God’s Not Dead; He Lives!-Jul. 29, 2012

God’s Not Dead; He Lives!-July 29, 2012

Scripture:  Psalm 14:1-2; Luke 23:44-24:12; Revelation 5:1-5, 9-10

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

—Nietzsche

Psalm 14 reminds us that only the fool says in their heart there is no God.  God will not be mocked forever.  He is looking down on us to see if any of us understand and really seek Him.

In Luke’s account of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus it is mentioned in verse 55 that the women who had come with Jesus saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it before they began the preparations.  This is important because it when they came back later it is not as if they did not know how He was laid, or would have any reason to doubt that Jesus had actually been laid in the tomb, they knew.  This seems to harken back to Psalm 14 when God is looking to see who really understands.

Then on the first day of the week the women came early to the tomb of Jesus to prepare the body they found the stone rolled away.  Even more they entered the tomb and did not find the body of Jesus.  While the thoughts were swirling and the women were trying to make sense of it all to understand it.  Two men gleaming clothed in white stood before them and they bowed down.  Then the men ask a piercing question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen!”  The living, you mean Jesus is alive?  God’s not dead our Savior lives!

In one way, perhaps, Nietzsche was right the blood of Christ is on us, for He died to save us from our sins but we should not be so quick to want to wipe the blood for it is that wonderful, powerful blood of Jesus that saves us.  It is His blood that does not stain our lives but yet makes us whiter than snow.  It was His free gift to us to bring about the salvation of the world.

Have we soon forgotten about the power of Christ?  Have we not allowed the victory of life to reign in our lives?  Perhaps, Nietzsche and others say there is no God, because those that bear His name do not act like He is alive, in control, and that we have victory in Him.  Do you feel empowered by the reality of the risen Christ?  We live from day-to-day seeking the wisdom of this world only to find ourselves in deeper despair.

Revelation describes John weeping for there was no one who was found worthy to open the scroll.  Then one of the elders comforts John, “Do not weep!  See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has triumphed.  He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”  Then later in the same chapter it says they sang a new song for it was His royal blood that purchased men for God and have made them to be a kingdom to serve God and reign on earth.  Do we really feel victorious?  Contemporary Christian band, Newsboys, sing a song called God’s Not Dead (Like a Lion).  The chorus proclaims, God’s not dead, He’s surely alive, He’s living on the inside roaring like a lion.  Does the mighty roar of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah give you courage each day as you live for Him?  I pray the world would hear our victorious roar.

 

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The Eighth Sign?-The Resurrection of Jesus-Aug. 15, 2012

The Eighth Sign?-The Resurrection of Jesus-August 15, 2012

Scripture:  John 20:1-17, I Corinthians 15: 21-22; 45-49, Romans 5:12-21, Revelation 21:5

In tradition there are only seven signs in John’s gospel.  However, as another contemporary author suggests the eighth sign may very well be the resurrection of Christ Himself.  Each of the previous signs have been leading us on a path of greater and greater things, until the raising of Lazarus.  Each one in its own way demonstrates a truth about who Jesus is and was.  He was creator, healer, provider, powerful, and had control over life and death as demonstrated by Lazarus.

There are also seven days in the creation story in Genesis.  The eighth day was the first day of the new week, a time to begin over, to start again with the rhythms of life, work, home, and faith.  In Genesis we see a picture of creation that show the beginnings in a garden, and soon after sin came to all men through Adam.  Adam, the first of all created men in sinning brought the penalty of sin to all of creation (Romans 5:12).

Christ has been referred to by the Apostle Paul as the “second Adam,” the one through whom restoration will occur.  The one in whom the world will be newly created.  The transgressions of the first Adam visited to all of creation, are now conquered and life is offered to all through the second Adam (Jesus Christ).  (I Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49).

Now back to John’s gospel chapter 20.  It is the first day of the week.  It was still early and dark Mary Magdalene had come early to the tomb and found the stone rolled away.  Echo back to removing the stone that closed Lazarus’ tomb, this barrier between living and the dead.  The tomb was open!!  She runs back to tell Peter and John the body has been taken.   The two run back to see what Mary is talking about.

