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Easter Devotionals

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All Things New: Your Destiny

By Dr. Jason Snyder, Minister of Spiritual Development

Today we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Resurrection is without question one of the most profound, miraculous and significant events in human history. The only other event even remotely comparative is the incarnation of Christ – our Lord’s birth, the advent of the Messiah.

This week we have considered how the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus has radically made “All Things New” – from our relationship with God and others to our purpose, story and perspective. Jesus’ Resurrection promises us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Today our focus turns to our promised future in Christ or aptly put, our destiny. To eliminate any confusion, I don’t mean to construe in any way that Christians believe in philosophical fatalism, a predetermined fate, nor the secularist belief that “whatever happens, happens, and we can’t do anything about it.” Instead, for the believer there is a promised future – the glorious hope of eternity with our Savior, our reception into the heavenly kingdom, and the anticipation of being free from the curse of sin. This is our destiny as believers.

As we celebrate and reflect on the Resurrection of Jesus, let us also take time to consider and meditate on the second advent of Christ – the promise that He will return. Speaking on this topic with His disciples, Jesus said,

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. —John 14:1–3

Jesus speaks of the believer’s destiny: all those who have received Him – who have believed in His name – are guaranteed a future with Christ in the heavenly kingdom. We long for this as believers!

Since this is true, how then shall we live? Peter answers this question for us when he states,

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” —1 Pet 1:13–16

My friend, as you await the glorious hope, the return of Jesus, and the realization of your destiny as a believer, live your life worthy of the Gospel and in full submission to Jesus as Lord.

He is risen! He is coming again! Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

All Things New: Your Forever Family

By Matt Mullins, Minister to the Open Division, Plano Campus

My wife and I have one child; her name is Addie Mullins. She’s almost 2 years old and loves strawberries, blowing bubbles and climbing; and she has a knack for finding the most expensive trinket in the room to play with. We prayed for her for years before she was born, trusting that God would give us the perfect baby for our little family. And He did! We received a call from our adoption agency that we had been matched and our world changed in a wonderful way forever.

The day that a child is officially adopted is called his or her “Gotcha Day.” On that day, my wife and I stood in front of a judge and promised to love, protect, and serve that little one for the rest of our days. She was always ours, but on that day, she officially received our last name.

If you’re a believer in Jesus, you’ve been adopted into a family as well! Scripture tells us that you become a son or daughter of God when you give your life to Jesus (Galatians 4:4–5, Ephesians 1:4–5). In that moment of salvation, you receive a Father, brothers and sisters, and a new name.

Earthly fathers try their best, but our heavenly Father is the best. In Romans 8:15–17, Paul shares a number of benefits given to you as an adopted child of the King: a closeness with God, a confidence in your ability to approach Him, an inheritance, and – perhaps greatest of all – the right to cry out to Him like a child, “Daddy! Father!” He is indeed a Father who sacrifices for you (John 3:16), has good plans for you (Ephesians 2:10), and loves you, not because of what you can do for Him, but simply because you belong to Him.

Your forever family also comes along with built-in brothers and sisters. In fact, you have relatives all over the globe because you are God’s child. These are men and women who care for you (John 13:35) and will give of themselves to make sure that you’re OK (Philippians 2:3–4). Your siblings are called to encourage you (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and to share the burdens of life with you (Galatians 6:2). And despite being beautifully diverse, you and your brothers and sisters are united because the Holy Spirit (an incredible gift from Jesus) ties you together (Ephesians 4:1–6).

Your forever family loves you. I pray that you have the opportunity to join us tomorrow for one of our Easter services and in doing so, be reminded of the fact that you never, ever stand alone. Look around at your spiritual brothers and sisters and take comfort in your family. Remember the day you came to faith, your “Gotcha Day,” and be inspired to carry out Jesus’ command to extend the invitation of adoption to a broken world in need of a place to call home.

