Tag Archives: Easter

Sounds About Right – But Oh So Wrong (I Samuel 13-14)

Saul believed in God. Saul wanted to honor God. He wanted God’s guidance. So Saul went to God, offering an animal sacrifice on the altar. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

But the lesson here is – you don’t go to God using your own devices, even if what you are doing appears to be religious, or sincere, or God-like.

Saul was not a priest. And God had always made it very clear that only priests could offer sacrifices on the altar. Even though Saul was the highest ranking individual in Israel, he was not authorized to offer a sacrifice to God. No matter if his heart was in the right place, and even if he followed every priestly act exactly as he’d always seen them do, his act was blatant disobedience.

When people say there are many avenues to God, I think of Saul. To an outsider, Saul’s offering made perfect sense. To an outsider, God should be happy to accept that act of worship. But anyone who thinks like that IS an outsider. They don’t even know God.

The God-breathed Scriptures tell us there aren’t multiple ways to God. It’s His Way, or no way. The God-breathed Scriptures tell us Jesus is THE way, THE truth, THE life, and NO ONE goes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6)

It’s Jesus, or no way.

There are individuals, churches, some popular so-called Bible teachers who believe in a back door, or multiple doors to God. Jesus said He is THE door (John 19:9). Anyone who says something different reveals they don’t really know who God is. There will be nothing but condemnation for them when they stand before God and realize they are standing before THE way. It will be too late then.

My prayer is that everyone who reads this will follow The Way, that is the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus. We are remembering Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross this weekend. Have you accepted for yourself what Jesus did there for you? Friend, there is no other way to God, no other hope of eternity with Him.

What you believe, how you live your life, your religious affiliation might look and sound right to the world. But without Jesus, you are oh so wrong.

 

March 27 – How long?

Joshua 16-18

God had given the land to the Jews. All they had to do was take it. Some tribes went right in and cleaned out the cities in order to occupy what God had given them.

Other tribes held back. Joshua asked them: How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your Fathers, has given you?” (18:3)

It’s Easter Sunday morning. Jesus is alive! His death on the cross bought our salvation. He was buried to carry our sins all the way to hell, separated from the Father.

But He rose again, and offers us new life. Eternal life. A life free of guilt and hopelessness. He did that for me. He did that for you.

Some people have accepted God’s provision. We’ve repented of sin and allowed Jesus to be our Savior, the very thing He was born to be.

Others stand there looking at the gift, like the Jews in Joshua 18 stood looking at the land. But they just haven’t taken that step toward accepting what Jesus bought for them, what He freely offers to them with open arms.

God is saying to you, “How long will you put off taking possession of what is already yours? How long will you refuse what Jesus died to give you?”

Dearest Jesus, we celebrate You today. We sing about the fact that you defeated death itself by dying, then living again. That tomb is empty. We praise You. We worship You. I pray for any reading this blog who are still standing there with that precious gift in front of them. May they reach out and accept what you have already paid for. May they repent of sin this minute, and allow You to forgive them, that which you are so eager to do. May each of us know the blessed reality of having the risen Savior walking with us today.

Ripped

I was reading Mark 15 this morning, Peter’s account of Jesus’ crucification as told through Mark. It occurred to me that Peter set down the facts pretty much without much emotion: Jesus was hung on a cross, people mocked him, Pilate’s sign “King of the Jews” made the chief priests really mad, the sky darkened, people thought Jesus was calling for Elijah, then he died.

Concise and to the point.

Mark even includes a sentence that is easily overlooked: “Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”. (vs 38) Nothing more is said of this event in the book of Mark. Just the fact that it happened.

That blows me away. God ripped that veil in two like I might tear a piece of paper.

Have you ever held a mortgage or a car loan? You are enslaved to that piece of paper that holds the terms of the agreement. You think about it every month as you write that check, chipping away at the debt with every payment.

Then, one day you write the last check. The house or the car is finally yours. Debt paid! Did you take  your copy of the mortgage and rip it in two? How did that feel? Did you experience a sense of freedom, relief, joy?

Paid in full! That house, or that car, is mine!!!

I think that’s a little how God must have felt when he was finally able to rip that curtain apart. That curtain separated him from us. God could not have easy access to us until that curtain came down. But Jesus died on that cross, paid the full price, and now there is no more curtain. Until today I don’t think I ever considered the significance of that from God’s point of view.

What joy he must have experienced as he felt and heard that material rip apart.

