Easter+1. You’ll find out what that means below, but Happy Monday Friends. The world is still dealing with dire circumstances but the hope and promise we have in our Risen Savior has breathed new life into myself, and I pray you all feel this way after yesterday.
Easter 2020 was a celebration my family and I will never forget. Obviously, this Easter is significant for the entire world, but there was something marvelous about the celebration of Jesus in the midst of crisis. We rose early and drove to the closed beaches on our east coast to take some beautiful Easter pictures of our children. Looking at them last night, there was something eerie about the kids in their Sunday best, standing in front of nothing but wilderness, and in front of “closed” signs. Putting the pictures in black-and-white made it look like our kids were no different than pictures taken 100 years ago when the world was fighting another pandemic, Yellow Fever. That reminded me that this is not the first time the world and mankind has faced such a challenge. The world overcame pandemics in the past. We will get through this, and I’m still praying for God to bring this to a sudden and dramatic stop. But in the meantime, keep making the most of this situation. Spend time in the Word, in worship, and in learning. Get out and exercise. The simple fitness challenges at the end of each devotion is an easy, but effective workout. And you can push yourself is different ways each day.
Once we got home from our early morning adventure, we spent the rest of the morning hitting our new Sunday church routine: watching live services of Compassion Christian Church (our home church), Passion City Church, and Elevation Church. Throughout the day we also listened to Hillsong NYC‘s and The Belonging Co‘s Easter Services. Five different, amazing messages, and all touching on unique aspects of the Resurrection. I was going to share some of the sermons, but you may be like me right now and almost “churched” out. So I’ll just recap some of the best takeaways I had from the messages of this wondrous weekend.
Hillsong NYC: the head pastor brought up a good point for the Christian body: now’s not the time to be judgmental to those who don’t believe, or who only find faith through this pandemic. Like many of us, Hillsong NYC’s Pastor is praying for the greatest revival in the world to emerge from this pandemic, and as Christians, now is the time more than ever to show the world the true love, forgiveness, and grace we model after Jesus Christ.
Passion City Church: this was the celebrity service. Lou Giglio did an incredible job turning the disappointment of so many things being cancelled to how Jesus also cancelled so much when He rose from the grave. Jesus cancelled our debts, our sins, our shame, our depression, our loneliness, and most importantly, Jesus cancelled death. Next, the amazingly talented Sadie Robertson Huff, who is wise beyond her years at only 22 and able to preach a powerful, relevant word to older (like myself) and much younger generations. She spoke about the vaccine Jesus provides to inoculate us from the disease of sin. Next, Tim Tebow showed up and delivered a knock-out word to close out the service. Tebow did a good job of motivating me to want to work-out a lot more. (As of publishing this post, they are the only one with the service available to watch, just click on the link in their name at the beginning of this paragraph).
Compassion Christian Church: our home church Pastor Cam Huxford probably taught us the most regarding the history of Easter. Pastor Cam pointed out that John was the only disciple at the foot of the cross. The rest of the disciples had scattered and were in hiding. John never left Jesus’ side. Pastor Cam spoke about everything Jesus overcame on Easter, the physical pain, the betrayal from Judas and the Jewish leaders, and death. Pastor Cam’s description of the brutality of Jesus’ beating brought chills to my skin. Then he touched on the time spent on the cross and Jesus shouting the words: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani” (Matthew 27:46) which means “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Pastor Cam reminded all of us that Jesus was quoting Psalm 22, which begins with that same line. Jesus was going to scripture to give Him strength even at the end of His earthly life. Psalm 22 ends with these words: “Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!” (Psalm 22:30-31). Jesus did not just do it, He finished it!
Elevation Church: Pastor Steven Furtick shook the house and if there is one service to watch, his interpretation of Easter 2020 is the one to watch. Elevation Worship released a brand new anthem they wrote and produced in the last week. Pastor Furtick felt the Holy Spirit speaking a sound to become the rallying cry of Resurrection across this world. I will be sharing this “Rattle” the day it becomes available on the YouTube.
Lastly we closed the night with The Belong Co.’s Easter Church service, which, to be honest, while Henry and Alex Seeley are amazing speakers, it was the worship team that stole the show. The Belonging Co. is a multi-mega talent Christian group, so their Easter Worship featured live performances from Danny Gokey, Natalie Grant, and Christian Music’s favorite power couple: Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes. Mr. Carnes released an album a few years ago with the electric song I am sharing below. It’s a song of motivation for us all as we boldly step into Easter+1 2020. I hear the rattle of resurrection and revival because I have resurrection blood coursing through my veins!
21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:3-10)
Easter Sunday is celebrated around the world every year. It’s a day of praise for all Jesus did for all of us. We observe Lent and find some way to fast for forty days. All of this in hopes to show the King of Kings our devotion to Him and our Heavenly Father. All of this is expected and necessary, but what about Monday? What about the day after the Resurrection?
As we see in the verses above, and you’ll read later this month, the day after Jesus walked from the tomb, He appeared to the Disciples and breathed the Holy Spirit on them, giving them the power to forgive sins, and the power to perform the same miracles Jesus was able to do while physically here on Earth. The disciples will soon be known as Apostles, and we’ll study that in detail through May as we dive into the Book of Acts, but for today, let’s just stay on Monday, or Easter+1, as it was almost 2,000 years ago.
Jerusalem still did not understand what had happened the day before. The secret of Jesus’ resurrection was still the best kept secret in the world on the day after Easter. It can be assumed that at this point, only Mary Magdalene, Mary (Jesus’ mother), Peter, and John were fully believing that Jesus had fulfilled all He had promised to do. Those four most likely had told the other eight disciples (minus Doubting Thomas who would take an extra week before he finally believed). We will look at John’s account of Thomas near the end of the month. Jesus appears to most of the disciples and breathes power into all of them. What did the disciples do from there? The city around them had just nailed Jesus to a cross, surely they would do the same to them if they suddenly emerged from hiding and preached the miracle of the Resurrection. We do not know what happened in the inbetween, but, as we will see later in John, Jesus seemed to come and go during the next forty days with His disciples. Now the disciples faith was invigorated. They had the Holy Spirit coursing through their bones. They were ready to get out and share their knowledge and love around the world, but Jesus told them their time had not yet come. So what did they do in the inbetween? I can only assume that as they remained in hiding for the next forty days, they looked back on the last three years of their lives and at all Jesus had done in their presence, which is what we are going to do for the remainder of this month.
Reading plan: John 10
Deeper reading plan: 2 Kings 14, 15, 16
Prayer and meditation: Pray for God to stop the spread of COVID. Resurrection Sunday did not bring the breakthrough miracle we had been praying for, but we will not lose hope and determination. Pray for God to protect medical personnel around the world, heal the infected, and stop the spread. God is our Good, Good Father, and He will stop this in miraculous ways.
Fitness challenge: 21 reps of each exercise 1-7, then repeat :
1. Standard push-up
2. Sit-up or crunches
3. Air squats
4. Hand-release push-up
5. Leg lifts
6. Lunges (7-each leg)
7. 4-count flutter kicks