Resurrection!

Resurrection!

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:1-8 NIV

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about. Luke 18:31-34 NIV

It is comforting to know that everything prophesied about the Coming Messiah has been fulfilled–just as it was told.

Because of His obedience and willingness to sacrifice His life for love; we all have an opportunity to live with Him for all eternity–just as He said we would.

There are many things that have been said throughout the past week and will continue in churches all over the world today, but the most important thing that can ever be said is, “He rose from the dead so we might have life.” It is through His resurrection that we gain grace–unmerited favor–to live with Him, not because of how good we are.

Actually, our entrance into Heaven has nothing to do with our being good, but on how we live that demonstrates we belong to Jesus.

Are we loving and forgiving?

Are we defending the rights of the poor and the needing?

Are we seeking God for direction in all we do or are we allowing the dictates of man to control us?

No one has demonstrated love with the ultimate sacrifice of giving their life so we might live other than Jesus.

No one has died and rose again–just as He said He would–returning to the Father–preparing a place for us–other than Jesus.

So take a few minutes or the entire day or the rest of the your life and think about what His Resurrection really means to you and enjoy the celebration!

Happy Resurrection Day!

In The Interim–Burial and Resurrection!

In The Interim–Burial and Resurrection!

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. Matthew 28:1-3 NIV

More imagination at work. We have a record of what to Jesus after He was crucified and buried–but nothing until the angel announced His resurrection (more on Sunday as we celebrate). What happened in the interim?

Looking at what we do know–that Judas’ eyes were opened after the betrayal and even his greed took a backseat to his guilt. After returning the money to the high priests–who refused to acknowledge what he had to say, picked up the money Judas had thrown on the floor and later purchased a burial field for the poor–Judas hung himself.

Now, in order for Jesus to rise–early one morning on the third day–with all power in His hands–something had to happen–that made even the devil regret the role he played in deceiving people. For when Jesus–the man died–the Spirit Jesus–unencumbered by flesh and bones–was free to wreak havoc on the devil’s territory and He did.

For any who were listening closely they would have heard the rumble underneath the surface and heard the screams of utter terror as Jesus cleaned house in the abode of the enemy. All who had once succumbed to the wiles of the enemy and who had no possible access to heaven, attempted to act as barriers–to protect the devil–but they discovered rather quickly, they were no match for the One who had created all things and without Him, nothing was ever created.

Jesus tossed them aside as though they were feathers and blew them into oblivion to await their final resting place in the lake of fire–prepared for the devil and all who followed him.

Now, with no further obstacles in His way, Satan–that beady-eyed mongrel–the master of deception and father of liars, the one whose only goal was to steal, kill and destroy, stood quaking–fearful of the only outcome possible–his defeat and though he knew he was defeated refused to give up the fight. Attempting to use his charisma–deceptive ploys–his poisonous smile, totally disingenuous, he began to explain what happened with Judas and the high priests and all who played a role in the arrest.

Jesus patiently waited for him to finish telling his tall tales and after hour upon hour of the lies, Jesus silenced Satan with one look and the devil knew all his lies had  been for nothing. Backed into a corner, whimpering like the sniveling snake he once portrayed, he fell upon his knees begging for another chance. Jesus reminded him of the chances he’d been given–before he attempted to overthrow heaven, in the garden, and all the people he had influenced-the kings who denied God and caused people to live in opposition to His law, and the people who fell for the lies. It didn’t take long because with every Word Jesus spoke, evidence piled up against Satan grew higher than a mountain. Knowing he was about to be blown into oblivion as well, he tried one more time to appeal to God’s nature of love.

After listening for a few moments, Jesus silenced Satan and told him, “When I leave here, I leave with all power and the keys to hell in my hands and I will give that power to whoever shall call upon my name. And when I return and I will return, all who hold those keys shall enter into heaven and stand as a testimony against you.”

“You’re giving me another chance?” Satan asked, surprised.

Jesus looked around at the pitiful abode the devil called his home and looked at him, pitying him.

“I’m not giving you another chance. I’ve giving mankind another chance to see you for who you really are and to choose between you and me.”

Emboldened by his lack of understanding, Satan stood up grinning. “And you think they’ll choose you over me when I can teach them all manner of evil to overcome being a goody-two-shoes like you?”

With a wave of His hand, all the chains and shackles that held those in bondage under Satan’s influence fell apart and they were free and all the holy ones revived. They stood waiting for direction from Jesus, while Satan choked on the fear rising in him.

“You may convince a few, but there are so many more who will choose me when they discover you never cared about them and used them to annoy me. But your day is coming–soon. And you know with the Father, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day, but I will return and then the final judgment will be made for all. Only those who refuse to repent and call upon me will share your fate for all eternity.”

And with those final words, Satan became mute, unable to speak, and could only watch as the earth opened and Jesus rose with those saints who had died before Him, and all the power Satan thought he had–was ripped from him so Jesus could give it to all who chose to follow Him.

Imagination is grand and though this is my own creative thought–I’m sure that something along these lines occurred and now–we all have a decision to make–to follow Christ or allow the devil’s influence to guide us.

