Your Resurrection Story


This week, we celebrate the powerful culmination of the first coming of Jesus! “Born to die to rise again; to crush the power of Satan’s sin.” This is the reason why we celebrate and rejoice this week!

The Creator of all things, taking on the form of His own creation – walking among them, experiencing the same difficulties they experience. The One who never sleeps or slumbers experiencing fatigue and hunger and thirst. The One whose words were rejected  and broken by His creation, breaking bread with them, saying to them, “this is My body broken for you”. The One who was present at the casting out of Lucifer and his angels from heaven, submitting willingly to the lash and the nail from Satan’s hand. The One who turned rebellious mankind away from the Garden of Eden telling a thief from His cross, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise!”

The One who told the people to roll the stone away from Lazarus’ tomb so that He could raise him from the dead – Himself laid behind a stone on the slab of death. The One whose disciples couldn’t believe that He was alive enters their chamber of fear saying, “Touch my hands and feet. Put your hand into My side. Why are you troubled and why do doubts rise in your hearts?” The One who created the universe, Pleiades and Orion, cooks fish and prepares dinner for His disciples.

This is the reason we celebrate this Resurrection Week!

That’s a truly beautiful story but what does it have to do with me now?

That’s what I want to address today.

Jesus’ death was what we call a “substitutionary” death. He did not die for His own sins. The religious leaders and the Roman authorities tested Him over and over and could not prove that He ever did anything wrong or deserving of death. The death He died; He died as a substitute for you and I!

Isaiah 53:5 – “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “You killed Jesus!” It was by your hand that He was put to death! Now, He is risen from the dead and each of us has to reckon with Him over what we have done!

Those who do not settle this blood debt will be found guilty of murdering Christ. But, for those who give their lives to Him in faith:

  1. Our old life is crucified and buried!

Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ!” He died our death so we died to the old life and its controlling habits. Through baptism, the old life is buried with Him. When Jesus entered the grave, so did your old way of living! A dead man stops sinning! The body controlled by sin is done away with; I am no longer a slave to sin in my life! If you live by faith in Jesus, neither are you!

  1. We are raised to walk in newness of life!

If we die with Christ, it is certain that we will be raised with Him! Jesus did not stay in the grave, He lives to the Father! The Father called Him out of the grave on the chilly Easter morning and He has called us out of our life of death! You may go home to the same house and drive the same car but you are not the same! You live a life that is now free from the control of sin and submitted to the control of the Holy Spirit of the Living Christ! Your life will take a new direction because it is not following the same path! Were you addicted? You’re not now – is Jesus addicted?

  1. We never have to fear death again!

Verses 8-11: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The person who is free from sin does not ever have to fear death!

This is the transformation that all who are truly saved pass through:

Death to sin

Resurrection in the Spirit

New way of living evidenced by walking in Christ

We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection this week, but in doing so, we celebrate your resurrection as well!!

 

 

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The Morning Dawns


A morning crisp though darkness reigns;

The Son goes dark, a world in chains.

Those who live destined to die

Love’s Substitute from beyond the sky.

Heaven bled – the earth was stained

A morbid end, now darkness chained.

Hope in the grave three days it lay

Then out it came this time to stay.

The end has now become a door

What birthed in fear now leads to more.

A wicked tree – An empty grave

A way to life – a place to crave.

The day is new, the mirror lies

A destiny’s full heart now cries.

The heart of earth by Heaven won

Death could not hold the rising Son.

The morning crisp, the shadow gone

Is disappeared in Easter’s dawn!

Easter – a pagan celebration?


It is Easter time! Starting next week, Christians around the world will begin their Holy Week activities which will culminate in the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Sunday, March 27th. Many people around the world will celebrate Easter Sunday without any recognition of Jesus. They will color eggs, hide them so that their children can look for them and fill their Easter baskets. Rather than a resurrected Christ, the central figure of Easter for these folks will be a bunny.

Many people don’t understand how the modern day celebration of Easter became what it is today.

According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration — and the origin of the Easter Bunny — can be traced back to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate. The eggs which have become a central part of the Easter celebration represented life and the Easter baskets used by children were the nests in which these eggs were laid. People looked for the eggs laid by the rabbit which symbolized fertility and placed them in nests to take home in hope that the gods of fertility would bless the finder with success in the days to come.

