How Could Jesus Rise Before He Dies!

Last Sunday many observed Easter to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
Passover on the evening of April 21 will commemorate His death.
How can He rise before He dies!

 

Here is a quote that pretty well sets the stage for all the confusion: “The earliest Christians celebrated the resurrection on the fourteenth of Nisan (our March-April), the date of the Jewish Passover.   Jewish days were reckoned from evening to evening, so Jesus had celebrated His Last Supper the evening of the Passover and was crucified the day of the Passover” (www.christianity.com).

What did the “earliest Christians” celebrate?

Jesus was the earliest Christian!   All of the references from various religious persuasions seem to agree that Jesus was scourged and crucified during the daylight part of Nisan 14, fulfilling the Passover of Exodus 12 on the day specified.   That’s good because the Bible says it and that’s what He did!   But Jesus wasn’t resurrected that day!   He certainly didn’t celebrate being resurrected that day!   Like that bravado line in the action movies, for Him it was a good day to die!

The only sign he gave of His Messiahship was that He would be three days and three nights in the grave (Matthew 12:39-40).   A child with elementary math skill could count on his fingers that He had to be resurrected on Nisan 17.

The night before, beginning the 14th, his disciples—the earliest Christians—had their feet washed by him and shared the New Testament Passover with Him.   They ate unleavened bread symbolizing Christ’s broken sinless body and drank a little wine picturing His shed blood.   These early Christians were not celebrating His resurrection on Nisan 14.

About 23 years later, neither were Paul and the Corinthians—Gentile early Christians.   Paul wrote that as they observed the Passover on Nisan 14 they were “proclaim[ing] the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).   These early Christians were “keep[ing] the feast” (1 Corinthians 5:8) which included the seven Days of Unleavened Bread along with the Passover.

So how’d we get to today’s confusion?

Where Jesus is supposedly resurrected before He’s crucified?

Following Jesus and the Apostles, Christians in the churches of Jerusalem and Asia Minor continued to commemorate Passover on the 14th.  But the churches in and around Rome changed to the practice of celebrating Easter on the following Sunday.

At the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. Emperor Constantine decreed that Christianity be totally separated from all things Jewish.  Calling the Passover Jewish didn’t make it so.  Passover is one of the “feasts of the LORD” (Leviticus 23:2).  The one who proclaimed that was the God of the Old Testament who became Jesus Christ.  Paul said that Jesus so embodied what the Passover was all about that He is “Christ our Passover” (1 Corinthians 5:7).  How could Passover be any more Christian!

Nevertheless, Constantine established that Easter would forever be on a Sunday and never on Nisan 14.

thPWAEJ6KIIn the 16th century the Western Roman Church decided that Easter would fall on the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox—according to the Gregorian Calendar. It could occur any time between March 22 to April 25. The Orthodox Church opted to follow the Julian Calendar.

This year the Orthodox Church will observe Easter May 1. At least they will be picturing the resurrected Christ after His death is proclaimed April 21.

Some say “It’s the meaning that matters.” The historian Eusebius called it “a question of no small importance.” The Bible says “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

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That Mountain? It’s Already on Its Way to the Sea!

Here’s an amazing promise from Jesus:
“Whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’
and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says
will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask, when you pray,
believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:23-24).

Do you hear Jesus saying that to YOU?   What a promise!   And like Abraham we should know that God keeps His promises (Romans 4:21).   He’s able!  “To do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!

You believe in healing.   You have a long prayer list that with worldwide Internet communication grows longer each day.   It can seem overwhelming but you strive to be an effective prayer warrior.

Get out your prayer list, read that promise above on their behalf, and believe it with no doubts!

mountain into sea♦   Yeah but it’s pretty hard to have a good reason why Pike’s Peak should be cast into the Pacific Ocean.   Why would God relocate this 14,114 ft. mountain at your request?

Doubting voice: You wouldn’t bother asking.
Relaxed trusting voice: Each healing situation is a mountain for that person/family.   God says He’s ready to move it!   Come ask, believe and do not doubt!

♦    Yeah but we can’t make our demands to be heard on high during fasting and prayer (Isaiah 58:4).

Doubting voice: Why should God care what you say?
Relaxed trusting voice:  Jesus invites you to tell what you’d like God to do!

