Easter Season Devotionals

week of April 5

Monday, April 5

Peter said, “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.”
Acts of the Apostles 10:37-38a

Acts of the Apostles tells us that Peter is led by the Holy Spirit to go to the house of a Roman soldier named Cornelius. He talks to him about Jesus. Everyone in that area of the world knew about Jesus. Crowds of people would come out to hear Jesus preach and teach. Wherever he went Jesus drew people towards him with rock star status.

The people who knew Jesus knew that he was powerful. However, his power and strength that were evident to everyone who met him did not come simply from his position. He had no position of authority – he did not run a company or rule as king or even hold a religious title. His power went beyond physical power, there was a spiritual power. It was a power that came from deep within him. It was a power that enabled him to love others all the time.

Pray today for the same Spirit and the same power that gave Jesus the ability to love others.

Tuesday, April 6

Peter said, “Jesus went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil.
We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.”
Acts 10:38-39a

Jesus was and is love in action. Peter describes Jesus as someone who went about doing good. To his audience, the phrase that Peter used for “doing good” would have sounded similar to a “benefactor” which was commonly applied to ancient rulers when they provided for others. It reinforces the idea that Jesus brought great power.

He brought power to stand up for the lowly and defended them. He had a power and ability to develop relationships with people unconnected God. He had a power that enabled him to feed thousands of people with simply five loaves and two fish.

Through his power, Jesus challenged the corrupt religious systems that were oppressing people. He taught and encouraged people to give to the poor. He lovingly challenged people to get rid of self-defeating behaviors.

Whenever you see Jesus in the Gospels, you see love in action. Sometimes his love was kind, sometimes his love was gentle and sometimes it was fierce and challenging. But every time you see Jesus, you see love in action.

Pray today to know Jesus’ love for you personally.

Wednesday, April 7

Peter said, “Jesus went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil.
We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. This man God raised on the third day.”
Acts 10:38-40 a

Jesus was love action, but then on Good Friday, it looked like love had lost and darkness had won. But then Jesus didn’t stay dead. Jesus conquered death. On Easter Sunday, Jesus emerged from the grave victorious over sin and death and darkness and hatred and jealousy and violence.

Easter Sunday is the celebration that love lives. It is the celebration that love and light are greater than death and darkness. Furthermore, it is a celebration that the same power that gave Jesus the ability to love others is available to us. Through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we can access the power to love the people around us the way we really want to love them.

Pray today for an understanding that love is greater than evil and darkness. Ask God to help you remember that in Christ you can rise from any injury done to you.

Thursday, April 8

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
For all that is in this world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and pride of life is not of the Father but of this world.
1 John 2:15-16

The First Letter of John teaches us a great deal about loving God and loving others. The first lesson we learn comes in the words above. John teaches us that to love God and others we must not love the world. By the world, he does not mean creation or people, but the values of this world. Lust of the flesh means love of pleasure. Lust of the eyes means love for possessions. The pride of life means love of power.

Each of us will be tempted to love pleasure, power, or possessions most of all. If we love the things of this world, we crowd out our ability to love God, who gives us the power to love others.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you are tempted to love pleasure, possessions and power. Pray for the grace to love God most of all.

Friday, April 9

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
For all that is in this world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and pride of life is not of the Father but of this world.
And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
1 JN 2:15-17

John tells us to love God before we love the values of this world. Then he reminds us why it is in our strategic best interest to do so. While God is eternal and those who do God will live forever, this world is passing away. Whenever we love this world or attach our things to this world, we attach ourselves to things that are passing. On the other hand, when we love God and love people we attach ourselves to what is eternal.

Pray today the prayer of St. Theresa of Avila. Let nothing disturb thee. Let nothing affright thee. All things are passing. Only God remains.

Saturday, April 10

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just.

I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.

“The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD has struck with power.”
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.
Though the LORD has indeed chastised me,
yet he has not delivered me to death.

I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.

Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.

I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.

Psalm 118

Week of April 12

Monday, April 12

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him.
1 Jn 5:1

John tells us that everyone who believes that Jesus is their Messiah, their Savior, is begotten by God or “born of God”. Everyone who believes in Jesus is a child of God and can claim God as their Father.

To be born of God means that we grow more and more into his likeness, that we get to know him better and better, that our relationship with him grows deeper and deeper. God’s love is made manifest in Jesus and just like a baby grows to look like its parents, we start to look more and more like God. And just like a child will copy certain traits and habits of its parents, we will copy God’s habits.

Today, thank God for the grace of being born of him and for the opportunity to grow more like him.

Tuesday, April 13

In this way, we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
1 John 5:2-3

God’s commands are not burdensome because they are undergirded by the very simple concept of love. We are to love others and be for their well-being, their greater good. We are to be for others as our heavenly Father is for us.

