Of First Importance….

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…..” – 1 CORINTHIANS 15:3‭-‬4 NASB

This is of first importance. Aside from this, does anything else in this world really matter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of GOD; that He was born of a virgin and lived as a human so that He could be hung on the cross, the ultimate and final sacrifice for our/your sins? Do you believe that He came out of the grave on the third day, triumphant over death? If you do, congratulations!!! By believing this, we get to spend the rest of our lives and forever more with our Saviour! Can it be so simple? Hallelujah; yes!

For those who don’t believe ……. Why? What is keeping you from believing? Is it that Jesus can be God and man in one person, Son of the Creator of the Universe and a young, human, woman? Is it the idea of the virgin birth, or is it the idea of a Creator, rather than the “science” of the Big Bang Theory*? (*I challenge you to look up the definition of the word theory. It’s a hypothesis, a speculation; i.e. a guess, “without any assumption of truth.”) I’m not a scientist, nor do I claim to be a great intellect; however, I can (and do) read voraciously. If you need scientific proof of a greater power and a created universe, there is plenty of compeling evidence to be found. I won’t argue between a 24-hour 6 day creation and a “big bang” because we don’t know. I will say this: I believe both!

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – GENESIS 1:1 NASB

Were you there? He created the heavens and the earth out of nothing….. the atoms colliding had to come from somewhere, and, BANG, there it was! But, moving on to Jesus….. If God could create the heavens and the earth from nothing, why couldn’t He have His Son born to a virgin in order to save His people (that would be us, the human race) from our bad decisions? Giving us free will when He created us was His decision, because He wants us to choose to love Him and have a relationship with Him, just as we choose the humans we have relationships with.

Are you just not sure that Jesus really rose from the grave? Do you want to, can you, refute the testimony of hundreds of first-hand accounts, eyewitnesses to His resurrection?

“….. and {after} that He appeared to Cephas [Simon Peter], then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep [died]; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me [Paul] also.” – 1 CORINTHIANS 15:5‭-‬8‭

Still have doubts? I promise you that those doubts come straight from our enemy, the Father of Lies, who wants nothing more than to have you reject the Gospel. The enemy wants us to question the Bible, and especially to question the New Testament and its eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus Christ. If he, the enemy, can get you to doubt and to question, he wins. The enemy knows that without Jesus, His sacrifice and resurrection, we have nothing. We know that with Jesus, with His sacrifice, we have everything.

Choose wisely. Remember what is of First Importance.

Image: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, c. 1601–1602. Wikipedia

A Little Reminder…..

HALLELUJAH; OH GLORIOUS DAY!! Good Friday is over; Black Saturday is past us; Sunday has come – HE IS RISEN! The grave could not hold Him; death has NO power over Him!

“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the LORD descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.
And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
HE IS NOT HERE, FOR HE HAS RISEN – just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” ” – Matthew 28:1-6

Restored

“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” – MATTHEW 28:5‭-‬6 NASB

The cross couldn’t hold Him, death couldn’t retain Him, and the grave couldn’t keep Him. The cross and the tomb shall remain empty for the rest of eternity, and then forever more. He is Risen, Restored to His Glory, restored to His Throne! Jesus Christ, the LORD of Heaven and Earth has conquered death and hell, and He has arisen, Victorious and Glorious!

He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!

The End …. or A Fresh New Beginning

What happens when we die? Is there a heaven – is there a hell? Where is heaven? Absolutely. Both the Old and New Testaments record their existence. A classic example is the story JESUS related to His followers in Luke 16:19-31, telling of the rich man and the poor man. The story is impressive in the Truth that is shared, and a very poignant warning to those who reject our LORD JESUS CHRIST. As the rich man can see into Heaven, or Paradise, I see that as a part of the eternal torment of hell. He gets to see throughout eternity how beautiful is. The poor man doesn’t reply, and I think that goes to what John has written in Revelations 21:4.

“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” – Luke 16:31 NLT

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” – Revelation 21:4 NLT

Read that second part of Luke 16:31 again, and consider the person telling the story – JESUS. He knows that He will be crucified and buried for three days, and that He will rise from that grave, and people will still reject Him. Because of this story, it is clear that as soon as a body dies, the soul is instantly transported to the heavenly banquet – aka Paradise, Heaven – or as quickly, the ones who reject CHRIST go directly to the place of the dead – aka Hell, Sheol, Hades. If we die before JESUS returns to destroy Satan, our corrupted bodies are buried and our indestructible souls go to one of these two places. We aren’t going to be in limbo, we aren’t going to purgatory, and we won’t be reborn into another physical body. After the Second Coming of our LORD, when He defeats the enemy forces led by Satan, then Heaven, the dwelling place of GOD ALMIGHTY, will come to our new earth. Those who have acknowledged JESUS as their LORD and SAVIOUR will come to abide in the House of the LORD, with the Creator FATHER GOD, JESUS the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT. IMAGINE! Look at how John describes it:

“Then I saw a NEW Heaven and a NEW Earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down from GOD out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I saw no temple in the City, for the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY and the LAMB are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the Glory of GOD illuminates the city, and the LAMB is its Light. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty – but only those whose names are written in the LAMB’s Book of LIFE.” – Revelation 21:1‭-‬2‭, ‬22‭-‬23‭, ‬25‭, ‬27 NLT

Will I finally get to meet you there?I pray it is so!