Even humans like to see people who are passionate about something!   And it inspires us to root for them and even help them achieve it!   God might do it for them just because you cared.

♦    Yeah but the Master Timer knows best about the when and how to work out everything for good for everybody concerned.

Doubting voice: You’re human, you might have it all wrong.
Relaxed trusting voice:   You have been seeking the mind of Christ.   You wouldn’t want to ask anything that wastes God’s time or goes against His will.   You are God’s child.   Jesus calls you friend.   They delight to know your thoughts and ideas.   God showers you with grace and good things because He wants us to prosper and be in health (3 John 2).    Believe and do not doubt!

♦    Yeah but God may say “Wait” because He knows we have need of patience or empathy.   Or because a person has lived a long natural life and can be spared the trouble to come and be parked awaiting the resurrection to a healthy perfect spiritual body.

Doubting voice: Who doesn’t need more patience and empathy so you’ll probably have to wait.  And they’re pretty old so God will probably let them die.
Relaxed trusting voice:  It’s fine if God says to wait.   Jesus’ promise does not say “NOW.”   But why assume it won’t be.

If healing hasn’t happened by amen, God “calls things that be not as though they be” (Romans 4:17).   Healing is sure!   That mountain is already on its way to the sea!   In fact it’s already splashed down!

So why not speak faith and believe with no doubts!

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“God, What Do You Want Me to Do?”

“God does not want to function simply as an information center for our lives.
He wants to be involved in our lives in the most intimate of ways
through a relationship that revolves around faith and trust.”
The Will of God by Joe Quatrone, Jr.

Amy was new to the faith and really wanted to do things right.   She saw in 2 Samuel where David sought advice from the Lord:  “Shall I go up?   When the Lord said “Go up,” David then asked “Where should I go up?”  Amy wondered how to apply that in her life.   “Should I go up to the library?”

She really wasn’t surprised when she didn’t hear an answer!   “And, she mused, “I would just go to the children’s section anyway to find books for my kids.”  But oh, how should she seek God’s will?   “I really want to know!”

Sam had been living God’s way for his whole adult life. “I memorized Proverbs 3:5-6 long ago and yet suddenly it hit me that I am relying too much on my own understanding and not trusting God enough.   I need to change!    I want to be ready!”

toolboxWe use the four tools in a Christian’s toolbox:  We pray “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.”  We study the Bible daily to listen to God about His will.   We meditate on how to apply Bible principles to new situations that come at us.   At critical junctures involving tough decisions we fast for His direction.

Our goal is to take on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5)—God’s higher way of thinking (Isaiah 55:9) based on unselfish outgoing concern for others.  Caleb thought differently than the fearful spies.   He followed God fully with his can-do attitude (Numbers 14:24).

We want to be so shaped by God’s revealed will in His Bible that we grow up to be mature sons and daughters in the family of God.   That’s the most important way we fulfill God’s will.

We have “The right to become children of God … not of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).   Jesus Christ has predestined us to adoption as sons “according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:5).

So, God, should I have toast or muffins with my eggs for breakfast this morning?   Well, we know not to have ham.

Which cell phone should I buy? The Bible doesn’t even vibrate on that one, but we know the proverb says the wise foresee trouble ahead and avoid it (Proverbs 22:3).   So we are careful to not carry our phone near our bodies because studies are warning about consequences sure to come.

Since marriage is easily the second most influential choice a person makes after baptism—and it would be best after baptism so you could marry a believer and be equally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14)—the story about Abraham sending his servant to find a mate for Isaac shows the importance of seeking God’s guidance in the choice and development. If she’s willing to pour water for your camels, she just might be the one!

Jobs shape our lives in a huge way and surely we should seek God’s guidance in that.   Our vocation in this life could play a big part in preparing us for whatever service God has in mind for us in the Millennium.   Nothing is more inspiring in the Bible than reading about how God guided the circumstances of Joseph to becoming #2 in charge of Egypt.

So should you throw in the Bounty because the closest you get to management is cleaning their office at night?   Character development is still the key factor in preparing for rulership under Jesus Christ’s coming administration.   We should do what we do with all our might (Ecclesiastes 9:10) and look to God for promotion (Psalm 75:6).   Being in His Kingdom is going to trump anything in this life!

