Month: April 2017

Oh what a wonderful Resurrection Jesus brought

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John 20:11–18

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.

12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

It is nearly impossible for us to imagine this exchange between the risen Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Overcome with sorrow, Mary goes early to the tomb to grieve alone. Many of us have returned to the gravesite of a loved one just to be near them, to grieve privately, to air our sorrows. Mary did not go to the tomb expecting it to be empty, she came to spend a little more time with the One who loved her soul and saved her from her from her sin. But when she arrived the tomb stone was rolled back and the tomb was empty. Her grief increased thinking that someone had stolen the body of her Lord and so she begged the “gardener” for information.

We have been there, at some level. We have been at the funeral of a loved one struggling with why they had to die. The brutality of the death of Jesus, the senseless aggression to end His life would have exacerbated Mary’s grief. She just wanted to be near Him one more time.

Thus it is nearly impossible to fully understand her feelings. She speaks to a man pleading with him to tell her where the body is and the man calls her name, “Mary.” She knew that voice. She had heard it many times before. But she did not recognize the Man. Her Lord was beaten beyond recognition. His body was destroyed by the guards and the cross. This man was whole. He was in clean clothes. He had no indication of the horrific beating Jesus had endured just three days earlier. But she knew the voice was the most tender voice she had ever heard and as she looked up and looked into His eyes, she knew it was Jesus.

What would you have done? She embraced Jesus with tears of joy and then she ran and told the disciples that she had seen Him.   She became a strong witness of the Savior, and rightfully so, for she knew what she saw and heard. What a wonderful moment Mary had that day. John recorded this event for us to share in that moment and to enjoy it ourselves. Our Jesus lives! Our Jesus conquered both sin and death. Sin could not kill Him and the grave could not hold Him. Men could not restrain Him and the beating did not weaken Him. Jesus rose strong and triumphant over all of the effects of sin defeating Satan as predicted in Genesis 3. The Bible is true. God is God and salvation from sin was complete. Hallelujah! What a Savior.

We had a glorious Resurrection Sunday at Grace for Life. I am so thankful for all who participated to make that day one that exalted the resurrected Savior.   We sang of Jesus, we had readings as to His death and resurrection, we praised Him at the Lord’s Table and at the breakfast table. Thank you for coming to share in this great day with us and for taking part.

The tomb is empty,
He is Risen.

PS

The mind of Jesus while on the Cross

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Psalm 22

6     But I am a worm, and no man;

A reproach of men, and despised by the people.

7     All those who see Me ridicule Me;

They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

8     “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;

Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

9     But You are He who took Me out of the womb;

You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.

10   I was cast upon You from birth.

From My mother’s womb

You have been My God.

11   Be not far from Me,

For trouble is near;

For there is none to help.

12   Many bulls have surrounded Me;

Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.

13   They gape at Me with their mouths,

Like a raging and roaring lion.

14   I am poured out like water,

And all My bones are out of joint;

My heart is like wax;

It has melted within Me.

15   My strength is dried up like a potsherd,

And My tongue clings to My jaws;

You have brought Me to the dust of death.

16   For dogs have surrounded Me;

The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.

They pierced My hands and My feet;

17   I can count all My bones.

They look and stare at Me.

18   They divide My garments among them,

And for My clothing they cast lots.

It is difficult for us to understand prophecy given and prophecy fulfilled.  Here in Psalm 22, hundreds of years before Christ and even before the practice of crucifixion, the Psalmist portrays the crucified Lord Jesus Christ.  We read here about the unknowable misery of the Savior’s human body.  His suffering was physical, emotional and spiritual. He was rejected by man, by friends, and by God.  He was mocked and humiliated to the very core of who He was by those who denied everything about Him.

No one there that day knew what was taking place.  No one there knew that the Father was behind this stage and that He had arranged every player to accomplish His purposes.  But the Son took the full brunt of the Father’s wrath for our sins.  The Son took the full shame for all that we would do to shame the Father.  The Son received the blows of heart and mind that we deserved.  The Son, as predicted both here and in Isaiah 53, bore the anger of hell and earth as men and demons determined to make His last hours on earth the worst they could possibly be.

