Resurrection and Life

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall live,…”

John 11:25

Today’s words to describe Jesus are the resurrection and life from John 11:25. Here it is actually Jesus himself calling himself this as He comforts Martha from the death of her brother Lazarus who He ultimately brings back to life later in the chapter after being dead for four days.

It’s not too often that we don’t attend church (now virtually) on Sunday morning during the planned service time, but this week because of some family circumstances we did not. I also typically write my Biblejournal.net posting on Saturday or Sunday, but here I am writing it Tuesday morning after watching the sermon Monday morning. As I watched the sermon Monday, God yet again left me in amazement as the central focus of Pastor Mike Baker’s sermon was the resurrection of Jesus. Yes, all sermons are about Jesus and typically come back to the hope we have in Him because of the resurrection, but this was the central theme of his entire message. I believe there are no coincidences, and apparently God wanted a few more people who may read this but who not attend Eastview Christian Church to hear some of Pastor Mike’s nuggets.

The central verses for Pastor Mike’s sermon were 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 where Paul discusses the resurrection. Pastor Mike said, “What’s weird is not someone dying for a cause which has been done for years, what’s weird is someone rising from the dead.” Paul adderesses in these verses that Jesus was undoubtedly alive after His crucifixion as He appeared to Cephas (Peter), the twelve (all the disciples), five hundred at one time (Paul does not give the exact event but many believe this to be the ascension in Luke 24:50-53), His brother James, the apostles, and to Paul himself even though Paul states he was not worthy because he himself persecuted and killed Christians. We know in Luke 24 Jesus was with the disciples and asked for something to eat in Luke 24:41-43. Pastor Mike brought to light the fact that five hundred people don’t hallucinate and a dead person or a ghost does not eat. As I’ve written about before, what is most convicting to me about the resurrection is the fact that the disciples went from running away and hiding in the room Jesus ultimately appeared to them in as they feared for their own lives to spreading the Gospel at all costs knowing they would likely be killed for doing so as nearly all of them were. Would they have done this if they had stolen the body themselves or if they didn’t actually see and talk to Jesus? Not a chance. Well, maybe Jesus wasn’t actually dead? Much has been written on this topic to debunk this which not only speaks to how the description of crucifixion event in the Bible prove He was dead, but also the fact that the Romans were killing machines. This is what they did. They didn’t make mistakes when it came to killing someone. If this topic is something you are interested in exploring further beyond the greatest source in the Bible itself, I recommend reading the book Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Lee was in investigative reporter and atheist who was out to disprove the Gospel. He now has written many books and travels the world spreading the Gospel.

So why does the resurrection matter to each one of us? Pastor Mike says there are two central questions we must all answer and move beyond. First, how do I get past my wrongdoings and sin? Second, what happens to me when I die? Jesus is the resurrection and also the life because He is the answer to both these questions. Believing in Him and that He was without sin yet was sacrificed for us and our sins and that He was raised so we who believe will also be raised (John 11:25) means that we can all answer both these questions and ultimately have life.

Last week I was meeting virtually with a client and as a part of our initial chit chat we were talking about all the craziness going on in the world today on many levels and especially with him being in healthcare. Although He was satisfied from our financial review, I didn’t really know how to wrap up the call to say goodbye as I knew there was still some discontentment with the world today in general. The only thing I could think of to say was that we know who’s really in control and that He has a plan. He responded by saying honestly that is only way he is getting through all of this. The only thing we have to fear is death, but as 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 says, “’O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.” We have nothing to fear because we are ALL undefeated through Him. He is life…eternal life.

As the song “Great Are You Lord” says…

 

You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are you Lord

 

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise to You only….

https://youtu.be/ZZqV6i98SkA

Ancient of Days

When you hear the word wisdom, what image comes to mind? Is there a specific person you think of?

Today’s title or attribute of God we are focusing on is the Ancient of Days from Daniel 7:22 which reads, “until the Ancient of Days came, and judgement was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the Kingdom.” I must admit I wasn’t too familiar with this title for God and had to do a little more research, but Daniel uses this title 3 times in Daniel 7:9, Daniel 7:13, and Daniel 7:22.

