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EASTER TESTIMONIES

The men thought the women’s testimonies “were nonsense,” “an idle tale,” and they did not believe them. (Luke 24:11) Darrell Bock says that the Greek word that Luke the physician used to describe their incredulity means “the delirious talk of the very ill.”(I love this! Thank you Dr. Luke!)

Tim Keller says if this was a fabrication, the fabricators never would have written women into it for women were not considered to be reliable witnesses. The reason women were recorded as the very first witnesses is because women were the very first witnesses.

When the men heard the report, they couldn’t believe — but then, something stirred in their souls — and then, oh, how they ran. Artists have wonderful renditions of Peter and John running to the empty tomb. “Could it be?”

Liz Lemon Swindle: Repartee Gallery
Liz Lemon Swindle: Repartee Gallery
Eugene Bernard, Swiss, 1850-1921
Eugene Bernard, Swiss, 1850-1921

Easter morning is often a time of testimonies to declare the power of God. The same power that brought Jesus back from the dead is the power that changes our lives.

Usually Easter testimonies tell of when one was first born-again. But this Lent we have been considering how the gospel is not only the way into Christianity, but the power to change us every day of our lives. For we all have a tendency to retreat, to turn back to our idols, to use self-salvation strategies, and to betray the Lord of our lives. Peter knew this so well.

peters-denial
Michael O’Brien, Peter’s Denial www.studioObrien.com

 

Peter had boasted that even if all the disciples denied him, he would never deny him.

But when we get afraid, we often retreat to a “self-salvation” strategy, finding our own way to feel secure, instead of trusting the Lord. But the Lord does not forsake us. Jesus had told Peter that Satan was going to “sift” him, but that Jesus would pray for him. How tender is our Lord when after the resurrection He tells the women, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter…”

And then the moment on the beach when Jesus sought Peter out to tenderly reinstate him.

ontheshore

 Peter had denied him three times. Gently, Jesus probed — now that Peter had been humbled, Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” He humbled him and then reinstated him to “feed my sheep.” What would Peter’s cardboard testimony have looked like? Perhaps:

Petercardboard

Elizabeth gave us a link last week on an article about Peter from Julie Silander. These were her closing words:

Yes, I’m comforted by the story of Peter’s denial. It’s the story of us all. His mutiny came as no surprise to Jesus, nor does mine. From the creation of time, He knew that this dark event would occur. It was simply the outer manifestation of the inner battle of all men.

We’re divided, fickle creatures.
We’re limited.
We’re selfish.
We’re self-preserving.
We’re in need of a Savior.

So as we dart about cutting off ears, speaking resolutely of our steadfast faith, and proclaiming dedication, there is the inevitable other side to the well-intentioned coin. Eventually, we’ll all find ourselves lurking in the shadows.

Yet we have no reason to fear. The work has been done. We have been forgiven. He sees us in our entirety and cannot be taken by surprise.  We can move from the darkness into the light with confidence.  Not in ourselves, but in the One who will come again to banish shame, fear, and every other form of darkness into the eternal abyss.

 

So this is your week to give testimonies. Thanks to all who sent them! Even one from one of our silent bloggers, Cheryl, who is the wife of the President of Moody Bible Institute.

Personal note from Dee: Easter blessings to all. Annie pleaded with me to come and to pray she would go into labor. I did and she did. Isn’t God so good and personal and mindful of us? Appreciate prayers for her and the baby. I’m with her little girl and she and her husband are at the hospital waiting for this little girl to come into the world.

EASTER SUNDAY

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Testimonies:

    A. Tell us a way you experienced the presence of this Holy Week or Holy Easter Day.

     B. Tell us just one specific way you are understanding the gospel better and how it might apply to a specific area of your life.

The Keller sermon this week is optional. I am always heartened by hearing again evidences that it REALLY HAPPENED. In this sermon he talks about the witnesses — the 500 — the disciples who all gave “Easter testimonies.” He asks, “If the message was this is all a beautiful metaphor — that spring gives us hope, that with every death is a new life — would that have turned the world upside down? I think not!” Here is the link, if you would like to listen — it’s not free.

MONDAY-FRIDAY: YOUR TESTIMONIES

Time to hear and respond to your testimonies! Take a couple a day and respond. And let’s begin with you!

3. Tell us as you look back and review this Lenten journey, one specific way you are being changed. It can be monumental or small — simply an evidence that the Spirit of God is working in you. (And feel free to come back through the week and share another specific.)

Nanci J’s testimony:

Nancij

4. Comment on Nanci’s testimony. Can you identify? Are you experiencing His approval and is it setting you free? Explain.

Rhonda’s testimony:

Rhonda

5. Comment on Rhonda’s testimony. Can you identify? Our default mode is to build our own “righteousness” in what we do, what we accomplish. Are you being delivered? Explain.

WATCH THIS:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubGCISQQ7ZoShare

Becky’s testimony:

Beckycardboard

6. Becky’s testimony was interesting to me. I’ll let her comment. One thought I had was in regard to those who have been in prison. Often they truly are changed, as was my nephew, as was the younger brother when he returned — but the family holds them at length. Their God never does. He reinstates. He covers them. Comment.

Rebecca’s testimony:

Rebeccacardboard

7. Rebecca’s testimony, like Nanci’s, is about human approval — but with a little different slant — showing us the price our idols demand. Comment. Can you identify?

