam who have seen Jesus. Hear the riveting testimonies of people from a Buddhist background who have heard the voice of the Living God calling to them. Capture in your mind images of Hindus in India, not bowing down to millions of false gods, but surrendering their lives to the One and Only God.
I have personally heard and seen all these things, and I don’t need more proof. I believe in a risen Christ and I am optimistic! Revelation 1:17-18 (NASB) says this:
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”
Thank you for your continued support and prayers for your brothers and sisters around the world. Wishing you and your family a wonderful and blessed Easter, because He Lives!