The Encouraging Message of The Resurrection

By Charles Stanley


What would you call the most encouraging word ever spoken? It was a single word spoken in Greek, two thousand years ago. We translate it into three English words: He is risen!

Suppose you had been a follower of Jesus during the time He walked in Jerusalem, and that you heard every wonderful word He spoke. How would you have felt when they arrested Him, tried Him unjustly, and crucified Him? Then, imagine your thoughts when that one powerful word was spoken. He is risen!

That, my friend, is the awesome message of the Resurrection. We celebrate it at Easter and on every other day of the year, because it encourages us more than any message could. "Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me" (Isaiah 46:9). There is no one like our God, and no one like our Lord Jesus Christ.

Key Passage: Isaiah 46:5-10

Supporting Scripture:
2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Hebrews 9:11-14, 24-26, 28
John 5:26-29
Ephesians 2:8-10
John 11:24-26
2 Corinthians 5:8
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Revelation 22:1-5
Matthew 17:1-4
1 Peter 2:12
Philippians 3:20-21

Scriptural Principles:

1. We are encouraged because Christ conquered death. When we think of all the prophets who have walked through this world, we think of the fact that every one of them is dead with one exception. What can a dead prophet do for you? Not one single thing. Only Christ has conquered death. His grave is empty, and now He sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. And what is He doing? He is an advocate for us, interceding on our behalf before God. He is also caring for us, because He knows our needs. He lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, guiding us and empowering us. We as believers can rejoice and be encouraged, because He lives today and for all eternity. That's enough reason for you and me to praise God forever!

2. We are encouraged because our sins are forgiven and we are eternally secure. This was the very reason why Jesus came to earth -- not simply to teach, preach, and heal, but to forgive us. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." Every single one of us was separated from God because of our sin, but Christ has brought us back into a loving relationship with our heavenly Father. Our debt of sin has been paid in full at the cross, where Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice, removing the stain of our sin by the shedding of His own blood, as Hebrews 9:11-14 explains.

3. We are encouraged because we are going to live forever. Someone may believe that already, but I might ask that person, "On what basis?" What prophet could get us to heaven, and how? We can have no hope of living a life that's good enough. No one who ever lived, other than Jesus, could claim to have more good works than bad ones. Sin is simply too powerful for us, but God sent His Son into the world not to condemn it but to save it through Him. The Lord Jesus Christ is our only hope of salvation, and if we reject Him we have rejected our only chance to avoid the judgment we will deserve on that final day. Christ gives us the hope of heaven and the encouragement of knowing that we need never fear death.

4. We are encouraged because God will care for our deceased loved ones. Paul's friends, the Thessalonians, wrote him a letter asking him, among other things, what would happen to those friends and family members who had already died. Where are they from now until the final judgment? Paul explained that they are "asleep." They sleep in Jesus, and God will care for them. Our loved ones do not wait in the cold caskets of this world. If they died in Christ as believers, they are in the presence of Almighty God already. One day, when Christ returns, they will be raised in bodily resurrection. We will join them, and we will all be transformed to the redeemed heavenly bodies that we will have for all eternity.

5. We are encouraged because Christ has a special place prepared for us. We are also encouraged because we know there is an eternal home waiting for us. Some people believe there is this life, then nothing afterward. How sad life would be if this was all we were ever going to have! Jesus told His disciples that He couldn't stay in this world because He had the task of going to prepare a place for them (and for us). How did He describe this place? He said that in His Father's house there are many mansions, so we know there is a definite, specific, and wonderful place, rather than somewhere in limbo. The book of Revelation describes a wonderful, beautiful place that is far more than our earthbound minds can possibly imagine. What an awesome encouragement to live every day with that hope!