In the late ‘70s I was happily working at the National Association of Counties in Washington, D.C. in their Graphics Department.  One unsuspecting day the owner of the Northern Virginia Sun newspaper came in and offered me a job.   Better pay, more responsibility, easier time off—a no-brainer and I didn’t bother asking God.   I ended up in three months of misery until the day I was fasting for God to show me what to do to rectify the situation.  When I arrived at work, I was fired!   For a day I was in total shock for being canned for the first time in my life.   But then I was ecstatic with spiritual joy when I realized God had just answered my fasting prayer!   In quick succession followed related events that set me up across the country in a wonderful growing environment.

I believe it was Joe Quatrone, Jr. who also said “The will of God is a living relationship between God and the believer.”  Today is a good day to start!

I’d love to have you share with us what you’ve learned about discerning God’s will.

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Who’s Missing from the Hall of Faith?

Hebrew 11Hebrews 11 has been called the Hall of Faith.
The chapter ends implying those mentioned will be in the resurrection.
Mentioned by name are Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel.

Some of the people mentioned are righteous legends whose heroics are often the subject of admiring sermons.   But Barak?   He’s usually ridiculed as a weak leader upstaged by Deborah.   Jephthah is known for his rash vow involving his daughter.   Delilah gets more press than Samson.

The Hall of Faith shows that God offered salvation to a select few in the Old Testament. Even then, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14).   Grace was offered in the Old Testament to key individuals. God “preached the gospel to Abraham” (Galatians 3:8).   The Bible is one book with one message and one salvation.

Those who keep the holy days of Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day understand that relatively few are called to salvation to be in the first resurrection—the early harvest firstfruits—whereas the billions who have never had their chance at salvation will have their minds opened during the Millennium but especially during the Great White Throne Judgment—the bigger latter harvest.   The Father is the Master Timer even in when He calls each person individually at the best time he or she will respond (John 6:44).

But it’s interesting to ponder who’s missing from the Hall of Faith.   Hebrews 11 refers to the walls of Jericho falling down but doesn’t mention Joshua.   Righteous kings of Judah like Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah didn’t make the list.   There’s no mention of Ruth—or Boaz or Naomi.     What about the 7,000 who didn’t bow the knee to Baal?   Lot who was called “righteous” (2 Peter 2:7)?   Did Solomon make it at the conclusion of the matter (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)?   What about Esther and Mordecai?

Verses 32-38 refer to “the prophets” and to other faithful people unnamed.   One can guess at possible people from the clues.   The one who stopped the mouth of lions could have been Daniel.   Really God, of course, or Daniel would have filled their mouths!   The Bible states that Daniel “will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days” (Daniel 12:13).   Tradition says Isaiah was sawn in two and Manassah wasn’t performing a magic trick.

Pete RoseMakes me think about Pete Rose who was clearly one of the greatest baseball players ever and seemingly a shoe-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame.   On Sept. 11, 1985 He became the all-time major league leader in hits and his record of 4,256 hits still stands.   A 17-time All-Star, Pete also holds the record for games played (3562), at bats (14,053) and singles (3,215).

Significantly he also made the most outs (10,328), and the biggest one is that he is out of the Hall of Fame!   Banned!   He is still denied induction for betting on baseball including his own team—at least not against it.

The Bible is hard on its heroes, showing the good, bad and ugly.   God forgives and transforms.

It’s fun to speculate about who isn’t mentioned in Hebrews 11 but could be in the first resurrection at Christ’s return.   Who can you think of?

Really only God knows.

I came on the scene too late to be included in Hebrews 11.   But thank God for the opportunity to be one of the just living by faith and yearning for the first resurrection.   No way I want to miss out!

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God’s Will? This Is It!

In many verses of the Bible God states plainly
that a specific attitude or action is His will.
Shouldn’t we pay extra attention when He points that out!

Do you ever think: God, I want to do your will.   But why don’t you plainly tell me what it is! Why don’t you write a God’s Will for Dummies?

Amazingly, many verses in the Bible start with “This is the will of God” or “This is the will of the Father.”  Talk about a less than subtle hint!   We would be the dummy if we don’t act on these plain statements of God’s will:

♥   “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John 6:39).   Jesus has no plans to lose you! He will do everything He can to see that you make it!   “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

♥    “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (verse 40).   The blessed hope—the first and doubly better resurrection at Christ’s return!   What’s so better about it?   We would be in on the ground floor of the Kingdom of God from the very beginning, and we would be part of the Bride.

