Make This Your Best Easter Ever!

For Christians all around the world, this week commences the annual celebration of Holy Week. Holy Week serves as a remembrance of the last week of Jesus’ life on Earth.

What is Holy Week?

For Christians, ‘Holy Week’ refers to the last week in Jesus’ life. It begins with Palm Sunday – the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowds waved palm leaves at him as a sign of respect.

Holy Week precedes the great celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, commemorating the Passion of Christ, and the events immediately leading up to it.

What Happened During Holy Week?

Beginning with Palm Sunday, the week progressed with Jesus teaching in the Temple and challenging the hypocritical Jewish authorities. On the Thursday, Jesus and his disciples gathered for the Last Supper, during which Jesus taught the disciples about Communion and invited them to share bread and wine in remembrance of him. Later that evening, after being betrayed by Judas Iscariot, Jesus was arrested and taken into custody by the Romans.

Jesus was tried in a highly public trial on Friday, scourged, and crucified. This day is called Good Friday. While it was the darkest day in human history from one perspective, it was the greatest day in all history because through it Jesus paid the debt of our sins and paved the way for us to be reunited with God.

Saturday his dead body rested in the Tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea.

Sunday morning, the heavily guarded and sealed Tomb was discovered to be empty, with the resurrected Jesus revealing himself to a number of his beloved followers proving that He had defeated death.

crown-of-thorns-2641239_1920

Why is this important?

  • We are separated from God because of our sin. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)
  • According to Scripture, the penalty for sin is death. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
  • Good News! Jesus Christ paid the debt of our sin by dying on the Cross.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
  • By confessing our sin to God and agreeing to repent and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be saved from our sin. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:13) …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.(Romans 10:9,10)

cross-2713354_1920

Holy Week commemorates God’s work on our behalf. Separated from God by our sins, the Lord took the initiative, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us, who were once considered unredeemable. Through God’s grace, by faith in Christ, you and I are able to reunite with the Lord, and indwelled by the Spirit, we are able to live lives of purpose, fulfilling God’s plan and calling on our lives. Because Jesus lives, you and I can shed our old clothing and put on our new gown, cloaked in the righteousness of Christ, who, through the work on the Cross, made it possible for us to stand in the presence of the Lord forever. The gift is wrapped, sealed, and delivered. All we have to do is receive that which cost us nothing, but cost God everything. No, you and I aren’t worthy. No, we don’t deserve it. But God, because of His love for us, sought us and bought us with the blood of His own Son.

Come to the Altar.

What will you do with Jesus?

I pray you’ll ask Him to be your Lord and Savior and make this the greatest Easter of your life.

Amen.

May the Lord, our God, shine His favor on you and yours.

church-3186966_1920 title

 

3 Ingredients for Creating a Healthy Recipe of Second Chances

Having had my own battles with addiction I get that sometimes we all just need someone to believe in us and give us a chance. Not that anyone has any reason to help us or find us trustworthy. We’ve spent the better part of our lifetime destroying any ounce of trust people had in us. People who love us don’t want to give up hope, but we can’t blame them for walking away. Lord knows we’ve let a ton of people down, especially ourselves.

Through my recovery, God has blessed me with people willing to give me second chances as well as the opportunity to give others a second chance.

Lamentations 3:21-23

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

What does a second chance involve?

forgiveness

A Heart of Forgiveness

To give someone a second chance requires willingness on our part to forgive them for whatever it is that they have done in the past. This is true even if their past did not involve us because what they did may go against our own principles and sense of right and wrong. We must look past who they were and be willing to see them for who they are and who they could be.

This is true for me. To get a second chance, I need others to forgive me and look past who I was and see me for who I am and who I can be. This is what God does. Once we confess we’ve messed up and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness, He doesn’t see us for who we were but looks at us for who we are and envisions who we can be. Who we are in God’s eyes far exceeds whatever expectations we might imagine for ourselves.

Matthew 18:21-22

“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’”

A Momentary Suspension of Judgement

It’s hard to forgive if we sit in judgement of someone. We’ve got plenty of our own issues to be concerned about and if you’re like me you’ve made your own share of mistakes. This may sound easy, but it’s not. Recently, during a prayer session with some homeless guys, one individual asked me for prayer for forgiveness and restoration. As I typically do, I asked him for his story–what got him here? When he told me what he’d done, I had to suspend judgement in that moment. My job wasn’t to pass judgement. He’d done his time. He wasn’t asking me for approval. He was asking me to pray for him. So, I did, thanks be to God.

Matthew 7:3

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

TheDG praying hands

A Kind and Gentle Spirit

You can not have a hard-hearted, mean spirit if you are going to a) give others a second chance or b) have others give you a fresh start. Forgiveness and second chances call for both parties to be kind and gentle in spirit. On the one hand, I must want to see others succeed and do well. On the other, I have to be humble and contrite, knowing that I don’t deserve another opportunity to dazzle people with my shortcomings and failures.

Ephesians 4:2

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Restoration is a two-way street that brings together two people, one willing to help the other and the other willing to receive help. It means showing someone how to fish, not just feeding them. It means doing your part, not just taking. If you don’t cook, you don’t eat.

We all need help sometimes. We all mess up. I know I do. Other times, we find ourselves in the position of being the helper. We may be the only Bible someone reads. What will you do?

 

#secondchances #whatwillyoudo #forgiveness

 

Remaining Vigilant on the Road of Recovery

Recovery is a total overhaul of our mind, body, and spirit. It is a constant, ongoing process. You can graduate from a program, but you never graduate from your recovery. Even after you overcome your habits and hang-ups and find healing from your hurts, the work of recovery continues. Like the process of sanctification, the journey of recovery transforms us daily, correcting our skewed inner navigation system. We are all flawed. We are all a little damaged. No one drives life’s highway without getting dinged up. At the end of the road, none of us even get off the highway alive.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)

 addiction

Recovery is about living. Addiction is about dying. As addicts, regardless of habit or hang-up, we die to self a bit every single day. The longer we remain embroiled in the turmoil brought on by our darkest demons, the more of our self we lose. We find ourselves wandering aimlessly off-course, struggling to find our way home.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

But, the good new is that recovery works if you work it. We avoid getting too far ahead of ourselves and certainly we must not get ahead of God. His desire is for us to walk with Him, just as Adam and Eve walked with Him in the Garden (Genesis 3:8). When we walk with God, it fosters closeness, intimacy and fellowship. Spiritual growth occurs. Our spiritual growth and transformation help us remain in a state of recovery. Recovery is not a stagnant but ever-developing, altering states just like water forms into ice and ice evaporates into a gas.

Vigilant

Our recovery requires our active participation, monitoring our thoughts and behaviors, continuing to learn and practice new skills, developing and growing our support system, and being alert and watchful to triggers and temptations to use or return to our addictions of choice. We must stay vigilant, guarding against relapse.

Step 1: Honesty

“Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.”

The work of recovery is hard but it is also rewarding. The work we do in the rooms and through our programs helps us rebuild broken relationships. Recovery brings new people into our life as well, providing us with friends who walk with us, mentoring us, and most of all, holding us accountable. We can experience happiness because we learn to quickly forgive wrongs and readily admit when we messed up and need to apologize and make amends. This keeps the list short and our burdens light, replacing pain with joy. Through recovery we can live the abundant life our Creator intended for us to experience this side of Heaven.

Open Door

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 (ESV)

My friend, continue to press on, one day at a time, and even sometimes one moment at a time.

RBantau_072017 Devo Guy