Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lessons from a Dead Lawn - Aeriate

We are musing over the dead lawn that I have. We saw in Job 12:7 (HCSB) "But ask the animals, and they will instruct you; ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you." We then compared this verse with learning spiritual lessons from a lawn that had "winterkill." And in this, we considered the fact that when we allow the frost, snow, and ice of life, and the variance of being hot or cold for Jesus, we spiritually can experience winterkill. Not loss of salvation, but the loss of relationship and the beauty of it. We discovered to restore the lawn it would take me doing some things - rake, aeriate, seed, water, and wait. We then spoke yesterday about raking the dead things that come between us and the Savior. The dead needs to be removed before the joy can be restored.

The next step in the process to restore my lawn is aerating. When you aeriate the lawn, you puncture or cut slits in the soil to allow the air and nutrients to sink in. One definition for the word aerate that I found said it is to expose to the action or circulation of the air, so as to purify. For the new seeds and grass to germinate, it needs the water, nutrients, and air to reach the roots - to allow the grass to feed and grow strong.

The Bible in Hosea 10:12 states - "I said, 'Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.'" Plow up the hard ground of your hearts. God says that we sometimes need to be aerated - to have our sinful, hardened hearts plowed up, softened, and prepared to receive the seed. Just as the ground can become hardened and keep out that which is good, our very beings can also become this way. Consider that the Holy Spirit is compared by Jesus to the wind (John 3:8). The Greek word for spirit and wind are the same. The Hebrew word for spirit and breath is the same. So, we need to have the Spirit (Holy Spirit, air) allowed back into our life - to as the definition above says to purify. Just removing the dead stuff will not automatically bring in the joy. Jesus warns in Luke 11:26 about not filling the person with the Holy Spirit in place of our own sinful ways.

So, ponder that we need to rake the dead out and aeriate our hearts to prepare for the next step - seeding. Today, seek to be sure that your hearts have been plowed and prepared to receive the seed - and join back tomorrow to muse over the seed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lessons from a Dead Lawn - Rake

Yesterday, we mused over the dead lawn that I have. We saw in Job 12:7 (HCSB) "But ask the animals, and they will instruct you; ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you." We compared this verse with learning spiritual lessons from a lawn that had "winterkill." And in this, we mused over the fact that when we allow the frost, snow, and ice of life, and the variance of being hot or cold for Jesus, we spiritually can experience winterkill. Not loss of salvation, but the loss of relationship and the beauty of it. We discovered to restore the lawn it would take me doing some things - rake, aeriate, seed, water, and wait.

Today, consider the idea of raking. My wife and I spent two days raking the dead material out of my lawn. We have a small mountain of brown dead grass piled at the curbside. Before the restoration of our lawn can take place, we had to remove the dead to make room for the new grass to grow. So, after much work, leaving us with sore backs, blistered and sore hands, and the need for some extra rest - the dead lawn has been removed, and is ready for the next step.

So, how does this have to do with regaining the joy of one's salvation (Psalms 51:12)? Well, before God can grow our joy again, we must first remove the deadness from our souls. The sin that we have allowed into our lives must be "raked" away. This is not often easy, in fact it can take great work. We must look into ourselves and discover any thing that comes between God and ourselves (Psalms 66:18 KJV - "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me....") And then, we must confess that sin (1 John 1:9) and allow God to expose any other areas that we need to rake out of our lives. This process can be painful at times - we have the tendency to want to hold on to things that often displease God - and He has to cut them out of us. Once we have allowed God to excise from us the iniquity we harbor, we are ready for the next step - aeration.

Muse over the need to rake out of your life those things that hinder your joy of the beauty of the relationship with Christ. And, if necessary, spend some time in repentance and confession before God today. Join me tomorrow when we discuss the next step - aeration.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lessons from a Dead Lawn

I am sitting in my Study, looking out my Patio doors that overlook the front yard. Generally as I look on this view, I see Crepe Myrtles, Azaleas, and Camilla Bushes. I also enjoy a beautiful carpet of Centipede grass.

However, today I see the trees, shrubs, and bushes - surrounding a basically brown lawn. I am enjoying my neighbors beautiful lawns - but something is drastically wrong with mine. Having called in the lawn service, I was informed that I have "winterkill." In other words, my lawn is basically dead. Centipede grass does not take kindly to snow, ice, frost, and cold temperatures - especially when they vary between warm and cold. It doesn't hit all places - thus my neighbors green grass. In fact, looking closely you can find a sprig of grass here and there. So, I asked what can be done. The service said that I needed to rake, aeriate, seed, water, and wait. Sounds like a lot of work.

As I thought over what I was told, I found some spiritual lessons to be taken from this event. In Job 12:7 (HCSB) we read, "But ask the animals, and they will instruct you; ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you." I am sure the rest of God's Creation holds lessons for us. So, what can I learn from this?

I thought of how in our Christian life the frost, snow, and ice of our devotion effect us. The variance of cold and hot that we go through kill our relationship with our Lord. We do not lose out salvation, just the beauty of our relationship with Him. We find our spirit lifeless - just a sprig of relationship here and there. So, we need to be like the Psalmist in Psalm 51:12 (NLT) who cryed out - "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you." And, I believe that the Master Gardener would give us the same recommendations as did my lawn service - rake, aeriate, seed, water, and wait.

