The Darkness of Death and The Light of Life at Easter [Video]

Easter, CCP Coronavirus, Ressurection of JesusSunday, April 12, 2020, is the annual celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead within most of Christendom. It is safe to say that this Easter season is unlike any other in almost everyone’s lifetime around the world because of the global Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, Coronavirus pandemic.

However, this pandemic is also another example of the reality of death in our world. And Easter, or Resurrection Day,  shouts out the power of God to overcome death with life.

Though a virus rages across the planet and the specter of death seems to lurk around every corner in many places, the Resurrection still remains as the ultimate demonstration of God’s power and providence for us. The darkness may threaten to overwhelm us for a time, but the Life and Light of the Risen Christ will overcome the darkness of death in the end.

The Darkness of Death Surrounds Us

Crucifixion, Resurrection, JesusThe CCP Coronavirus pandemic has drawn renewed attention to the reality of physical death all around the globe. All over the world, there are people worried about exposure to the virus and the possible deaths of themselves and their loved ones.

However, worse than the presence of death among us is the fear of death that is taking hold of so many people and motivating some in authority to act as if human rights do not exist. The Leftmedia has decided to join in the fearful chorus and dampen any glimmer of hope such as the successes of certain treatments, i.e. hydroxychloroquine, the recent reduction in the predictions of deaths from the CCP Coronavirus, and the reduction in hospitalization rates in New York state and elsewhere.

Fear seems to be driving some government officials to act out delusions of power and attempt to squash constitutionally guaranteed individual rights, some of which were mentioned in the previous article. Perhaps the most egregious statement to date was made by the Hamilton County, Ohio prosecutor Joe Deiters a few days ago.

Michael Knowles in his video broadcast of April 8, 2020, quotes several outrageous statements made by this demagogue including the following,

 If I was the Governor, I would tell these churches [that wish to hold services within the CDC guidelines] the first attendees at your church is going to be the National Guard because we are stopping this right away…

It is evident that the enemies of Christ are pressing forward with an all-out assault against faithful believers who wish to gather and corporately worship, honor, and call upon God for hope and courage amidst the viral fear. However, those enemies, whether human or demonic, will find their efforts will fail as they did 2,000 years ago outside of Jerusalem at the empty tomb of Christ.

The Light of Life Overcomes the Darkness of Death

Crucifixion, Resurrection of ChristThe current pandemic has engulfed the world with its ominous shadow and the serious menace of death it carries. Yet it pales in comparison to the literal darkness that visited the planet upon the death of Jesus on the cross.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness all over the land, until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:45-46 [ESV]

That darkness signified the gathering of all the sin of the human race throughout all of our existence and having all that malice imprinted upon the pure soul of Jesus. Those three hours were the worst part of the tortures our Lord underwent at His crucifixion culminating in the greatest pain of all, the moment the Father turned away from His Son.

Abandonment by His Father was the final price Jesus paid for our sin on our behalf! Jesus’ cries to His Father were followed by a final call to God,

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46 [ESV]

The death of the Incarnate Son of God was the aftermath of darkness that covered all the world physically and spiritually and was the most powerful blow the demonic forces could strike. Yet it was not nearly enough to prevail against the power of God who raised Jesus from the dead and broke the stranglehold of sin, death and, despair.

Resurrection, Easter, JesusThat same Divine power is much more than a match for the death stalking the land today. There is no better time to come to the LORD seeking His love and grace than now at this very moment and lift the burden of sin from our hearts.

Therefore, let us take heart in the knowledge that Jesus has risen and alive forever and His light and life can and will extinguish the darkness of sin and evil no matter its manifestation or seeming advance in the world even today!

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Wayne S. Grazio’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of matthias lueger’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of PhotoNacho. Carpe Diem’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Martin LaBar’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Who Attempted to Stop Easter?

Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. He was part of God’s prophecy to send a Son to live a sinless life and to suffer, die, and be raised again. How else could God send the message He is sovereign over our land? Because there is no other way to enter the Kingdom of God except through His Son (John 6:44), Jesus’ mission was to save believers from God’s condemnation.

Many biblical names hated and loved Jesus while He walked the earth. Had man believed in God’s ultimate plan for Jesus, these people would have realized the attempts to stop His crucifixion and/or life were futile. Five men failed God’s test.

So, who attempted to stop Easter?