 

Encourage One Another With These Words!

“According to the Lord’s Word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage one another with these words.” (I Thessalonians 4:15-18 NIV)

On a subject that not many care to discuss, but should–death. There is one reality that all must face–we are born to die, unless the Lord returns before that event occurs. However, though there is a physical death, we can look forward to rising upon His return so that we will be with Him forever.

On a secular scale–most people simply see death as a natural occurrence–and it is. But for those of us who are living a Spirit-filled life, we know that physical death is simply part of the transition to getting into heaven.

For those who are truly Believers, death should never frighten us; especially if we have lived our lives to please God. While there are those around us who are dying daily, from sickness and disease, and we’re praying–we should be mindful that when a person dies who has suffered pain and anguish, death is also a form of healing for when they are gone–their suffering ends. 

And while we miss loved ones who go before us–if they knew the Lord, we can be thankful that they, too shall reign with Him when He makes His glorious return.

For this reason–so all will rise at the sound of the trumpet and command–Believers should be a witness of God’s mercy and grace, telling all they can the Good News about the work on the Cross. When we become saved–our job is just beginning–for the Lord would have all men to be saved and once we have accepted the sacrifice Jesus made for us and are living for Him, we should want everyone we know to know the Savior who loves us. And we should keep telling the good news until we reach the stage of our own transition.

Therefore, death as a conformity of life–should not be feared, nor should we spend time grieving over much for those who have made the transition, but we should rejoice in the knowledge that one day–they shall rise and reign with us, all with The Lord. Though our hearts may hurt for a time, our spirits should soar and heal the hurt–remembering all the good things and continuing to spread the Gospel until we are finished with earthly works.

While we yet have time to do so–and we must make the most of every hour we have–we need to share the love of God and encourage all to Believe in our Risen Savior so we won’t have to be sad when they depart this earthly realm. We encourage others to get into The Word of God, develop a relationship with Him, and know that when we’re gone–they will seek The Lord for comfort and be assured of our rising from the dead upon His return–before all who are left alive–whose hearts belong to Jesus.

Therefore, when we experience consoling someone who has lost a loved one or even if we lose a loved one, encourage all with these words–their end is not The End–if they know The Lord.

Why Jesus Said, “Whoever Lives By Belief In Me Will Never Die!”

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26 NIV)

Within John’s record of the life of Jesus, Jesus says, “believes” fourteen times and in the rest of the New Covenant, it is mentioned eleven other times. Of course in the King James Version, the word believeth is used (meaning the same thing) and occurs in both Old and New for a total of forty-five times. Since I’m expounding on what Jesus said and why, let’s take a closer look at why belief is so important.

Whatever a person believes–has immoveable faith in–good or bad, that is usually indicative of how a person lives. If they believe in a horoscope–they live their life according to the horoscope. If they believe Oprah Winfrey is wiser than God, they live their life according to Oprah. If they believe than one political party is superior to another, they live their life supporting that party and criticizing the other. If people believe they’ll become rich by gambling, they gamble on a regular basis (and the lottery is gambling). If they believe that God’s Word can ever be changed to pacify fleshly dictates, they live their lives doing whatever they want because they do not understand–God’s Word never changes and neither will His judgment. 

But let’s get back to what’s taking place in Jesus’ life when He said what He said. He had been that Lazarus was sick and instead of going to him immediately, Jesus delayed his departure. He told his disciples that Lazarus was sleep and they thought he was just asleep because of sickness. Jesus then told them, he was dead.

John 11:15-24

v. 15 And for your sake I am glad I was not there, so you may believe. But let us go to him.

v. 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

v.17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

v. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem,

v 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.

v. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

v. 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.

v. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

v. 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

v. 24 Martha answered, ” I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

And after Jesus asked her the question about what she believed, she said, she believed. I can imagine the heartache Martha felt over losing her brother and some have said (their interpretations of her statement) that she was accusing Jesus of waiting too long to come to them. She didn’t understand the magnitude of what was about to happen, but she believed that Jesus would take care of it and He did.

Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead and buried so that all who observed Him would witness the miracle and share it with others. He simply looked unto His Father and then commanded Lazarus to come out of the tomb and he did. Faith–can move mountains, cause the dead to rise and the sick to recover–if we will only believe–have immoveable faith in Him.

Lazarus rose from the dead to live again, but we don’t know how long he lived until he succumbed to natural, then. What we do know is that all are appointed a time to die, naturally, but those who believe Jesus is the resurrection and when He returns, the dead shall rise and the rest of us caught up with Him, shall live for all eternity in heaven.

We simply have to believe–having faith in Him–and not man’s suppositions about death and dying, sickness and disease, sin and holiness. If we believed and lived our beliefs in Him, the world would be in a much better place. Do we believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do we believe that His blood, shed on the cross at Calvary, was shed for us–that we might have access to heaven, through Him? Do we believe that we have the power–through Holy Spirit–to live without sin in our lives? If the answer is yes, we believe, then why aren’t we living what we say we believe? Our active obedience to God demonstrates our love for Him and our belief–our immoveable faith in Him. Lord, help us!

