The writers of Encouraging.com are celebrating their fifteen year landmark by making their 365 daily devotional book, God Moments, available as a free digital download! A total of thirty-six GABC writers have faithfully captured “moments of God’s presence” in their lives to encourage your own spiritual journey. You can find God Moments on amazon.com, iTunes, and BarnesandNoble.com.

He Is Risen!

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 
Mark 16:5-6


After Jesus had died, a follower of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, asked Pilate for his body. Joseph and the others took Jesus to a new tomb in a nearby garden. They rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and left. The religious leaders persuaded Pilate to place guards at the tomb. 

At dawn on the first day of the week, an angel rolled the stone away from the tomb. The guards were paralyzed with fear, and eventually ran away. The women had come to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body with spices, but he was not there. Mary Magdalene immediately ran to tell Peter and John. After she left, angels appeared to the other women to tell them that JESUS IS RISEN! Those women were instructed to tell the other disciples the good news. 

Mary Magdalene found Peter and John, and told them that Jesus body was gone. They ran to the tomb as well. They found only strips of linen grave clothes and then headed back home. 

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. She peered inside the tomb and saw two angels, who asked her why she was crying. Unaware that she was speaking to angels she replied, "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him" (John 20:13). 

Just then Jesus appeared to her, but Mary was so full of grief that she thought he was the gardener. Only when he said her name did she realize he was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!"(which means Teacher) (John 20:16). Imagine her emotions as her grief tuned into celebration!

On that first Easter morning, just as today, Jesus is alive! The King who defeated death and hell also calls each of us by name. We serve a Risen Savior!

Thank you, Jesus, that You save, You live, and You reign! Hallelujah!

Julie Smith

The Trial to the Cross

They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am."
Luke 22:70


After Jesus was arrested, he was taken to Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest. All along, the religious leaders were frightened by Jesus, and worked to get him out of the way.

Jesus walked with his accusers through the valley, up a set of stairs that still exists today, toward Caiaphas’ house. When Jesus testified that he was Messiah, the evidence was formulated to punish him to death. On a cross.

Under this house was an old cistern where prisoners were held. Jesus could have been held for hours. Alone. Waiting for the sentence to be carried out. The pain had already begun.

The religious leaders needed the help of the Romans to carry out their plan. Pilate, the Roman governor, washed his hands of the situation by allowing the crowd to choose the prisoner to be set free. The crowd did not choose Jesus. They were ready to see Jesus crucified. The same crowd who waved palm leaves, shouting, “Hosanna,” were the ones desiring his death.

Jesus, convicted unto death, then was beaten within an inch of his life. He was mocked; a crown of thorns was placed on his head. He carried his cross to the place of the skull. He was nailed to that cross. He felt the weight of every sin, past, present, and future. He suffered more mocking. He knew what it was to be separated from the Father because of sin. Again, alone.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19:30). When Jesus died, the curtain which separated the place in the Temple where God dwelt was torn in two, symbolizing that the way to the Father was made available to all who put their faith in Christ Jesus. There is now no separation. We are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

God knew the plan of salvation. He knew how redemption would be made possible, through the death of his son. Jesus willingly chose to allow himself to be the Passover Lamb so that he could be our Savior.

Thank you, Jesus.

Julie Smith

In the Garden of Gethsemane

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
(Luke 22:42-44 NIV)


After the Last Supper, the group headed across the valley to the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus got alone with the Father to pray. He knew what was in store for him. He knew what kind of pain he would be facing. He asked to not have to go through it, but He also knew this was how redemption would take place. He was the Passover Lamb.

Though it would be awful, Jesus bowed to the will of the Father. He willingly accepted the task at hand. Jesus was so full of anguish that his sweat was drops of blood. He was experiencing the weight of the sin that would be laid upon him. It was no accident that the Garden of Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

Olives were, and still are, a valuable crop produced in that part of the world. The making of olive oil is a difficult process. The olives have to be pressed under enormous weight to produce the oil. Gethsemane actually means olive press. It is only under great pressure that the olive press can produce the oil. Jesus was also under great pressure as he assumed his role.

Jesus also knew the joy that redemption would bring. The promise of bringing those who believe into eternity with him was worth the suffering he was about to face.

As Jesus rose from prayer, he returned to his disciples to find them sleeping. While encouraging them to pray so that they would not fall into temptation, those who came to arrest him arrived. Jesus did not fight. He did not run. He willingly gave himself over to his accusers. For you. For me.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

Julie Smith

The Last Supper

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them.
Mark 14:22-24


Jesus and his disciples were in Jerusalem for the week of Passover. Crowds were everywhere. The Passover was celebrated as a reminder of Israel’s escape from Egypt where the Jews were enslaved. In Exodus the blood of the Passover lamb was painted on the door frames causing the Angel of Death to pass over their houses sparing the firstborn sons.

The disciples did not understand the importance of this last meal with Jesus. The Passover Lamb of God was among them, the final and ultimate sacrifice. His perfect blood would be spilt just like the spotless lambs that came before him.

Jesus explained that the bread symbolized his body, broken for them. He talked about his blood, poured out for many.

As we think on this moment with Jesus, let’s consider what it would have felt like to have been in that very room. Jesus communicates to them that he is only to be with them a little longer. He tells them that they cannot go where he is going.

Let’s put ourselves in Peter’s place. Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (John 13:37-38).

Peter denied knowing the Lord. How many times do I disown Him in my daily life?

Do I live daily as one who is being saved? Do my words and actions represent who Jesus is in my life? Or does my face blend into the crowd like those who do not know him?

Jesus, thank You for being the Passover Lamb. The sin and death that was mine is now exchanged for freedom and eternal life. Thank You for sparing even me. Help me to see others through Your blood as well. 

Julie Smith

Footsteps of Jesus

"Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt."
John 12:15


My favorite Sunday, each and every year, is Easter. I love the celebration. My heart and God’s house is full. I look forward to a morning of worship like no other. Every Easter I know that I am proclaiming that Jesus is ALIVE. Because of the importance of Easter Sunday, I don’t want this day to slip up on me. I want to be ready for it.

I like to meditate on Jesus’ last week on earth as God in flesh. I like to consider where He was each day, the steps He took from riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, to the steps He took out of that tomb. I get to experience the joy and power of my Risen Savior tenfold when I have spent the entire week with Him. I want to experience Him just like those who said to Philip in John12:21, “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”

Jesus and his followers were headed to Jerusalem for the Passover. The crowd took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:13).

I have often wondered why Jesus chose to ride in on a donkey. In those days a king would ride into a town on a donkey to symbolize that he came in peace. Jesus also fulfilled prophecy upon entering the city. Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). This crowd thought Jesus was entering as an earthly king who would fight. The people there did not realize this gentle Savior was ushering in peace for our souls.

Let’s put ourselves in the faces of the crowd. This miracle worker and teacher had to come to save Israel. From the Romans, from abuse, from themselves. The crowd is on edge with anticipation and excitement as to what this man is about to do. 

Jesus, we want to experience You as we think about Your great love and sacrifice this week. Thank you, Jesus.

Julie Smith