6. We are encouraged because we will recognize our loved ones in heaven. Many believers ask about this. We might ask them this question in return: Would it be heaven if we could not recognize one another there? If everyone in heaven was a stranger to everyone else, what kind of place would our wonderful Savior have prepared for us? Not a single verse in all of Scripture implies that we will not know our loved ones in eternity. Matthew 17:1-4 tells us how Jesus' closest disciples saw Him transfigured on the mountain, beside Moses and Elijah. He was in His eternal glory, yet the disciples recognized Him. God made family, He made relationships, and gave us the love we have for one another.

7. We are encouraged because God has a special plan for our lives on earth. Isn't it wonderful to know that even as we await that wonderful home in eternity, God has a plan for the present as well? You can have every assurance that He has a specific plan for your life, and that it includes a number of things. He wants you to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and to walk in obedience to His will. He has a plan for you to receive all the good things He has in store for every believer. Finally, His plan is for you to have the pleasure and the honor of bringing glory to His name every day of your life. That's His ultimate goal for you, and it is in your power to accept or reject that wonderful offer from the One who loves you the most of all.


My friend, I cannot imagine why any believer should live a single day of life with a sad or gloomy disposition. We have heard the most encouraging word ever spoken: He is risen! We know that if He is risen, we are too -- not only from the death that awaits every individual, but from the sin and the miseries that this world contains.

Because He is risen, we have the hope of heaven one day, and even if that were our only hope, it would be a wonderful one. We would know that an awesome home awaits us, lovingly prepared by the hands of our Savior. We would know we could look forward to a reunion with our loved ones. Our encouragement is even greater because our Lord lives within us here and now. Glory, hallelujah to the Lord of all encouragement!


The Landmine Of Pride

By Charles Stanley


One of the most destructive weapons an enemy could use against us in war is a landmine. Our enemy, Satan, has laid his landmines in the pathway of every believer. When we step on one of them, it affects our relationship with the Father, our Christian witness, and the way we live our daily life. Because tripping over Satan's landmines can ultimately lead to our self-destruction, we must learn not only to detect and identify them, but also to protect ourselves.

Pride is one of the most treacherous landmines because it is difficult to identify -- we are usually the last to recognize it. Pride is simply the act of overemphasizing ourselves; it reflects a very distorted view of who we are. Instead of looking to God for guidance, we focus on what we think, feel, and want. At its worst, pride can actually prevent us from going to heaven by blinding us to our need for the Savior Jesus Christ.

Scriptural Principles:

1. God's attitude toward pride:

* It is one of the characteristics of Satan himself. Satan said, "I will make myself like the Most High." (Isaiah 14:14) In essence, he said he would make himself like God.

* It brings dishonor. (Proverbs 11:2) Proverbs 29:23 adds, "A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor."

* It is a stumbling block in our lives. Proverbs 16:18 says that "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling."

* It is deceptive. Pride boasts, "I don't need anything." But we do need something -- we need God. Not a single one of us is self-sufficient.

2. What causes pride in a person's life? We give pride a stronghold in our life when we care more about ourselves than about other people or the will of God. Feelings of insufficiency or inadequacy produce fertile ground for seeds of conceit, which serve as a cover-up for our own weakness. Other sources of arrogance are discontentment with God's blessings and a craving for worldly praise. Those who desire power are easily seduced by pride -- when God gives them experiences that will build their character instead of personal affluence, they become resentful and bitter. Failure to recognize that all we have comes from the Father's hand is a grievous oversight; every good thing results from His grace, love, and mercy.

3. The consequences of pride are severe:

* Pride hinders your relationship with the Lord. There is no way for you to have a right relationship with God when you have pride in your life. God hates pride.

* Pride disrupts your relationships with other people. Nobody wants to be around a prideful, egotistical person.

* Pride hampers your effectiveness as a leader. People cannot trust leaders who are focused on their own achievements because they are blinded by conceit.

* Personal ambition obstructs your ability to show fairness. A prideful person shows favoritism toward people who build his or her ego, people who belittle themselves in order to gain acceptance. That is not how a child of God treats others.

* Pride hinders the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Once pride enters our life, we stop praying because we don't think we need God anymore.