SATAN

Photo by Alessio Zaccaria on Unsplash.com

Satan and Jesus were always brutal enemies. Their most well-known confrontation was Satan’s visit while Jesus fasted in the Judaean Desert for forty nights and days. Satan tempted Him to create bread out of stones to relieve his own hunger, and leap from a pinnacle and rely on angels to break his fall. But when Satan asked Jesus to kneel before him in return for all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus became furious.

“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:10)

Can you imagine Satan’s fury? If he were successful in tempting Jesus, there would be no Easter. Luke 22 claims Satan was most likely at the crucifixion as he was spotted in the area days before this historical event. He probably smirked with happiness, but little did he know…

King Herod

Image by James Tissot Collection (Brooklyn Museum)/FreeBibleImages.org

King Herod held the throne during Jesus’s time of birth. Furious to learn there was a Messiah who would be more loved than himself, he tried to find the pregnant woman. However, his plan backfired when the three Wisemen never returned with Herod’s information. He ordered all boys, in the age range of Jesus, to be executed. An angel warned Joseph and Mary to go to Egypt for safety as it was not part of the Roman territory.

King Herod was unsuccessful in finding our baby Savior. He died, instead, attempting to stop Easter because he was not part of God’s grand plan.

THE SANHEDRIN

Image copyright by LUMO Project (Big Book Media)/FreeBibleImages.org

The chief priests, the Sanhedrin, were the Jewish council who hated Jesus. They wanted to kill him, so they looked for false evidence, such as blasphemy. Though it may appear they were fruitful in finally murdering Jesus, God’s plan overpowered their contempt. The empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection made news. The Sanhedrin’s attempt to stop Easter failed too.

PONTIUS PILATE

Image by michaelwelply.com/Pinterest

Pontius Pilate was the judge who would not give the eventual decision on Jesus’ death. Consciously, Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, but the uproar of the people shouting, “Crucify him!” intimidated his decision. High-ranking Jewish officials blackmailed him to kill Jesus. Finally, he gave the ultimate choice to the people.

If Pilate ordered Jesus dead, we would always know him as the man who stopped Easter. But our powerful God had a better way to save the world.

SIMON PETER

Image by gerhardy.id.au/Pinterest

Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends. In the Bible, Jesus often referred to him as Peter. We know his famous story as the fisherman who couldn’t catch his daily supply of fish… that is until Jesus arrived on the scene. He convinced Simon to return to his boat and drop his nets overboard. Soon  the nets overflowed with fish. Simon was a faithful follower of Jesus’ ministry, and later became an apostle.

When Simon was alerted that Jesus was arrested, he headed for Jerusalem. At the unmerciful sight of our Lord’s whipped and beaten body, he drew his sword in anger. He cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant before Jesus stopped him (John 18:10-11).

Jesus said to Simon, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

Simon Peter felt as if he failed to save his friend’s life. How could God allow this to happen if Jesus was really who He pronounced Himself to be – the Son of God? He, too, doubted his friend’s identity until God resurrected Jesus. The Lord’s plan for mankind was greater than Simon’s attempt to stop Easter.

There lies a common theme in this morning’s Easter message: God is the ultimate ruler of our life. He sent His son into the world to give us eternal salvation, but what we do with this gift is our decision.

Today, as we reflect on our lives, we beseech God to intervene with the world’s problems. May He save us from a scenario we didn’t invite into our life. Some are trying to stop us from celebrating Easter. Is this a life experience and are we part of God’s ultimate plans? You bet! The evildoers won’t or can’t stop Easter. We may not enjoy egg hunts after Easter service, but we will exult our Lord Jesus, in the name of our heavenly Father, God.

On this Easter Sunday, we are challenged – is Satan behind the mass hysteria again? You bet! How else could a virus travel so fast around the world? It’s entered places where people do not visit often. Only Satan can try to stop Easter. I, for one, won’t let him do it!

God bless all our family, friends, and subscribers! Have a blessed, healthy, and peaceful Easter.


Was It a Good Friday?

A quote was written about 539 B.C.,  just before King Solomon’s death and after God brought the Jews back from exile. Life was not always fair… it wasn’t then, and it isn’t now:

“I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11

As far back as time prevails, religious and political persecution were prevalent. But today, we mark the holiest of days in biblical history. Jesus died for us on a Friday, and He forgave our sins so we may live as pure as possible.

