Hope Has Risen: Easter 2024

I was inspired by a speaker from the IF Gathering, which was shown to me by my wife. The speaker’s words were 100% scripture. She used different versions and different parts of scripture to weave together a beautiful message. I thought to myself, “That style would make an epic Easter message.” “May God’s written word be used to glorify God’s Living Word, Jesus.” 

The following is what I shared on Easter morning at John Wesley:
Jesus said, I came so they may have life — and have it abundantly. Friends — let me go over the Good News with you— the Good News—on which you stand firm—and by which—your life has been —rescued. I pass on to you — what is most important and—what had also been—passed on to me.

Christ died for our sins—He was buried—He was—raised from the dead—on the third day.
In God’s great mercy—He has given us a new birth—into a living hope through—the resurrection of Jesus Christ—from the dead. Friends, there is salvation in no one else!

God has given—no other name—under heaven—by which we must be saved. —For we died—and were buried with Christ by baptism.And just as Christ—was raised from the dead—by the glorious power of the Father—now we also may live new lives. The Spirit of God—who raised Jesus from the dead—lives in you. And He will give life—to your mortal bodies —by this same Spirit—living within you.

My old self has been crucified—with Christ. It is—no longer I who live—but Christ—lives in me.
Friends—God is the good shepherd. He knows his own sheep and—they know Him.
The Son—will sacrifice His life for the sheep —to give them eternal life—and they will never perish. Do you believe this?

God is so rich in mercy and—He loved us so much that—even though we were dead because of our sins — He gave us—life when He raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s—grace—that you have been saved!

Jesus said — Don’t be afraid! —I am the First and the Last. I am the living one.
I died but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold—the keys of death and the grave.

Dear friends—we are—already God’s children—and this is our testimony:
God has given us eternal life —and this life is in His Son. —Whoever has the Son —has life!  
I want to know Christ—I want to experience the mighty power that—raised him from the dead.
I want to suffer—with him—suffering produces perseverance—perseverance—produces character and—character—hope.

And hope does not—disappoint us—because God has poured out His love—into our hearts—through the Holy Spirit whom—He has given us. One way or another—I will—experience the resurrection from the dead! For if there is no resurrection—of the dead —then—Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ—has not been raised—then all our preaching—is useless—and your faith—is useless. And if Christ has not been raised—you are still guilty—of your sins.
But in fact—Christ has been raised from the dead.

He was seen by Peter — and then by the Twelve. —After that—he was seen—by more than 500 of his followers—at one time—then He was seen by James—and later by all the apostles.
On that Saturday evening, — when the Sabbath—came to an end, —Mary Magdalene, —the other Mary, —and Salome—went to purchase spices—to anoint Jesus’ body. Just around sunrise the next day—they were on their way—to Jesus’ tomb. —They were asking each other—Who will roll away the stone for us—from the entrance of the tomb?

Now—before the women arrived—there was a great earthquake at the tomb!
An angel of the Lord—came down from heaven—rolled aside the stone—and sat on it.
His face shone like lightning—and his clothes — were as white as snow.
As the women arrived at the tomb—they saw—the stone had already been rolled away.
When they entered the tomb—they saw —a young man clothed in a white robe—sitting on the right side. —The women were shocked—the angel said—Don’t be afraid! —I know you are looking for Jesus—who was crucified.

He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead—
just as He said would happen.
Friends—Jesus also said—
I am the resurrection—and I am the life.
—Trust in God, —and trust also in me.
Since I live—you also will live.

You will grieve—but your grief will— suddenly turn to wonderful joy. —Here on earth —you will have many trials and sorrows. —But take heart—because I have overcome the world.
Do you believe this?

The angel told the women— go and tell Jesus’ disciples—so the women rushed back—
to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else what had happened. But the story sounded like nonsense—so they didn’t believe it. Peter got up and with John—they started out for the tomb. —They were both running, — but John outran Peter—and reached the tomb first. —John looked in—and saw the linen wrappings lying there—but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived — and went inside. —He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there. Then John went in—and he saw and believed.

For until then—they still hadn’t understood what the Scriptures said: He will be 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!
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.
He was oppressed and treated harshly —
He was led—like a lamb to the slaughter.

Now—Mary—was still standing
outside crying—she stooped and looked in.
She saw two white-robed angels—
one sitting at the head—the other at the foot of—
the place where Jesus’ body had been lying.
Dear woman why are you crying?

Because—they have taken away my Lord—
I don’t know where they have put him.
Then—she turned to leave—and saw someone standing there.
It was Jesus—but she didn’t recognize him.

Dear woman—why are you crying?
Who are you looking for?
She thought he was the gardener.
Sir— if you have taken him—
tell me where you have put him—
and I will go and get him.

Mary! — Jesus said.
She turned to him —and cried out, 'Rabboni!'
Don’t cling to me—for I haven’t yet—ascended to the Father.
But go find my brothers and tell them.
Mary Magdalene found the disciples—
and told them—“I have seen the Lord!”

Later that night—the disciples were meeting—behind locked doors—because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. The two from Emmaus—were telling their story of—how Jesus had appeared to them—as they walked along the road—and how they had recognized him as he was breaking—the bread. Suddenly—Jesus was standing there—among them!