When Roman Catholicism took root in Germany in the 15th century, these pagan rituals were incorporated into the celebration of the risen Christ.

As you can clearly see, much of what is done on Easter today springs from pagan roots and, not only has nothing to do with the resurrection of Christ but actually originates in the service of a pagan god.

What about the name Easter? Many wonder about the origins of the name: does it have pagan roots as well?

In 1858 a Scottish minister called Alexander Hislop published a book called ‘The Two Babylons’. The book’s basic teaching is that modern Christianity, in its more ritualistic form (as evidenced within Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy), is entirely pagan and can be traced back to the worship of Nimrod and Semiramis and to the very worst of ancient pagan practices. Hislop stated that the worship of Semiramis morphed as it moved from culture to culture. The name of the goddess worshiped was changed depending upon the area. In Egypt, she was called Isis. In Greece and Rome, she was called Venus, Diana, and Athena. In Babylon, she was known as Asherah. Due to the influence of this work, it came to be believed that the name “Easter” was of Babylonian origin and rooted in the worship of pagan fertility gods.

But, let’s look at this from another angle.

The English word Easter is of German/Saxon origin and not Babylonian as Alexander Hislop falsely claimed. The German equivalent is OsterOster (Ostern being the modern day equivalent) is related to Ost which means the rising of the sun, or simply in English, eastOster comes from the old Teutonic form of auferstehen / auferstehung, which means resurrection, which in the older Teutonic form comes from two words, Ester meaning first, and stehen meaning to stand. These two words combine to form erstehen which is an old German form of auferstehen, the modern day German word for resurrection.7 (Italics in original)  English and German stand apart in their use of Easter (Ostern) to refer to the celebration of the Resurrection.

John Wycliffe was the earliest translator to publish a complete New Testament in English (1382), though he did his translation from the Latin Vulgate. Wycliffe transliterated the word pascha to pask, rather than translating it.Transliteration is the conversion of a text from one script to another. In other words, a word is copied from one language alphabet to another, usually because no good translation is found. When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German (New Testament in 1522), he chose the word Oster to refer to the Passover references before and after the Resurrection.

William Tyndale translated the Bible into English from the Greek and Hebrew. His New Testament (1525) uses the word ester to refer to the Passover. In fact, we owe our English word Passover to Tyndale. When translating the Old Testament (1530), he coined the term to describe how the Lord would “pass over” the houses marked with the blood of the lamb (Exodus 12). The usage of ester was retained in the 1534 revision of the New Testament, and it was not until later that it was known as Easter, adding the a. Luther and Tyndale were the first to use a translation of pascha rather than a transliteration.9

There is much evidence to say that the name “Easter” is not of pagan religious origin.Those who have been afraid to “contaminate” the Christian celebration of the resurrection by calling it “Easter” may not need to fear. On Easter Sunday, we are going to join with the entire Christian world in celebrating “esterstehen” – Jesus being the first to stand – delivered from death!

I encourage you to celebrate the true meaning of Easter Sunday and to teach your children to do the same! Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus everyday that they live! During the season in which the world observes it’s version of Easter, find out what new life really is! Eggs laid by a bunny cannot bring success or new life but the resurrected Christ can!

Jesus is alive! Find out what that means for you during Easter 2016!

 

 

 

 

Thirty Pieces of Silver


“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.” Matthew 26:14-16

One day, we will know the true motive for Judas’ betrayal. I’m not sure that greed was at the forefront of Judas’ mind as he formulated his plan to give Jesus over to the priests. Was greed involved? Sure, I believe so. Scripture tells us that Judas was a lover of money and often stole money from the group of disciples who followed Jesus (John 12:6). I believe that greed was the foundation upon which Satan sowed the idea of betrayal into Judas’ mind. Judas wanted position and the money that came along with it.

After Jesus and His disciples entered Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week, relations between Christ and the chief priests began to deteriorate rapidly. Several times during the week, Jesus rebuked the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees for hypocrisy. This did not set well with a group whose goal was to subjugate Jesus to their authority and control. Judas watched the deterioration; seeing his dream of the recognition of Jesus by the priests as Messiah and King disappearing quickly down the drain and with it, his goal of power and wealth.