More about what Jesus said and why, next time.

He Had to Rise!

“(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)” John 20:9 NIV

The disciples who ran to the tomb when Mary told them the door had been rolled away saw the strips of linen and the cloth that covered His face when He was put into the tomb and believed He was not there, but they did not understand that He had to rise to fulfill scripture and His purpose for our lives.

It wasn’t enough that He came through the womb of a virgin–but it was written.

It wasn’t enough that He was persecuted, scorned and beaten--but it was written.

It wasn’t enough that people lied on Him and He was arrested--but it was written.

It wasn’t enough that He was crucified, taking our sins upon Himself that our relationship with God would be restored–but it was written.

It wasn’t enough that He died on that cross, the symbol of being cursed–but it was written.

It wasn’t enough that He was buried in a borrowed tomb--but it was written.

Now, He has risen is sitting at the right hand of the Father–interceding always on our behalf--it was written and it is enough, but do we really believe Him, yet?

Everything He did, He did out of love for us, that we might have an abundant life and live in peace, choosing to please the Father, not self. Are we there yet?

Some are and some aren’t, but I’m praying that this day will be a reminder of His great love for us and all will choose to live a life that is pleasing to Him!

Resurrection Greeting

His Return Policy!

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22 NIV)

Many cities have return policies on cans, plastic, and glass beverage containers. We pay a deposit on the container and when we’re finished with it, we can return to a store to “redeem” the same amount paid for the deposit. For those who forget about the deposit paid on a container and discard them, there are those who diligently seek them in garbage cans everywhere and when they find “their treasure” they return the container for a deposit they did not pay.

God so loved the world that He came down to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, lived among us, preached what His Father said, knew He came to die for us, hung on a cross for our sins, and provided a means for us to return to a right relationship with The Father with His Resurrection.

He paid the price through His death–the deposit we could not pay and now we can capitalize on the Return by simply turning away from and stop doing those things that keep us from being in a right relationship with God.

Isaiah prophesied God sweeping away our offenses like the ever-moving clouds, (with the work on the cross) and now He’s waiting for us to return to Him, since He has already redeemed us.

He’s waiting for us to realize the treasures He has stored up for us because of His love. How long will He have to wait? For some, the deposit will never be redeemed because the desires of the flesh reign and those who love to fulfill the desires of their flesh, never hear Him speak.

The price has been paid–the deposit on our lives to enter into the gates of heaven–even though we could not pay it, He has paid it for us and all we have to do is return to God–willing to live out His purposes for our lives.

Are we ready? Or will we wait too long and He Returns for those who love Him and some will get left behind, wondering what happened?

Time is running short and the enemy knows it! This is why greed and corruption rule the land, chaos and confusion keep people unbalanced and they think they are wiser than God, not realizing they have been duped by the devil who doesn’t want to burn alone in the lake of fire.

Today, we have another chance to return to Him and receive the benefit for which we never paid. Let’s do it and wipe the smirk off the devil’s face!

Who Died For You?

“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (I Corinthians 1:13 NIV)

In the never-ending battle over which religion or denomination is the most important, this question should actually end all discussion. Who died for you that you might have life and that more abundantly?

As great as some of the founders of various denominations may have been–none of them were appointed to die as atonement for man’s sins, but Jesus.

None of the separatists–those who pulled away from the original “doctrine that Jesus promoted” have been able to say, “through their death, mankind is saved” for all eternity.

If we look carefully at each of the “religious dogmas” we find error and confusion and reason to debate.

Peter could not have been the “rock” upon which Catholic doctrine (regarding non-marriage for priests) was established since he was married (Matthew 8:14). The doctrine was established out of need to control and an inability to comprehend what Paul was saying.

Martin Luther did not die for mankind’s sins.

Buddha did not die for mankind’s sins.

Mohammad did not die for mankind’s sins.

John Wesley did not die for mankind’s sins.

This list could go on and on, but the point here is–to make people aware that we must pay attention to who we reverence and why. God has always used “people” to accomplish His will, but that doesn’t mean we should give “the people” the place of honor that does not belong to them.

Though greatness is determined by those who affix the title–none of them–died that we might have life.

And this was the warning Paul was giving–though we have respect for those who do great things, we cannot give them the place of honor that only belongs to Jesus Christ. When we attempt to put “mere men” upon pedestals, chaos and confusion reign since those men (or women) are just as imperfect as the rest of us.

So, rather than argue and debate which religion is greater or which leader is the most revered, let’s focus on the One, True founder of our faith (if we say we are followers of Christ) and give Him the honor and reverence that is due Him and no one else. How can we say we believe in God and not believe that He came down from heaven in the person of Jesus Christ, clothed in flesh, like a mere man in order to save us from ourselves, with the ultimate sacrifice of His life on the cross?

He is the reason for this season–His birth, death, burial, and resurrection–all made possible by His love for us. Who else could make this claim?