* Pride compromises your rewards in heaven. God will judge us by our motives. If pride has motivated our actions, we will lose our heavenly rewards. God will not bless your arrogance; He will wait until you turn your focus from yourself and seek Him.

* Pride keeps the unbeliever out of heaven. Failing to believe in the God who created you is an act of pride that will keep you from an eternity in heaven.

4. Pride shows itself in many ways. A person who strives to be number one and always has to be the center of attention may suffer from pride. Prideful people also shrink from doing menial tasks, but the Christian should remember that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. A self-important person does not delight in the success of others, is hesitant to admit fault or offer an apology, and does not accept criticism. Love of prominence also results from pride. An arrogant person will ignore those less fortunate, choosing instead to acquaint himself with rich or influential people. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fall short of God's glory, and that He loves each of us, regardless of our social standing.

5. How should we deal with pride? The first step to avoiding this landmine is recognizing it. When we honestly identify areas of pride in our life, confess our sin to God, and repent specifically, we take ground from the Enemy. Serving others, remembering our humble origins, recalling the life God has saved us from, and finding our identity in Christ (rather than from the approval of others) are tangible measures we can take to regain a proper sense of meekness. The ultimate correction of pride is adversity. In order to deal successfully with pride, pray for God to send into your life whatever is necessary to mold you into a reflection of His Son. In that way, you can accomplish what the Lord desires of you.

6. The ultimate correction of pride is adversity. We know that the opposite of pride is humility. Proverbs 11:2 tells us that "When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom." So how do you acquire humility in order to combat arrogance? The ultimate correction for conceit is adversity. Pray for God to send into your life whatever is necessary to mold you into a reflection of His Son. If pride has a stronghold in your life, then God may use hardship to strike it out. But if you humble yourself to His work, you will become worthy of the greatest applause -- His praise. It is in our weakness that He is made strong.


When God brings us to a place of total dependence upon Him, everything we have relied upon before -- including the praise and acceptance from others -- turns to ashes. The only thing that matters is our relationship with Him.

Pride, which caused Satan's downfall, is also his most dangerous weapon against us. He said, "I will make myself like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:14). When we seek to be in charge of our own circumstances -- as Satan did-- we fall headfirst into the landmine of pride.

Make Proverbs 27:2 a rule to live by: "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth." Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to be cautious, alert, and wise. You do not want to step on the landmine of pride, which can render you ineffective, cause you to self-destruct, or hinder your relationship with God.


"Active Positivism"

By Flor B. Conopio

These days, if we want to remain in sanity amidst difficulties and seemingly endless predicaments that engulf and overwhelm us, we must learn and practice "active positivism," says Manila Bulletin columnist, Zenaida Amador, in one of her columns. According to her, active positivism is looking at the bright, not at the dark, side of life. The first thing that can lead us to active positivism is the counting of God's blessings in our individual lives. We need to audit and monitor the resources at our command. We need to find our what we could thank the Lord for instead of what we need to gripe and complain about.

Many times conflict arises in our relationship with one another when we focus on the weakness, and not on the strengths, of our fellowmen.

Active positivism is considering a person's potentials and possibilities instead of considering one's inadequacies. If we believe, truly believe, that each of us is created in God's image, then we should also believe that each one of us is possessed with the goodness and excellence that come from God.

When, therefore, we judge an individual and criticize him, do we not become judgmental and critical of God's creative handiwork? We also miss the opportunity to get a vision of the beauty of God which we can experience in the community of His people. This is because each of us is bequeathed with a goodness that comes from our Creator. Each of us is distinctly blessed in a different way. God's glory and character are revealed in each one of us' we only have to focus on the good in our individual selves.

This is possibly why the apostle Paul wants us to consider only the things that are "lovely, honest, pure and of good report" in our surroundings and in our fellowship with one another (Philippians 4:8). The apostle wants us to practice and experience active positivism.

I would not have enjoyed 35 years of unbroken service in my work if I had not in some way practiced active positivism. Let us each one practice active positivism.