This month, we celebrate Easter. I have fond memories of this celebration from my childhood. Churches gathered in a large football stadium in the Dallas area for what was called a sunrise service. It began as the sun rose on a Sunday morning in remembrance of the Son rising from the dead.
I loved the songs “Up from the Grave He Arose” and “He Lives.” Those memories are so vivid that I can still see that sun rising as we all joined in the chorus, “He lives. He lives. Christ Jesus lives today.”*
We would then dress up in a new Easter outfit, including an Easter hat, and go to our respective churches. We continued worshiping Jesus there and how He sacrificed His life so we might experience life. His sacrifice meant that lambs no longer had to be sacrificed for the remission of our sins because the Lamb of God had made the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation. He also took stripes on His back for our healing. Healing was paid for on that cross.
Isaiah 53: 3–6 (NLT) states it this way: “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.”
I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Isaiah 53. I especially like to read it in the New Living Translation. Verse 11 says, “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.”
When I read this chapter, tears come to my eyes as I think about the love and sacrifice that was extended to us through our Lord and Savior. Can you imagine being willing to sacrifice your only son to save others? And can you imagine the thoughts that went through Jesus’ mind as He approached the day He would die on the cross for our sins?
Matthew 26:36–39 (NKJV) describes it this way: “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ ”
Being sacrificed was hard. Yet Jesus said, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” If someone does something significant for us—e.g., taking us on a dream vacation, buying us a car, paying off our debt, etc.—we would thank them over and over. We would be so grateful for their generosity. But how often do we thank the Heavenly Father for sending His Son to redeem us? How many times do we think of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us?
I was raised in a home where going to church every week to worship the Lord was a normal routine. Missing church was not an option. It was not, “Are we going?” It was, “What time are we leaving?” Statistics show that Christians average going to church once a month. Let me ask you a question, “How would your body react if you only ate one meal a month?” Of course, you would become sick and eventually die of malnutrition.
That is happening to Christians today. They are dying spiritually of malnutrition because they are not feeding their spiritual bodies. I believe we are approaching the end times. We are instructed in Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
I want to encourage you to get back in church on a regular basis. It will strengthen you and help you to accomplish the purpose God has for you.
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