Archive | April, 2011

Week Eighteen

30 Apr

4/30: 2 Sam. 23,24 and Luke 22:31-53

5/1: 1 Kings 1,2 and Luke 22:54-71

5/2: 1 Kings 3,4,5 and Luke 23:1-26

5/3: 1 Kings 6,7 and Luke 23:27-38

5/4: 1 Kings 8,9 and Luke 23:39-56

5/5: 1 Kings 10,11 and Luke 24:1-35

5/6: 1 Kings 12,13 and Luke 24:36-53

When Blood And Water Hit The Ground: The Redeeming Act of Christ

24 Apr

Today is Resurrection Sunday. A day more commonly known as Easter Sunday. This is a day that has been overrun by gifts, chocolate bunnies, and unnaturally colored eggs. Don’t get me wrong, as a child I loved dying eggs (I still do actually), getting an Easter basket full of toys and candy I didn’t need, and running around trying to find the eggs that the “Easter bunny” had hidden. But like I said at the beginning, this day is meant to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior of the world.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son so that whoever believes in Him should not parish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

One of the best known and most recited scriptures is of course John 3:16, but most of the time, we really don’t break this down or truly grasp the intensity and importance of this scripture. But this is not the only scripture regarding Christ that we skim over and have hardened our hearts toward. The God who created the heavens and the Earth and holds this vast universe in His hand gave His perfect son to redeem the retched and clothe us with robes of righteousness.

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8.

So most people understand the basics of crucifixion but just in case you missed a few points, lets review. Crucifixion was invented by the Persians (not the Romans) between 300 and 400 B.C. (not B.C.E.) This is accepted by most historians and scientists alike as the most painful type of death possible. The word excruciating was invented because there was no word fitting the type of pain that a crucified person would experience. This death was reserved for the vilest criminals and was possibly one of the most degrading experiences any man could experience. Jesus was nailed, most likely through the wrists, to the patibulum (the horizontal part of the cross) while on the ground.  The nails would have been about seven to nine inches long and would have made impact with His median nerves and caused severe pain in both of His arms. Once lifted on the cross where His full weight was placed on His nailed wrists, His shoulders and elbows would have dislocated and a minimum of six inches were added to each arm in length.

His legs would have been bent at about a ninety-degree angle and nails were driven into His feet. The nails would have severed His dorsal pedal arteries causing excruciating pain. While breathing Jesus would have to push up from His nailed feet to exhale because of the intense distress put on His diaphragm.  This difficulty caused carbon dioxide to build up in the lungs and slowly suffocated Him. The lack of oxygen also caused the tissues and capillaries in Jesus’ body to leak (hence the “blood and water pouring out” in John 19:34) and for His heart to beat faster. These variables usually lead to cardiac arrest.

Now try to visualize all of this and remember all of the events that had occurred earlier that day. Christ was under so much stress, feeling the burden of all our sin on His shoulders that He had been sweating blood, a condition called hematidrosis, in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). He was then ridiculed by the Jews, His own people, and beaten. He was beaten with whips and the cat of nine tails, which were straps of leather imbedded with shards of metal, glass, and pottery shards. These tools were created specifically to rip the flesh off of the victim. He had a crown of thorns shoved onto His head and had to carry the beam of the cross that He would die on. The soldiers cast lots for His clothes and placed a sign that said “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” and was transcribed in four different languages so that all could read it.

This was a public scorn and shameful death and what was the response of Christ?

“Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. “Humbled Himself unto the cross” is one of the biggest understatements in history. Jesus Christ never forsook the multitude that scorned Him but was forsaken in our place by His Father. Jesus willed His death and He chose the time and the means. He chose to endure the most painful death imaginable to atone for the sin of the world and to give us the gift of everlasting life. By the way, this gift is totally free, no strings attached, we just get to love, live for, and serve a gracious God who loves us unconditionally.

But the end of the story is not on the cross; it is Resurrection Sunday after all. The empty tomb of Jesus Christ is why we celebrate and is why we are free when we accept the gift of salvation. The temporary tomb that held Jesus was blocked off by a boulder, which would have weighed approximately two tons. No man could push that alone, nor could a group of men sneak past the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb and role a two-ton stone out of a dug out crevice without getting caught. The Lord rose on the third day as He said He would and is reigning still. But not only is He reigning; He stands in between us and God, constantly interceding for us! (Rom.8: 34)

Oh and for all of you guys out there that say Jesus is only relevant in the New Testament, I challenge you to go look at Psalm 22. This Psalm gives the most detailed description of crucifixion in the Bible and was written about seven hundred years before crucifixion was even invented. It also prophecies the insults Jesus received, that His clothes would have lots cast for them, and that the people crucifying Him would taunt Him, telling Him to call upon the Lord who would save Him if He were truly the Christ. The word of the Lord is fluid, it is consistent, and it is the breathed word of God. Christ is real, He bled and suffered and died for us and rose on the third day because He wants to spend eternity with us. We just have to say yes. He always gets the short end of the stick and we get gifts beyond anything that we could ever deserve. We do not have to suffer this death that we deserve because He did. Christ was forsaken so that we would never have to be.

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the Earth (Rev. 13:8)

Jesus Christ is love, He is beauty, and He is risen.

