Jesus Got Up From The Grave!

For April 4, 2021
All humanity was in spiritual peril. Sin and death bound us, where there was no escape. But, Jesus’ single magnificent act would change the course of our future once and for all.

Up to now, Jesus Christ was like any other person who has ever spouted lofty ideals, performing magical tricks, and leading a group of misfits and non-conformists. This behavior was seen before. (Although raising the widow’s son, Jairus’ daughter, and Lazarus from the dead were spectacular accomplishments.)

He was approximately thirty-three years old, give or take—a relatively young man—cut down in the prime of His life. His claim to be God in human flesh, (or the Son of God), along with His claim to be our only means of redemption were without validation to this point. Then, something happened that distinguishes Him from anyone who has ever lived.

Jesus Rose from the Dead!

Through His resurrection, God glorifies the Son and validates His authority over Satan, sin, and death, making Him the most significant person who has ever lived, and it ensures us that He will not disappoint those of us who put our faith in Him,

By any and all standards, Jesus Christ has always been regarded as the greatest figure in human history. On any list of the world’s greatest men, we always find at its head Jesus of Nazareth. Regardless of whether or not men acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord, they must pay tribute to Him as the world’s outstanding man. 1

Many refer to Jesus as a prophet or teacher. Some say He was a good man who died tragically. If death was all there was, we would be hopelessly lost. But, praise the Lord! Jesus’ death is not all that there was to know about Him. He also rose from the dead, and He left behind an empty tomb. Although some have tried, we cannot ignore the implications of this historical fact.

    •  The empty tomb validates the Lord’s claim to be the Son of God or God in human flesh and that He, the Helper, and the Father are one.

I and my Father are one…I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper…the Spirit of truth…I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you (John 10:30, 14:16-18 NKJV)

    • It confirms God has approved Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sin and solidifies the new and abundant life we have in Him forever.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:16-18 NIV).

    • It shows the Father answered His prayer to be glorified most emphatically.

Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV).

    • It proves and assures we will also experience a glorious resurrection, just as He has,

And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God (Job 19:26 AKJV).

    • It assures us we can pray, read/study His Word, abide by His commands, trust His promises, attend church, observe His ordinances, serve others, and strive toward spiritual growth knowing our actions are productive,

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).

The foundation of our Christian faith is the actual bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of it, we sorrow not as others who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13),

This is but natural, as Christianity must stand or fall with the resurrection. Christ “rose from the dead,” has always been a cardinal article of faith in the Christian Church; for the defense of the faith and comfort to the Believers. The difficulties that beset denial are found in: (a) the impossibility of explaining the empty grave; (b) the attitude of the enemies of Christ after the resurrection, revealing their helpless confusion; (c) the Disciples’ sudden transition from hopelessness to triumphant faith; (d) the founding of Christianity in the world, which can be rationally accounted for only in view of the fact that Christ actually rose from the dead.2

Our Christian faith, history, and theology derive from the idea that Jesus Christ rose from the dead physically. Along with the Disciples we, His Followers today, universally accept this as fact. And despite the two thousand years of skeptics, our Christian faith has never been a product of “lies, fraud, hallucinations, and sick minds.” Courageous, clear-minded Saints of God continue to die for their faith in the Lord because they know Him to be authentic and eternal. Christian faith stands or falls with the resurrection of Jesus.3

Our Lord willingly died to pay for our sins, and He triumphantly rose for our justification. He ascended into Heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of God, interceding for us. Soon, He will return for us, and we will be with Him forever in His peace and love. Won’t you trust Him today?

Jesus is risen…He is risen indeed!

What a Wonderful Savior!

Love In Action—Jesus Died For Our Sins!

For April 2, 2021
The word love has many meanings, although it defines our emotional attraction toward someone or something. For instance, we can love our jobs, houses, cars, classical music, pizza, and that old pair of comfortable jeans. Even the Ancient Greeks distinguished parental love (Greek: storge) from fraternal love (Greek: phileo) from the passion between lovers (Greek: eros).

However, Jesus Christ establishes a new love paradigm when He commanded us to love each other unselfishly and fervently, just as He loves us (Greek: agape). It is by this unselfish love, everyone will know we are His disciples (John 13:34—35). This is the highest form of selfless, pure love, which can only find its source in and expression through God. Jesus attests of this in John 15:13 (NKJV) when He states, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

God’s love is completely devoid of sin and selfishness. In our strength alone, we are incapable of such altruism because we are motivated by, “What’s in it for us?” before we consider responding lovingly.