As we consider Good Friday, let us in no way minimize the crucifixion of Jesus.  Let us not pass this off with anything less than the full burden (at least as much as we can understand) that He bore for us.  Let our love for our Lord Jesus, the only Savior, the only Redeemer increase more and more as we consider His beautiful and horrible sacrifice so that we could  have peace with God through saving justification.  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

If you can, join us at 7:00 tonight for a reminder of the work of Christ on our behalf.  Dave, Rob, Tom and myself will be bringing thoughts on the last hours of the life of Christ from the book of Matthew. 

We passed out many invitations in Naperville and at North Central College yesterday.  Pray that some people will come.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Christ in the Feasts

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  Dr. Roy Schwarz does an amazing job presenting the life and work of Christ from the Feasts from Leviticus 23. From a Jewish perspective we see the exact lining up of God’s required Feasts to His plan for our redemption.

Pray and Stand or Sleep and Fall

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Mark 14

37 Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?
38 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words.
40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.
41 Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.
42 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
In the hour of His greatest trial, the disciples of Jesus slept. When the greatest agony of His soul was wrestling with the eternal plan of God, the disciples of Jesus slept. When Jesus asked them to watch and to pray with Him, the disciples of Jesus slept. When Jesus warned them of their own need to pray in the face of pending temptation to forsake Him, the disciples of Jesus slept. And then, when Judas and the army came against Jesus, the disciples of Jesus, in weakness fled.

Can we ask ourselves a question here? How often does the Lord call us to pray and we sleep instead? How often does the God of heaven, who knows all things, know that we are about to face the greatest trial of our lives and instead of feeding the inner man we placate the outer man and give in to fleshly appetites?

Suppose the disciples had prayed with Jesus instead of sleeping? Their reactions may very well have played out differently. Having been strengthened in prayer with Christ they might have been ready to stay with Him and perhaps to have comforted Him throughout the next several hours of pain. But we will never know because they slept instead.

Oh, how many times have we missed the spiritual strength that we needed for a situation because we did not spend the time with the Lord that the situation required? How many prayer times have we missed because we were too tired or too hungry or just too busy to stop for prayer? Jesus, the Son of God, called these human disciples to pray. He knew they had a trial coming up which would need greater spiritual strength than they possessed. When the Lord calls us to pray, let us make sure we do not sleep.

I have put together an invitation for tomorrow night’s Good Friday service. Copy and paste it into your Facebook, email it to friends, or text it out. Let’s see if we can get some more people to join with us for Good Friday as we exalt the Crucifixion of our Savior.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Christ in the Garden

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Mark 14

32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”

35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Within Passion week Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, perhaps as He never prayed before. Jesus knew from the foundation of the world that He would be the sacrifice for our sins. He knew this would be a terrible time. Jesus also knew that this was the moment of man’s redemption. Hebrews says that Jesus looked past the moment to joy that was before Him.

And yet, Jesus prayed that if it were possible, if there were any other way for the will of the Father in redemption to be accomplished, let that happen instead. This might be hard for us to understand on this side of the Cross. And yet, there was Jesus on the front side of the Cross, in full knowledge of the cost of our forgiveness of sin, crying out for a potential plan B.

On this side of the Cross, we see the full attack on the Son of God and we are in awe of all that He endured to save sinners like us. On this side of the Cross we rejoice in Christ’s sacrifice of Himself to bring us to the Father. But on the other side of the Cross, Jesus, in all of His humanity, asked the Father if there were another way. Of course, there wasn’t and the Son again submitted to the Father’s will.

As we submit to God there will be times when His will is difficult. Again, we look to the Savior who understands all of our trials and we find both an example and strength.

 

I am looking forward to our Good Friday service. I trust you have set that time aside to remember the crucifixion of our Savior. We will have four ten minute presentations from four of us.

We need some more breakfast items for Sunday morning’s breakfast at church. If you did not get to the sign up sheet please text or contact Bobbi to let her know what you can bring. Thanks.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Jesus, our Omniscient Lord

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Mark 11

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”

So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. But some of those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?”