The 7th chapter of Daniel is his prophetic vision showing God the Father ultimately rules over eternity and will accomplish this through the son of man (Daniel 7:13). This chapter is significant because Jesus uses the title of the son of man for himself more than any other name. The son of man approaches the Ancient of Days in verse 13 and the Ancient of Days is described in verse 9 as not only having clothing white as snow, but “the hair of his head like pure wool.” This gives us an image the Ancient of Days which seems to represent (not a literal picture though) God the Father as an older man with white hair. I also think of the references to God the Father as “Alpha and Omega” and “him who is and who was and who is to come” from Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 1:8. These, verses along with entire chapter of Daniel 7, and God’s title of the Ancient of Days remind us the God is ruler over all and no matter what terrible things we see or experience in our lifetime, He will ultimately claim victory (Daniel 7:27). In this life, we can live with the peace of knowing we fight from victory…not for victory (Isiah 26:3).

At the beginning I posed the question about what image or person comes to mind when you think about the word wisdom. These days we all seem to know someone who has experienced dementia or Alzheimer’s in old age, and unfortunately, I think we now lump many of the elderly into a group that many would even call senile. However, if God the Father is described in the image of the Ancient of Days as an older person with white hair, let this be a reminder that much wisdom can be gained from the elderly who have learned and experienced far more than we have in our younger years. Near the end of 2018, I wrote a post called Angels We Have Heard in Brooklyn about 93 year old Thomas King who spoke so much wisdom and inspiration to us while on a mission trip at exactly right time. Sadly though, Thomas told us when his church recently recognized him for his years of membership, they would not even let him speak…although his wise words to us cut sharply like a knife to us. As we go forth today, let us not only remember God the Father’s sovereignty as the Ancient of days and learn from Him through the Word, but let us also remember as we interact with the elderly the words Job 12:12 which read, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” We can learn from them as well

The Christmas Story Continues

Revelation chapter 12 gives us the truth about Christmas. It is about the eternal destiny of all mankind. It is about war, Satan and his angels, Michael and his angels, God, a virgin birth, a mass murder of infants by evil in high places and principalities of this world and, Praise God, Christ’s ultimate victory. But it doesn’t stop there. It is not just a historical view. It reaches forward to where we are now and where we are headed. The Christmas story continues. It helps us understand the realities of the post war world we are living in.

Often times when thinking about a past war, victors will recall images of celebration. Their post war snap shots are flooded with newspaper headlines that read “Peace!” or “It’s Over!”. These types of images often come from the victors territory and can give the victors a false sense of finality. The war may have been won but the reality may be that the victory was the beginning of the end, not the actual end. However on the other hand the losers’ dominion presents a very different picture. One that is easier to discern; the war has been won, but battles still rage and lives still hang in the balance. 

On the other side the picture will often look something like this; failed states left in ruins, void of leadership and often rampant with lawlessness. The victors have left behind remnants of their soldiers to help the failed state find their way. These soldiers are most always up against remnants of a different sort, remnants of the enemy. 

Post war, the enemy most often deploys a covert strategy. They go underground to continue the fight covertly, doing all they can undermine the victor’s agenda and to strengthen their camp. What seems to motivate them is the hope of carrying their agenda forward at some future time. Living to fight another day. History has shown us that of these sorts the worst is often the hopeless. The ones who know they will never gain the strength to ultimately win but deceive and give false hope to that end anyway. Who still refuse to let go of their agenda and determine themselves to ‘take as many with them’ to their hopeless end as possible.

The end of Revelation chapter 12 makes it clear, the War is won but not over. the battle still rages and Christians are in enemy territory. The enemy is present, powerful and hopeless. In my estimation, a Christian’s role then is that of the remnant of the victor in enemy territory post war, there to help people find their way to the right side. There to provide a beacon of truth amidst all the undercurrents of deception. There to save people from hopelessness.

Perhaps this is the gift of Christmas that Christians wield in post war enemy territory. The light that Christians have been given to shine in the shadow of deceit and through the darkness of hopelessness that the enemy works so hard to create. May your light shine this Christmas season. May your Christmas be merry and bright!

 

Today’s reading: 2 Chronicles 25; Revelation 12; Zechariah 8; John 11

Suggestions for prayer: Ask God to help you steward the gift of Christmas well for Him. Ask Him to help you give the gift of Christmas.