So next time you read John 3:16 remember what He went through. And also remember that the Lord keeps the promises He makes. In Jeremiah 29:11 it says that the Lord has plans for us to have a prosperous future and that is we seek Him with all of our hearts we will find Him. In Jeremiah 33:3 He says that if we call on Him He will tell us the unsearchable things that we don’t know.  Follow where He lead because if He if for us, them who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31) Let us pick up our crosses and run after the Lord with all we have and love Him even after we take our last breath, after all, that’s what He has done for us!!!

Week Seventeen

23 Apr

4/23: 2 Sam. 7,8,9 and Luke 19:1-28

4/24: 2 Sam. 10,11,12 and Luke 19:29-48

4/25: 2 Sam. 13,14 and Luke 20:1-26

4/26: 2 Sam. 15,16 and Luke 20:27-47

4/27: 2 Sam. 17,18 and Luke 21:1-19

4/28: 2 Sam. 19,20 and Luke 21:20-38

4/29: 2 Sam. 21,22 and Luke 22:1-30

Week Sixteen

16 Apr

4/16: 1 Sam. 19,20,21 and Luke 15:11-32

4/17: 1 Sam. 22,23,24 and Luke 16:1-18

4/18: 1 Sam. 25,26 and Luke 16:19-31

4/19: 1 Sam. 27,28,29 and Luke 17:1-19

4/20: 1 Sam. 30,31 and Luke 17:20-37

4/21: 2 Sam. 1,2,3 and Luke 18:1-17

4/22: 2 Sam. 4,5,6 and Luke 18:18-43

Week Fifteen

8 Apr

4/9: 1 Sam. 1,2,3 and Luke 12:1-34

4/10: 1 Sam. 4,5,6 and Luke 12:35-59

4/11: 1 Sam. 7,8,9 and Luke 13: 1-21

4/12: 1 Sam. 10,11,12 and Luke 13: 22-35

4/13: 1 Sam. 13,14 and Luke 14: 1-24

4/14: 1 Sam. 15,16 and Luke 14: 25-35

4/15: 1 Sam. 17,18 and Luke 15: 1-10

 

What’s Your Excuse?

3 Apr

 

Everyone makes excuses. I, especially with school assignments, have made plenty in my day. But one day, while listening to a sermon, my pastor quoted an obvious but necessary truth from the the evangelist Billy Sunday.

“An excuse is the skin of a reason, stuffed with a lie.”

-Billy Sunday

This quote stuck with me. It made me think of all the excuses that I have made over the years.”Oh, I couldn’t submit my essay because it wouldn’t download”…lie. “I forgot my math assignment at home!”…lie. On and on and on, I reflected on all of my excuses and realized that Billy had hit the nail right on the head. All of those “excuses” are flat out lies. But lets take this to a deeper level. Not only are these excuses a lie, which is a sin, but are self-justifying lies which is bad enough when used on a person, but we don’t just make excuses to people, we try to make excuses to God. God knows all that we do; every thought, every work, every word, everything. This can be a scary thought sometimes, especially when we are in the wrong.There can be serious consequences for lying and trying to lie to God. When thinking of lying, I recall Ananias and Sapphira.

If these two people escape your memory, lets take a trip over to Acts 5. Ananias and his wife Sapphira sell a piece of land and withhold from the Lord. They then lie about their bad deed and the Lord strikes down Ananias and then Sapphira is afraid and comes clean out of fear but her fate has already been sealed. When we lie to God we make a mockery of His name, especially if we proclaim ourselves to be servants of God. However, God is not to be mocked.

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for  whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Galatians 6:7

Next time, we think of making an excuse, remember it has consequences. I am not saying that the same fate of Ananias and Sapphira with befall you, but I am saying that we need to understand the consequences of our actions. We are to fear the Lord but not in the respect that most people believe. I feel that fearing the Lord is loving Him so much that we are afraid to hurt Him. Lies hurt Him, other sins hurt Him and as Christians and children of the most high God we should repent for fear of hurting Him, not because we are selfish and are scared to be corrected by Him, but because we love Him.

I am a sinner. I struggle with sin every day but the Lord knows I hate sin and hate when I give in to my flesh. Our sanctification is a life long process and the Lord is long-suffering but that is no excuse to act like an impetuous child. We must strive to walk with Him and live for Him which means not making excuses.

 

If  you are not a believer, one of the worst mistakes you can make is making an excuse for not coming to Christ. “Well… my friends will mock me. I don’t want to walk to the front of church with all these people. I don’t want my family to give me a hard time. I will clean myself up first and change my way and then i’ll come to Christ.” Trust me, these excuses are easy to make, i’ve been there. My advice to you is this: let them mock, prove them wrong, come forward in a place where everyone rejoices with you and is crazy in love with Jesus (they won’t bite, trust me). And most importantly, come as you are to the foot of the cross. We can’t clean ourselves up, but the Lord can. He is with us every step of the way in our sanctification and when you come to His feet and surrender your life He will never leave you, nor forsake you!

 

Week Fourteen

2 Apr

4/2: Judg. 8,9 and Luke 8:22-56

4/3: Judg. 10,11 and Luke 9:1-36

4/4: Judg. 12,13,14 and Luke 9:37-62

4/5: Judg. 15,16,17 and Luke 10:1-24

4/6: Judg.18,19 and Luke 10:25-42

4/7: Judg. 20,21 and Luke 11:1-28

4/8: Ruth 1,2,3,4 and Luke 11:29-54