In the present day’s turmoil of political unrest, the Book of Ecclesiastes remains a mirror image. Jesus’ message was to proclaim the kingdom of God, a political offense in biblical days. He spoke of what it will be like when God is the ruler of the world, and this created a conflict with Roman authorities. Does this sound familiar? Much of social media has limited or shutdown religious postings. Our missionaries and religious leaders are murdered around the world for proclaiming the kingdom of God.

But Jesus’ issue with the Roman Empire was the sacrilegious offenses occurring within the temple of Jerusalem. It had become the NY Stock Exchange of its day, and worse yet, the high priests were getting a cut of all the money. These priests became wealthy from international trade. Jesus was appalled because the temple was to be a house of prayer – not corruption. To avoid a massive upheaval, the people arrested Him at night. And yes, it was the Jewish citizen’s decision to murder Jesus, not the government. If they killed Him and His true identity truly was the Messiah, the government would reap serious consequences. It was better to let the people decide our Lord’s fate.

Copyright by LUMO Project (Big Book Media)/ FreeBibleImages.org

As the crowds in Jerusalem shuffled to and fro, Jesus quietly displayed his condemnation against the ungodly government power and corrupt system. He rode a donkey into their town. Believers who knew of Him waved palms at His entrance. Others gasped in disbelief at “the king of Jew’s” entrance. He was sadly aware of His fate.

Jesus’ crucifixion was not just hanging on a cross, it was torture – a violent death. They whipped Him beyond sight with an iron ring that had six or seven leather straps. It had bone or metal attached to the ends to rip the flesh away, and then He was made to carry His own heavy cross.

Copyright by LUMO Project (Big Book Media)/ FreeBibleImages.org

Under normal circumstances, hanging upside-down was a quick death, but that was too easy for the punishment of Jesus. The thick nails piercing the palms of His hands and feet were excruciating and led to the dropping of His body pressure. Yet, He stayed alive for six hours on the cross, suffering for you and me. Jesus Christ died for our sins so we could live as pure a life as possible on earth.

Oh, the political Jews and pagans thought they won the war!

On Sunday morning, let us sing His praises and commemorate the reign of this holy man who sacrificed His life for us. With corruption running rampant in biblical days, there was only one way God could prove his identity – allow His Son to mingle with disbelievers three days later. They would surely understand our Father, God, not mankind, rules this world! So, for the next forty days after Jesus’ resurrection, He preached the mighty awesome power of His Father in heaven.

Image attribution Brooklyn Museum/FreeBibleImages.org

I would like you to test your faith by looking in the mirror on this day. Was it a Good Friday? What have you learned? Would you surrender your life, as Jesus did for you, by hanging on a cross? Are you able to discuss with others what Christianity means to you? Can you evangelize, or do you fear for your life? Do you study the Bible regularly? If you responded “yes” to all of these questions, your deep faith will be honored on earth and in heaven. As for those wavering on a “yes” answer, it is time to analyze your faith and love for Jesus Christ. He will wait for you….

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The Vital Truth of Resurrection Day

Easter

Happy Resurrection Day! Of course, it is more popularly known as ‘Easter,’ but I believe the name ‘Resurrection Day’ is more fitting to the biblical record.

Sunday, April 21, is the date in 2019 that Christians recognize and recall the truth of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead some two millennia ago.

However, also each year at this time skeptics rear their critical heads to attempt discrediting this event. Sadly, many of those same critics claim the mantle of teachers within Christianity.

One example of such was reported at a conference sponsored by the Episcopalian and Methodist denominations. One of the speakers, Robert J. Miller of Juniata College, lectured at the conference and said this,

“I don’t believe the dead body of Jesus got up and walked out of the tomb,” Miller, a Roman Catholic, similarly declared. …”We don’t find evidence that his [Jesus’] body left the tomb, that Jesus considered himself messiah or that his death would be a sort of human sacrifice to atone for sin.” Instead, Miller proposed that Jesus was to be understood as a sage.

The efforts of these critics to disparage Christian faith are morally deficient and wrong about the facts. Moreover, the goal of such people is to turn Christianity into a useful myth.

These critics also misunderstand, deliberately or otherwise, the vital nature and truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection Is Vital to the Existence of Christianity

EasterThe biblical record reveals the necessity of the resurrection of Christ to the faith. There is nothing more vital to the very existence of Christianity than the actual resurrection of Jesus from real death on the cross.