They find the grave-clothes still there and neatly in place.  Who, if they were going to steal a body would take the time to remove the grave-clothes and help to convince the disciples that Jesus was alive?  Peter and John saw and believed.

After they had left Mary was weeping and then looked into the tomb.  She saw two angles sitting where Jesus had been one at the head and one at the foot.  They ask her why she is weeping.  Mary responds because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid Him.  Sometimes it may be hard to see and understand a miracle even if you are one of the most devoted followers.  Poor Mary was having trouble knowing for certain Christ was truly alive.

Mary turns around to find Jesus, but does not know it is Him.  He asks her why she is weeping.  The scripture here tells us she thought He was the gardener.  She asks if Jesus’ body has been moved please let her know so she could get it.  He then calls her by name and then she recognizes Him.  What a wonderful moment to be in such great despair and then in the midst of that to find yourself in the very presence of Jesus.

In Genesis Adam and Eve are placed in a garden.  It was the place of the first Adam in a garden.  A place of new life, and now in the place of death in a garden, new life has burst forth.  At creation time began to be marked out in days that equaled a week and they numbered seven.  The eighth day or first day of the week was the time to renew the rhythm of life, but on this particular first day of the week new life was brought forth from a tomb.  Jesus had re-created in this garden life as we know it giving us the opportunity to have new life in Him.  “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5).

Additional Scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:21-22; 45-49

Romans 5:12-21

Revelation 21:5

The Seventh Sign-Raising Lazarus-Aug. 8, 2012

The Seventh Sign-Raising Lazarus-August 8, 2012

Scripture:  John 11:1-44

Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha who were followers of Jesus.  Lazarus was very sick.  So the sisters send word to Jesus saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”  Jesus response is that the sickness will not end in death, but that God’s glory and the glory of the Son would be revealed through it.  There are a few things at work here.  Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  Jesus also had an urgent need in front of Him but also something important.  There are times when the important may need to trump the urgent need.

Jesus remained where He was for two days longer and then said let us go into Judea.  The disciples think it is unwise because the Jews were seeking to stone Him.  Jesus speaks of walking in the light and then tells them Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him.  The disciples say, well that’s good, he will recover from sleep but we may not from stoning.  Then Jesus breaks the news more directly, Lazarus is dead.

Jesus tells them that He was glad He was not there for their sakes that they may believe, so let’s go to him.  Thomas then says let us go that we may die with Jesus.  So when Jesus came, Lazarus had already been dead for four days.  Bethany was close to Jerusalem and there were a lot of mourners with the sisters.

Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet Him.  “Lord if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  “Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give You.”  This is so true but then she takes Jesus next statement as something that is understood in a religious perspective.  Jesus says, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha responds I know he will on the resurrection on the last day.  Then He tells says to her, “I AM the resurrection and the life.  She says she believes Jesus is God’s Son.

Martha goes to tell Mary that Jesus is here, and she gets up quickly and goes out to where He is and the same statement from Mary, if only…if only you had been here, if only you had come quicker, if only then we would see our brother alive.  The miracle or sign of God is not that it happens in our time, but the great glory comes from trusting God.  Trusting He is the one who is the giver of all life.

Jesus loved Lazarus and sees how upset everyone is and asks where he was laid?  They lead Jesus there and He wept.  His friend had died; his family was grieving and hurting.  He wept.  The speculation begins, well He obviously loved him, but if He was able to perform these other signs could He not kept this man from dying?  The answer is Yes, but the greater more important was the seeing Jesus as able to counter death.  He is the giver of life.  If this is true about this man Jesus’ own resurrection should be possible, and I think this story foreshadows Christ’s resurrection.

Jesus asked them to remove the stone.  Martha being reasonable says he may stink because he’s been dead four days.  Jesus reminds her that if she believed she would see the glory of God.  So they removed the stone Jesus prays to His Father, and acknowledges that He is doing so that others may believe in Him.  Then He instructs Lazarus to come out and he did come out wrapped in grave-clothes, and Jesus told the people to unbind him and let him go.  Death was not the victor life was found in Christ.  And many did believe on this sign, but some went to tell the Pharisees.

Prayer-Aug. 1, 2012

The Pastor was on vacation.  Wednesday night Bible Study was on the subject of Prayer and done by Cary Ogden and Davie Woodford.