God’s commands are not burdensome because we do not love on our power but based on God’s power. We have God’s power because we are begotten by God and have a relationship with him. We do not follow his commandments to do him a favor, but because we trust his way is the best.

The closer we are to God, the fewer commands we need. Basically, it can all be narrowed down to loving God, others and ourselves. If we manage to sincerely do that, we triumph over “the ways of the world” which are often driven by egoism and ruthlessness. “World” in this case simply designates society organized and functioning apart from God.

Pray today to keep growing closer to God so that his commands seem ever less burdensome and ever more liberating.

Wednesday, April 14

And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:4-5

So how can we triumph over the “ways of the world”? The road to victory over the world is our faith. The early Church did not have an army, it was just a little community of non-belligerent and persecuted Christ-followers.  Yet, John tells them that they will and already have conquered the world. They have conquered the world because they have transformed it in the name of the one God they are begotten by.

Victory over “the world” does not require spiritual heroics or ascetic denial of creation. Instead, victory is found through faith in what Jesus is and has done; nothing else is needed. The word faith itself means “trust”, “confidence”, “assurance”. And the Gospels give us not only truths to believe, but also a person to trust: Jesus who is the God-man, the Messiah who has risen from the dead.

God has a plan for you and through obeying his commands you will master your life. Pray to be determined not by the deceptions of this world, but by the object of our faith, Jesus, the Son of God who was crucified and rose on the third day.

Thursday, April 15

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.
1 Jn 5:6

“Coming through water and blood” refers to the baptism and the death of Jesus.  Jesus was baptized, not because of his own sins – he had none – but because he wanted to completely identify with humanity. His coming through water was his way of saying “I am one of you”.

And when he died on the cross, he did not die because he had to – he had divine power and could have saved himself from the suffering and humiliation -, but because he wanted to show us that he was ready to accompany us even in our darkest and most difficult hours. His coming through blood was his way of saying that he was ready to give his all for us.

Jesus trusted God and obeyed his commands. He became one of us so that we might become more like God. Pray today to be open to this divine gift.

Friday, April 16

I ask you, not as though I were writing a new commandment but the one we have had from the beginning:
let us love one another. For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments;
this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk.
2 John 1:5-6

Commandments and love usually do not go together well, but they do in God’s case. He has proven that he loves us and asks us to love him in return, as well as each other. Obedience to the commandment of faith and love includes all other commandments. That is why it is repeated so many times throughout the Bible.

What distinguished the early Christian community from the society around them, was the way they treated each other. They took care of each other and by walking in God’s love, they mirrored his actions and made him visible to the world.

People from all backgrounds and faiths felt that something new was happening. They witnessed Christians living this new commandment of never-before-seen genuine affection and love that did not differentiate between social class, nationality or race. That is the incredibly powerful message of Christianity.

Pray today for the strength to walk in God’s love and to be a mirror of his grace like the first Christians.

Saturday, April 17

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD, the earth is full.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Psalm 33

Week of April 19

Monday, April 19

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Luke 24:36

In any relationship, there are multiple ways in which rifts can occur. If those rifts are not addressed, they will get bigger and bigger until they become chasms. “Peace” was a recurring message in the early days post-Resurrection.

One of these rifts happened around the passion of Christ. The apostles are gathered in Jerusalem, probably in the same room where they had had the last supper, and they are trying to make sense of what is happening. They feel shame because they had abandoned their leader in a time of need. Peter, James, and John couldn’t even stay awake long enough to pray with him. Peter had denied Jesus three times after promising he would die for him. And all except John had run away when Jesus was arrested.

There was a rift in their relationship and Jesus shows us what love does, what love in action looks like: He offers peace. Jesus went to the apostles the very night he rose from the dead to make peace with them. He didn’t wait.

Rifts in relationships can quickly turn into chasms. Pray today for the grace to always think about making peace first.

Tuesday, April 20

And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance,
for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Luke 24:46-48

When the world turned its back on God, when we had turned our back on God, he didn’t abandon us, he didn’t give up on the relationship. Instead, he sent his Son to re-establish a relationship with a broken world.

Jesus does not show anger or disappointment with the apostles. Instead, he extends peace to them.  The olive branch is used to mark a new beginning, even a new era. In the Book of Genesis, a dove brings back an olive branch to the ark after the flood, and in ancient Greece and Rome olive branches were used at weddings and as a symbol to end conflicts.

Jesus is not only making peace with the apostles by appearing to them. He makes peace by giving them a job to do. He tells them that they are going to be the ones that preach about the forgiveness of sins. He says, “Not only are we good in our relationship, but I am trusting you to bring my message to all people, starting right here in Jerusalem”.

Don’t forget that you are God’s peaceful ambassador. Pray for the strength to extend the olive branch and be love in action.

Wednesday, April 21

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them,
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19

Paul tells us that we are new creations in Jesus Christ. As new creations, Christ has reconciled us to himself. We have peace with God and are in a relight relationship with him. God doesn’t hold our sins against us. Instead, he trusts us by giving us the ministry of reconciliation. God reconciles with us; we have peace with others and then we connect God to people.