The apostle Paul puts it plainly in 1 Corinthians 15.

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.  I Corinthians 15:17-20

There is no faith in a Christ who did not rise from the dead. If Jesus did not rise as He testified that He would, and as the biblical witness records, then Paul says you have a useless faith and no hope for escaping sin or its penalty.

Hope in Christ is based on His assurance of life eternal for those who follow Him, but it is an empty promise if He Himself did not rise from the grave. If that is the case, every person from the time of Jesus’ disciples until the present, dead or alive followed a false witness.

The fascinating thing about the critics of the resurrection, like Dr. Miller above, is that they inevitably try to deny what Jesus claimed and did, especially miraculously, while also claiming He was a great and good teacher or prophet. Miller himself claims that Jesus was really a “sage,” meaning a wise and good teacher and example.

These so-called “teachers” of the Word are trying to desperately hold onto the symbolism of Christ without any of the substance. That way, they can justify sinful actions and teaching by filling in their own version of ‘substance’ and claiming it aligns with the symbolic teachings of a wise sage.

EasterPlainly put, you can’t have it both ways skeptics. One of my favorite quotes from author C.S. Lewis of “Narnia” fame comes from another work about the reality of Christianity where he makes this very salient point.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Thus the absolute necessity of a true, actual bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from death cannot be overstated. Unless that monumental, unprecedented event really happened, every Christian should abandon the faith and look elsewhere or nowhere for God in this life.

However, we are blessed that the resurrection did happen and Jesus is truly alive today as our Savior and LORD. The evidence for this is abundant and we begin with the words of Paul in the same chapter of 1 Corinthians.

The Resurrection Is the Historic Truth, and More

EasterThe historical case for the resurrection is extremely strong and easily refutes the nonsensical blatherings of ‘academic’ doubters. Paul himself begins chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians with multiple eyewitness testimony of the risen LORD Jesus.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 [ESV]

The key to the veracity of Paul’s writing is that Jesus appeared in person after He had died on the cross to hundreds of eyewitnesses who were alive at the time! Paul was also not the only evangelist preaching about the risen Christ at that time.

Peter [Cephas in the text] and the other apostles were preaching and teaching the resurrection as miraculous fact. The events at the cross on Friday before were well-known and Jesus’ enemies would have decimated this account if it were not true.

In the verses that follow Paul puts his and the other apostles’ character on the line. He basically says that if you find out this is a false account, then we are all false witnesses under Jewish law.

As a Pharisee, Paul would know that the penalty for committing false witness could go as high as death, [Deuteronomy 19:18-21]. In fact, all those who preached the resurrection as fact risked death from the religious and political authorities of the day.

This is the second point that gives evidence for the resurrection as a true event. The early martyrs for Christ all died believing the resurrection was real, and many of them actually saw Jesus alive after they had watched Him die on the cross!

EasterNo one risks death for something they don’t believe is true. Granted, people can and do risk life and limb for things they believe to be true but are in fact false, but that doesn’t answer the matter of the eyewitnesses.

The skeptics’ objection to this is that the witnesses saw an illusion that was really a ‘spiritual’ resurrection and not a bodily one. This means that hundreds of people all saw the identical mass illusion, which is basically an impossibility.

Furthermore, Jesus Himself rebukes this fantasy with His actions and words after He rose from the dead.

And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:38-43 [ESV]

In other pieces, I have covered more evidence for the resurrection, such as the lack of a body in the tomb and refuted the so-called “swoon theory,” which claims Jesus didn’t really die but revived in the tomb and somehow moved the stone and escaped the notice of the Roman guards.

There are numerous excellent volumes which do a more thorough job of giving proof of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. A couple of these that I recommend are Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” and a small but powerful book with the title, “Faith Founded on Fact,” by John Warwick Montgomery.

If one is not particularly enamored of reading detailed books, I would recommend looking up two places I use on YouTube. One is known as Inspiring Philosophy and another is the ministry of apologist Ravi Zacharias. They have been a great aid to me in my continuing study.

The conclusion is this, followers of Jesus Christ can be sure that He has risen and overcome death and the grave, and we can all rejoice in that fact! Hallelujah, He is risen indeed!

