Mark 16:3-4 (NLT)
On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.
This may seem like an odd scripture for a devotion. Jesus was dead or so these ladies thought as they went to the tomb to properly burial the One who they had called Lord. Falling back into the confines of religion, they waited dutifully for the Sabbath to end and gathered the usual items to carry out their task. Walking to the tomb asking each other, who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb? Just another day in the life of these ordinary people who had no idea they were about to witness the extraordinary. When they arrived, they were surprised to find that the stone (which was very large) had been rolled aside. When they dared enter, they were greeted by an angel who gave them the best news of their life – Jesus was alive. He was resurrected from the dead and He was alive. Jesus is alive.
As I have shared before I have found solace in my workout routine when stress keeps my mind from being firmly wrapped around Jesus Christ and my faith is threatened by fear. Sunday morning I woke up foul. There are probably many natural reasons that I was just not happy but none of them held much credibility when compared to the life that I am afforded by faith and confident hope in Christ. So I threw on some gym clothes and headed to out for a quick 30 minutes of cardio before heading to the House of God. It is my privilege to worship the Lord. On Sunday morning, the day chosen for corporate worship it is my job to come prepared to focus on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. My pastor may be mandated with the task of preaching but I must be prepared to honor Jesus Christ in that place mind, soul and body. It is not enough to show up but I must be ready. Jamming earplugs in my ears, and climbing on the steps of an elliptical machine, I embarked on a journey to clear my head, free my mind and unlock my soul now laden with unnecessary burdens. It took a couple very anointed songs to break through the hardness of my heart. That is until the song, “Forever” came on by Kari Jobe. As she painted a very vivid picture of the Cross making it a personal place where Jesus died for me, she then carried me to the tomb. “The ground began to shake. The stone was rolled away. His Perfect Love could not be overcome.” I broke right there in a sweaty workout room with innocent bystanders all around as tears mixed with sweat. The Love of God can be a powerful force in our life if we let it. It’s true. I realized in that moment that there are times when the “ground begins to shake” and the “stone is ready to roll away” as God’s Love begins to resurrect, restore and renew things in my life that I stop it. My hands hold the stone firmly in place preventing His Resurrection Power from overtaking my life.
Matthew 27:50-54 (NLT)
Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
Do you remember the day, hour or moment that God’s Love for you became real? Not the day that you realized that He loves you but the moment that it went from a notion to complete knowledge. I wish that I could be so holy as to admit that it was the day that I was saved at eleven years old when I walked down a church aisle, shook the hand of a waiting pastor, and prayed the sinner’s prayer. But I left that place wondering why something that promised to be so life-changing felt so ordinary. I fervently chased the Lord but never seemed to get that close all through adolescence and high school despite a fabulous youth group. Spent an entire summer in Africa looking for God’s Call and Purpose for my life – yet His Love still was not real. Rededicated my life after many years of wandering and countless mistakes, finally getting a glimpse of His Wonderful and Magnificent Grace. Still, knowing but not really comprehending the Cross or power released when the ground began to shake. But that small glimpse and taste of His Goodness was preparing me for the rough road ahead. I discovered the Power of God’s Love for my life when life as I knew it completely changed. When I came to the end of human strength, worldly knowledge and my heart broke into a million pieces, in my utter devastation I found the Power of His Love.
When Jesus died on the Cross, the disciples were devastated. They could not understand what when wrong. This is not how they thought things would be. Giving up their lives and livelihood to follow Christ led them to their worst nightmare. The religious rite of the day would not demand their blood as well. When Jesus shouted and released His Spirit, everything began to change as life was released once again. The curtain in the Temple separated mankind from their God was ripped from top to bottom. Access to the Throne of God was now made possible to all who believed once more. Graves were unlocked and the dead began to come to life walking around Jerusalem. Earthquakes rippled as the war on death was waged and Jesus emerged victoriously. It was in that moment that the soldiers who facilitated the death of an innocent man finally understood that this was the Son of God.
