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USA Southern Territorial Weekly Devotional

Growing Deeper Together

April 5, 2023
“Do You Believe?”


John 20:1-17; John 20:24-29; Matthew 26:40-41; Mark 8:1-10; Mark 15:33-34; I Corinthians 15:3-9; 
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT (Written by Rick Raymer, Major)
John 20:24-29 (Read First)

Timothy Keller says…

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”                                                            
HE’S ALIVE, MY FRIENDS! And that, simple fact - changes...EVERYTHING!
I grew up in a little community called Drew Park, a suburb of Hillsborough County in Tampa, FL. Right next to one of the runways of the Tampa International Airport. The plane’s coming and going at all hours, and I remember walking from our house right up to the terminal as a kid. You can't do that today.
I also remember sitting atop the box cars, watching these big planes land and take off.
Fast forward to when I moved away, and after a couple of years of being away, I came back to visit, and around 2:00 in the morning, I was awakened to this loud sound, and I thought an airplane was about to crash into my parents’ home. What was so amazing about this was that it happened all the time when I was a kid, but I was so used to it – I became oblivious to the sound. It became familiar to me, and I no longer thought about it. It was a non-issue.
This coming Sunday, we celebrate the RESURRECTION of our Lord and Savior, our Master and redeemer, and for so many, it has become so familiar that it no longer makes a difference in our lives. It’s a non-issue.
Like the planes, we no longer hear the sounds; in this case, the resurrection no longer impacts our lives.
Has it become so blasé in your life – do you even believe that the resurrection happened, and if you do, do those around you know you believe it?
Do You Believe in the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ? I mean, really believe.

We must understand that if the resurrection did not happen, then Christianity is nothing but rubbish; it’s trashy, worthless, and powerless.
And friends, the world would have us believe that the resurrection never happened. That Jesus was just a man. He was not who He claimed to be. He is FAKE NEWS.
Do You Believe in the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ?
C.S. Lewis says…
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
I agree with that – when the sun comes up each day, we feel the warmth of its heat, and we can see everything more clearly. Our God experienced that and all the same emotions, feelings, and sufferings that we did when He took the form of a human being.
From being wrapped in swaddling clothes to being wrapped in grave clothes, and in between these two events, He experienced:
Matthew 26:40-41 (MSG)

Just from looking at these words in Matthew’s gospel, we know that Jesus was lonely…those closest to Him couldn’t stay awake with him for just one hour. They kept falling asleep at a time when their most intimate friend was in one of the darkest moments of His life.
Another question for us is, are you eager and ready for anything God may throw your way, or are you just a lazy old dog sleeping by the fire?
Jesus experienced loneliness not only because of His father but because those who were His closest followers were found asleep when He needed them the most.
Jesus also experienced…
In the 8th chapter of Mark, we see that Jesus was so frustrated with His disciples – He reminds them of the miracles of feeding the 5,000 and 4,000 with very little while the Disciples argue over forgetting the bread for their lunch. Can’t you hear Jesus telling His disciples – Guys, wake up, come on, don’t you get it!  
And He is saying to each of us this right now, children, Wake up! Come on, look at all the miracles I have done and all the “I” witnesses who saw me do them, and you still don’t believe.
And let’s don’t even talk about the miracles that we have all witnessed in our various lives. Jesus is still frustrated with those who claim Him and do not follow Him with everything they’ve got.
WAKE UP! It’s what He desires and requires. Not only did God get lonely and frustrated, but He also felt a deep…
Mark 15:34 (MSG)
You see, God had to abandon Jesus because Jesus took on the sins of mankind – it's our sin that separates us from God because God can not even be in the vicinity of sin. That’s why He sent His son in the first place.
But not only was Jesus abandoned by His Dad but He was also abandoned by most of His closest followers.
Folks, Jesus was fully human and fully God, and it was in His humanity that He experienced all of these emotions…
And in His resurrection, you and I can rise above these emotions and anything else that satan throws our way and experience the power of His resurrection. When we believe and have entirely accepted His invitation to follow Him, we can conquer anything that comes our way.
So, let’s return to what occurred on that first Easter over 2,000 years ago.
I ask you again…Do You Believe?
HE’S ALIVE, FOLKS! THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST REALLY DID HAPPEN! And it was a radical event. DO YOU BELIEVE? I pray that this coming Sunday as you celebrate the Resurrection - you will remove the question mark from DO YOU BELIEVE? and make it a statement - I DO BELIEVE!
1 Corinthians 15:3-9 MSG
Matthew Carter says:
“The resurrection of Jesus Christ stands unrivaled as the most radical event in human history.” When a radical change happens in someone's life…everything changes, and their future is very different because of it.
It’s certainly the case with Jesus.
You and I change for many reasons, but the transformation we see in the disciples’ lives is irrefutable evidence that they believed they had encountered the living Christ Jesus. 
Pete Briscoe says:
Remember the disciples back in the Garden of Gethsemane? At the first threat of real danger, “everyone deserted him and fled.”
But then, “Bam!” Just like that, something changed. These guys became radical and fearless, willing to give their lives in the name of Jesus Christ.
This encounter with the living Christ transformed them from men hiding behind “doors locked for fear of the Jews” into an unstoppable team. History and tradition show us that the disciples were tortured, exiled, and killed because they wouldn’t shut up about their encounter with the resurrected Christ.
Many of them were crucified – Peter was crucified upside down because he felt he was not worthy to die as his Master did. I thought it was interesting that Thomas who did not believe unless he saw the nail prints and the place where the spear went into His side – dies himself from a spear thrust into his side.
All of the Disciples were willing to die because of the transformative radical change within each of their lives due to the resurrection of Jesus Christ!                                                                        
And the question remains Do You Believe?
And more importantly, do you live a life as one who believes that Jesus’s resurrection really happened and the grave is indeed empty?
I just want EVERYONE TO KNOW  that only YOU can honestly answer that question. The following are lyrics to a chorus. If you know the chorus sing it out like you really believe it. 
“He is Lord”

He is Lord; He is Lord.
He has risen from the dead, and He is Lord.
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.



Father, we step into Your presence on purpose because You give us the privilege of doing so. Because of Your resurrection, this great miracle, this incredible feat – we who call upon Your name, we who believe that You died for our sins and rose from the dead, will have eternal life with You forever!
So, we ask You to give us the peace to ponder this, the passion to envision this, and the faith to live out the truth that You indwell us, all because of Your resurrection! Open our eyes so that we might see Jesus and our ears so that we might listen and obey. We make this prayer in Your glorious name, amen.



If you know of someone who is homeless or suffering in some way from pain, loss, or depression, take time this week to share what Easter is all about and how it has changed your life. 


Sin does not leap upon us fully armed. It steals in through a look, a swift, silent suggestion, or imagination, but love and loyalty to Jesus will make you watchful and swift to rise up and cast out the subtle enemy. Do this and you shall live, and live victoriously.

                                                           - Samuel Logan Brengle, Commissioner
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Rick Raymer, Major
Territorial Spiritual Life Development Officer/THQ Chaplain
USA Southern Territory
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