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Donut_Diva’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of cherry red ❤’s beardy’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of rogiro’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of The Church of Almighty God’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Angela Xu’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

Jesus’ Ministry

It’s the Holy Week for Christians, and I reverently remember our Lord, Christ Jesus. In the quiet of my domain, I search the Bible for answers to my questions such as what was Jesus’ real ministry on earth? Did Jesus practice a religion or was He a rebel who rode off into the desert eluding Roman authorities?

Jesus spread the principles of entering God’s kingdom to all walks of life in Galilee, Capernaum, Judea, and Nazareth. He started at about the age of thirty at the River Jordan near Bethany-across-the-Jordan where He called His first five disciples. Though our Savior was Jewish, his ministry often taught parables and verses from the “sacred books” which we know today as the Old Testament. But, sometimes He referred to the Hebrew Bible, specifically the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), the Torah, and the Book of Psalms.

As you may detect, Jesus disdained religious discord. He wanted people to love one another and love God. This was the basic concept of all His messages and the only way to heaven. Love and kindness is not a religion but an emotion, so He reached listeners through relationships rather than synagogues. When we integrate the theory of one religion into our life, God’s lessons often become overshadowed by hypocrisy, hatred, and division. Today’s religious persecution of humanity is such an example of this concept. Instead of loving one another and maintaining the state of our hearts, we fight to the end defending our religious rights. This was the exact reason Jesus’ ministry remained non-denominational – one church under Christ Jesus.

The parables Jesus taught became His primary method of speaking His Father’s words. He rarely used texts out of scriptures nor explained or commented on them. He considered this “preaching,” not teaching; instead, He left Himself open to interpretation and offered a story for listeners to ponder and ask, how can this get me into heaven? The Parable of the Mustard Seed was Jesus’ favorite.

THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF JESUS’ MINISTRY

LOVE

At the core of Jesus’ ministry were a few critical impressions which He consistently shared with everyone; foremost was love. Believers asked Him occasionally which commandment was the greatest, and His response stood with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength.” His second favorite was, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the nucleus of everything right and perfect in the world. Jesus taught examples of love and compassion by healing the sick, restoring eyesight, and feeding the hungry. But, He emphasized loving our enemies for even though they are wicked, they also need love. “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”

FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness was the second most important concept to Jesus. He spoke we must repent of sins and ask God for forgiveness so God may forgive our wrongdoings. Jesus claimed we must forgive every time we are wronged. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

JUDGING OTHERS

Jesus also warned His listeners not to judge others since we are all sinners. Though born sinless, He still had mercy and compassion for mankind. He often told the story of an adulteress woman about to be stoned to death (found in John 8:1-30). Jesus told her accusers, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” They all departed and Jesus told the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.”

WEALTH AND POVERTY

Jesus did not speak it is a sin to be wealthy, only that we give our riches back to the Lord and others in need. He spoke of the affluent becoming too attached to material possessions for when we die, our “objects of happiness” will mean nothing. Christ used the example of a rich man who lived by all the other commandments, and he approached Him to find out how to have eternal life. Jesus replied, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The man became very sad because he could not part with his riches. Jesus later told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Doesn’t say much for the Powerball today, does it?

Let us analyze your strength, as a Christian, in this situation. If Jesus were to come to you today and ask you to give up your home and all possessions to follow Him, WOULD YOU DO IT? If the answer is yes, you may find eternal salvation in heaven. If the answer is no, it is time to question your faith and love of money and objects. What means more to you – living as one with God, now and forevermore, or exploiting the riches which cease after you die and you stand in judgment by the Lord? Will it be God or your self-centeredness?

HYPOCRISY

Jesus learned of hypocrisy by observing the Pharisees. They prayed in the streets and always attended the temple, but the inside, their contemptible hearts were made of stone. He loathed hypocrisy in any form. Our sovereignty to God is a private matter and not to be exploited in crowds. You may ask why this is imperative? Because we are sinners, our actions often fall short of God’s requirements. If we expose our praise and inner thoughts of God to outsiders, yet our daily activities show different, we become deemed a hypocrite and severely judged. Many non-believers will not follow the church because of this very reason.

PRAYER

Jesus often taught the nature and power of prayer. He emphasized “The Lord’s Prayer” and said it was not for show but a private matter. “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Prayers are to be directed to God the Father only, not angels, saints, or Mary. Jesus considered chanting of prayers to be of pagan roots, now observed in Catholic and Orthodox churches. He asked we use prayers to develop a close, personal relationship with God.