So, Judas devised a plan:

He would betray Jesus into the hands of the priests believing that when Jesus felt the sword of His enemies at His throat, He would either make peace with them or display His power to save His own neck.

As we know, and as prophesy foretold, neither happened. Jesus continued to maintain His stance as Messiah without using His power to save Himself. When Judas saw that his plan had not worked and that Jesus was condemned by the priests to die, he was remorseful, returned the silver to the priests and confessed Jesus’ innocence. All of this unfolded and, unbeknownst to the participants, fulfilled prophesy given many years before.

“And I said to them, “If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth; but only if you want to.” So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”–this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the LORD.” Zechariah 11:12-13

We know that Judas returned the silver and the money was used to buy the Potter’s Field as a place to bury strangers.

Have you ever heard the concept of “unintended consequences?”

Definition of unintended consequences: A term used to describe a set of results that was not intended as an outcome.

Judas’ plan had consequences he did not intend. His desire to be rich and influential was never realized. Judas never did make it to the King’s palace. His life ended in isolation and suicide.

This account is a reminder that what we allow to override the lordship of Christ in our lives will ultimately be the cause of our demise.

Easter is a time of the release of resurrection power! Don’t end up like Judas who heard of that power and even witnessed it but never experienced it in his own life! The plans that you make that don’t include Christ or that seek to control Him and cajole Him into agreeing with ungodly desires will have consequences you don’t foresee or intend.

This season, make Jesus lord of your life! He will lead you victoriously through the “ups and downs” that lie ahead! Resurrection power will be more than a concept or a theological point of emphasis – to you, it will be what sustains and empowers your life.

Get rid of whatever you sell Jesus out for! Get rid of your “thirty pieces of silver” and accept Jesus’ love and sacrifice. On the other side of your decision awaits newness of life!

Happy Easter everyone!!! May God reveal Himself to you as you press into His Presence!

Palm Sunday


This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the traditional beginning of Holy Week. It begins the most powerful of weeks; the week in which we remember the events leading to the culmination of our faith: the salvation of our souls.

Read MATTHEW 21:1-17

The events of Matthew 21, happened on a very important day for the Israelites. Many years before, prior to their release from bondage, the Lord announced His tenth and final plague upon the Egyptians. At the same time the Lord told the Israelites about the final plague, He gave them the following instructions:

Read EXODUS 12:1-14

Shortly after these instructions, the Lord passed through Egypt and killed the firstborn of every man and beast. When the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors of the Israelites, he passed over them. They were quickly released from their bondage in Egypt and went out to serve the Lord with great joy and gladness. God declared that this celebration would signify the first month of their year and would be an everlasting celebration known as the Lord’s Passover.

In obedience to the Lord, the Israelites called the first month of their calendar year “Nisan” which means “fresh, green, new growth” and instituted the annual celebration of Passover. On the tenth day of Nisan, the first month of their calendar year, the Israelites choose a male lamb, without blemish and set it aside to be held for four days and then slaughtered at twilight of the day of preparation for Passover.

The triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem occurred on the tenth of Nisan, the day of the choosing of the Passover lamb. On the same day of the choosing of the spotless, unblemished lamb for slaughter, Jesus entered Jerusalem. He rode into town on a donkey. The people laid their clothing on the road before Him which in Israel, was a sign of the recognition of royalty. They also cut down palm branches and laid them before Him which was a sign of victory for a conqueror. The entry of Jesus and the manner in which it was done fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah, the great prophet of Israel’s future which alerted Israel to the appearance of its Messiah.

As Jesus entered, the people shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” – the Son of David being their affirmation of Him as Messiah and the cry of “hosanna” being their cry for salvation.

On 10 Nisan, Jesus was “chosen” by the people as Messiah and source of salvation for the Jewish people.

The entire city was moved at Jesus’ entry. Never in history had a man been affirmed as this Man was. The Romans became watchful and the leaders of Israel became jealous. Jesus immediately went to the temple and began the process of cleansing it and proclaiming it, “His house”. He drove out all that bought and sold. His fearlessness frightened the Pharisees and Sadducees. He began to heal the sick. The release of power and the praise of the children in the temple so unnerved the chief priests and scribes that they became indignant. In one day, by His actions, Jesus had done something that the priests and leaders had not been able to do the whole time they had been in charge: He restored purity, power, and perfected praise to the house of God!

