April 12, 2023
Christ is Risen! You and I live from that transcendent reality today! This week, The Equipped will navigate some difficult happenings in our world, but you serve a risen Savior Who has conquered death and now lives in and through you!
Live like the Tomb is Empty!
“Do you live like the tomb is empty?” If you are like me, you’ve heard the question posed many times. However, it struck me with a bit more intensity when our pastor asked it of us during his Resurrection Sunday sermon. His question prompted the memory of Luke 24, which our family read on the way to church that morning. In the passage, Jesus has just risen from the dead, but His followers are not yet aware of it. When Jesus appears to Simon and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus, He finds them “downcast” (Luke 24:17). Even though these two men know Jesus was prophesied to rise on the third day, and even though they have heard reports of an empty tomb (Luke 24:22-24), they were still living as though their Messiah was dead and in the grave.
Jesus was alive! He was with them! He was walking and talking with them! And yet, their actions were predicated on a belief He was still dead.
What about you today? On Sunday, you and I celebrated the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and the fact that He is alive today. You believe that in your mind, and I pray you believe it in your heart, as well. But does your life reflect that belief? Are your actions and your reactions inspired by an actual belief that your Savior is Risen? Do your words and your interactions communicate that your Lord is alive and active in you and in the world around you?
My friends, Jesus is alive! He is really and actually alive! The tomb is really and actually empty! It is not a time for us to continue to give death any power over our lives. It is time for us to be fully alive, and to live fully from the reality that the tomb is empty! Like Simon and Cleopas, once downcast because of death, let us now proclaim, “It is true! The Lord has risen!” (Luke 24:34).
Let us proclaim it, and then let us live it!
A large number of highly sensitive U.S. intelligence documents appear to have been leaked to the general public through a variety of social networking channels. The documents appear to include classified information about both U.S. surveillance operations and military strategy. The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the leak, and intelligence officials in both the U.S. and the international community have initiated a process to assess the vulnerabilities the leak has created.
Analysis: From a policy perspective, a leak of this nature has the potential to do significant harm to the intelligence capacity of the U.S. It is highly likely that both sources and methods have been significantly compromised as a result of the leak. This has a direct impact on our nation’s ability to interrupt the hostile plans of our adversaries.
As Jesus followers, this story serves as a good reminder about where we should place our confidence. While a strong national defense and robust intelligence capabilities might both be noble goals to pursue, our trust and confidence is to be placed in God (Jer. 17:7).
Tragedy in Louisville
Six people are dead, and several more injured, after a gunman—identified as an employee—opened fire during a Monday morning staff meeting at a Louisville, KY bank. Four victims died at the scene, and a fifth passed away from her injuries later in the day. The gunman was killed by an exchange of gunfire as law enforcement responded to the scene.
Eternal perspective: These stories are difficult to write about, difficult to read, and difficult to understand, even against an eternal backdrop. As a Jesus follower, you can know peace even in the midst of great tribulation (John 16:33). That peace is also a transcendent gift you can offer to those experiencing extreme grief and loss. We do not fully understand why these horrific acts occur, but God promises that His peace is strong enough to overcome even the most disorienting evil (Philip. 4:7).
Expelled and Reinstated
One of two expelled Tennessee state representatives, Justin Jones, has been reinstated after the Nashville Council appointed him to serve until a special election to fill the seat is held. The second expelled legislator, Justin Pearson, may be similarly appointed and reinstated soon.
The two expulsions occurred after Reps. Jones, Pearson, and a third state representative, Gloria Johnson, led a protest and disrupted proceedings on the House floor. In a letter to his colleagues, Rep. Pearson acknowledged “not following decorum,” but insisted his actions were justified.
Analysis: It is a gift from God to live in a free and democratic society. That gift, however, is messy—a fact we’ve witnessed on both the federal and state levels in recent years. The freedom to protest and disagree with our government is foundational to our democratic republic. The ability of our institutions to carry out their official business is equally foundational to our system of government, and these two governing pillars are often at tension with each other.
While citizens on all sides of the debates that create these clashes grapple with how to navigate through them, we as Jesus followers should do the difficult work of preserving both foundational pillars—the right to dissent and the authority to conduct official business. This will at times be unpopular to many on all sides, but that is a burden of this beautiful form of government.
I encourage you to read Romans 12:9-21 for inspiration on how to navigate this very difficult tension.
There is no beauty quite like the cross. Beauty and suffering are so often intertwined, but never more so than at the cross. As you live from a beauty and a strength drawn from serving a risen Savior, be encouraged today by these words penned long ago by John Newton:
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopped my wild career.
I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood;
He fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath,
Shall I forget that look!
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.
A second look He gave, which said,
"I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou mayest live."
Thus while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too!
The "news" is difficult. But the tomb is empty, and Jesus is alive in you! Let's live from that beautiful reality!
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