IMAGINING EASTER MORN: HOPE AND LIFE

On this Sunday morning I awakened early before the birds began their joyful chirping to greet the new day. It is going to be a lovely day with unclouded sunshine and a nice temperature — both welcome signs that springtime really has begun.

As the sun appeared on the horizon I imagined the first Easter morning more than two thousand years ago. It followed the most horrific evil known on earth when the power of darkness gave its best effort to stop God’s plan of salvation for humankind. Jesus had been crucified on Calvary’s cruel cross; it was the end to a perfect life of perfect love…. Or was it?

It would seem that the day should be shrouded in deep dark misery, no more bright sunshine, no birds singing, no joy to be experienced ever. But… as I imagine it, the sun appeared with beams of sunlight shining brightly to illumine the land and to show that this was a glorious day unlike any other!

God’s plan was achieved to bring HOPE and LIFE to humankind. Jesus Christ though crucified and buried had defeated death, and He had arisen! Soon women, disciples, and crowds of many others would witness His resurrected and living presence among them. The account is written for our eyes of faith to see and acknowledge like they did that He is risen indeed!

An official celebration of His resurrection will be next Sunday, April 4. Experience His life, love, and hope and share it with someone else. Everybody on planet Earth needs to know that He arose as Lord of all for all who believe. He is risen… indeed!

Have a blessed Easter celebration!

[God’s love story is found throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but you can find more focused accounts of the Resurrection in the following gospel chapters:  Matthew 26, 27, 28;  Mark 15, 16;  Luke 22, 23, 24;  and John 17, 18, 19, 20.]

VINNY SKARO:  BEYOND A WISH TO HOPE

Thanks to Fox News, I learned about 8-year-old Vinny with a rare genetic disorder who suffers nightly seizures. Make-A-Wish Foundation offered him a Disney World trip that was postponed due to the pandemic. The story does not end there. As American Radio Broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, “Now for the rest of the story….”

On his own Vinny Skaro made a decision that went beyond a wish to hope for special needs kids by donating $5000 (the trip value) for a wheelchair accessible playground near his home in Wisconsin.

When the weather allows, Vinny plays at the park every other day, but he realizes that all kids with special needs like him cannot play on the equipment.

Vinny related, “I just want to help other kids have a fun place to play with wheelchairs.” He understands wheelchair-bound children, because he uses a wheelchair when he gets tired from his condition.

“… I feel like it’s the right thing to do,” added Vinny. “I was thinking in my head, ‘This is weird, but I love it.'”

Vinny also hosted a hot chocolate stand at the park on Saturdays and raised $22,000 to buy a merry-go-round that is wheelchair accessible.

Because I like to help lots of people,” explained Vinny. “I just don’t want to help myself all the time.” Vinny’s attitude and actions give hope and serve as our example to share our blessings.

Readers may contribute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation (www.wish.org) to help make wishes of kids like Vinny come true. You never know when your gift may go beyond a wish to hope.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do it.”  (Proverbs 3:27)

“A generous person will be prosperous,
and one who gives others plenty of water will himself be given plenty.”  (Proverbs 11: 25)

“And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  (Hebrews 13:16)

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”  (Booker T. Washington)

WALKER MOORE: WISDOM AND HOPE

I have enjoyed reading Walker Moore’s writings for years. He has amused, blessed, challenged, dared, and educated me — usually all at the same time! I can go through the alphabet with words describing his positive effects on our planet. He has impacted so many around the world including me.

In this week’s Rite of Passage article (3/11/2121) called “A Child’s Wisdom,” Walker wrote, “Unrestrained fear can chew up your peace, hope, and security.” Then this man who has been writing articles and producing Bible studies for decades admitted personal fears. He publicly confessed his fear of writing and deeper fear of failure.

In this article he shared how a child reminded him, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1: 7). He shifted the focus from fear to faith. That’s what Bible verses do for him.

God teaches him through Scripture: “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me (Philippians 4: 13).

God rescues him with Scripture: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34: 5); “The Lord is my Strength and my Shield” (Psalm 28: 7a); “When I am afraid I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56: 3).

Lies focused on fear dissipate when one focuses on God’s Truth. That which Walker began in fear, he ends in trust. God can do the same for us. Despite partial truths in the lies, God’s Truth reminds us there is no need to fear.

It is true, I can’t do it — but God can.
It is true, I am weak — but He is strong.
It is true, I am shallow — but He is my depth.
It is true, I don’t know what to say — but He will fill my mind and mouth.
It is true, I have no direction — but He is the Way and the Truth.
It is true, I am not worthy — but He has made me worthy.” (Walker Moore)

The March 11, 2121, article concludes with wisdom from a child. When we trust God, the four-year-old is right: “There’s not’ing to be ‘fraid of.”

[I appreciate Walker Moore for trusting God and for sharing hope. His weekly articles may be read at baptistmessenger.org.]

SCRIPTURE:  COMFORT, ENCOURAGEMENT, HOPE

I read a quote by John MacArthur about Scripture that I believe is accurate and true. I also believe it is needed today and is especially helpful as we are clearly living in the midst of one of “the trials of life.”

If you want to understand your hope, you go to the Word of God. And your hope is clearly defined in Scripture. I find comfort and encouragement from the Scripture because it gives me hope in the midst of all the trials of life.”  (John MacArthur)

Some examples of Bible verses that bring comfort and encouragement are included below. They give hope to those who seek to find it. They give strength when God’s help is needed to endure and get through life’s trials — even a global pandemic.

Do not fear for I am with you;
Do not be afraid for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will also help you,
I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  (Isaiah 41:10)

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:38-39)

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge just as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you so that you are not lacking in any gift as you eagerly await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will also confirm you to the end blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful through Whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (2 Corinthians 1: 3-9)

There are many more Scripture verses to bless your heart. I hope readers will begin or continue a lifelong search to find that which is needed for life’s trials. Meditate often on these verses and discover a personal favorite. Romans 8:28 is one verse that happens to give me comfort, encouragement, and hope anytime no matter the trial I face.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8: 28)