Although difficult, Christians have the capacity to express His love as we yield to His Spirit, who instinctively responds to others through us in the ways that serve their best interests. The Spirit within us extends this unique, powerful, transforming love to all people everywhere—so that even our enemies can benefit greatly.

1 John 4:7—8 tells us that God is love. And He continues to express it as He has from the beginning. When there was nothing, He created the earth and all that is in it to make a perfect habitation for imperfect humans. Even after we fell and sin contaminated this world, He extended mercy to Adam and Eve by promising The Redeemer who would restore our lost fellowship.

Romans 6:23 tells us the payment for sin is death. In other words, someone has to die, and blood has to be shed to remediate our sin to restore our lost fellowship with God,

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul (Leviticus 17:11 NKJV).

God sustained our existence through Noah when sin was rampant, and He later produced a people of faith who would love Him and be a blessing to others through Abraham. Love delivered God’s people from Egyptian bondage, sustained them through the Red Sea, the desolate wilderness, and gave them a new identity in the land that He promised them.

God’s love foretold of One who would sit on David’s throne and rule God’s people with justice and mercy. He would also express God’s love completely by nullifying the curse and dominion of sin and by redeeming sin-cursed humanity in righteousness forever.

Only Jesus fulfills God’s enduring love for us. He left glory, inhabited human flesh, and walked on earth for thirty-three years; sharing His message of love, faith, and redemption. Unselfishly, He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, encouraged the downtrodden, and taught about His transforming, redeeming message.

Yet, on the last day of His earthly life, He demonstrated exceptional love. Knowing that one sitting with Him during the Passover Seder would betray Him shortly, He did not condemn him. Instead, Jesus shared a morsel of food with Judas and gave him permission to perform the despicable act he contemplated. Jesus could have exposed Judas to the other eleven disciples in the room, but He showed love by feeding Him and giving Him another chance to repent.

Later that evening, while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had the opportunity to escape death on the cross. The disciples were asleep when the full weight of what was to happen in less than twelve hours hit Him like the proverbial “ton of bricks.” Jesus cried to His Heavenly Father and asked, if it were possible, to let the cup pass and excuse Him from the cruel death on the cross. Yet He was determined to fulfill God’s will, not His own.

After being beaten, spat upon, insulted, and crowned with thorns, our Lord still loved us so much that He was willing to be further disgraced and humiliated. Stripped of His clothing, Jesus was affixed to a wooden cross with metal spikes driven through His hands and feet. Then He was placed on a hill between two thieves before throngs of mocking people.

Instead of commanding legions of angels to destroy us, He surrendered His life for our sins and interceded on our behalf by asking His heavenly Father to forgive all those who were responsible—including you and me today.

Jesus died for you and I to prove His wonderful, matchless love for us. Won’t you receive His love today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

Hosanna To The King of Kings!

For March 28, 2021
During this week of consecration and celebration, Jews from around the world converged on Jerusalem to increase the city’s population exponentially as all Jewish males were required to attend the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles).1

Passover and Unleavened Bread hold critical historical significance to the Nation of Israel and to Jews around the world as these observances commemorate the Children of Israel’s release from four-hundred years of Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12:1-13:16, 23:17, 34:23).

Although festive revelers, musicians, and celebrators packed the streets with song, dance, and reverie, this day marks the last week of Jesus’ earthly life, which culminates with what we observe as Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter.

The week began on our Palm Sunday, with Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into His beloved Jerusalem.  He presents Himself as the long-awaited Messiah riding a donkey. Crowds gathered to lay palm branches and their outer clothing in His path shouting,

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! (Matthew 21:9 NIV).

Jesus did not ride a horse, as would a conquering hero. Instead, He rides the donkey’s colt, a symbol of peace, to present Himself as God’s humble emissary sent to redeem a fallen humanity. His calculated actions fulfill these two Messianic prophesies,

Indeed the Lord has proclaimed To the end of the world: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him’ ” (Isaiah 62:11 NKJV).

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9 NKJV).