Join me tomorrow to consider what the first step is to the restoration of joy in our spiritual life and relationship with Jesus is - rake.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Prayer - April 27

Join me in this prayer this morning based Scripture from 2 Corinthians 9: 8, 10.

And you God, are able to make all grace abound toward me, that I, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. May you, who supplies all my need and gives liberally, multiply the seed I have sown and increase the fruits of my righteousness and labors, for your glory. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday Prayer - April 26

Good morning, God. As I look forward to this day, I want to start by thanking you for all the many blessings you have given me. The little things I so often take for granted, like having food, clothing and shelter; being able to work; being able to get up out of the bed even. Keep me focused on what is important in life. Help me to sow good things in this world. If I'm not doing enough, or not doing all you want me to do, please remind me and guide me. I praise You, God, and give you the glory, great things you have done. Amen.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Case for the Resurrection - Pt. 5

Today, we will complete our thoughts about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We receive many benefits that Christ accomplished in the Resurrection. Muse over these thoughts today:

The Resurrection gives us eternal life. The mission of Jesus was to provide salvation and eternal life (John 3:16). Jesu told us that "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." (John 11:25). Paul tells us in Romans 6:23 - "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

The Resurrection imparts power to the believer. The Christian has the power to overcome the devil, the world, and the flesh. This ability comes through the Resurrection. When we understand the power that CHrist has provided, it changes our lives as we serve Him. We can have the victory by reckoning ourselves alive (Romans 6:11), yielding (Romans 6:13), and obeying (Romans 6:17).

The Resurrection provides for our future resurrection. His resurrection is a pattern and prediction of our future resurrection. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead guarantees our future resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:12, 20; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

There is a difference between our standing and state. Because of Christ's resurrection, when we accept by faith the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) our standing immediately changes. It that moment we exchange our righteousness for the righteousness of Jesus and we are perfect - in Heaven. However, our state at the present moment is that we still live in our physical bodies and still sin. We live in the tension of the "already and not yet." This is the difference between justification and sanctification. Justification is a once and for all transaction that God has declared that because of Christ all claims against the sinner has been satisfied (standing). Sanctification is the on-going daily process of making us more like Christ because we still sin (state). 

These are just three of the many benefits as believers we receive because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Again, I challenge you to muse over these thoughts today - this should lift you up and cause you joy unspeakable.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Case for the Resurrection - Pt 4

Dr. Elmer Towns in his book, Theology for Today, is giving us 12 proofs of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We listed 6 yesterday, and we will finish the last 6 today.

7. A hermeneutical conviction that correlated the Old Testament prophecies with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The early church correlated the Old Testament prophesies of the expected Messiah with Jesus Christ.

8. The production of a body of literature (the New Testament) that completely and comprehensibly explains the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to the remainder of the Scriptures.

9. The inability of the Jewish leaders to disprove the Resurrection in the very city that it happened. They should have been able to discount it in Jerusalem, however it was from Jerusalem that the message evolved and distributed to the world.

10. The change to Sunday as the day of worship from Saturday. For over 4000 years the Sabbath was observed on Saturday - the 7th day of the week, now universally Christians worship on Sunday. This is the first day of the week, and in a sense the 8th day. Being the first day it signifies the start of the week, and the technical sense of the 8th corresponds to Biblical Numbering that ascribes a new start to the number 8.

11. The conversion of James, the half-brother of Christ who totally opposed Christian teaching before the Resurrection, and became an active follower in the Jerusalem Church.

12. The testimony of Ignatius of Antioch who was born around 30 A.D. and martyred by Trajan by being thrown to the beasts in the amphitheater in Rome.

12 proofs out of many that are given throughout the centuries. Take time to silently dwell upon the facts, the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. No other founder of a religion is alive today - we can go to their tombs. Only Jesu Christ - the God-man is alive. The Resurrection is believable, because of the many proofs. Tomorrow, let us pause to consider five results of the Resurrection of Christ.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Case for the Resurrection - Pt. 3

We have discussed some theories against the Resurrection, we will now focus on some of the proofs of the Resurrection of Jesus. Dr. Elmer Towns Dean of Liberty Baptist Seminary lists 12 such proofs in his book, Theology for Today published by Cengage Learning. Let us consider them -

1. The Empty Tomb. As we have previously saw, the enemies of the Cross tried to deny that Jesus rose by stating that the disciples had stolen the body. At the very start, the empty tomb created a problem for those who were set to deny the Resurrection. If Christ had not risen, and He was still in the tomb - the detractors could have taken anyone to the tomb and proved the Resurrection as a myth.

2. The sudden transformation of the frightened disciples into bold proponents of the Resurrection. It is beyond comprehension that a small group of simple and uneducated men could devise such a plan that could not be disproved and has existed for over 2000 years. These men who witnessed the brutality against Jesus cowered in the upper room trying to find a way out without getting the same treatment themselves. Seeing and knowing that Jesus had arose gave them a boldness to stand and proclaim that "He is Alive!"

