Where you there?

As his body was taken away, the
women from Galilee followed and saw
the tomb where they placed his body.
Then they went home and prepared
spices and ointments to embalm him.
But by the time they were finished it was the Sabbath, so they rested all that
day as required by the law.
(Luke 23:55-56 NLT)

Were you there when they crucified
my Lord? Were you there when they
crucified my Lord? O! Sometimes it
causes me to tremble, tremble,
tremble! Were you there when they
crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they laid Him in
the tomb? Were you there when they
laid Him in the tomb? O! Sometimes it
causes me to tremble, tremble,
tremble! Were you there when they
laid Him in the tomb?

Were You There?
Traditional spiritual Experience the “tremble”

This favorite hymn comes from the rich
American spiritual tradition, probably
developed in the early 1800s by
African-American slaves. As in most
spirituals, the words are simple,
seizing on one central theme or concept.

Spirituals tend to have a lot of
emotional appeal. As a result, this
hymn, like few others, puts the singer
there. We experience the “tremble” as
we sing it. And in the triumphant final
stanza, we experience the glory of a risen Lord. We are called out of the
cold analysis of Christ’s death, burial,
and resurrection into the moment of
living it. We are called out of the
theological debate and into the stark
reality. We hear the nails pounded into the cross, we see the onlookers
wagging their heads, we smell the
burial spices, and we feel the rumble
of the stone rolling away. And we
tremble… tremble… tremble.

Have you ever been imprisoned?

Don’t forget about those in prison.
Suffer with them as though you were
there yourself. Share the sorrow of
those being mistreated, as though you
feel their pain in your own bodies.
(Hebrews 13:3 NLT)

Tell me how much you know of the
suffering of your fellow men, and I will
tell you how much you have loved
them. -Helmut Thielicke

Solidarity in Suffering

At any given time, many of God’s
saints are in prison. The prison may be
literal, or it may be a product of
circumstances. It can be financial debt,
a broken relationship, a physical
ailment, or any other consuming situation.

A huge problem in the church is when
Christians look at their imprisoned
brothers and sisters and assume that
God has not favored them. Paul
probably experienced such a
phenomenon. We read his prison epistles and marvel at his suffering for
the cause. But many of his
contemporaries may not have
marveled. They may have seen his
trouble as a sign of God’s disfavor and
wondered why someone with so much potential had fallen to such
depths.

God’s prisons are full of His loved
ones. He uses those experiences
mightily, as He did with Paul, Joseph,
John the Baptist, John the disciple, and
numerous other biblical examples. In
fact, many of those whom He used in powerful ways have experienced an
imprisonment, captivity, or loneliness
ordained directly by Him.

Are you in prison?

You are probably
not literally behind bars, but your
circumstances may make you feel as if
you are. Don’t despair; it will not last. It
is ordained by God and is designed
either for your current witness or future usefulness. He is refining you
and molding you into His image, the
exact likeness of His crucified Son.

The song of triumph has begun.

For sin is the sting that results in death,
and the law gives sin its power. How
we thank God, who gives us victory
over sin and death through Jesus
Christ our Lord! 1 Corinthians 15:56 NLT The strife is o’er—the battle done, the
victory of life is won; the song of
triumph has begun: Alleluia! The three sad days have quickly sped,
He rises glorious from the dead; all
glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!

The Strife is O’er Latin Hymn Symphonia Serenum Selectarum, 1695 God exercised His power on our
behalf Note the pattern of this hymn:

negative undone, positive done, our
response. In each triad we see first the
forces of evil that tried to conquer
Christ but were beaten. Then we see a
more positive expression of what has occurred. Christ had won, He rises, He
opens heaven and frees slaves. Finally,
we respond with songs and shouts of
joy: Alleluia!

The richness of the text was matched
by the majesty of the music, written by
the sixteenth-century composer
Giovanni de Palestrina. He was a
devout Roman Catholic who created
many wonderful scared works still used in churches and secular settings.

This tune was adapted from a “Gloria
Patri” in one of his choral works. It first
appeared with Francis Pott’s
translation of this Latin text in 1861.

The Bible describes the work of Christ
in many different ways, and the
Christian writers through the ages
have elaborated on all these ideas.
God exercised His power on our
behalf when He raised Christ from the dead. Death has no ultimate power
over us because we are risen with
Christ. Alleluia!

Our “Resurrection Week” readings are
adapted from The One Year® Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert Brown, Tyndale House Publishers
(1995). Today’s is taken from the
entry for April 10.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible,
New Living Translation and other
publications of Tyndale Publishing
House.

The song of triumph has begun.

For sin is the sting that results in death,
and the law gives sin its power. How
we thank God, who gives us victory
over sin and death through Jesus
Christ our Lord! 1 Corinthians 15:56 NLT The strife is o’er—the battle done, the
victory of life is won; the song of
triumph has begun: Alleluia! The three sad days have quickly sped,
He rises glorious from the dead; all
glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!