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All Things New: Your Perspective

By Dr. Phil Sallee, Minister of Pastoral Care, North Campus

The wind is howling. The waves are smashing against your boat. The saltwater stings watering eyes. Tears are flowing with worry, fear and pain. It’s tough to have a good perspective in the middle of a raging storm (Matthew 14:22–33). When the disciples saw Jesus, walking on the water, there may have been many perspectives:

  • Fear says, “I want to sail away from this ghost as fast as I can.” Fear leads us to misunderstand and focus on dangers.
  • Failure says, “Don’t move. It’s safer in the boat.” Failure causes us to doubt and robs us of life-changing experiences.
  • Faith says, “I want to walk on the water with Jesus.” Faith gives us an opportunity to perceive God at work and focus on opportunities.

The word perspective can be hard to explain. Other words for perspective are attitude, outlook or point of view. Our individual perspectives can be influenced by both our faith in God and our difficult experiences. The Bible promises that our faith in God can and should improve our perspective. In fact, Jesus can make our perspective completely new.

Read 2 Corinthians 4:16–18.

We can focus on our afflictions (wind, waves, storm) and lose heart. But Paul is encouraging his readers to believe there is an unseen, eternal glory coming. The glory that Christians will receive through the Gospel is worth the suffering we endure. Knowledge of the blessings we will receive on the last day should comfort us in our present sufferings. When we suffer for the Gospel, we should be encouraged that our suffering honors Christ and advances His Gospel.

Read Philippians 4:4–9.

Paul praises his readers, reminding them that if they rejoice in the Lord, pray in all things, and keep their minds on godly thoughts, they will experience God’s peace. Tomorrow is the result of today’s thoughts.

Worry is the toxic waste of unbelief. Worry is atheism because it refuses to trust in God. Your attitude toward money reveals the spiritual condition of your heart. God will meet your needs.

Read James 1:2–3.

James assures his readers that God wants His people to win over their trials. God permits trials to help develop stamina in His people. And God gives rewards to those who show their love for Him by enduring trials. We can face and overcome the trials of life with our faith in God. People of faith are to develop perseverance in their trials and take ownership for their failures.

So, no matter how fiercely the storm rages, Christians know who controls the wind and the waves. Listen to the perspective change when Jesus commanded peace and calm, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Jesus can make our perspective completely new.

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All Things New: Your Story

By Tim Matthews, Minister to Adults – Plano Campus, and Wife, Kati

Day in and day out, she was tormented. Tormented by seven demons that possessed her body and mind. She lived in darkness – physically, mentally and spiritually. Doomed to a dreadful life with no hope. Luke 8:2 introduces her as “Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons.” It is clear from this verse that Mary’s identity was wrapped up in the torment she so often experienced. 

But here lies a question: How did this tormented woman, once trapped in darkness with no hope, become the first person the resurrected Christ appeared to (Mark 16:9)?

Jesus. Jesus would come not only to save Mary from the earthly aspects of her pain, but from the eternal separation from God she was headed for. This was part of God’s plan for Mary. A plan to save her from the pains and torments this broken world brings and to give her new life – both in the present and the one to come. Jesus met Mary in her darkest moment – a pit of hell – and turned it all around.   

As we turn the pages of Scripture, we learn about many people and their story. Some are longer, some shorter. Some have great detail and others are limited. Mary Magdalene is one of whom many details of her life are not disclosed. But here is what we do know. Jesus spoke demons out of Mary, while at the same time speaking life into her. When Mary met Jesus, she became a brand-new person. And from that point on, Mary would follow Him the rest of her life, a life that would now be lived in surrender and full of hope.

For some reading this, you may by trying to write your own story. You take pride in your authorship, and you are working hard to achieve “your best life now.” You may be oblivious to the sins in your life while striving to live the “good life” this world has to offer – worldly comfort and ease. You hope for a life where you are loved by many, succumb minimally to the suffering the Christian life can bring, and pass into eternity without offending too many people with what many call “faith.” There is not a happy ending to this story.  

For others, you see God inhabiting the pages of your story. Chapter after chapter, He is there. You see Him in the trials and triumphs. You recognize that your story is to bring glory to His name and to multiply His kingdom on earth. You realize your ending is very different from the beginning. The pain, suffering, sin and death this life brings does not get the final word. Instead, much like Mary, your story is full of hope that goes on forever in God’s eternal kingdom. You are not the author nor the main character – Jesus is. 