3. The rapid spread and growth of the church (fellowship of like believers) which claimed to be the body of Christ.  They proclaimed that Christ was alive and empowered them to service and godliness.

4. The testimony of numerous persons (over 500 at one time) who claimed to have seen, conversed, and had fellowship with the risen Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:5 - 8, and other passages in the Gospels). This could not be a wishful vision, because all of the testimonies are from those who did not believe He had risen.

5. The transformation of a Christ-hating persecutor of believers into a fervent preacher of the Gospel. The account of how this happens is in Acts 9.

6. The testimony of countless who speak of the indwelling of the Risen Christ in their lives - and the outward evidences of the change that He makes in them.

This is half of the proofs that Dr. Towns offers - tomorrow let's finish up the remaining 6 proofs that Jesus arose on that first Easter morning.

Today, take some time and think about what do you believe about His Resurrection. How do you believe? Is it just because someone told you so, or is it because you have had a life-changing experience with Jesus. Take time to be sure you believe - and then establish the reasons why.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Case for the Resurrection - Pt. 2

Yesterday we said that since the Resurrection is the fundamental truth of Christianity (1 Cor. 15:14), it has consistently been the attack of critics to disprove its validity. History is what has happened. We looked a a few of the ideas presented that were in opposition to the Resurrection of Jesus. Over these next couple of days, we are considering facts and issues in line with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Today, consider three naturalistic approaches to explain away the Resurrection. First, men such as Rudolf Baultman state that the Resurrection account is based upon visions of the excited minds of those who were so close to Jesus. The disciples were well-meaning, but the intense feelings they had for their Master came out in these visions and became an imagined reality. Some problems - how could scared and fearful men have such visions? why did the visions begin on the third day and not sooner?

Another is called the Telegram or Objective theory. This states that Christ through telepathic means transmitted the thoughts and messages to the disciples - not really appearing physically before them.

Finally, Berkoff and others say that Christianity simply adopted Resurrection ideas from other religions and added them into their base. The idea is to give the Resurrection validity without it being a historical fact. The Resurrection is a both/and. To deny the physical while affirming the spiritual is misinterpreting the meaning of the words used, denying the objective principles in interprting history, and is based upon a bias against the supernatural.

Clark Pinnock has written in his paper "On the Third Day," that the Spirit works through evidence to provide us proof. The evidence is based upon the personal testimony of the claims to the events. The validation is in the cause and effect. Merrill Tenney states that the existence of the church is based upon a historical cause for its origin.

We will consider some of the proofs of the Resurrection tomorrow.

Today, pause and reflect upon what you believe. Do you believe and hope in the truth that Jesus rose from the dead - conquering death, hell, and the grave, or is He just a man who told good stories about how to live and was killed. what do you base your decision upon?

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Case for the Resurrection - Pt.1

Since the Resurrection is the fundamental truth of Christianity (1 Cor. 15:14), it has consistently been the attack of critics to disprove its validity. History is what has happened. A legitimate form of historical study will not reinterpret nor rewrite that which has happened. Legitimate historical study seeks to gather, analyze, arrange and interpret the facts from the past. Over the next couple of days, let us consider facts and issues in line with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Over the time, there has been a number of theories opposing the Resurrection of Jesus. The first was that the disciples stole the body of Jesus. It started in New Testament times when the Priests bribed the guards to spread this rumor (Matthew 28:13). Two things stand out about this, as an early church father, Origen stated, men do not risk their lives for a lie. Also, there would not be a need to bribe someone to tell the story - if it were true.

Another is called the "Swoon Theory." It came about in 1828 by a German named Paulas. He said that due to the short time that Jesus was on the cross, all He did was swoon. The cool tomb revived Him, an earthquake rolled the stone away, Jesus stripped off the graveclothes and left them in the tomb and dressed Himself in some of the gardener's clothes - thus Mary mistook Him. This is refuted by the descriptions of the beatings He went through, the nails to the cross, the copious amount of blood loss - He would not have much strength even if this were considered feasible. And walking on feet that had been penetrated and torn by the course Roman nails?

Then, there is the plot by Hugh Schonfield called the Passover Plot. He says that Jesus studied the Old Testament prophecies and knew that the Messiah had to suffer. He knew that on the Passover period, they would not leave Him on the cross. His statement "I thirst" was a code for someone to slip Him a knockout drug.  There were many tombs in the Garden, and when they arrived on Sunday morning (by prearrangement) they went to the wrong tomb, found it empty and the gardener pointed to the correct tomb and said "Go." They misunderstood this to be "Go, tell." Makes a nice novel, but is short on the facts.

There has been many suggestions - wrong tomb, etc. to try to explain away the Resurrection of Jesus. But, none hold up to the historic facts. Tomorrow, we will consider some other theories that try to explain away the Resurrection.

Today, spend some time meditating over the basis of the Christian Religion. Is it based upon a deadman, or a man once dead now Lives? Read 1 Corinthians 15 today and reflect upon what Paul says.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The New Beginning - Sunday

"Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4 HCSB).