Matthew 15:16-19 (NLT)
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
“But who do you say that I am?” The disciples had already shared with Jesus who everyone else thought He was but Jesus didn’t care about all that at the moment. “Who do YOU say that I am?” Well Peter, of course, piped right up and declared that “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Peter was told that he would be the “rock” on which Jesus would build His Church. I am sure that Peter was quite pleased with himself in that moment as the disciples commonly debated who was the greatest among them. Yep, it’s me! (He must of thought with his chest puffed out in pride.) That is until he sat by the fire trying to blend in with the crowd avoiding the same fate as Jesus Christ. He looked into his eyes as his third and final denial fell from his lips. All was slipping away what now. The next day at Calvary, Peter watched with the other followers of the Lord as His Beaten, Bloody Body was nailed to the Cross and lifted up as a spectacle and warning to all the other radical Christians. Can you imagine how Peter must have felt in that moment? Everything was falling apart, nothing was going as planned, and the Son of God was about to die. God help us. The Power of God’s Love will never fully being unlocked and unleashed in our life until we come to a working knowledge of Who He is. Jesus Christ is the Messiah, Son of the Living God who is alive and well in you! So if this is true, where is the wonder working power that is promised in the Blood of the Lamb?
Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT)
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
Everything else is worthless compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus as my Savior and Lord. This is a bold statement made lightly day after day by believers who do not understand that Power of the Blood or the Potential of His Resurrection and its impact on our life. When the ground begins to shake – we try to hold on to our Will and keep everything in place when God is trying to unsettle us and dissatisfy us so we will let go of the past and grab hold of confident hope as our future. When everything seems to be falling apart, we grab all the pieces and slap it together because we fear that this is nothing more to life than what we see despite constantly professing to believe. We see Jesus on the Cross but cannot comprehend the Resurrection because we have not ever seen it up close and for real. The stones that cover all the dead promises, dreams and endeavors in your life is shaking and moving but we hold it firmly in place because we do not really know the Son of the Living God enough to fully trust His Amazing Love. It is the very thing that changes every detail of our life for His Good. It is that which perfects all that concerns me. Rather than blaming God for ignoring us which is evident in our complaining, complacency and dissatisfaction, and Jesus for abandoning us when He died on the Cross leaving a trail of Blood filled with Grace that we trample in and out of – perhaps if we would just let go and let God (not to sound too cliché) maybe things would be different if we released the Power that raised Jesus from the dead in our own life. It is a choice to have the Will of God by releasing our own ideals and objectives. It is a decision to follow Jesus Christ all the days of our life whether we feel like it or not. The day that I made this decision was the day that I lost all confidence in anything else and He became my only hope. It was the day that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ because I could do nothing with it. When I turned to worship rather than worry and decided to praise rather than push, everything began to change. Some days I am better at this thing called faith than others. Hope is the one thing I rely on because everything else let me down. I must be one with Christ. Everything else is garbage. I can trust no one like my Lord. Now when the ground begins to shake, I immediately wonder what God is about to do. I rest on the Peace that passes understanding because I have witnessed signs, wonders and miracles in my life by simply letting go of the stone so it can roll away. I am no longer afraid of death or the grave. Open the doors of my life wide, because I want more of Him. I want to know Christ and the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I have seen it bring our son back to life five times. I am hooked. Our life has been turned upside down, nothing will ever be the same, but I would not change the faith that I have found and hope discovered when the stone was rolled away and I became fully aware of God’s Love for me! Does it seem as though everything is changing? Is your heart broken? Can’t hold it together anymore? Life is not turning out as you expected? Lift up your tired hands and fall on those weak knees, let the stone roll away and get lost in His Love today. When we give up our will to fully accept God’s Will everything changes … for the better but it is through death of self that we find new life. God’s Love and Power will always overtake us. It is overwhelming and endless. It belongs to you – hidden behind the rolling stone.
Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLT)
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.