May 23, 2016

30 Day Jesus Challenge - Day 23 The Resurrection

Paul writes, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: how Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  was buried, rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and was seen by Cephas, and then by the twelve. Then He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain to this present time, though some have passed away. Then He was seen by James and then by all the apostles. Last of all, He was seen by me also, as by one born at the wrong time.

The Resurrection
Throughout this series, I've promised a one minute devotional to introduce you to Jesus.  Every subject, every day of this series could have books written about it.  The resurrection is perhaps the most difficult to condense.  In the end, I'll let Paul finish it:

1 Corinthians 15:12-19 Now if Christ is preached that He rose from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not risen.  If Christ has not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain.  Yes, and we would then be found false witnesses of God, because we have testified that God raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up, if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ has not been raised.  If Christ is not raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.  Then they also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

At the end, former atheist Lee Strobel explains how as an investigative journalist, he looked at the evidence and came to the only logical conclusion.  I hope you come to the same conclusion.

Pray - I believe that you Jesus rose from the dead and through faith in you I can also be a participant in this resurrection.
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May 22, 2016

30 Day Jesus Challenge - Day 22 The Cross

"Except of course that a cross is always something more."  Diana Gabaldon, Fiery Cross Book 5 in the Outlander Series.

Yes indeed, a cross is always something more.  Paul writes in Galatians 5:11 that the cross is an offense.  The cross is the ultimate test of the man, the one who chose to hang on it, and the one who must decide if he accepts it.  There is no room for compromise at the cross, no wiggle room, no gray area.

The Cross
Brutal, violent, excruciating: we recoil in horror - in the reading, in the writing, in the listening, in the watching - no one is untouched by the Cross.  To the believer it is where we start the journey and ultimately where we end it, at the foot of the Cross.  Dr. Billy Graham, in this 3 minute video says it best.

Pray - Today, Lord I find myself at the foot of the cross.  I believe in you, I believe in your sacrifice.  Thank you for the cross.

May 21, 2016

30 Day Jesus Challenge - Day 21 The Blood

All religions have a blood element to them, some deep down, but there none the less.  Modern Western people are removed from blood.  Our food comes in plastic from the grocery store, modern medicine sterilizes and staunches blood, and we have virtually no concept of sacrifice.  The Blood of Jesus was always very confusing for me until I began to see and understand, the key was the Garden of Eden.

The First Covering of Sin
To set the stage, Adam and Eve have fallen and are about to be expelled from the garden: Genesis 3:21 "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them."  This is the first sacrifice, the first shedding of blood to cover sin. The Lord himself made the clothing to cover the nakedness and the sin of man.  This sacrifice to cover sin continues through the Old Testament law.  God is orderly, He set up laws and rules, He abides by them.

The imperfect animal sacrifices had to be performed over and over again, until Jesus.  A loving God knew that only a perfect sinless sacrifice would pay the debt, would fulfill the law, would meet the requirement.  Only He could redeem us, only He could shed his blood and save us, once and for all eternity.

Pray - Lord, the blood has always confused me.  Please help me understand your sacrifice and the power of the blood.

(Interesting Legend - It is said the clothing that the Lord made for Adam and Eve was the finest clothing the Ancient World had ever known.  Legend holds that it was made of leopard skins and was worn by Adam and Eve until their deaths 900 years after the fall.  The mythical clothing was said to be a price of war and won by the mighty man Nimrod who was a great hunter.  The tradition of leopard skins in worship can still be seen in Africa.  The Shembe consider the leopard skin integral in their worship of God.  As CS Lewis was fond of saying, there is truth that survives as legend.)

May 20, 2016

30 Day Jesus Challenge - Day 20 The Holy Ghost

I agree with Pastor Ross Rhoads who proclaimed one Sunday that he liked the name Holy Ghost vs. the more modern Holy Spirit.  "The Ghost" he proclaimed in a loud booming voice!  "The Ghost":  mysterious, powerful, and evoking reverential fear in the Believer and terror in the heart of the damned.  The Third person of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost is at once the most familiar to a believer and the most unknown.

The Holy Ghost
The Wind, the Fire, the Omniscient Presence of God, the Helper.  The sealing of the Christian with the physical presence of the Holy Ghost is a mystery most will never contemplate.  If at some point along this journey, you have believed in your head and accepted with your heart, the sealing of the Holy Ghost is the completion of your faith.

Pray - Holy Spirit, I ask you to come into my heart.  Help me to live the life you want me to live.  Convict me of my sins and give me the power I need to walk with you in this dark world.

May 19, 2016

30 Day Jesus Challenge - Day 19 The Son

I am shocked when I watch, I Met Messiah videos that so many Jews think Jesus was an Italian Catholic.  I have witnessed to Jews who insist that Christians believe in multiple Gods; the reality of the Trinity is lost.  Jesus is the physical manifestation of God.  We meet Him in the Old Testament.

Jesus in the Fiery Furnace
Daniel 3:24-25 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, "Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?" They replied to the king, "Certainly, O king." He said, "Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!"

The fancy word for when God appears to man in the Old Testament is a Theophany.  We see him wrestling with Jacob, meeting with Abraham, and fighting with Joshua.  Jesus is not an invention, He is God.  If you struggle, listen to this parable read by Paul Harvey.