Victory in Battle

Today’s Reading:1 Samuel 7–8; Romans 6; Jeremiah 44; Psalms 20–21

Victory In Battle

Do you remember the song, Victory in Jesus? What a time tested song that has truth embedded throughout.  As we read today in Psalms 20-21 I reflect on that victory song and the sermon Mike Baker did this past week on, Rider on the White Horse and being victorious. When we find our victory through Him, we need to praise Him.

Unfortunately, we can often find trouble based on our own desires to conform to certain desires of the flesh.  Romans 12:2 reminds us not to conform  but in the testing we receive in battle, it can can help us see the desires of the Lord.  I pray we see the will of God in these moments.

Psalm 20:1 May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the God of Jacob protect you!

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Challenge upon challenge can come at you at any moment without any kind of warning. What is our response? Taking a trip down memory lane can reveal the many times I trusted in myself, chariots or horses.  In these times I would struggle, make excuses, and continue the pattern. My prayer is that we turn to our Lord for everything and especially in our troubles.  In the heat of a moment I still can fall back to this old selfish pattern.  I will continue to pray for a faith that is present in all moments, has enough presence to change my heart, and present to the point it’s my first choice at all times.
So in our times of challenge by yourself, in your home, work, or community turn to God. Ask for Holy Spirit help and Psalm 20:4 says may he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!

Behind these deceptions is Satan who desires us to make bad choices and turn away from God. A spiritual battle that without God will sadly have one result.  In this battle we need our Lord and Holy Spirit to bring us to victory.

Psalm 20:8 They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.

And when the victory is our Lord’s we will be like Psalm 21:13 Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

It can be done, the short term victory is yours but the long term victory is HIS. God bless your Tuesday. If you missed last week sermon I have attached the message that shows how we can be victorious with HIM.

Victory Plan

Today’s reading: Joshua 8; Psalm 139; Jeremiah 2; Matthew 16

July 6th, 2016

As I read Matthew 16: 21-28 I can not help but echo @BakerPastor’s sermon from this past Sunday. Victory is Christ changes everything! The sermon series; Victory, the sermon; Victory Plan. The key takeaway for me was a key question: Do I still love this world? It came by way of Pastor Baker referencing John 16:33. With this perspective of truth in mind he paraphrased a prayer that many may have prayed, “God let us stay in this place that hurts longer.” He prefaced it with a challenging rhetorical question, “Isn’t it weird to you? how much we want to stay in this world?”  

The key question above used the word still in it because in Christ’s victory, everything should be different. Before Christ I certainly loved this world. All my hope was of this world. I pursued its worthless promises and hurt more and more every time I realized them empty. Now though, through victory in Christ, my hope is restored and strengthened in truth, backed by the power of God’s word in His promises. Why then do I still struggle with trusting in this world (Romans 7:15)? God make us complete (James 1:4). God give us discernment to know truth from lies (Philippians 1:9-10). Empower us with Your Spirit LORD and light our paths (Psalm 199:105). Protect us from the evil one (Ephesians 6:12).

In Matthew chapter 16 just after Jesus established His identity with His disciples, He began to talk plainly with them about the victory plan. How He would suffer, be killed and raised in three days (Matthew 16:21). This was quite contrary to the the victory plan Peter (and presumably most of Jesus’s followers) had in mind. Their’s was one of the world. A great warrior king to overthrow the Roman empire, etc. Peter quickly begins to rebuke Christ upon hearing His non worldly victory plan. Christ then tells Satan in Peter to take his proper place, behind Him, as He gives clear instruction on how to live with an enlightened perspective in victory. He makes clear that the victory plan is above the world (Isaiah 55:8):

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. – Matthew 16:24–27

I often hear this scripture misused, in my estimation, due to a lack of context. I hear of a call to take up one’s cross, as if it were some sort of burden to bare. Instead consider it a release from the burden and bondage of this world and its downward spiral of empty promises (Galatians 5:1). Keep in mind that someone carrying a cross in this time was literally a dead man walking. Would they not be looking to things past this world? Christ tells us to live this way today. Run the race this way today. Where is your mind stayed today? What do you have your eye on? What are you hoping to accomplish today? … Do you love this world? 

God would you give us a single eye for Jesus’s Kingdom? Would You send Your Spirit to empower us to run this race to win and finish strong? God we ask this in Jesus Name. Thank you LORD. Praise Your Name! Amen.

 

Extra Credit.

If you missed it, consider reading this post: This way to happiness, trust me – Satan