Cheryl’s testimony (Cheryl is one of our silent bloggers — the dear friend for whom I prayed when I moved to Kansas City — though then her husband was tapped to be the President of Moody Bible Institute and they moved to Chicago.)

cherylnyquist

8. Comment on Cheryl’s testimony. Can you identify? What help do you see in this?

Jill’s Testimony: (I love seeing her. I told her it helps us to know her, our new blogger, better. I teased her that the red hair goes with the temper, but in Christ, anything is possible! And now — look at the peace!)

Jillcardboard testimony

9. Comment on Jill’s testimony. Can you identify? What do you learn from it?

Dawn M. S. testimony:

Dawnmscardboard

10. Comment on Dawn M. S. testimony. Can you identify?

Joyce from Nebraska (our Barnabas!) sent these two pictures. One of her sweet face, so radiant in Him.

Scan (6)

jesus-hugging-girl-1

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11. Comment on Joyce’s testimony. Can you identify?

This is from Deanna from Ohio:

DeannafromOhio

12. Isn’t it interesting what a common theme we see with acceptance? Comment on Deanna’s testimony and also this theme

The Gospel is like a diamond hung on a gossamer thread from heaven — each time it turns you see another color, another facet. It shows us how bad we are, how loved we are, how prone we are to self-salvation strategies, how He is the One who can really rescue us, how He will cover us with His righteousness — the Gospel has power that we do not have.

11. Challenge question: How can you see how applying a facet or facets of the gospel diamond is the solution to each of the above problems? Give two examples.

12. If you listened to the Keller message, share your thoughts.

SATURDAY:

13. What is your take-a-way and why?

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336 comments

  1. 7. Rebecca’s testimony, like Nanci’s, is about human approval – but with a little different slant – showing us the price our idols demand. Comment. Can you identify?

    When we are blocked from our idols, it does make us anxious and despairing – along with a host of other things – worry, anger, depression, even feeling physically ill. I can remember all too well past family crises that involved people being mad at each other and everyone talking about the other behind their backs, and how it would eat at me and consume my thoughts and distract me and steal my peace. What was especially hard for me was when my two boys went through those high school years and started to pull away from me and if they said something unkind, it felt like the worst kind of rejection.
    I’ve learned so much here about where to find my real approval – it’s still sinking-in. I’ve learned how to speak the truth to my soul when I feel the stamp of disapproval on me.

    8. Comment on Cheryl’s testimony. Can you identify? What help do you see in this?

    I can identify with turning to other things, instead of to Jesus, for comfort. It can be rewarding myself with a special bakery treat to comfort myself when I am feeling down or lonely or bored. I see hope in Cheryl’s testimony because she is turning to Jesus who loves her when she is hurting and has decided not to replace His sweet comfort with the temporary comfort of food. That’s the key – the food’s comfort is only temporary, but when we go to Jesus, we are building something that is lasting.

  2. 9. Comment on Jill’s testimony. Can you identify? What do you learn from it?

    I agree with Dee – I love seeing Jill’s beautiful face! She is a lovely woman and her testimony is really powerful. I don’t know what Jill’s fear and hurt are from, but I can identify with being fearful about things and also with being hurt, and with getting angry as a way to deal with it. The anger seems to give you something else to focus your energy on and masks the fear and pain for awhile. I find it easy to project the anger onto someone else, too, blaming them for the way I’m feeling. I learn that I don’t have to try to protect myself with anger, but that I can be vulnerable and go to the God who is on my side because of Jesus.

    10. Comment on Dawn M.S. testimony. Can you identify?

    I really like Dawn’s cardboard – how she links all three idols together and I can really see how it’s a “chain reaction” – not getting approval leads to losing my comfort leads to wanting desperately to control my environment to restore the balance!
    Oh, I can identify with this. Example is recently someone said something about me that put me in a bad light – I was extremely uncomfortable with feeling disapproval of others/questioning my motives – I went into “damage control mode”, as in explaining myself, talking about it to everyone, making sure my approval was restored – that everyone was okay with me again. Why didn’t I just go to the Lord about it? Even when I am in the wrong, I don’t lose His approval.

    1. Susan, you and I have the same “knee jerk” reaction. Even after I take it to the Lord, I still want to go around and talk to everyone and try to make myself look better.
      “Even when I am in the wrong, I don’t lose His approval.” I need to have that drilled into my head at least 500 times a day!

  3. 11. Comment on Joyce’s testimony. Can you identify?

    Love to see Joyce’s radiant face! Joyce has written here about the hard struggles she faces every day in caring for a special-needs daughter and her constant back pain and much more…I know one of the things she deals with is isolation; not being able to have much face-to-face fellowship with other believers and not being able to get out of the home much. I hear her pain in “I felt empty…” I love the visual picture God gave her of being in the arms of Jesus and realizing He is right there in her home with her. It would be encouraging to us all to keep that visual in our minds of Jesus being with us wherever we are.

  4. Lately i’ve been reading about King David and his family. Becky’s comment reminded me about how the king refused to completely accept Absalom after inviting him back after the murder of his brother. Had Absalom’s heart changed? We’ll never know. But his father’s attitude did nothing to encourage him.
    Some things do not change.