Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb by his friend Joseph of Arimathea. Scripture gives us some hints as to what Jesus was doing between the time of his burial and resurrection. There is a lot of debate by scholars on the subject, but it is agreed that Jesus was in Hades preaching and teaching. Ephesians 4:8-10 speaks of Jesus descending and leading captives as he ascended into heaven. 1 Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus preaching to spirits in prison. We can be assured that he was not in the tomb waiting around but doing God’s Work.
Why is scripture basically silent on this period of time? Probably because it is of little importance to us as believers. The gospel essence is the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. His power over death is so miraculous and life giving that our focus needs to be on our redemption and His victory. We also know that Jesus was always about His Father’s business. “Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I , too, am working.” John 5:17 God always has a purpose and a plan, and Jesus was always doing the Father’s work. So on this silent day we can ask ourselves, Am I doing what God wants me to do? Am I using the time God has given me to pray, study, witness and do good things for others? Quietly think about God today as you prepare for Resurrection Sunday. Know for sure the truth of Isaiah’s ancient words: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can wait upon Him with assurance and hope knowing my future is secure and all His plans are for my good and His glory!
Paul begins his letter to the Colossian Christians by stating who he is and by what authority he writes to them. He did not know them personally as he was not the one who brought the good news of Christ to them. Epaphras his friend and a man he led to Christ in Ephesus was the one who delivered the good news of Christ and helped them establish a group of believers in that city. Epaphras was concerned about problematic ideas that had entered their thinking so he journeyed to Rome to get advice and encouragement from Paul. Paul wrote this letter for Epaphras to take back to them.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, Colossians 1:1
Do you think of yourself as doing or being in a particular place at a particular time by the will of God? The key idea here is God is Sovereign and all things happen by God’s direction. It is called the Providence of God. There is no luck involved in the coincidences of life as life is designed by our sovereign God. A recent definition I found for the providence of God is this: God has a plan and a purpose for the world and governs history such that everything from the least to the greatest contributes to the achievement of that plan and purpose. God’s providence is the active outworking of God’s Sovereignty in everything. Paul was not in a Roman prison by chance nor did Epaphras journey there by accident. God used both Paul’s imprisonment and Epaphras’ desire to know truth to lead him to find Paul in that prison cell. Paul is stating here that God intended for him to be a witness to the gospel of Christ, met him, led him and was using him to tell others the good news of Jesus. What is happening in your life that you feel God is using you for His purpose? Often times when things happen, we quickly question God, why? At those times, we need to remind ourselves of the providence of God and how as Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God can and does use all things in our lives for our good and His glory. Our calling is to walk in trust and faith that God has it all in His control.
Paul also includes his co-worker in the cause of Christ, Timothy, in the greeting. Timothy might have traveled to Colossae at some point and was known to some of the believers or perhaps he was helping Paul by scribing the letter. What is known is that Paul and Timothy were a team like father and son working together to spread the gospel. I hope you have friends in the faith that share your love for God and work hand in hand with you to serve Jesus and your local church. John mentions these type of people in 3 John 1:8 “Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” Supporting each other in ministry brings encouragement and unity to all believers. Say a quick prayer right now and thank God for someone special that works with you to serve Jesus. They are a gift from God to you!
Look for the providence of God in your life this week. Seek Him with faithfulness knowing you are set apart for Him and His work in you. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can trust that all things that happen in my life will be used by God to bring good to me and glory to His name.
Luke 1:26-38 records the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary, their conversation and Mary’s response to the news. Like Zachariah, Mary’s first reaction was fear and confusion at seeing a heavenly being and his message. However, her questions were more about how could this could happen not disbelief that it was possible. The words seem similar but the angel knew the intent of her heart and saw a question of doubt not a question of faith.
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
I love this passage and see new things each time I study it. God knew Mary by name. Isn’t that amazing? The God of the universe knew this young, unmarried woman and had a special place and purpose for her and her alone. The same could be said for you and me. I am assured here that God knows my name and has a plan and purpose for my life too. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” is a promise I claim in my life.
