Happy Easter everyone (or Resurrection Sunday if you prefer). I had hoped to publish this yesterday, but it wasn’t quite ready yet. Yesterday we went to our respective churches and celebrated that Jesus is no longer dead and in the grave, but rose again to life (possibly after an annual ritual of candy for breakfast …).
Praise God! That resurrection is our hope and without it we would be hopeless as Paul indicated in 1 Corinthians 15:12-22:
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (ESV)
Happy New Year! I realize we’re well into January at this point, but given how little time I have to blog it’ll have to do. Over the weekend, I was encouraged by this passage from Psalms and the reminder it offers of the gospel’s promise to believers. So I wanted to share it with all of you too. There is no better news in the world than the news that God offers mercy and does not repay us for our sins, but rather Christ Jesus took them on himself to free us.
Psalm 103:8-13 ESV
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
Days before the resurrection, Jesus told his disciples again that he would be leaving them. Surely this had to be a crushing blow to his dear friends. But he also promised that he would not leave them “as orphans.”
This message from Pastor Matthew Hoskinson of the First Baptist Church of Manhattan examines that passage (John 14) and dives into what Jesus meant as well as the promise of the Holy Spirit that He sent to his followers (including us today). I hope the truth in it ministers to you today.
Bible link: John 14 (ESV)
Happy Easter everyone! I hope you wake up today and are reminded, yet again, that Jesus is alive! He is our continuing and eternal hope of salvation, thanks to his resurrection from the dead. Hallelujah!
Mark 16: 1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Today is the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, recalling the day Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Church door. Of course, other reformers came before him and many came after him. But this day in 1517 was certainly a watershed moment in history and the one we most remember.
In honor of that here is a series of messages I’ve been listening to on key theological tenets that the reformation recovered. These particular messages are from First Baptist Church of Manhattan, but there are many churches doing similar series to mark Reformation 500.
Soli Deo Gloria (only for God’s glory)
Sola Scriptura (Scripture is our authority)
Solus Christus (Christ alone)
Sola Fide (Faith alone)
Sola Gratia (Grace alone)
It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Well, honestly I’ve spent much of this year riding the roller coaster from discouragement, uncertainty, anger, and pain to hope, optimism and faith and back around again. The most recent instance has just been another circumstance which brought pain and worry.
A few days ago, I’d looked up Bible verses about worry and anxiety and was punched in the gut with Philippians 4:6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” I am always thankful for God’s grace when a verse like that lays me out flat. While I pray often, I also fail regularly to “not be anxious.”
The following day, I really didn’t want my worries and fears to consume all my thoughts as they had been doing. As I brought all of that to the Lord in prayer that morning, many things ran through my head. My need to repent and confess of my sins of worry, and control and fear was a large part of it, and it was in that time of prayer I finally realized all those were symptoms of having placed my faith in myself regarding the situation rather than placing it in God. Again, ouch.
Any Christian who ever learned the “Romans Road” method of communicating the gospel can probably recite Romans 6:23, “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
It is an essential and tremendous reminder. We, because we are sinners from the start, deserve the wrath of God. But he has given us eternal life instead.
But it struck me as I reread the entire chapter of Romans 6 repeatedly this week that there is so much more there. It is a stern warning to anyone who would abuse the grace of God to continue sinning. It is a call to obedience and holiness and an admonition to wrestle against our sinful desires, with the confidence that Jesus has already set us free from their power over us!
Another great song to encourage you this week:
I’m really enjoying this new song from Jeremy Camp!
The image only reflects the post in that the church this sermon is from is my favorite church in New York City. I discovered First Baptist Church in recent months and have been grateful to listen to Pastor Hoskinson’s preaching online as well. Continue reading