Pray today that God will make use of you to bring others into a relationship with him.

Thursday, April 22

So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21

We are Christ’s ambassadors. He makes an appeal to others through us. God builds relationships with people through us. This is why it is so important that look to bring peace to all our relationships whenever possible. When we have peace with others, we can lead them closer to God. When there is a rift, we can’t. As Rick Warren says, “You can’t lead your enemies to Christ, you can only lead your friends.”

Pray today that you would be Christ’s ambassador, bringing others into a relationship with Christ.

Friday, April 23

If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
2 Tim 2:13

Here’s the good news: Even if we try to, we cannot lose God’s favor. No matter how hard we try, he will always be there, waiting patiently for our return into his grace.

Easter has opened the path of salvation to everyone. Jesus went all the way down, journeying into pain, despair, alienation, even God-forsakenness. He went as far as you can go away from the Father. Why? In order to reach all those who had wandered from God. In light of the resurrection, the first Christians came to know that, even as we run away from the Father as fast as we can, we are running into the arms of the Son.

Ask God to help you remember that you have peace with him through his Son and ask him to give you the right attitude towards your friend, spouse, mom, dad, co-worker, or whoever is on the other side of the relational rifts you are currently facing. Be love in action.

 

Saturday, April 24

How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD

How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?

My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.

How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?

O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?

Psalm 116

Week of April 26

Monday, April 26

Beloved, see what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God. Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1 John 3:1

John teaches us this amazing truth. God the Father calls us his children. This was an astounding revelation. The Almighty Maker of heaven and earth invites us into a relationship with him. And it is a pure gift. He simply “bestows on us” the gift of being his children. Other translations say, “See what love the Father has lavished upon us.”

God gives us the gift of being his sons and daughters before we can do anything for him. He accepts us even though we still have faults and failures. God doesn’t say that before we have a relationship with him we have to clean up our act. God doesn’t say that I’ll love you if you get to church every week or two times a month. God loves and accepts you because God is love.

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a deeper appreciation and understanding that you are the beloved child of your heavenly Father. Pray that truth will deepen your mind, in your heart, and in your soul.

Tuesday, April 27

Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
1 John 3:2-3

John tells us that we are God’s children now, but we still not all God wants us to be. We are being more and more conformed to the image of Christ. One day we will be perfect images of Christ, but we are not there yet. Our role is to cooperate with God as he sends opportunities for us to mature into a Christ-like character, to be pure of heart and sincere in our love as Jesus is.

God loves us so much that he accepts us as we are, but he loves us too much to leave us that way. God knows we will not be truly blessed and content and happy until we are perfectly formed into the image of his Son. Love accepts, but love also challenges the truth.

Thank God today that he accepts you as you are but loves you too much to leave you as you are.

Wednesday, April 28

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory,
glory as the only begotten Son from the Father.
John 1:14

Jesus, the word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us. He came with both grace and truth. He was full of both. Jesus gave grace to people. He accepted them as they were. He accepted Zacchaeus, Matthew, and the woman caught in adultery. He accepted them, but then challenged them to grow.

To love like Jesus means we have to bring both grace and truth to the people around us. Usually, they go in that order. People must feel acceptance first. They must know that we are giving them grace and that we care for them before we can challenge them with the truth.

Pray today to be more like Jesus. Pray for the ability to bring both grace and truth to all your relationships.

Thursday, April 29

Accept one another, therefore, as Christ accepted you, for the glory of God.
Romans 15:7

Paul writes to the Romans to accept one another just as Christ had accepted them. This was a hallmark of the early Christian community that allowed them to grow. People came to the community and felt loved and accepted. As a result of the acceptance, they began to change and live for God’s glory.

Acceptance paves the way to influence. As Rick Warren says, “You can only win your friends to Christ, you cannot win your enemies.” If a friend, a family member, or co-worker feels like you don’t accept them, then you will never be able to positively influence them.

Who is someone you want to positively influence, but keeps pushing away from you? Pray for the wisdom of how to communicate acceptance.

Friday, April 30

Therefore, putting away falsehood, let everyone speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
Ephesians 4:25

Paul writes to the Ephesians about how to be children of the light. He wants their community to stand out as a source of light in the dark world. One of the key ways is through their honest interactions with one another. The Christian community would be full of people who would be honest with one another. They would share challenging truths because they understood they belonged to one another.

Love accepts others, but it also delivers difficult truths. We all have blind spots and need others to point out the ways we need to grow. Love lives in us when we are willing to risk sharing a brutal fact with a person about their behavior.

Is there something you have been holding back from someone else because you don’t want to hurt their feelings? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the wisdom to know if, when, and how you should bring the truth to him or her.

Saturday, May 1

All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Psalm 98