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Prayertime - March 19

Great are You Lord, and most worthy of praise. You are a mighty fortress. I clap my hands and sing praises of joy before You, most awesome Lord on high. I know that You, God, reign over the nations and You, God, are seated on Your holy throne. And from that throne You may speak words of vengeance or words of protection, and it is done. May You be exalted. Please protect Your people and help us to be united for You as we live and minister to one another in this world. In Jesus' name, Amen.

On this day over 2000 years ago, our Lord lay in the silence of the tomb physically. Here on Earth the Religious leaders sought to have the tomb sealed to keep His disciples from stealing the body. But, He was with the Father and fulfilling the work of leading captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8) and emptying Paradise and bringing the souls to the Father. The silence of that day marked His moving behind the Veil to present the sacrifice for the removal of our sins. Praise God, it was accepted!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Final Week of Jesus' Life - Friday through Saturday

We have been walking this week with Jesus through that last sacred Holy Week. From Palm Sunday - the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem we come to Good Friday - the dark day that the creation murdered their Creator.

Many events took place from midnight on -
  1. Jesus teaches His disciples about fruit-bearing on the way to the Mount of Olives (John 15).
  2. Jesus offers His High Priestly Prayer (John 17).
    1. For Himself
    2. For His disciples
    3. For us
  3. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:40-46; Mark 14:32-36; and Luke 22:43-44)
    1. Intense strain, suffering, and Satanic stress
    2. Sweat of great drops of Blood
    3. Angels sent to strengthen his humanity for what is to take place. 
  4. Jesus was betrayed by Judas for thirty pieces of silver, the going rate for a broken or useless slave at that time. Judas came and kissed Him (26:47-49). 
  5. Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. 
    1. Notice Jesus’ place of prayer was also His place of captivity.
    2. Peter severs Malchus ear - Jesus restores it.
    3. Forsake by all his disciples.
  6. Jesus suffers through seven unfair and illegal trials.
  7. Peter denies Jesus three times.
  8. Beaten, scourged, mocked and ridiculed, and made sport of, Jesus is led to Calvary.
  9. Cruelly Crucified on the hill called Calvary (Golgatha, the place of the Skull).
  10. Taken down and placed in a borrowed tomb.
Muse today over the events of that Friday over 2000 years ago. God the Creator came and gave of Himself to pay my debt, to serve my sentence, to restore me to Him. "Have I taken the time to ponder the great love and plan of God that brings me back into a proper relationship with Him? Have I seriously thought about what it cost for my forgiveness?" God didn't look at me and say - OK, I'll forget what you have done. No, He had to take the judgment for my rebellion, my pride, my rejection of Him on Himself. The horrors of the physical suffering of Christ pale in comparison to the suffering of spirit that He went through on that Cross. He willingly vicariously gave His life for mine - that God will now see me as righteous, not because if who I am or what I do, but because of what He has done!!

What is your relationship with God like today? Honestly, join me in examining myself (yourself) to see how my relationship stands.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Final Week of Jesus' Life - Thursday

Maundy Thursday. A term used in the church for this day of the Holy Week leading up to Christ's crucifixion. Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday is the day before Jesus’ crucifixion. On this day Jesus had His Last Supper with His disciples before His death. On this day, Jesus took a normal "Passover meal" and changed it forever.

Jesus did several things on Maundy Thursday, according Matthew 26:17-75. He washed the disciples feet. This symbolizes Jesus’ humility and His servanthood. Think and muse over "When was the last time that I truly displayed a servant's heart, not for recognition, but because of my love for God and my fellow man?"

On this night, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. Holy Communion is a reminder that just as physical food and drink nourish our physical bodies, Jesus’ death and resurrection give eternal life to our spirit. This time we spend as Christians at the table of our Lord symbolizes the broken Body and spilt Blood of Jesus. We are called to remember what He did for us, so that we could be reconciled and forgiven before God the Father. "What does Communion really mean to me? Is it more than just a time spent in church? Do I look inwardly, outwardly, and upwardly? Do I think about His return?" 

They finished their time in the Upper Room by singing of some Psalms (Matthew 26:30). Six Psalms in the Old Testament are called the "Hallel" Psalms that are to be sung on the eve of Passover. These are probably the songs that Jesus and His disciples sang. Consider the words in these Psalms (NKJV) -

  • "The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;I found trouble and sorrow." (116:3)
  • "I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord." (116:13)
  • "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it." (118:22-24)
  • "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord." (118:26)
Muse over, "What songs speak to me about Christ, His Crucifixion, His forgiveness, His relationship to me as Savior, and His great and glorious love?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Final Week of Jesus' Life - Wednesday

In our musings over the last week in the life of Christ, we come to Wednesday. We have already considered the events on the days from Saturday until Tuesday. Tuesday  was a busy day in the life of our Lord as He spent the entire day teaching - in the Temple and to His disciples.

Wednesday has traditionally been known as Silent Wednesday. The Scriptures do not seem to give us any indication of what Jesus did on this day. We can be assured that our Savior did not waste any time, knowing that His day of Crucifixion was very close. However, the Holy Spirit seems not to have led any of our gospel writers to include the activities.

