HE IS RISEN, JESUS IS RISEN INDEED!

Today is Easter Sunday.

What began last week as a simple sore throat has turned into a monster of a head cold. So I am stuck at home on the one morning that means more to me that all the others during the year.

Easter.

So many lovely memories attached to that day. Bright sunny Sunday’s, dressed in some frilly little dress, shiny white shoes and of course, the proverbial Easter bonnet, walking in the Easter parade at Williams Park which was the center of so many great activities back in the 50’s. If great old metal structures can have memories, that old band shell must some glorious memories or wonderful music and delightful events that were part of that city’s history, part of my childhood.

And I remember the choir that often sang the Easter morning music. They came from the First United Methodist church, the old stone church across the avenue. It had the most beautiful stained-glass windows that anyone could imagine. And that old church is still there today on 2nd. Ave & 3rd St. No.

Dressed all the white, the choir would bring a great joyful sound to the morning air. And all the kids, eager to hunt for their bounty of colored eggs and treats would sit, not so still and not so quietly I am sure. But what a glorious day.

I think the first time I ever hear this hymn, was on an Easter morning in William’s Park.

“Low in the grave He lay”

(Hear the music. . http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/123#ixzz1rSErhlGx )

Low in the grave He lay — Jesus my Savior!
Waiting the coming day — Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed — Jesus, my Savior!
Vainly they seal the dead — Jesus my Lord!   