Do we see the irony in Jesus’ instruction on praying? How many large churches, today, organize huge crusades and festivals to bring people closer to God? How often do we receive an invite on Facebook to join a Watch Party where someone is screaming out the name of the Lord and asking for forgiveness? The idea churches adopted prayer methods against Jesus’ teaching is quite a dose to swallow. They walk in total disregard of the foundation of God’s word!

Christ Jesus tested and prevailed in His ministry of love, right down to His last days. He was a sinless mortal man leading the way for humanity to follow in His footsteps. Yes, Jesus paid the ultimate price for His beliefs in love.

On this day, Good Friday, I plead my faith to Him, under the cross which He brutally hung on for me and all sinners. I also pray my Father will bless my ongoing ministry for all who come searching to fill a void in their heart with our Lord, Jesus Christ. And finally I pray, friends, you find God’s peace and love on this holy weekend. www.danabicksauthor.com

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The Halo of Life

The thought of newly transplanted foliage thriving in the winter’s cold air enticed me to pray for God’s help. I raised the living room shades, and our tree was gleaming in His morning rays. It began in February as lifeless vegetation, a root ball almost too heavy for my wife and I to plant in the ground. We gently slid it into a wheelbarrow and positioned this poor sapling in front of the window. With high hopes and lots of prayers, we asked God to bless our achievement and to nourish this impressive little ten-foot red Dogwood tree.

I’m sure most of my readers heard or read all the versions of “Legend of the Dogwood Tree.” Our Dogwood, though, became special when a supernatural event occurred within a week of planting it in the yard. Amongst the dead winter sod, and obvious to the naked eye, an indisputable halo of green grass sprouted around its base. I showed my wife and a neighbor, in disbelief, and we sat to praise God. In all my years of landscaping, I never witnessed something so mystical! Halos mean the Kingdom of light, and that which dons them has spiritual power and life. Was this tree put in my hands for a reason?

A halo of green grass…image by Bicks Books LLC.

Last night, a short month after its birth to our home, the cold rains blew; this morning we opened the blinds only to discover God’s magnificent gift. Our most prized possession, the red Dogwood tree, blossomed with brilliant crimson blooms and just in time for Easter. Our hard-earned efforts yielded God’s acknowledgment of thanks for giving life to this little dogwood tree, now a sanctuary standing ever tall.

Maybe this halo occurrence is quirky to some but we’ve planted many trees and bushes in our yard, and nothing appears abnormal about them. But the little red Dogwood brightens our day, blooming blood-stained petals in the shape of a cross, along with its own halo. The Lord, no doubt, is very much in control of His creations, and perhaps He anoints them with His messages… just like this tree.

Jesus donned a crown of thorns and was crucified on a wooden cross for our sins. Whether it was a dogwood He hung from (as legend claims), or another type of wood is of scant importance. Living in the consciousness of Christ is the most essential part of being a Christian. Be aware of God’s signs – they are all around you, even in nature. Let’s understand everything good originates from Him, and He wants us to protect the halo of life.

God bless you as we prepare for the Easter season.

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The light and darkness of the world?

The period of lent that led into Easter was a period of renewal. We suffer with Jesus throughout Lent, and our sins are expected to die with Jesus on Good Friday when he dies on the cross.

As Jesus resurrects into a new life on Easter Sunday, we who are his followers are supposed to resurrect too from our sinfulness into a new life. This means we leave sin behind to become new creations – the light of the world.

Are you a new creation? Have you left sin behind? Are you determined to fight sin and stand out as the light of the world as Jesus Christ?

May God grant you the grace to be that – a new creation; the light of the world; fully what he created you to be so that you will help make the world a place that people will feel happy, comfortable and safe to live in.

For now, the world is far from what God created it to be because instead of being the light of the world, a lot of us are the darkness of the world.

Special week for Christians

If you are a Christian, this week is very special to you, isn’t it? Just how special it is, of course, depends on each individual Christian.

There are Christians and there are Christians. And this is an opportunity to speak out with conviction about what you believe in as a Christian. Do you have the courage of your faith? Tell the world what you believe.

If you are a non Christian you have the opportunity to express love and solidarity with your Christian brothers and sisters. We are waiting.