SUNDAY, April 17
I wish Scripture told us what the disciples felt during the time between Jesus’s crucifixion and when he presents himself to the women and the 12 once again. We get a few hints: They’re hiding, they’re fearful, and the majority of them are trying to accept that it’s time to move on. Even in this text, Peter hears the testimony of the women, picks up the strips of linen that are left in the cave, and yet he still wonders what could possibly have happened. We see no celebration from him here.
Much like Peter, we may run to the tomb, searching and praying for Jesus, but we may be confused or disappointed by what we find. Let’s press in today as we celebrate many things. We’re not just celebrating an empty grave. Sin is broken, death is defeated, and our lives—our souls—are fully resurrected in Christ!
God, may I have faith in your resurrection power even on the darkest nights of the soul, for I know that Christ is living, and he is living in me too. Amen.
MONDAY, April 18
Mary is searching for Jesus. She is desperate and faithful, but she is not quite able to believe that Jesus is right there with her. And then he says her name, “Mary.” In an instant, as if a veil was lifted from her eyes, she sees him standing right in her midst. I can only imagine the expression on Jesus’s face!
Faith is hard. Hope can be fleeting. But Christ shows us here that in our desperate search for him, his response is to stand with us and call our name. Through all the noise and busyness of life, can you hear him call your name? How will you respond to him?
Jesus, I know you are with me, and I know you are calling to me. Help me to hear your voice, no matter where I am. Amen.
May Our Hearts Burn (with Passion)!
TUESDAY, April 19
In my early 20s, I left a career as an unsuccessful professional poker player. I remember how lonely the neon lights on the Vegas strip made me feel on a long walk home at three in the morning after losing my buy-ins. It’s almost as if they sought to highlight how defeated I was.
The two disciples here are walking in defeat toward Emmaus. Even when Jesus himself is talking to them, they cannot see past their despair. However, we see that these two are encouraged as Jesus goes over Scripture with them even though they still do not recognize him and they urge him to stay. “Were not our hearts burning within us?” (v. 32).
God’s Word is alive and it is powerful. It is a living fire that lights the soul. Does your heart burn within you when you read what God has promised you? Who God has called you to be? Let us pray that we would be set afire.
God, open my eyes and ears to your living Word. Would all my passions for you be made new. Amen.
Praying Through a Psalm
WEDNESDAY, April 20
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Thank you, Lord, for loving me! When I am tired and not myself, you fill my spirit. Even when I condemn myself, you come to my defense. I will celebrate you today because you are mighty and fulfill all of your promises. And with every breath, I will honor you, God, because you deserve the glory. Even when I stray, even when I am being refined, I know that you are covering me, holding me, and guarding me.
So, God, we declare today that we recommit ourselves to you, our Rock. Thank you, God, for your goodness. Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrificial love that has shown us the wonder and depth of God’s love. We will rejoice in this today. We will rejoice in you.
Palms down: I will release that which causes me anxiety. Palms up: I will receive the joy of the Lord today. Amen.
The Call to Witness
THURSDAY, April 21
“We are witnesses of everything he did” (v. 39). I remember when I first received my call to ministry. To be honest, it was a terrible feeling. I had a decent job in Manhattan, and I had just reconciled with my father who is not a believer. Going into ministry would mean rocking the boat once again. The counsel I sought told me to prepare for a strong negative reaction.
But I didn’t get that. Instead, I received a calm, cold, “You’re too naïve to make this type of decision.” It turned out my sister had decided it was best to tell him beforehand. I felt betrayed. I felt angry. I walked out of the restaurant. I cursed. But I remember God telling me in the moment, “Now is the time to witness.”
There is always an opportunity to witness about Jesus. It won’t always be easy. It may not be preaching from our lips, but it might be a testament given from our lives. How will you witness today?
God, fill me with your Spirit and help me to be a witness, even to those who sin against me, of your love and grace. Amen.
The King Is Coming
FRIDAY, April 22
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Perhaps it’s because of our optimism that we forget that a church community for broken people has to deal with broken people! There are days when I think about the things occurring within our communities and think, “Man, how are we ever supposed to be kingdom builders?” Our humanity is a hurdle in of itself!
But Paul writes a reminder to the body that our effort is not for nothing. And therefore, each tomorrow for the Christian is yet another opportunity to declare the Lord’s death and resurrection. It’s an opportunity to share the peace of God and to advocate for his justice and mercy. Our hope is in a resurrected King, very much alive, who is returning one day. And on that day, there is no battle, there is only his victory.
God, we confess that living faithfully is hard. Help me to see my sin not as a form of guilt, but as a reminder of how much freedom you’ve won for me. Amen.
God’s Heart for Our Heart
SATURDAY, April 23
I love reading the prophets because so much of it is God’s declaration for the heart of his people. It’s as if he is saying, “I’m coming for you! We will know each other intimately and we will be together.” Many read this passage in Isaiah as a promise of prosperity, which it is, but let us notice the actions and reactions of God: “I will create…and take delight” (v. 18). You “will build houses and dwell in them” (v. 20). Your family will be taken care of (v. 23). I will be waiting for you (v. 24). There will be peace and harmony (v. 25).
Verse 24 is so comforting. It’s almost like someone who is eagerly awaiting a phone call or a text message and can’t wait to respond to it. How eager he is to hear from his people! How could we not spend time communing with a God like him?
God, here I am and my heart is yours. Would you write your name on my heart? Help me to hear your voice. I want to delight in you today. Amen.