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Death cannot keep his prey — Jesus, my Savior!
He tore the bars away — Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

~~~~~~~~~

And yes, He is risen!

And He told of His resurrection. Here are 6 verses that I found where He spoke of His own resurrection.

Matthew 16:21
Matthew 17:9
Matthew 17:22-23
Matthew 20:18-19
Matthew 26:32
John 2:19

There may be others but my eyes are failing now because of this rotten cold so if you want more I suggest you go to: http://www.biblegateway.com and look for more.

And while you’re there, look up:

1 Corinthians 15:6
Acts 1:3
Matthew 26:56

And after you have read all of those Scriptures, consider for one moment what all of it means to you!!

He Is Risen!!

UNSHACKLED

For a week I have been fighting off what seems to be a strep infection. I began last weekend with a very sore throat but has now evolved into a terrible head cold with sporadic fever and chills.  And I will add that I am a horrible patient.

Consequently, I haven’t spent much time with the computer. And wanting something to listen to, I was browsing through my collection of sermons and had a minor memory revelation.

Years ago, my work hours were generally long, finishing most nights as late as 10:30 PM. So while driving home I would listen to Moody Radio and the one program that I really enjoyed came from the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.

Today to my pleasure, I found that I can listen to their great stories on the WEB. Their program is called “Unshackled“. If you have ever listened to the great testimonies of folks so deep in sin, then you know how wonderful they are.

If you haven’t, now’s your chance.

Just visit http://www.unshackled.org/

They have archives of many past radio broadcasts and will have you in tears.

And don’t forget to take a look at the wonderful Bible study program at www.swordsearcher.com

Theist or Non

This is not something that I had planned on posting here.  But in looking for something relating to Judas I came across this blog “Atheist Nexus” and the first post caught my eye.  So after a bit of reading and writing I prepared a reply to “Tezzie” but when I tried to post my reply I was blocked because I am not an atheist. 

So I decided to post it here.  For anyone ever facing the same question from one who says they are an atheist, here is some valid and substantial arguments in defense of our faith in Jesus Christ.

First, here is Tezzie’s Q.  “I know the Jesus that we atheists know is most likely just a myth but I would like to find out if, and only if, Jesus did exist (the man, not the god that did miracles) would these gospel writers have actually met him? I saw a you tube video (not entirely sure which one it was) that was showing someone from the Islamic religion debunking the Christian religion. He said that none of them had ever met Jesus as they only wrote the gospel 40-80 years after Jesus’ supposed death.
Can anyone verify this for me, it would be an interesting point to make when arguing with a christian.”

And my reply:                                                                                                                       

“Before saying anything about Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, I want to mention Ignatius. Known as Ignatius of Antioch, his DOB is between 35 & 50 AD, and he died in about 108 AD (according to Eusebius of Caesarea (c. AD 263-339) also called Eusebius Pamphili, a historically proven Roman historian). Ignatius did not meet Jesus face to face, but along with his friend Polycarp (69-155 AD) were probably disciples of the Apostle John. Based on the testimony of John, these two men believed in Jesus Christ as Lord. Because if they didn’t they were insane, and nothing in any of their writings indicated that.

Ignatius was sentenced to die in the Colosseum being eaten by lions for refusing to recant his faith in Jesus Christ. And Polycarp who is recorded as saying on the day of his execution, “eighty-six years I have served Him, how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior? Bring forth what thou wilt.” For refusing to burn incense to the Emperor of Rome, he was burned at the stake.

The reason I mentioned those two men was to, first of all, show you that there were those in those times who not only believed what they had heard and read, but were willing to die for that faith. But also, I wanted to mention Ignatius specifically because the earliest quote from Matthew is found in his letters. This being said, then considering that Ignatius died in about 108 AD, Matthew’s gospel must have been in circulation before 108 AD. But I’ll narrow it down further by mentioning a prophesy given by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 24; Mark 13 and Luke 21. Jesus prophesied that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem would be torn down, leaving not one stone upon another and that did not occur until 70 AD when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and burned the temple. The gold that was part of the structure melted down into the walls and the Romans were forced to take it apart stone by stone to retrieve the gold. (historical fact)

It would seem to me that if this had already happened when Matthew mentioned the prophesy (Matt. 24:1)  or in Mark or Luke from a second-hand report of the prophesy, or from John who would have known of the prophesy, perhaps even heard Jesus say it, one or the other of them would have mentioned the destruction of the temple. That would have been significant news of the day. But no where in any of the gospels is that mentioned.

If the gospels were merely fabricated, wouldn’t you think that the perpetrators of the spurious writings would have added into them, anything historically significant in order to substantiate them?

So this is solid evidence that the gospels were penned before 70 AD.

Both Luke and Mark were disciples of Paul that is sure. They had never seen Jesus. But as far as their gospels are concerned, I would compare their authorship to the likes of any historical work, penned by someone who though not alive at the time the history presented itself, wrote based on facts reported by those who had been there.

