Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 23 - Resurrection Hope

Today's Reading:
Judges 2:10-3:31
Acts 22:17-23:10
Psalm 68:28-35
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Acts 23:6-8

6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead." 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)

Is resurrection possible? Is the resurrection of Jesus true? Is it provable? Is it reasonable to believe? If Jesus is the Christ and he did indeed rise from the dead, what does it mean for the way we live, and the way we view the world? For the Apostle Paul, it meant being attacked and imprisoned. His belief in the resurrection challenged the beliefs and power structures of the Jewish community. It created all sorts of social, religious, civic, and political controversy.

Faith and hope in the resurrection of Jesus was seen by many as threatening and divisive. It was also transformational, fulfilling, life-giving, and motivational to those who believed.

Response and Action:I believe in the resurrection of Jesus. I believe he is the Christ, the son of the living God. I believe he is alive and that he is at the right hand of the Father. I believe he will come again to judge the living and the dead and that his Kingdom will have no end.

My faith in Jesus is central to the way I see the world, the way I live my life--my values, my hopes, my motivation, my actions, my ethics, and my beliefs. My view of the resurrection is a dividing line. It makes me different socially, politically, and religiously from most people in the world. It also makes me more hopeful, more alive, and more motivated.

Faith in the resurrection of Jesus is outrageous and seismic in its implications. I should not be surprised when it causes division, friction, strain, or controversy.

O God, thank you for Jesus who, although he existed in the very form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped, but instead emptied himself. He took the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of humanity. He was humble and obedient to the point of death--even death on the cross. You raised him and exalted him and have given him a name above all names. I bow my knee to you, O Resurrected Christ, and my tongue confesses that you are Lord. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Corinthians 15:14-1522 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
by N. T. Wright

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