I am confident that on this day Jesus spent time in private with the disciples, or maybe He spent time setting up the arrangements for the Upper Room meal - the Last Supper. We almost feel that what was taking place within Jesus this day was very secretive - maybe a special close time of communion with the Father as the culmination of His mission to Earth was coming to a climax. This has caused me to muse, "How do I spend time with God? As problems, crises, issues, troubles, and other events in my life become a part of my day, do I spend time with the Father, with Christ in personal, private communion?"

Finally, while all of this is going on with Jesus, Judas is making arrangements with the Sanhedrin to betray Him. Some even call this day Spy Wednesday. One last thought, "What in my life is like Judas, making bargains with the enemy to betray my Master, my Savior, my Lord?"

These are important thoughts to muse over in this special week that we remember the vicarious sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Join me today at looking at my (your) life and seek to prepare our hearts for this special season.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Final Week of Jesus' Life - Tuesday

Yesterday, we considered Saturday through Monday of the final week of Jesus. We had three thoughts or musings to consider on these days. Today, we will muse over the Tuesday of that sacred week.

On this day Jesus once again comes into confrontation by the Pharisees. They continually confronted Jesus as it dealt with His teachings and authority to attempt to accuse or ensnare Him before the crowds of people. This day they confronted Him dealing with issues such as: (1) His authority, (2) paying tribute to Caesar, (3) the resurrection, and, (4) the Messiah. The result was the silencing of the Pharisees - Luke 20:40 Phillips - "And indeed nobody had the courage to ask him any more questions." It causes me to muse over the fact that it is not wrong to ask God questions, but it is the motive behind those questions. "Have I been questioning God, not to respond by doing what He discloses, or to try to change what He teaches in His Word to allow me to do what I want?"

The next thing we see on this day is that Jesus condemns the Pharisees for having polished exteriors, but polluted interiors. Their words did not fit their actions. What they did was not in balance with what they taught. In turn, Jesus points out a poor widow as the model of what we should be (Luke 21: 1-4). Today, let us muse over this, "Does my thoughts, words, and actions align with my beliefs? Does my hands and my head align with my heart?"

We find Jesus here weeping over the city of Jerusalem. He has found the fig tree withered, and He teaches on faith to His disciples (Mark 11:20-26). The fig tree was a symbol that challenges us to bear fruit for our Savior. On the way, He delivered what we term the Mt. Olivet discourse (Matthew 24:1-31; Mark 13:1-27, and Luke 21:5-28). He taught them about the Temple's destruction and the events of the end of the age. Muse over this thought today, "How much closer is the Return of Christ today than it was then - or even yesterday? What effect does this thought have on my life, if any?"

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Final week of Jesus' Life - Saturday through Monday

There are 89 chapters in the 4 Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Of these 4 chapters record the first 30 years of His life, the last week of His life is described in 24 chapters. In other words, the last week of His life is covered in 3 times as many chapters as the whole first 30 years of His life. Over 1/4 of the Gospel accounts are about His last week. I think God is trying to tell us how important this really is. This week, let us pause and muse over what took place over 2000 years ago.

On the Saturday before His crucifixion we find the anointing by Mary in the town of Bethany. You can read this in John 12:1-8 and Mark 14:9. Even though Jesus had repeatedly spoken to His disciples about His upcoming death, they constantly denied that it would happen. Led by God, Mary came and anointed Him - as Jesus said,  “Leave her alone; she has kept it for the day of My burial." (John 12:7 HCSB). It causes me to muse - "How often do we hear the words of Jesus, but in our own way, according to what we want to think, we ignore them?"

The, Sunday was the majestic parade - the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11). Jesus came on the foal of a donkey - this shows two things - (1) He fulfilled prophecy (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:4-5), and (2) To show the value of small things. He often used insignificant things to fulfill His ministry here (consider the little boy's lunch). Notice the use of the word "Hosanna" in these verses. They are used only 5 times in the Bible and 4 of them occur here. This is the Hebrew phrase "Save, we pray." On this day, the disciples and the people in the city they created a celebration, but in a few short days (as we will see) the celebration changes into a crucifixion. I was musing over "How often do we get excited about Jesus at church, and turn from Him in the world?"

Finally to finish today, consider that Monday over 2000 years ago. Two events happen on this day. On His way into Jerusalem, Jesus curses a fig tree. This miracle was the only one that caused Him pain. The significance was so important that Paul years later takes 3 chapters in Romans (9-11) to expand upon the theological implications.  The lesson is that God desires fruit. Those who are a part of the vine (John 15) ought to bear fruit. 

Next, Jesus cleanse the Temple for a second time. Both events were at Passover, the first at the start of His ministry, and now at the conclusion of His earthly ministry. Both events centered around Christ and His Glory (John 2:11 and John 12:28). He calls the Temple a place of prayer (Mark 11:17) which refers to two Old Testament passages (Jeremiah 7:11 and Isaiah 56:7).

These last two events make me muse over the thought, "Am I bearing fruit for my Savior, and is my Temple (my body - 1 Corinthians 6:19 AMP - "Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you...") a place of communion with God - or have I polluted it?