Luke, who also penned the Book of Acts, did not mention in his gospel or Acts, Nero’s persecution of Christians in 64 AD (historical fact). This was significant news in the world, but specifically in Christendom, were the deaths of James in 62 AD, Paul in 64 AD and Peter in 65 AD, none of which is mentioned by Luke. Luke was a doctor of sorts and all of his writing indicates a person of good education, very perceptive and detail oriented. So based on all of that, it is obvious that the book of Luke and Acts were penned before 62 AD.

And as for John, well, if you have time and are so inclined, google John Rylands papyrus fragment 52 which is a fragment of John’s gospel dated to be about 135 AD. it contains portions of chapter 18, verses 31-33, 37-38. Considering that the fragment was found in Egypt, it would have taken quite a while for the papyrus gospel to have reached Egypt. History relates that John was born in about 6 AD making him about 9 years younger than Jesus. According to Polycarp’s own words, he was taught by John. If Polycarp was born in about 69 AD, when Polycarp was 15, John would have been about 63 years old. How old John was at the time of his exile is not quite sure, but the event is historically factual to have occurred during the time of the roman Emperor Domitian (According to Tertullian) who reigned from 81 AD until his assassination in 96 AD. He is historically a persecutor of the Christian church. And upon his death, it is likely that John was freed from exile though he may not have left Patmos immediately. John would have been about 90 years old by then.

When he did leave, it is likely that he returned to the area near Ephesus and lived out the rest of his life, living to the age of about 94 or 95.

So yes, Tezzie, you can honestly say that Mark and Luke never met Jesus which makes their faith in Him as their Savior and LORD even more remarkable. The funny thing is, I find it rather odd that those who speak of second-hand knowledge in regards to Jesus Christ, are quick to believe second-hand reports of other individuals. For instance, and I know this will date me as being sort of old, but I once met Frankie Avalon. Got a kiss on my cheek in fact. And he was a looker for sure. I had all of his records. But I know many a woman who never saw him in person, let alone heard him sing in person, who will swear by their own mother’s life that he was the cutest thing since sliced bread. Do you get my drift?

Yes, for nearly 2000 years millions of people have believe in Jesus Christ. They never saw Him or heard Him yet thousands, perhaps millions, even today are willing to die for their faith.

If the New Testament was all a contrived bit of fantasy, how could it have survived for that long? How could it be that prophesies that were written more than a thousand years before His birth have been fulfilled by Him?

Many scholars estimate that there are nearly 300 prophesies that foretold of His birth, His death and His resurrection. Most anyone would have doubts if there had been only a few but when they can be listed from the OT and shown in the NT, to consider them to be contrived is really farfetched. It’s as doubtful as someone saying that the lunar landing in 1969 was a hoax. Considering how many people would have had to be in on the hoax, it is ludicrous to even think that. One or two people may be able to keep a secret, but considering the hundreds of people involved in the launch, the landing, and the return to earth, that would be a real test of secrecy. And the same goes for the NT.

What do we do with all those who say that saw Jesus after His resurrection? Were they insane?  Were they bewitched or in a trance? Or were they just so simple-minded that they fell for the hoax?

I don’t know if you are a guy or a girl but I will suggest that if you want to disprove the NT, read it. Don’t take what anyone else has to say about it, especially someone of Islam. Their hatred of the Jews makes them a very risky and unreliable witness!

I wish I had come across this blog a couple of years ago, as it is, it is likely that you will never read my reply. But if by chance you do, I pray that you will have the same open mind that those who do not believe accuse believers of not having!!”

Don’t forget to take a look at the remarkable Bible study software at: SwordSearcher http://www.swordsearcher.com/

Bible Study

Acts 17:10-11, “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea.  When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue.  Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

We have all heard about the Bereans.  They were the people who lived in Macedonia. They seemed to have loved the Word of God and spent much time examining the Scriptures.

Daily Bible study was part of their lives.  This is as it should be for all Christians.

Recently, I came across a Bible study program that is beyond amazing.                             It is called SwordSearcher.                                                                                                     It has multiple Bible versions, all sorts of study aids, commentaries, dictionaries and so much more that I can’t even begin to list it all.  And it so easily searchable that even a child can use it.

I ordered it on Friday, March 30th and it came today, April 2nd.

It nearly loaded itself into my computer and when I began to browse through all it has to offer I was amazed.  Over the moon as some might say.  Now, whether I have internet access or not, I can utilize a program that is so marvelous that no matter where I am I will have some of the same type of Bible study tools that I have been using but it’s all together in my computer.

The young man who created this software is named Brandon Staggs.
You can read all about him at http://www.brandonstaggs.com/about/

And you can preview his Bible software SwordSearcher at http://www.swordsearcher.com/

