Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 4:11 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, My Savior.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 28 (NIV). He has Risen! After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Jesus Christ, God the Son, had just died on the cross for our sins a few days prior to this. When he died, he took upon himself the sins of the entire world. He crucified our sins with him, and he buried them with him, but when he rose from the dead, he conquered death, hell, Satan and sin. Amen! He died so that we might be saved from eternal damnation, from slavery to sin, and from the control of Satan over our lives. He also died so that we would have the hope of eternal life with him in glory, and so we would be set free to walk in his righteousness and holiness, living to please God. Amen! Jesus died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). Yet, he did not remain in the grave. Hallelujah! He was resurrected from the dead. And, he showed himself to many before he ascended back to heaven. The first to see him, according to this account, were Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. They had gone to look at Jesus’ tomb, but what they saw was unexpected. There was an earthquake, and an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled back the stone to the entrance of the tomb. The angel spoke to the women. He told them not to be afraid. He knew they were looking for Jesus, who was crucified, so he told the women the good news that Jesus had risen, just as he said he would. The angel then invited them to come and see the place where Jesus had been laid. I am a woman, so I love these stories of how God/Jesus honored and valued women, and how he used them in ministry to advance the kingdom of heaven, and to spread the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was not just by chance that the first to discover Jesus had risen from the dead were women. I believe God planned it that way. And, it is also not accidental that women were the first to announce his resurrection, or that they were sent to give this message to the apostles. God always has a plan and a purpose for how he does things, and his ways are not always the ways humans would choose. Go Quickly! Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” The angel of God instructed the women to “go quickly” and tell his disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead and that he was going ahead of them into Galilee. So, the women hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples. They were afraid, yet joyful. I wonder what they feared. Women were not always highly regarded in those days. Perhaps they feared the rejection of the disciples, or that no one would believe them. In Luke’s account of this story, he said that the disciples did not believe the women, because their words seemed like nonsense to them. Still today, even in our modern society, women are sometimes treated as though they are unimportant or as though they lack intelligence or common sense merely because they are female. So, from a female perspective, I can identify with the women in their apprehension in taking this message to the disciples, but I can also identify with them in their joy at the news that Jesus was alive! Yet, the women obeyed and went, even knowing that their message may be met with resistance and that they may not be believed. Amen! And, Jesus met them on the way. Awesome! I love how he does that with me. He sends me out. He gives me the words to say. I know that the messages he gives me to share may meet with resistance, or that I may be treated as though I am foolish, or that I may be disregarded merely because I am a female, yet Jesus always is there offering words of encouragement to me to spur me on, and to remind me that he created me for a purpose, and that I am to fulfill that purpose for which he created me. This then that I do is his purpose for me, just like it was in his design and purpose that these women would be the first to see he had risen, and the first to take the good news to his disciples. Jesus told them not to be afraid, but to go and tell his disciples what he wanted them to tell them. He does the same with me. Amen! While On The Way While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. The women had just seen an angel of God, who showed them the empty tomb where Jesus had been laid. They had just received instructions from the angel to go tell the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. Jesus had just appeared to them on the way to comfort, encourage and to reassure them. He spoke tenderly to them, telling them not to be afraid, but to go and tell his disciples to go to Galilee, and there they would see him. Awesome! I love it when he works this way with me, too, always encouraging and leading me forward. Yet, while they were on their way, Satan was at work, too. When the guards reported all that had happened, the chief priests and elders met together and devised a scheme to discredit the good news and its messengers. They made up a lie to counteract the truth, hoping that the lie would be believed, and that people would reject the truth. And, that is how it is still today. When God moves us in a direction in our lives, and we are visited in the Spirit within us in calling us to ministry, and we answer that call, and we go, Satan is already working behind the scenes to try to stop us, to try to discredit us, and to try to bring the message of the gospel into disrepute. Yet, Jesus is always there to encourage us, to urge us on, to give us hope, to calm our fears, and to strengthen our faith. All Authority Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The reason we are able to share our testimonies of God’s saving grace, and the reason we can speak boldly, even in the face of great opposition, concerning the gospel of our salvation, is because of the authority given Jesus by God the Father. Since we have Jesus Christ living within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, we have the authority of the living Word inside us giving us all we need to speak confidently and with assurance the message of the gospel of our salvation as taught by Jesus and the apostles. We also have the authority of Jesus Christ to go forth and to make disciples (followers) of Christ of people of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey everything that Christ has commanded us. It is the authority of the Word of God by which we speak, and by which we present the message of our salvation, and it is the Word of God which convicts the hearts of sinners. As well, it is the Spirit of God which draws human hearts to God/Jesus. The Word of God says, concerning this great salvation, that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith. This is not of ourselves; not of human works, lest anyone should boast that he or she earned or deserved their own salvation (See Eph. 2:8-10). Yet, it is not free of works, for v. 10 states that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. As well, scripture takes great effort to describe for us what this faith looks like. Paul was called of Jesus Christ to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was told that he was to open eyes that are blind, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are made holy in Christ Jesus (See Ac. 26:16-18). This is the essence of the gospel of our salvation, to turn from our sin to the light of God’s truth and his saving grace, and from the power of Satan over our lives to walks of faith in Jesus Christ, living and walking in his holiness and righteousness. This is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives in regeneration, and not of our own doing, yet we must cooperate fully with God’s work of grace by submitting to the cross of Christ, by dying with Christ to the sins which once enslaved us, and by putting our complete trust in Christ by following him where he leads us. [Ref: Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; 2 Co. 5:15; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14 & 1 Jn. 1-5] My Jesus, My Savior / Michael W. Smith My Jesus, My Saviour, Lord there is no one like you, All of my days, I want to praise The wonders of Your mighty love. My comfort, my shelter, Tower of refuge and strength Let every breath, all that I am Never cease to worship You.