Gabriel, the angel, said Mary had found favor with God, and that God was with her. Mary did nothing to earn this favor. Mary believed in God and was the right woman at the right time, like Queen Esther, for the tasks to be accomplished. Esther 4:14 “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Mary believed in God, had grown up hearing the stories of the Israelites, Moses and their escape from Egypt. Of the years in exile in Babylon and people like Daniel, his rescue by God from the Lion’s Den, the rebuilding of the walls and temple in Jerusalem by Nehemiah, of Jonah and his being swallowed by a big fish then going to Nineveh to preach as God asked. She knew God was capable of great things and did not question His power and might, only her circumstances of being an unmarried pure virgin. Remember faith pleases God and she had it! Even though she had questions she clung to her faith and listened with an open heart and mind. She knew in her heart that all things are possible with God. Like Mary all we have is faith in Jesus as we can count on no works to save us. Ephesian 2:8 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Receiving His gift of salvation is a matter of heart, just as it was for Mary.
Let the wonder of this encounter motivate you to walk by faith not sight today and look for new opportunities to serve Him.
Today’s passage in Ephesians 3:7-11 gives us a glimpse into the true heart of Paul and his motivating character. Let these words soften your heart towards the hard working saint as you picture his struggle for Christ.
“By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News. Paul realizes that God chose him specifically on the Road to Damascus (see Acts 9). Through His might and power, he was transformed into one who professed and proclaimed the name and fame of Jesus instead of persecuting Him.
8 Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.9 I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. Paul humbly professes that he feels unworthy of God’s grace and mercy and relishes the privilege of revealing God’s plan of redemption through Christ for all mankind.
10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul sees that God intends that all believers are shown God’s wisdom and eternal plan through the knowledge and work of Christ. Then all believers, the church, will share that wisdom and knowledge with others.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are privileged to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus to the world. Just like Paul, we will be humbled by the magnitude of this privilege when we realize we are God’s chosen messengers to the world. It is an amazing responsibility. Paul counted himself favored to be chosen by God to tell others.
What about you? Do you consider it a privilege to tell others about Jesus? Are you humbled by the fact that God chose you? Take a moment today and thank God for choosing you and empowering you with His Holy Spirit so you are able to do all He calls you to do.
Today is deemed Martin Luther King Day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who stood for rightness in the fight for freedom and equality for all men. He was very eloquent in speech and inspired many with his life and his fight against oppression. He challenges the generations to dream of equality and reach for it. Where do you have unrealized dreams today? Are you actively pursuing them, keeping them in focus and grabbing onto opportunities to make them happen?
This year my word is HOPE and like Dr. King I need to put my faith and trust in God and walk in Hope. What about you? Have you chosen patience as your word- do you need to purse patience in moving towards the goals God has for you? Have you chosen structure- do you need to form a plan or have a pattern for your daily success? Have you chosen peace- do you need to develop an attitude of peace in your heart and towards those around you this year? Like Dr. King, we want our dreams and goals to be accomplished and we want to glorify God in the process. I came across this verse today that fits in and encouraged me. Proverbs 16:3 in the Message translation. “Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” Keep God in your focus, in your heart, in your prayer life and He will bring you to it and through it this year for your good and His glory!
As we remember Dr. King today and honor his achievements for mankind. think how much God has for you to accomplish and what wonderful purposes He has for you. We know for certain that He has a plan and a purpose for each of us. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 Put God in charge of your plans and He will align them with His will to accomplish His purposes. His are the best plans of all. Let go this year and let God be in charge. But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but withGodallthingsarepossible.” Matthew 19:26.
Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have salvation. This is a wonderful message filled with hope on this Good Friday. Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf accomplished what nothing else could. He was the perfect sacrifice that was wholly accepted by God the Father. Jesus told us that He was the way to salvation. Here are a few verses to ponder in your heart as you consider your own faith in Jesus.
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The way to salvation is clearly through faith in Jesus.
Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Salvation can only come through Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” God’s plan to redeem us from the punishment of sin was through Jesus.
Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,” God’s grace, undeserved favor, was fully shown in sending Jesus. It is His plan for salvation for everyone who believes and He desires that none should perish but all come to repentance.
Jesus is our salvation, our only hope in this sin-filled world. He alone can SAVE us!
Suggestion: This Good Friday spend time in prayer thanking Jesus for His sacrifice on your behalf.