You can consider this to be my endorsement of this program.  And if you are serious about your Bible study then check it out.  It’s not too pricey at just a wee bit over $65 delivered Priority mail. 

This is a program that every Christian should have in their arsenal!!

 

Rejoice

Romans 8:31-39, “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

The Apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the church in Rome are only part of what Christ Jesus gave us in His Word, but they are some of the most important and valuable words in the entire Bible.

And every time I mess up, every time I say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, think the wrong thing, every time the devil whispers in my ear with the taunting idea that I have slipped out of the grip of Christ, I come back to Romans 8, and I read what Jesus is saying to me through His Word as recorded by His faithful and true servant Paul.

And I rejoice!

And then I read Ephesians 2:4-9 to put a lock on it!                                                        “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.”

My Lord Jesus, You overwhelm me with Your love and grace. I fall, You pick me up, I sin and You forgive me. And no matter how many times I do, You are always there to raise me back up. And when the devil comes with his whispers of doubt and fear, You stand up for me and I can hear Your Word of faith and I know that You are my God.  With all of the praise that I can speak through my lips and all of the glory and honor that my heart and mind can lay at Your feet, I worship You.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

Life or Death

Matthew 16:20-22, And He gave the disciples orders to tell no one that He was the Messiah. From then on Jesus began to point out to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to You!”

Acts 4:1-2, “Now as they (Peter & John) were speaking to the people, the priests, the commander of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, because they were provoked that they were teaching the people and proclaiming the resurrection from the dead, using Jesus as the example.”

As Christians we know that Jesus died for our sin, was crucified on a cross, buried in a tomb, and on the third day He arose from the dead, leaving behind an empty tomb.

This is the message of the gospel. And just like in the time of Peter and John, there are still Sadducees who are infuriated by the preaching of this message.

At one point during the ministry of Christ, He told some of these religious but faithless men that they were mistaken in their understanding of the resurrection, He said that they didn’t know the Scriptures nor did they know and understand the power of God.

The resurrection is a heavenly matter. It is not one that can be understood or explained in earthly terms.

As we approach the calendar celebration of this blessed event, let us seek to live as though we not only believe in the resurrection of our Savior but walk in it as well.

There will always be Sadducees, there will always be those who do not believe, there will always be those who are willing to compromise their conviction.

Dear Father in heaven,                                                                                                        We know that it is with an inadequate understanding of our carnal minds that we profess to understand the reality of Your resurrection. So open our hearts by Your Spirit to receive a far greater vision of the truth so that we can walk in faith in that reality. Show us by Your Word how to do that, even now as the doubters and the Sadducees increase their attack of our faith in You. In Jesus Name, Amen

 

KNOWING THE “REAL GOD” HAS COME AT A PRICE

His heart pounds as he presses his two young daughters tightly to his chest and
darts into the freezing rain. His wife follows close behind, quietly making her
way through the darkness to the taxi idling outside the family’s home. Faruq and
Jamilah* aren’t safe here anymore; police have finally tracked them down. Faruq
knows they will soon come to arrest him.

The girls are in tears, frightened and shivering after being startled from a deep,
warm sleep. Why are they leaving in the middle of the night, and in this weather,
the driver asks, explaining that the taxi’s heater is broken. Faruq offers a flimsy
excuse and tells him to drive, warming the girls’ tiny feet with his hands as the
taxi speeds away.

This isn’t the first time Faruq has been forced to disappear, but it is for the
same reason — his decision to follow Christ.

At 18, he abandoned the Muslim tradition of his parents in search of what he calls
the “real God.” But for many Christians in Central Asia whose belief in Jesus is
born out of the ashes of a past Islamic faith, Christ’s “free gift” of salvation
comes at a high price.

Faruq’s own nightmare began not long ago. As he prayed alone late one night while
his wife and daughters slept, more than a dozen policemen slipped silently over
the walls surrounding the family’s compound. Within  moments they were inside the
house. Faruq and Jamilah watched in horror as police ransacked their living room,
confiscating Bibles, Christian  books, literature and videos as well as other Gospel
materials. But they didn’t stop there.

The raid was part of a coordinated sting on several suspected Christians; Faruq
knew immediately who sold him out. Earlier that evening, he had discipled a small
group of believers at his home. One brought a new friend who turned out to be a
police informant.

Rounds of interrogation began as soon as Faruq arrived at police headquarters.
Why did he become a Christian? Was someone paying him to convert Muslims? Was
he paid to convert?

The police didn’t like his answers.

“I told them my testimony,” Faruq recounts. “I said, ‘There’s no money.’… Finally
one of these people who were investigating me got very frustrated. He was saying,
‘Why don’t you tell us [the truth]?’ I  said, ‘… the Holy Spirit is changing people,
not me.'”

(Graham, “Knowing the ‘real God’ has come at a price,” Baptist Press, March 14,
2012  http://www.thebereancall.org/).

*Names changed