If there is one thing we can learn from the Easter story, Jesus is the main theme. He is alive. He is risen! He has brought victory, defeated death, and made a way for you to become His son or daughter. This is your story; I encourage you to pass it along! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

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All Things New: Your Body

By Jason Mick, Minister to Students

One of my fondest memories as a child was building forts inside the house with my sister or friends. As much as we wanted those blankets, sheets, and pillows to remain permanently fortified, the demands from mom for demolition were inevitable.

Forts are fun to play in; tents can be fun to camp in, but they are not “home.” They are only temporary dwellings. There will come a day when we set aside our earthly tent in exchange for heaven’s suit!

In reality, there are two deaths we all must acknowledge and reconcile. A physical death that we cannot escape, and our spiritual condition of death without Jesus’ living in us. Physical death is one-hundred percent certain, and our earthly bodies have an expiration date. Each one of us has been given “two dates and one dash” and the second date is merely the on-ramp to the other side of eternity.

Spiritually, we are either dead in sin or alive in Christ. Often, when theories of death and what happens after death are discussed, you might hear “We think …,” “We hope …,” yet the Bible says, “We know!” (2 Corinthians 5:1). We know our time on earth and our bodies on earth are temporary, and our permanent residence and new body await us in heaven.  

In his book The Grave Robber, pastor and author Mark Batterson says,

There is nothing wrong with wanting to live a long life, but death isn’t something we dread. Death was defeated two thousand years ago. And to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. So death is something we can actually anticipate because it’s not the end. It’s a new beginning. And many miracles we hoped for on earth will finally be fulfilled in heaven.

Take heart. Jesus Christ chose to take up a temporary residence in His earthly body, and willingly laid down His life so that He could be resurrected and take up residence in you. You are bought with a price, and at the moment of salvation, God, through the Holy Spirit, takes up residence in your body, and your life is no longer your own. It’s His! You are a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come!  

Give praise to God, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Bible declares that you are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). Dwell in that beautiful truth. God specifically thought of you. God delights in you. God desires for you to love Him and to glorify Him with the life He has so freely given you.

As Paul tells us, death has no victory and has lost its sting because Jesus has conquered the grave!

Because He lives, we, too, shall live forever!

Christ is risen!

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All Things New: Your Purpose

By Dr. Michael Goddard, Head of Schools for Prestonwood Christian Academy School System

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. —Ephesians 2:10

The same God who created the sun, moon, stars, earth and all the beauty within it also chose to create you. How awesome is that?

The Creator made you with a specific set of characteristics and qualities so that you could live a life of impact and bring Him glory. Regardless of our feeling unworthy, incapable, or even just a full-out mess, when Christ consumes us, His purpose for our lives can be fulfilled.

Ephesians 2:10 is a wonderful verse that is sometimes missed because of the powerful implications of Ephesians 2:8, 9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Jesus came to this earth in the form of a man, died for us, and three days later, conquered death and rose again. He has given us the opportunity to be forgiven for our sins and given the gift of eternal life. This is a gift, not because it is a right of ours, but because of His grace to wash away all our unworthiness and shortcomings. It is a true gift from the very same Creator who made us, and such a gift has a divine purpose.

This is a purpose that is seen, felt, heard, and embraced by all who receive Jesus in their heart. A purpose that is given to us through His workmanship so others may see Jesus in us as we embrace the opportunities that we are given each day to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Such opportunities may come in the countenance of our smile or a kind word to another, in giving a helping hand to those in need or in sharing our faith. This world needs to see Jesus in us.

As Christians, we should be a beacon of light for those who have not yet experienced Christ – those who do not yet know Him as Lord and Savior. We should strive to be a light that shines brightly in all the darkness that surrounds us in this world. A light that shows God’s workmanship in action.

God, in His great wisdom and favor, presents us daily with opportunities to do “good works” for His glory to bring others back to the Creator, who also sees them as special.