Consider these three questions today as we walk with Jesus on His final week.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Prayer Time - April 13 - Palm Sunday

Dear Lord, I pray today for the deacons and members in the churches today. I pray that they would support and uplift their pastor, like Aaron did Moses. I pray that they would help the pastor carry out the ministry of the church, looking after the needs of the congregation, going about in an attitude of prayer, and seeking Your will in all circumstances and obstacles that arise. I pray for their protection from harm and evil in any form. I pray that You will anoint, bless, and minister through them to reach people, to show them Your love, and to bring glory and honor to You. Help these ministers to see their role in Your work, and give them the boldness, wisdom, and encouragement to carry on. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Prayer Time April 12

Dear God, You know my heart and my heartaches. You have showered me with blessings and carried me through the valley of pain and sadness. Thank you for the godly influence of special people in my life. Thank you for those who pray for and encourage me. I even thank you for the hard times and trials I have been through, for they have strengthened my faith. I praise you for giving me a spirit of hope, love, and acceptance, rather than allowing me to become angry, bitter, and downcast. I praise you God, from whom all blessings flow. May I, in return, be a blessing to you. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Easter - Why Did He Have to Die?

Over the years I've been asked, "Why did Jesus have to die?" Once an earnest seeker followed the question with these comments, "As a Christian I should know the answer, but I can’t think of any convincing explanation. No leader of any other religion that I can think of ended up getting killed because of his beliefs. Why wouldn't it have been possible for Jesus to spread his message and gain adherents like Mohamed, Moses and Buddha? Does Christianity only make sense by God deciding that Jesus had to be crucified?"

This incredibly important question involves a matter central to Christianity, yet effectively answering it is often difficult for Christians. We will take a careful look at the question and lay out the answers offered in Scripture.

However, before we answer the question, "Why did Jesus have to die?" it's also important to understand that Jesus clearly understood his mission on earth, and that it involved laying down his life as a sacrifice. In other words, Jesus knew it was his Father's will for him to die.

Although God is all merciful, all powerful and all forgiving, God is also holy, righteous and just. Just consider one verse - Isaiah 5:16 - But the LORD Almighty is exalted by his justice. The holiness of God is displayed by his righteousness. (NLT).

Sin entered the world through one man's disobedience -Adam, and now all of us are born into this "sin nature." Romans 5:12 - When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (NLT). And, Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. (NLT)

Sin separates us from God - look at what Isaiah says in 35:8 - And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. (NIV). Or, in 59:2 - But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (NIV)

God's holiness and justice demand that sin and rebellion be punished. The only penalty or payment for sin is eternal death. Paul states this in Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.(NASB), and in 5:21 - So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God's wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.(NLT)

Our death is not sufficient to atone for sin because atonement requires a perfect, spotless sacrifice, offered in just the right way. Jesus, the one perfect God-man, came to offer the pure, complete and everlasting sacrifice to remove, atone, and make eternal payment for our sin. So says Peter in 1 Peter 1:18-19 -For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (NLT)Only through Jesus Christ can our sins be forgiven, thus restoring our relationship with God and removing the separation caused by sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 - God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)The suffering and the glory of the coming Messiah was foretold in Isaiah chapters 52 and 53. God's people in the Old Testament looked forward to the Messiah that would save them from their sin. Although he did not come in the form they expected, still, their faith, which looked forward to his salvation, saved them. Our faith, which looks backward to his act of salvation, saves us. When we accept Jesus' payment for our sin, his perfect sacrifice washes away our sin and restores our right standing with God. God's mercy and grace provided a way for our salvation.

In Summary, when we are "in Christ Jesus" we are covered by his blood through his sacrificial death, our sins are paid for, and we no longer have to die an eternal death. We receive eternal life though Jesus Christ. And this is why Jesus had to die. 

Material used from

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Easter - different dates?

Yesterday, we asked the question, "Have you ever wondered why Easter Sunday can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25? And why do Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on a different day than Western churches? These are all good questions with answers that require a bit of explanation. In fact, there are as many misunderstandings about the calculation of Easter dates, as there are reasons for the confusion." We discussed the way of setting the date for Easter Sunday. Today, let us take the second part - why do Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on a different day than Western churches?

Historically, Western churches used the Gregorian Calendar to calculate the date of Easter and Eastern Orthodox churches used the Julian Calendar. This was partly why the dates were seldom the same.

Easter and its related holidays do not fall on a fixed date in either the Gregorian or Julian calendars, making them movable holidays. The dates, instead, are based on a lunar calendar very similar to the Hebrew Calendar.

While some Eastern Orthodox Churches not only maintain the date of Easter based on the Julian Calendar which was in use during the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., they also use the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual vernal equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem. This complicates the matter, due to the inaccuracy of the Julian calendar, and the 13 days that have accrued since A.D. 325. This means, in order to stay in line with the originally established (325 A.D.) vernal equinox, Orthodox Easter cannot be celebrated before April 3 (present day Gregorian calendar), which was March 21 in A.D. 325.

Additionally, in keeping with the rule established by the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea, the Eastern Orthodox Church adhered to the tradition that Easter must always fall after the Jewish Passover, since the resurrection of Christ happened after the celebration of Passover. Eventually the Orthodox Church came up with an alternative to calculating Easter based on the Gregorian calendar and Passover, and developed a 19-year cycle, as opposed to the Western Church 84-year cycle.