“Peace be with you!”
As he spoke—he showed them the wounds —in his hands and his side.
They were filled with joy! Again—Jesus said—Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me—so I am sending you. Jesus opened—their minds to understand the Scriptures. Yes!—It was written—long ago—that the Messiah would suffer and die— and rise from the dead on the third day. You are all witnesses to these things.
Now I will send the Holy Spirit—just as my Father promised. —But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes—and fills you—with power from heaven.

One of the twelve disciples—Thomas— was not with the others at this time.
They told him—We have seen the Lord! He replied—I won’t believe it—unless I see the nail wounds in his hands—put my fingers into them—and place my hand—into the wound in his side. Well—eight days later—the disciples were together again—and this time—Thomas was with them. The doors were locked as before—but suddenly— Jesus was standing among them. Peace be with you! Then He said to Thomas—Put your finger here—look at my hands. —Put your hand into the wound in my side.

Don’t be—faithless any longer.

My Lord and my God! —Thomas exclaimed. Jesus told him—You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe—without seeing me.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
—for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
—for they will be comforted.
Blessed are those who are humble,
—for they will inherit the earth.

Therefore—have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: —Who—being in very nature God—did not consider—equality with God something to be used—to his own advantage. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges — he took the humble position of a slave — and was born as a human being. He humbled himself in obedience to God — and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Therefore, —God elevated him to the place of highest honor—and gave him—the name above all other names—at the name of Jesus—every knee should bow—in heaven and on earth—and under the earth—and every tongue confess—that Jesus Christ is Lord.

This hope—is a strong and a trustworthy anchor—for our souls.
Do you believe this?

Brothers and sisters, I plead with you—give yourselves to God—because of all He has done for you. Let your bodies be a—living and holy sacrifice. This is truly the way to worship Him.
Do not—copy the behavior and customs of this world—but let God transform you—into a new person—by changing the way you think. Also — put on your new nature — and be renewed — as you learn to know your Creator — and become like him. So—if anyone—is in Christ—they are a new creation—everything old has passed away—See—everything has become new!
The one sitting on the throne said—Look—I am making everything new!

Christ is all that matters—and He lives in all of us.
Since God chose you—to be the holy people He loves—you must clothe yourselves—with tenderhearted mercy—kindness—humility —gentleness—and patience. Above all—clothe yourselves with—love—which binds us all together. —And let the peace that comes from Christ—rule in your hearts.Let the good news about Christ—in all its richness—fill your lives.
And whatever you do or say—do it as a representative of the Jesus —giving thanks through Him—to God the Father.

Therefore—since we are surrounded—by such a great crowd of witnesses—let us strip off—every weight that slows us down— especially the sin—that so easily entangles us. And let us run—with endurance—the race God has set before us. —We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus—the perfecter of our faith. Do you believe this?

Strength—comes from God’s grace—not from following rules. —Since you have been raised to—new life with Christ—set your sights on the realities of heaven—where Christ sits—in the place of honor at God’s right hand.

Friends—May God equip you—with all you need for doing His will. May—God produce in you—through the power of Jesus Christ—every good thing—that is pleasing to him.

THIS IS THE MESSAGE—you have heard—from the beginning—We should love one another.
I am not—writing a new commandment —rather it is an old one. This old commandment to love one another—is the same message—you have heard before. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment —and you also are living it. God’s Word lives in your hearts.

Friends—May the God of hope fill you—with all joy and peace — as you trust in him.
It is by His great mercy that—we have been born again—because God raised—
Jesus Christ from the dead.
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God
—the Creator of the ends of the earth.
Even youths will faint and be weary
—and the young will fall exhausted
But those who hope in the LORD.
Shall renew their strength,
—they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run — and not be weary,
—They shall walk and not faint.

Dear brothers and sisters—we can now boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place—because of the blood of Jesus. By his death—Jesus opened—a new and life-giving way—through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a—great High Priest—who rules over God’s house—let us go right into the presence of God—with sincere hearts—fully —fully trusting him.

Faith—shows the reality of—what we hope for —it is the evidence of things—we cannot see.
Three things—will last forever—faith— hope—and love—and the greatest of these —is love.
For God so loved the world—that He gave his one and only Son—so who believes in him
—will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world—not to condemn the world—but to save the world through Him. And be sure of this—Jesus said—
I am with you always—even—to the end of the age.

Now may the God of hope—
fill you with all joy and peace in believing—
that you may abound in hope—by the power of the Holy Spirit.
May the Lord—bless you and keep you;
May the Lord—make His face
—shine on you and be gracious to you;
May the Lord—turn His face toward you
—and give you peace.

The resurrected Jesus holds all of time and space in his hands.  
The resurrected Jesus won't be ignored, can't be avoided, and refuses to be denied.  
The same Jesus that encountered, Mary, Peter, John, Thomas, and
later Paul on the Damascus Road is the same resurrected Jesus we worship today.
And that same spirit that raised Christ now dwells in you
and me and gives us eternal hope.
May we believe this!
Amen and Amen!

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