How will you live out God’s purpose for your life every day? Because of His great grace, we have been given a life eternal, not so we can say “look at me,” but so all will fix their eyes above and say, “Look at Him.”

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All Things New: Your Relationship with Others

By Täsha Calvert, Global Director of Women’s Ministry

Social media platforms offer “it’s complicated” as a way to describe the status of some relationships. And though “it’s complicated” may primarily be thought to describe a romantic relationship, our own real-life experiences would tell us that scope is much broader. In fact, I can think of few relationships that aren’t complicated, at times. Relationships have the tendency to become so complicated that we often wish we had a magic do-over with our spouse, or prodigal child, contentious sibling, or business partner who was once our best friend. So, yes, it’s complicated.

The Bible addressed the complicated nature of relationships long before social media sought to define them. In some ways, we could catalog the accounts of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation as one big case study on complicated relationships – with the greatest complication of all being the sin that separates us from our relationship with God. The truth of Easter is that Christ removed the ultimate barrier to relationship when He bore the penalty of our sin on the Cross and conquered death on our behalf. Because we can have relationship with Him, we have hope of healthy relationships with others. That do-over is possible.

It is our relationship with Christ that equips us for relationship with others. Scripture outlines how relationships should look, and the Holy Spirit empowers us from within to accomplish this work. Proverbs 17:17 tells us a “friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” But we don’t have to love others from our own flawed, depleted, human reservoir. First John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” We love others from the abundance of love given to us by God; with a love that Peter tells us “covers a multitude of sins.” That is relationship-building love.

It is our relationship with Christ that allows us to live in a manner worthy of our calling, by walking in the Spirit. Paul says, “… walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” A few verses later, we see the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This isn’t a list of goals to strive for, they are a list of outcomes birthed from walking in the Holy Spirit’s leading: relationship-building, transformational fruit.

Scripture confirms God wants our relationships to be made new. In one of the pinnacles of His earthly ministry, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks clearly. Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” In our pursuit of new and healthy relationships, we are like our heavenly Father when we make and initiate peace in relationships. Because we have been restored in relationship to God by the work of the Cross, we can share His love with others; we can walk by His Spirit; and make peace with others –forging new relationships – because of the power we’ve been given as sons and daughters of the living Lord.

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All Things New: Your Relationship with God

By Michael Neale, Senior Worship Pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church

The scene in John 18 is like something out of a Marvel movie. Every time I enter the setting in my mind’s eye, it moves me to my core. Jesus was praying in the Garden across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. His disciples were there as He was agonizing over the suffering that awaited Him. Enter the traitor, Judas, who led in a thunderous band of soldiers, likely hundreds of the fighting elite, carrying weapons and torches alongside officers and Pharisees. Jesus knew what was happening. He stepped out from the shadows to meet them and asked the question:

“Who is it that you’re looking for?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am He.”

When Jesus said this, everyone coming to accuse him, the Pharisees, the officers, the fighting elite, drew back and fell to the ground! Think about it. As if Thor had raised his hammer and by the sheer energy of his declaration, they crumbled to the dust.

A little closer look at the original text and we realize that the English translators added “He” to Jesus’ answer. Jesus’ reply was “I AM.” He was declaring that "the same I AM who met Moses in the burning bush and the same I AM who is the Alpha and Omega in Revelation stands before you now."

The soldiers couldn’t stand under the weight of His glory, His kabod. The mention of His name, the weight of His glory, put them on the ground.

Then as the bewildered accusers dusted themselves off, Jesus asked them again who they were looking for and when they said, “Jesus of Nazareth” He said, “I told you that [I AM]. So, if you seek me, let these men go.”

In this very moment, we see the unrelenting love of our God. He stepped out and said, “Take Me.... Me, not them. Let My friends go.” The Almighty God of the universe, the “I AM that I AM,” willingly laid down His life for ours, taking the punishment for our sin.

But the story doesn’t end there. Three days later, just like those soldiers crumbled in the garden when they heard “I AM,” death, hell and the grave crumbled before Him, too. The empty tomb told the world who alone sits above it all. Jesus, once and for all, declared, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”