Humbly, our Lord presents Himself as the Messiah, our Conquering Hero who will not only establish His eternal Kingdom where righteousness, justice, and peace will reign forever. He also presents Himself as the Holy One of Israel—the Lamb of God—who ultimately defeats the plague of sin and death that has troubled humanity since shortly after the Creation.

No one but Jesus Christ loves us so deeply, gives of himself so freely, and keeps us so completely in this life and the next. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who delivers us from a life of sin and presents us before God in His role as our everlasting Advocate, Alpha and Omega, Bridegroom, Deliverer, Faithful and True Witness, Lord and God, Good Shepherd, Great God and Savior, Great High Priest, Hope of Glory, I Am, Eternal Judge, Friend, King of Glory, Lamb of God, Light of the World, Physician, Prince of Peace, Prophet, Ransom, Redeemer, Resurrection and Life, Righteous Judge, Rock, Ruler of Kings, Savior, True Vine, Truth, Way, and Word of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is, and shall forever be, our all in all.

What a Wonderful Savior!

Author And Finisher Of Our Faith

For February 14, 2021
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) contains the fundamental ideals that have informed and shaped our Christian faith for two thousand years. The passage reads as follows,

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

First, we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses,” which confirms  that physical death is not the end of our existence. God created us with a spiritual component that survives our death to thrive long after our bodies have decayed and passed away.

Thus, along with the “Roll Call of Faith” of Hebrews 11:4-40, all those who have died in Christ surround us like spectators whose existence confirms our successful completion of faith journey with God. Just think. We have our own cheering section to affirm us.

Our parents, loved ones, and friends became part of the “cloud of witnesses” when they became absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), awaiting His glorious return. Then, all those who have “died in the Lord,” will be reunited with us who are yet alive (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Bible also teaches that we have an appointment with death, and then comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27). So to avert our eternal peril, God  has given us both the capability as well as the opportunity to choose where we will spend our eternity—weather in Heaven or Hell—while we are yet alive today.

In other words, we can either choose to accept His gift of righteousness secured by our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to satisfy God’s righteous requirements, or we can rely on our flawed self-righteousness to appease God’s wrath (due to the penalty of our sin).

It is comforting to know that we can trust in Christ, and we will be with Jesus along with all the saints, “coming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26). A most welcome and most wonderful day that will be indeed. Amen!

Second, we Christians are responsible to make every effort to “lay aside” the continual practice of sin, particularly the ones we find extremely tantalizing and are within easy reach. Instead, we are to pursue earnestly and heartily His righteousness consistently, as Luke 11:35-36 (NKJV) tells us,

Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light.

“No part dark” means our lives are faith-driven, Spirit-powered, Christ-centered, and God-honoring quests for spiritual and moral purity publicly and privately, with no “secret” sins. We strive to be the same spiritual and moral person, whether we are alone or in the company of others.

In other words, what we do, and how we act on Sunday during church services should be the same way we act on Monday at home, work, or school. The “what I do in the privacy of my own home” should never be shameful or embarrassing if ever disclosed publically, since our lives are to reflect an integrated, consistent ethic that flows from our genuine conversion in Christ,

Sin is turning away from God. As someone has said, it is aversion from God and conversion to the world; and true repentance means conversion to God and aversion to the world. When there is true contrition, the heart is broken for sin; when there is true conversion, the heart is broken from sin. We leave the old life, we are translated out of the kingdom of darkness unto the kingdom of light.1

Finally, our “spiritual eyes” must remain focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the source and consummation of our faith in God, as His Spirit actively works within us. In Jesus’ Intercessory Prayer in John 17, He foretells how His followers live “in the world,” yet they will never become “of the world” (John 17:15-18). This remains true for us today.

God commands us to be holy, just as He is holy (Leviticus 20:26). Jesus calls us to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Jesus is the Vine, and as His branches, we can yield His fruit consistently, just as He states in John 15:5. Although only Jesus was perfect, yet we can make every effort to refrain from habitual sin and let our lights shine before the world. Then we can glorify God and be a blessing to others just as the Lord teaches in Matthew 5:16.