Of course at the triumphant entry the multitude did not understand that they were choosing the Lamb of God to sacrifice, but they believed they were choosing a king who would set them free from Roman rule. In less than a week, they would turn against Him as an imposter and the high priest would order Him sacrificed for the nation.

John 11:47-52: “Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.’ And one of them, Caiaphas, being the high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.’ Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. Then from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.”

In the days preceeding the killing of the Passover lamb, Jesus would be “tested” and “inspected” by the priests with hard questions. His answers and actions proved His fidelity to His Father and His freedom from sin and impurity.

But, the more clear His lordship as Messiah became, the more obstinate and rebellious the leaders of the people were. By the end of the week, all the people: those who had at one time declared Him Messiah just a few days before, those who had seen His power and had partaken of His kindness and goodness – they turned against Him and by their words and actions demanded His death.

Walk with Jesus this week – Celebrate His choice as the Passover Lamb, crucified for the sins of all. Find your place in the joyful congregation as we celebrate His entry into the world, not as a baby but as the greatest gift of the Father – the Son of Man who gave His life so that you and I might live!

 

 

 

Victim and Oppressor


Русский: Спас Отпечаток лика Христа на Туринск...

Jesus’ actions during Holy Week will be recreated and celebrated throughout the world this weekend. As we put on our recreations, we may add a little bit of “theater” to what really happened in Jerusalem. Forgive us…..we, as Christians get a little bit excited about Easter, plus we feel the pressure to make these events “move” unbelievers.

Have you ever watched an Easter production and thought it looked kind of “fake”; not quite like what would happen in real life?

The events of Holy Week happened in real time in real life. I have realized that the closer those events come to “home” in someone’s life, the more impact they have. I believe that is the reason that the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” had such an impact. Many abhorred its brutality, yet its fidelity to what really happened was what moved so many people. It brought the sacrifice of Jesus into our world and therefore, people felt it’s impact.

This week, many pastors are thinking of how to creatively bring the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus “home” to people’s lives. We don’t have to feel pressure to find a “new” way to give our message – we just have to be faithful to the original account. It carries within it the power to change lives.

Jesus lived His life among the common irritations of us all: dirt, sickness, summer heat, winter cold, etc. He also lived among the more powerful threats of life: thievery, murder, adultery, etc. Before His life ended, He was vilified, rejected, beaten, and stolen from. When He died, He was murdered among thieves in a place known to be a “killing field” for those rejected as imposters and blasphemers. His name was associated with those who were the “problem people” of society; liars, “scam artists”, rebels and the like.

He felt the sting of having His life railroaded by “politics”. He knew the pain of having His mother witness His humiliation. He felt the rejection of having His friends abandon Him at His moment of greatest need. He knew what it was like to pour into people and then see them scatter in their own self-interest. He was stripped naked in front of women and children. He was treated like an animal with no advocate working toward His humane treatment. He had to watch His enemy laugh at His predicament. He lost His position of influence. He was brutalized. He was degraded. He was hurt. He was lied about.

These are the things that bring the story of Holy Week “home”. As we see what He went through, we feel “connected” because we have experienced at least part of what He knew.

I also connect to this story in another way: I have treated others in at least one of the ways in which He was treated. I stand before Him as both victim and oppressor.

What a predicament this puts me in!

I feel both empathy and shame in His presence.

But, the story of Easter is a story of healing for both victim and oppressor. Jesus came to heal the wounds of the victim and to free them in Him. He also came to forgive the oppressor and give Him a new opportunity at life – a life free of guilt and condemnation.

The drama of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday is powerful, not because of an actor’s portrayal but because it happened where I live. I know it intimately. It is my life.

This week, we will share this drama with a world that can relate. There is no need to “dramatize” what happened – it is their life. Trust God this week and share His life with everyone who will listen!

Happy Easter everyone!

May the pain of Good Friday and the joy of Resurrection Sunday fill you with peace  in our Lord Jesus Christ!