Since the days of early church history, determining the precise date of Easter has been a matter for continued argument. For one, the followers of Christ neglected to record the exact date of Jesus' resurrection. From then on the matter grew increasingly complex.

Sounds complicated? It is. But the truth behind it is not. Jesus Christ, the virgin-born Son of Mary, the One who lived a sin-less life, went to the cross to die in my place (for my sin), and then on the third day, He rose again. As the hymn writer has so clearly stated - "He LIves! He Lives! Christ Jesus lives today." Don't worry about the date - instead be sure that you have made that relationship with the Savior.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Easter - what date is it?

Have you ever wondered why Easter Sunday can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25? And why do Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on a different day than Western churches? These are all good questions with answers that require a bit of explanation. In fact, there are as many misunderstandings about the calculation of Easter dates, as there are reasons for the confusion. What follows is an attempt to clear up at least some of the confusion.

Today in Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following what is called the Paschal Full Moon date of the year. In actuality, the date of the Paschal Full Moon is determined from historical tables, and has no correspondence to lunar events.

As astronomers were able to approximate the dates of all the full moons in future years, the Western Christian Church used these calculations to establish a table of Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates. These dates would determine the Holy Days on the Ecclesiastical calendar.

Though modified slightly from its original form, by 1583 A.D. the table for determining the Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates was permanently established and has been used ever since to determine the date of Easter. Thus, according to the Ecclesiastical tables, the Paschal Full Moon is the first Ecclesiastical Full Moon date after March 20 (which happened to be the vernal equinox date in 325 A.D.). So, in Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon.

The Paschal Full Moon can vary as much as two days from the date of the actual full moon, with dates ranging from March 21 to April 18. As a result, Easter dates can range from March 22 through April 25 in Western Christianity.

We must continue to remember that our celebration is not increased or diminished by the date. We are not focusing on a day - we are focusing upon the historicity of a living, risen Savior.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Walking with Jesus

I have recently been on a pilgrimage. God gave me the opportunity of being with a group of men in a retreat called the Emmaus Walk. I have heard of this before, and God set it up that in His timing I was able to go just when I needed it most.

The account in Luke 24:13 and following tells of Jesus joining two of His disciples after His resurrection as they walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Not expecting to see Him (they still held on to the fact of His death), they talked with Him unknowing who He was. He talked with them, opened the Scriptures and brought comfort to their hearts. And when at supper He broke bread, they suddenly recognized Him - and he disappeared from their sight.

Today, in the hustle and bustle of this world, we can become so busy that we miss the fact that Jesus is right here with us. We focus on the world and the problems we face - to the exclusion of seeing and learning from the One who loves us so much.

Being alone with Jesus, listening to Him (reading the Bible) and speaking to Him (prayer) - focusing on Him without the distractions of the world around us - allows us to hear His voice, feel His heart, and to draw strength, comfort, and assurance from Him. As His disciples, we are here to do His bidding, His mission in a world that is spiraling away from God.

Take some time - dedicated time - to read the Bible and pray. Listen for the sound of sandaled feet as they are walking beside you, hear the rustle of His robe as He embraces you, and feel the warmth of His arms as they hold you close to His heart.

Today, as you "walk to" wherever you are going, look and see that He is with you. Know that He is the One who can comfort, assure, strengthen, restore, uplift, forgive, and anything else that you need - HE IS ENOUGH! (And if someone offers to sponsor you on the walk - be sure to take them up on it, you will never regret it.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Easter - Resurrection Sunday

Over the past weekend, I have been privileged to be a part of the Emmaus Walk. I am writing this post ahead of time, so I will not be commenting on the walk today. 

We are in the Easter season. Next Sunday will be what we traditionally observe as Palm Sunday. The 20th is the day we worship as Easter Sunday. As Christians, these days are very important to us. Over the next few blogs, let us consider some of the facts about Easter, and also some reflections on this important time. This week let us look at some facts, and the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday we will attempt to muse on the events that happened.

In Western Christianity, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period of fastingrepentance, moderation and spiritual discipline in preparation for Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday and Ash Wednesday is not observed.
Because of Easter's pagan origins, and also because of the commercialization of Easter, many Christian churches choose to refer to the holiday as Resurrection Day.
No matter what name you choose to use, this is a time of reflection upon the event that has changed man's connection with God. We celebrate worship on Sunday now because it is a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.  Easter should cause us to think seriously about what has happened - and to appreciate why we worship a living, risen Savior.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Prayer Time - April 6

Dear God, You know my heart and my heartaches. You have showered me with blessings and carried me through the valley of pain and sadness. Thank you for the godly influence of special people in my life. Thank you for those who pray for and encourage me. I even thank you for the hard times and trials I have been through, for they have strengthened my faith. I praise you for giving me a spirit of hope, love, and acceptance, rather than allowing me to become angry, bitter, and downcast. I praise you God, from whom all blessings flow. May I, in return, be a blessing to you. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Prayer Time - April 5

God, I know that You want me to be like salt on the earth, like a candle in the dark, a lighthouse on a hill, so that others will come to You. Cleanse me anew that I will be a witness for You. Show me how You want to penetrate the darkness of my domain with Your light. Help me to be a positive influence in the places where I live, work, study, play. Thank you, Lord. I pray in the name and by the blood of my Precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Watch Who You Are Calling a Fool - #5

"Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Matthew 5: 21-22.