Unfortunately, dishonesty, deceit, and debauchery have become commonplace for many professing Christians as three-quarters of Americans identify themselves as Christian, yet only 13 percent say they have no faith at all. Only one in every four is Bible-minded, although nearly two-thirds have an orthodox view of God.2

Oh, how I long for a time when noble character with principled behavior is deemed as innate Christian characteristics. To the modern-day society, inconsistent conduct has hampered our noble Christian witness,

Christianity is often not portrayed well in media. It is not “politically correct” to be a Christian anymore. Social pressure to “fit in” as a Christian is largely absent. In contrast, it is considered more socially acceptable to embrace non-Christian identities and lifestyles that stand in conflict with biblical values.3

God’s eternal purpose for His people—to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him each day—has not changed (Micah 6:8). Jesus declared that as the Light of the World, His followers will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life instead (John 8:12). In this way, He affirms His righteousness and ours.

Christian faith changes human lives as we enter into the presence of the Living God. Drastically changed human lives think, speak, and act in ways that improve the welfare of others without being motivated by race, gender, culture, social status, or political affiliation. Such is our destiny,

We don’t have to be victims of our glands. We are not automations or victims. We are free to make choices, whether noble or ignoble. To live for money, power, or pleasure is to die one day and leave it all behind. Indeed, to live for anything except Christ will mean reaching the end haunted by guilt and despair.4

Ultimately, Jesus paid the price for our sin when He died on Calvary so that we can share in the perfect joy that was set before Him. It is His joy that captivates our hearts and minds today and always as we receive His unfathomably precious gifts of forgiveness and freedom.

 What a Wonderful Savior!

 

But What About Forgiveness?

For February 7, 2021
When asked how many times we should forgive, the Lord Jesus Christ’s response was immediate, “Not just seven times, but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:22) We must be willing to forgive to the extent that He has forgiven us.

In other words, it is incumbent on us as Christians not to seek revenge, harbor grudges, or express ill will toward others whom we feel may have wronged us. Instead, the Lord challenges us to give them a “clean slate,” by treating them as if they have never wronged us, just as He does for us.

He expresses this Kingdom principle in His Model Prayer,

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:12-14 NIV).

Romans 12:19-21 (NLT), which cites from Deuteronomy 32:35 and Proverbs 25:21-22, elaborates further on the necessity for forgiveness,

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

While on the earth for nearly four years, the Lord taught incomparable lessons  on humility and self-denial such as, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 KJV). But the Twelve Disciples were slow to capture the essence of His teachings, much like we are today.

In addition, we have the Lord as our prime example of humility and self-sacrifice. He freely emptied Himself of His deity and took on a human form so that He could offer Himself as our payment for sin. Yet again, we do not understand that the Kingdom of God encompasses the spiritual realm of God’s glory, majesty, and dominion over the heavens and the earth. It is not a visible kingdom now, but it will be gloriously and incredibly visible soon.

As it was two thousand years ago, it is still true today. We prefer retaliation over reconciliation. From childhood to adulthood, we are taught not to “show any weakness” or let someone “take advantage” of us.

The Lord characterized the End Times as a period of escalating hostility. We see overt “Signs of the Times” in heightened levels of national and international warfare, the proliferation of hostility and rage, and increasing random violence.

In our modern world, we keep track of offenses, and we bear grudges when we need to overlook the offense and forgive the offender. We also “rate” sins on a “sliding scale” as though one sin was more heinous than another looking to justify ourselves.

 But no one can make comparisons since all of us have sinned, and we are deficient of God’s righteous standards (Romans 3:23). Rating sin can lead to falsely characterizing others for past criminal behavior, drug use, marital infidelity, divorce, or an abhorrent lifestyle—even when they now live for Christ fully.

Most of all, it’s hypocritical to condemn someone for his or her past when we have “skeletons” in our closet, as Jesus observes in Matthew 7:3-5 (NLT):

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, “Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,” when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

All our sliding scales need rescinding and must be replaced with true forgiveness—that is to say, forgive the offender while forgetting the offense.

We cannot impose our self-righteous human standards on God’s divine principles by forgiving certain offenses or forgiving only to a certain level. We must practice what I heard my parents, teachers, and ministers say to me while I was growing up, “God hates sin, but He loves the sinner.”

Just as God does, we too must distinguish between the offense (or sin) and the offender (the sinner) through forgiveness. Certainly at the very least, our lives would be much healthier and happier as a result.

What a Wonderful Savior!