And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna!

‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’

10   Blessed is the kingdom of our father David

That comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest!”

As I read this passage Sunday morning I was struck again with the omnipotence of Jesus Christ. Here we see Jesus physically at the Mount of Olives instructing his disciples were to go to find a young colt that had never been ridden.  He tells them what to say to the owner when he comes out telling them that the owner is going to lend them the colt on those words.  They go and sure enough, there is the colt, right where Jesus said it was.  Then the owner comes out asking them why they are taking (today we would use the word ‘stealing’)  his colt.  When they tell him the words of Jesus the owner immediately tells them to take it.  Unless Jesus had arranged all of this ahead of time, which if He did the owner would have had the colt ready and not come out asking what was going on, He was demonstrating His full knowledge of all things.

Then the disciples bring the now borrowed colt to Jesus and Jesus gets on the colt.  Here we see the Lord’s omniscience over nature for the colt, which had never been ridden, accepted the weight and the control of Jesus.  Getting on a horse or a donkey for the first time is always a challenge.  This unbroken and untrained animal did not in any way resist the body of the omniscient Lord of all, who was also the Lord of him.

And then, as Jesus entered the city, filled with people there for the upcoming week of Passover, we also see His omnipotence for He knew that they would welcome Him as their King, and they did.  We remember Palm Sunday as the day when multitudes of people threw down palm branches in front of Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem, four days before He was crucified.  What if the people had rejected Him that day?  What if the Pharisees had arrested Him that day?  Jesus knew what would happen for it was all arranged thousands of years before.  Jesus, in the flesh, was also the omnipotent God.

Enjoy the world’s focus this week on Jesus. Talk to them about the Lord Jesus you know as your Savior and invite them to come to Him as their Savior and follow Him as their Lord.

We enjoyed Dr. Roy Schwarcz on Sunday.  What a great message he brought to us on Jesus in the Feasts of Israel.  I will post his message later today or tonight.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

What happens when we see God?

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 Isaiah 6:1–8

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”

4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.

7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.”

8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

In this familiar passage I want to look at Isaiah for a moment. We usually look at God in this passage for He is the main character of the story. But Isaiah’s responses are notable. After the death of a great human king, God wanted Isaiah to see Him. So God opened the window of heaven for a moment and Isaiah saw the throne of God. This was an amazing sight to behold, one that defies human description. When Isaiah finds himself in the presence of God Almighty he said, “woe is me.” He was accustomed to standing before the king of Israel and giving his message but standing before God was a new and a humbling experience. All the prophet could say was, “woe is me.”

 

But then, something happened to Isaiah. God sent an angel with a coal from the alter of God. These coals were dripped with the blood of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth. As the angel touched Isaiah’s lips with this blood dripped coal, Isaiah was cleansed of his sin and realized that God had made him righteous by grace. Isaiah did nothing but receive the grace of God. This is a clear picture of our salvation. We do nothing, God initiates, God moves, and God touches us with His saving grace.

 

After this, Isaiah heard the voice of God but now there was a different affect on the prophet. Now, instead of fear, the redeemed prophet heard the call of God. And now, with a new heart, Isaiah is not shuddering in fear but is telling God that he is ready to be sent.

 

Is this not a beautiful picture of what salvation should do for each of us? We are afraid of God until He reaches out by His grace and saves us. Knowing we are saved we hear the call of God to tell others of this amazing grace. The voice that used to incite fear now brings us to loving submission and our only words should be “here am I, Lord, send me.”

 

It is Friday. Where has this week gone? I have mentioned Sunday’s guest, Roy Schwarz, a Christ following Jew who will present Christ to us with clarity and a thrill that only a redeemed Jew can. You don’t want to miss this Palm Sunday message.

 

Sunday afternoon is our last small group church meeting. If you have not made it to one this is your last opportunity. It starts at 4:00 at my house and will be over at 5:30.

 

There is a VBS meeting for all volunteers following the morning service on Sunday. Plan to stay for a few minutes as we introduce this year’s theme and give you opportunities to sign up.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS