Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 6, 2012

"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  I Corinthians 11:22-24

Have you ever been betrayed by a friend?

You probably have but in case you haven't, trust me, it hurts!

Being betrayed is something you don't easily forget, neither the act or the hurt. That is why I find it interesting St. Paul refers to the night of the Last Supper as "the night Jesus was betrayed". There were other very significant things that happened that evening but Paul marks the event by the betrayal.

In fact, there were two betrayals during that night. Judas betrayed Him with a kiss and Peter betrayed Him with a curse(s). Judas sold Him out for personal profit and Peter denied Him for personal protection.

Let me ask you, have you betrayed Jesus?

Have you denied Him? 

Have you sold Him out?

What did you do to the person who betrayed you?

How did you handle that pain?

Here's what Jesus did, He died for them AND for you! 

He took your pain, your shame, your sin and your failure - on the day after He was betrayed.

April 7, 2012

“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 12:24)

Shakespeare said, "Brevity is the soul of wit."

A characteristic of really wise people is their ability to say a whole lot with an economy of words. You would certainly expect that to apply to the Son of God. It does!

In this 25 word sentence Jesus profoundly predicts His death and His resurrection and reveals a principle His Father built into nature. God is life. Since God is life, life is stronger that death!

Take a moment and think with me on this Good Friday when we commemorate the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ our Savior. Consider the significant implications of this 25 word sermon from the Master. I see three challenging and yet comforting life applications from His statement.

Dying is painful!

That is not a news flash to anyone who has watched a friend or loved one die. I have seen quite a few and none of them died painlessly or easily. God wired you to live. It is in your DNA. But because of the impact of sin, death became your master and the fear of death a tool of the Evil One.

As you contemplate the death of Christ on this Good Friday you will be reminded that His death was excruciatingly painful. There was nothing easy about the crucifixion of Christ and there is nothing easy about your death either. Of course, I am referring to your spiritual death - dying to self and sin. There is no way to know for sure but it could be that your spiritual death could be more painful than when you die physically.

Dying is powerful!

If you will choose the pain of dying you will find great power in being dead! As powerful as Jesus was during His life on earth, His death was even more powerful because by His death He defeated the power of sin!

In a very weird sort of way, modern culture recognizes this truth. Think about how many books and movies and television shows nowadays feature vampires or zombies. Vampires and zombies are powerful evil monsters who terrorize the living for a whole host of malevolent reasons. Why are these fiends so powerful? Simple, how do you kill something that is dead?

Every vampire or zombie movie centers around the subplot of how to stop these monsters. Potential victims pump pounds of hot lead into these menacing creatures to no avail! It is tough to kill a dead person! That is power!

Hey, Christian! Want to be powerful? Die! Declare yourself dead to sin and selfishness.

Dying is productive!

When Jesus was crucified He had roughly one hundred followers. I base that one the fact that there were 120 in the Upper Room according to Luke's record in Acts 1 and 2. Before that day of Pentecost ended there were 3,120 believers! Historians estimate that number may have reached into the hundreds of thousands in the early days of the Church.

Today there are several billions of professed Christians!

Just as Jesus declared, His death brought forth much fruit! His death WAS productive and becoming more so by the moment!

How can that be? How can dying make you more productive?

Because dying produces new life! In God's kingdom every death brings a resurrection!

As you solemnly commemorate the death of the Savior, remember the important truth He teaches in this one verse. Death is painful, but it is also powerful and productive!

Also, ask yourself, "Am I dying to live?"

April 5, 2012

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,  that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:14-16

There is a very good reason why Jesus was crucified. If you don't understand that reason you won't get the significance of the Good Friday and Easter week-end.

The reason can be expressed in one word "SIN".

Actually, two words, "MY SIN" or "YOUR SIN"

In typical Son of God clarity and simplicity, Jesus illustrated the significance of the cross and the seriousness of sin all in the space of three verses.

"How's that?" you ask?

When He referred to Moses lifting the snake in the wilderness these Jewish listeners knew exactly what He was talking about. You may not, so I will remind you:

"They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived."  Numbers 21:4-9

Jesus is saying that you and I are "snake bitten". He portrays sin as a fatal snake bite. If it isn't treated it will kill you.

If sin is like a venonous snake bite (it is) then Jesus lifted up on the cross is the "anti-venom" or the cure for snake bite. Look to Him and live or fail to trust in His cross and die. Those are your two choices.

How important is the cross? How important is your life? How important is your eternity?

Sin is a fatal condition and the cross is the "snake-bite kit"!