Wow! Jesus here is helping us understand that when we look at the law, we tend to make it a checklist of literal activities. He wants us to understand that what is judged is not the activity - but heart attitude we hold. Murder we would all accept as a horrible sin to be committed. Christ was not negating or reducing the reality of the sin - He is instead helping us to see the magnitude of our "little sins."

Here He classifies anger (orgizo in the Greek), empty(headed) (raca in the Greek) and fool (moros in the Greek) as also being sin in the eyes of God. Nor greater nor lesser than murder. Each shows a contempt for the person being the subject of the feelings. Anger intensified leads to murder. Empty(headed) was a statement of contempt for a person. Fool (or stupid) was a greater statement of contempt for a person.

When we begin to judge other people, God warns us that this judgment will come back on us. By the same standards and descriptions, we will find others judging us - and the final Judge will see all of these feelings, attitudes and contempt will be weighed as sin. Anyone who has ever been angry or thought or called another contemptuous names cannot stand any less guiltless before the Great Judge than the murderer. The only way anyone can stand guiltless before God is by having accepted the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus Christ in our place. When we accept Him (repent and believe) we become children of God, and can stand before the Father guiltless and free.

Today, if you have accepted Christ -Thank Him for the grand release that you have. If you haven't - there is no better time than right now to call upon Him and receive the freedom from the burden of sin in your life. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Watch Who You Are Calling a Fool - #4

A simple fool (March 31), a steadfast fool (April 1), and a scorning fool (April 2) leads us to think about a fourth kind of fool pictured in the Bible, the silly fool.

Proverbs 1: 7 states - "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction." The word for fools here in the Hebrew is eviyl. It means according to Strong's Concordance - silly. According to Unger's Bible Dictionary: "A fool is a person who casts off the fear of God, and acts as if he could safely disregard the eternal principles of God's righteousness." In other words he lives as though there is no God.

The word in Hebrew pictures one who is thick - or thick-headed. It is the idea of one being stupid. A silly fool is one who rejects instruction because he thinks his way is right. His mouth often gets him in trouble. In fact, the writer of proverbs tells us that "Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive." Or, as the modern day proverb (attributed to Abraham Lincoln) puts it, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

It is often hard to discuss anything with such a person because they "know" what is right, They don't say it, but it comes across - "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up."

Today, consider how you might remain open to learn from the truth in God's Word. Who can you find to make the journey of study with you? How can you be sure that what you know is right? Pray and seek the wisdom that comes from above (James 3:17) as you spend time in God's Word.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Watch Who You Are Calling a Fool - #3

Okay, how many made it through the day yesterday without being "April Fooled?" Not many make the whole day - and it is just in fun. Today, we will continue thinking about the biblical concepts of fool.

We have talked about simple fools (March 31) and steadfast fools (April 1), today let us consider the picture of the scorning fool. Proverbs 1:22 states - “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge." The word translated scorners is the Hebrew word luts and is used 27 times in the Bible. It carries the understanding of mocker, braggart, scorner.

A scorner is one who shows open contempt or disdain for a person or thing. They use derision on others. In the Scriptures, a scorner is one who shows abhorrence toward people and ideas that contradict his own erroneous conclusions. He expresses this disdain through derisive attitudes, behavior, and speech toward those who contradict his views.

Even though he may be desirous of wisdom, a scorner has no capacity to respond to it. A scorner does not understand wisdom, because he rejects any instruction from those around him.

We need to be careful, because we can become a scorner when we become unteachable. We need to insist on the truth that God provides in His Word, know that He is wisdom and will freely give wisdom (James 1:5-6 NKJV) to any who ask. We need to become lifelong learners in God's Word. Two things to do every day - Read your Bible and Pray.

Today, open your mind to God and His Word. As you read HIs Word today, ask Him to reveal His truth and teach you His ways.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Watch Who You Are Calling a Fool - #2

Today is the special holiday set aside for Atheists. It is April Fool's Day. I'm being harsh? Consider what the Psalmist said in Psalm 14:1 - "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'” 

The word in the Hebrew here is nabal, and means foolish, senseless, stupid, or wicked. This type of fool is set in his heart and mind to resist and despise the words of God. He despises holiness and all who stand for it. 

A steadfast fool is committed to being his own god and drawing as many as he can along with him. He seeks to lead the simple ones (see March 31 blog) into his belief system.

In the Book of 1 Samuel 25, we find an account of where David tries to deal with a man named Nabal. He was a wealthy man, and lived up to his name. His own servants said, "For he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him.” 1 Samuel 25:17 (NKJV). David tried to reason with him, but Nabal railed back at David. This caused David to become bitter, and almost lose his testimony. Trying to deal with such a person will always lead to frustration and futility. Only God can deal with a person like this.

Today, pray that you will keep your mind and heart open to God - allow Him to draw you closer to Him and protect you from the wicked, senseless people around you. Pray for discernment and understanding of His wWord.

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