Yes, the ripping of that curtain allows us to approach the throne of God. But it also allows God to live in us, walk with us, talk to us and guide us in a personal, precious way. God created us to fellowship with him, but sin separated us. In the Old Testament we read that God instructed Moses to put up a curtain so that we could get as close to God as possible while we still owed our debt. He could only communicate with his people through the prophets. And there were years when God didn’t communicate at all.

But when Jesus paid the price… in full… there was no need for the curtain. I think God must have been pretty excited about that.

As we prepare to celebrate Easter, Jesus death on the cross and his resurrection, let’s also be aware of the privilege that is ours through the ripping apart of that veil. God has access to me and I to him because my sin debt is paid.

Dearest Father, thank you for occasionally letting us in on what you are feeling. Sometimes we think it’s all about us and we forget that you have a stake in our lives, too. I thank you for Jesus, for his death on the cross, for what his sacrifice gives me. But let me remember what it gave you, too. You love us so completely. For thousands of years your dealings with us were from behind the curtain. It must have brought you great joy to rip that curtain in two. Thank you for wanting to walk with me so much. May I never take this privilege for granted.

It’s All About Jesus

2 Samuel tells us that the nation of Israel was divided. David was king over Judah and Saul’s son Isbosheth was king of Israel. It’s sad to note that there was war between the two. I wonder what the other nations thought when they saw God’s people fighting among themselves. 

I am one who is not bothered by the fact that the Christian Church is divided into denominations. If a group finds it necessary to get excited and speak in tongues, or insists on baptism, or takes communion every Sunday I’m ok with that. The question is – is Jesus proclaimed as God, as the Savior? Is he worshiped as the Way, the Truth, the LIfe, and the only way to the Father? Is sin recognized and rejected in an act of repentance? Is God’s grace embraced when we allow Jesus to wash us with his precious blood?

If Jesus is the focus of the church, we should not be fighting with each other. I attended the sunrise service at the pier on the ocean this morning and worshiped the risen Savior with several hundred other people from many denominations. It’s a bit like I imagine heaven to be. Our differences will be put aside when we gaze into the eyes of the One who loves us and gave himself for us.

Jesus!

Crucified!

Alive!

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

November 9

Mark 15:42-47, 16:1-8; Matthew 27:57-66, 28:1-10; Luke 23:50-56, 24:1-12; John 19:38-42, 20:1-18

I have often tried to put myself in the shoes of those who were at the empty tomb. I’ve wondered what it was like for Jesus to look Satan in the eye after spending time in hell on Satan’s terms and say, “I win”, then disappear. I imagine Jesus opening his eyes in the darkness of that tomb and sighing a big sigh of relief. Did he high-five the angel who was there? Did he look to the heavens and say, “We did it, Dad!”?

Years ago Sandi Patti sang a song that captures the excitement that must have surrounded the moment when Jesus rose from the dead.

“Did the grass sing? Did the earth rejoice to feel you again?
Over and over in a never-ending round, did the earth seem to pound, “He is risen!”?
Over and over like a trumpet underground: He is risen! Halleluiah!!

What was is like for Mary when the risen Jesus spoke her name? For Peter to rush into that tomb and see the linens neatly folded and Jesus gone? For the guards when they witnessed first hand the earthquake, the angel. Did they watch Jesus walk out of the tomb?

Jesus is alive. Look at your own hands and feet. See your reflection in the mirror. Jesus is as alive as you are. Not a ghost. A man with fingers and toes, hands with nail prints and a wound in his side.

He is alive. There were no mirrors or sleeping drugs. He didn’t play the most elaborate vanishing act ever performed. Jesus died. There were hundreds of witnesses to his tortuous death. He was buried. Guards stood watch at his grave.

Jesus went to hell so I wouldn’t have to. And when my debt was paid he lived again and lives still today.

Years ago I did an activity with my students to help them with their listening and speaking skills. They would ask a partner a list of questions and talk to them about their answers. One of the questions was, “What is your favorite holiday?” Whenever I had the opportunity to be paired with a student I would always answer that question with, “Easter”. And if a child would ask me why I would say something like, “Jesus is alive. No other religion has a God who died for them, who went to hell because he loved us, and who rose from the dead. Jesus is the only one EVER and it’s so precious to celebrate what he did for me.”

What about you? Do you know the risen Savior? Have you accepted what he did for you? Does Jesus live within you today because you have asked him to and have repented of your sin? I trust so.

Jesus is alive. You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!!!