The Strife is O’er Latin Hymn Symphonia Serenum Selectarum, 1695 God exercised His power on our
behalf Note the pattern of this hymn:

negative undone, positive done, our
response. In each triad we see first the
forces of evil that tried to conquer
Christ but were beaten. Then we see a
more positive expression of what has occurred. Christ had won, He rises, He
opens heaven and frees slaves. Finally,
we respond with songs and shouts of
joy: Alleluia!

The richness of the text was matched
by the majesty of the music, written by
the sixteenth-century composer
Giovanni de Palestrina. He was a
devout Roman Catholic who created
many wonderful scared works still used in churches and secular settings.

This tune was adapted from a “Gloria
Patri” in one of his choral works. It first
appeared with Francis Pott’s
translation of this Latin text in 1861.

The Bible describes the work of Christ
in many different ways, and the
Christian writers through the ages
have elaborated on all these ideas.
God exercised His power on our
behalf when He raised Christ from the dead. Death has no ultimate power
over us because we are risen with
Christ. Alleluia!

Our “Resurrection Week” readings are
adapted from The One Year® Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert Brown, Tyndale House Publishers
(1995). Today’s is taken from the
entry for April 10.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible,
New Living Translation and other
publications of Tyndale Publishing
House.

Turning evil to good.

Turning evil to good Don’t be intimidated by you enemies.…
you have been given not only the
privilege of trusting in Christ but also
the privilege of suffering for him. Philippians 1:28-29 NLT Finding God in Russia In the 1930s Stalin ordered a purge of
all Bibles and all believers. In
Stravropol, Russia, this order was
carried out with a vengeance.
Thousands of Bibles were confiscated,
and multitudes of believers were sent to the gulags where most died for
being “enemies of the state.” Years later, CoMission sent a team to
Stavropol. When the team was having
difficulty getting Bibles shipped from
Moscow, someone mentioned the
existence of a warehouse outside of
town where these confiscated Bibles had been stored since Stalin’s day. After much prayer by the team, one
member finally got up the courage to
go to the warehouse and ask the
officials if the Bibles were still there.…
The answer was, “Yes!” The next day The CoMission team
returned with a truck and several
Russian people to help load the Bibles.
One helper was a young man—a
skeptical, hostile, agnostic collegian
who had come only for the day’s wages. As they were loading Bibles,
one team member noticed that the
young man had disappeared. He had
slipped away, hoping to quietly take a
Bible for himself. What he found shook
him to the core. The inside page of the Bible he picked
up had the handwritten signature of
his own grandmother. It had been her
personal Bible. Out of the thousands of
Bibles still left in the warehouse, he
stole the one belonging to this grandmother—a woman persecuted
for her faith all her life. He was found weeping—God was
real. R. Kent Hughes in 1001 Great Stories and Quotes.

Thank God for the Blood.

The story of redemption begins in Eden with God shedding the blood of a lamp to cover Adam’s and Eve’s sin, and ends in heaven with a multi-national choir singing, ‘…You… have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every… Nation’ (Rev. 5:9 NKJV). The blood of Jesus Christ represents two things:
1) the cost of your sin. Rolled on to Christ’s shoulders was the weight of your every misdeed from the cradle to the grave. Next time you’re tempted to violate God’s word and do your own thing, bear that in mind!
2) the cure for your sin. Your salvation wasn’t a joint effort. You didn’t contribute a penny because you were spiritually bankrupt. ‘…you were redeemed [bought out of slavery and set free]… with the precious blood of Christ…’ (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV).

The preaching of the blood will offend those with sins to hide, a moralistic ego to protect, or a gospel that offers salvation through good works and social evolution. The blood of Jesus not only saves the repentant but also condemns the defiant, for ‘…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’ (Hebrews 9:22 NIV). Plagues and apocalyptic hail could not release God’s people from the iron grip of Pharaoh. What did? The blood. Nothing but the blood! And the blood has never lost its power. It can (a) heal your painful memories (b) cleanse and set you free from the sin you dare not speak of (c) put a canopy of protection over you, and (d) draw a line in the sand over which the enemy dare not step. Today, thank God for the blood!

The Power of Encouragement.

Everybody needs encouragement. None of us achieves anything without help. The great achievers in history became all that they were because of the people in their lives.
We’ve seen the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. But did you know that their authors, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, were professors at Oxford University and maintained a close friendship? Every week they’d meet to eat, talk about their fiction-writing endeavors and read passages of their yet unpublished works. It was Tolkien who encourages Lewis, an avowed atheist, to explore Christianity, ultimately leading to his conversion. And it was Lewis who encourages Tolkien to continue writing fiction and seek publication. Were it not for their friendship and mutual encouragement, the world wouldn’t have received the finest writing in apologetic of the twentieth century, nor one of the finest fantasy works ever written.
Everyone, young and old, successful and less-than-successful, famous and unknown who receives encouragement is changed by it. Mark Twain said, ‘One compliment can keep me going for a whole month.’ A word of encouragement from a teacher can change a child’s life; a word of encouragement from a spouse can strengthen or even save a marriage; a word of encouragement from a leader can inspire a person to reach his or her potential. Zig Ziglar says, ‘You never know when a moment and few sincere words can have an impact on a life.’ The Bible says, ‘Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones’ (Proverbs 16:24 NKJV).