Who Is That Man?

Who do you say Jesus is? People, scholars, have been debating this question since Jesus lived. He has been called liar, fraud, lunatic, and more. I believe we need to take Him very seriously. He can’t be considered a “good man” or “just a prophet” – He is either completely deluded, insane …. or He is truly the Son of GOD made flesh as He claimed. When the Pharisees questioned Him, He answered them with complete confidence and assurance:

“Even if I testify on My own behalf, My testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.” – John 8:14 NIV

“This made the Jews ask, “Will He kill Himself? Is that why He says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” But He continued, “You are from below; I am from Above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But He who sent Me is Trustworthy, and what I have heard from Him I tell the world.” They did not understand that he was telling them about His FATHER. So JESUS said, “When you have lifted up [crucified] the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing on My own but speak just what the FATHER has taught Me. The ONE Who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” – John 8:22‭-‬29 NIV

Jesus used stories, parables, to teach us how we should behave, and to demonstrate how much our FATHER Loves us, but sometimes He spoke plainly so that there could be no mistaking His meaning. Are you confused by these verses? The next verse is quite clear:

If I Glorify Myself, My Glory means nothing. My FATHER, Whom you claim as your GOD, is the One who Glorifies Me.” – John 8:54 NIV

Jesus was humble, never boastful. Everything He said, everything He taught, everything He was, He attributed to His FATHER; all the GLORY was given to the Creator GOD. To me, there is no mistaking the Truth. He is not a “good man.” JESUS is indeed the Son of the Most High GOD. He is the Commander of the Angel Armies, Second-in-command to the LORD and Creator of the Universe. He made the ultimate sacrifice to leave heaven, to bear my sins and to die for me, and He conquered death to redeem us all. He is my Advocate; He will stand beside me when I face GOD at the great white throne judgement. He sent the HOLY SPIRIT to me, to reside with me so that I am never alone. He has saved me from a most horrific eternity, one that I surely deserve, and is preparing a place for me with Him instead. Hallelujah!

I am convinced in His Deity. Are you? Have you opened your heart to His Saving Grace, the Peace and the Joy beyond description? If not, you are missing out! Do you need to delve into more? Search GOD’S divinely inspired book we call the Bible. Start with the book of John, and use a translation that you can understand – I use both the NIV and the NLT, and there are others like the ESV that are excellent as well. Read commentaries such as C.S. Lewis’s Lord, Liar, or Lunatic. Search for the Truth, because if you do, you will find it.

Listen to The Proof of Your Love by for King and Country on their album Crave.

The empty tomb, looking at the empty cross ….. because He is not here; His RISEN!

(Photo from Pinterest)

He Isn’t Here! He Is Risen!

Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb [where JESUS’ body had been buried]. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for JESUS, Who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is Risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His Body was lying.” – Matthew 28:1‭, ‬5‭-‬6 NLT

What amazing words – He isn’t here! He is Risen! The priests, the very ones behind the death of our LORD, responded to the guards words that JESUS was risen by bribing the guards to say His body was stolen. They knew tbe Truth, and they rejected it.

Today, it is our responsibility, our duty as Christians, to spread this Good News of JESUS CHRIST to all the world. As Paul reminds us, take the Glory and the Beauty of today, Easter Sunday, and share the message with the world.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to GOD because of all He has done for you. Let them be a Living and Holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let GOD transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know GOD’s Will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:1‭-‬2 NLT

Listen to the Newsboys – God’s Not Dead

UP From The Grave He AROSE

“He will swallow up death forever! The SOVEREIGN LORD will wipe away all tears. He will remove FOREVER all insults and mockery against His Land and [His] People. The LORD has spoken!” – Isaiah 25:8 NLT

Robert Lowry (1826-1899) captured the essence of the reason I celebrate Easter in this hymn he wrote. I remember singing it in church while growing up, and I can still see so clearly my Dad standing and singing this with his whole being. Thank you, Dad, for preaching the Gospel, and thank you, Mom, for always having his back and making his ministry possible ❤ .

Low in the grave He lay—
Jesus, my Saviour,
Waiting the coming day—
Jesus, my Lord.
Vainly they watch His bed—
Jesus, my Saviour;
Vainly they seal the dead—
Jesus, my Lord.
Death cannot keep his prey—
Jesus, my Saviour;
He tore the bars away—
Jesus, my Lord.
Up from the grave He Arose
With a Mighty Triumph o’er His foes.
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He Lives for ever with His saints to Reign.
He Arose! He Arose! Hallelujah! Christ Arose!

[And Repeat with gusto!]

The cross is empty, and most importantly, the grave is EMPTY. He Arose, He Arose, HALLELUJAH, CHRIST AROSE! Sin, you have no power over me; Satan, you can just leave! There is NO power that can separate me from my GOD. I believe in what Paul said to the church in Rome:

“And I am convinced that NOTHING can ever separate us from GOD’s Love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from GOD’s Love.” – Romans 8:38 NLT

And all the people said “AMEN!”