♥    “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18.   Thanks giving not just thanks feeling.   The more thankful we are for a miracle, the more miracles will miraculously appear.   The unthankful wouldn’t recognize the daily miracle of life.

thHS8GNG5VRichie’s father felt his son was too unthankful and pessimistic, so he put him in a room full of wondrous toys.   He thought his other boy, Sunny, was overly thankful and optimistic, so he gave him a pitchfork and told him to clean out a stall piled high with manure.

When he returned in an hour, Richie was having a tantrum and all the toys were broken. But Sunny was flinging manure and exclaiming excitedly, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

♥    “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust” (I Thessalonians 4:3-4).   Is this possible in our lustful anything-goes world?   God says yes, for those who want to be sanctified—set apart and holy!   In fact, in regards to immorality God demands that there “not be even a hint!” (Ephesians 5:3, New International Version).

♥    “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God” (1 Peter 2:15).   God says blessed will be His servants who when Christ returns will be found “so doing” (Matthew 24:46).

♥    “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” (John 4:34).   What are we doing to finish the Work of God?

♥    “I delight to do your will O my God. And your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8).  So when it comes to being done away, the Bible says it’s the credibility of anyone who makes such a foolish claim about God’s law!

So what’s your will for me, God?   This is it!   Abide with you, believe you, seek the resurrection, give thanks, abstain from sexual immorality, do good, finish your Work and put your law within my heart.

Our reward?  “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).

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Pleases & Thank You’s

This was a familiar refrain with Mom and probably with yours.
She wouldn’t let me get away without saying please and thank you.
Now my wife has assumed her mantle.
Please keep it up, ladies, because no doubt it is important to be polite, thank you!

But here’s another way of thinking about pleases and thank you’s.

“Our God is in heaven, He does whatever pleases Him” (Psalm 115:3, 135:6).   Whatever God has allowed to come your way, thank Him for it!

light darknessEven if it looks bleak or even dark and hopeless, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3).

Maybe you want soothing sun but thank Him for the gentle rain, and maybe He might include you in the just camp rather than the other one!

The answer to the final test—and any interim test—is to seek God’s will and not your own.

God, I want to please you.   Please do as you please.   Thank you!

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“God, What Is Your Will for Me?”

Now more than ever, wouldn’t we like to know the will of God—yes,
what He’s planning on the world scene but even more,
what He’s planning for each of us personally.

Paul says we can: “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

The result would be answered prayers!   “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.   And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know we have the petitions we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14).

The whole Bible – old and new testaments– expresses the will of God and we should live by every word of it (2 Timothy 3:16).

willWhen it comes to a human will, relatives and friends might convene in a lawyer’s office for a reading of the will—to find out what the dearly departed has imparted.   But our reading of God’s will should be daily.

Because Bible study is the primary way God speaks to us. A cartoon shows a man beseeching God “Talk to me!”   A Bible falls from the sky.

Become children of God

Where there’s a will … there’s a relative!

But with today’s bizarre proceedings, when you go into the reading of the will and look around the room at expectant faces, you might want to take note of any furry ones!

A four-year-old stray cat that was rescued from the streets of Rome inherited a $13 million fortune from its owner, the wealthy widow of an Italian property tycoon.   Maria Assunta left the fortune to her beloved kitty Tommaso.

Kalu the chimp received an even greater windfall.   His owner left him $80 million.   Well, top dog for wealthy pets goes to Gunther IV, a German shepherd, who inherited $372 million.

Chump change!   God’s will is not for animals but for us who are made in His image (Genesis 1:26).   We are the relatives destined to be in His family.   We can inherit the pearl of great price!

We have “The right to become children of God … not of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).   Jesus Christ has predestined us to adoption as sons “according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:5).

Jesus said whoever does the will of God is His brother, sister or mother (Mark 3:35).

Obviously, we should be eager to do God’s will.   We should be praying daily as Jesus instructed, “Your will be done on earth as in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Jesus said it’s not enough to say “Lord, Lord.”   We must do the will of His Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21).   Jesus set the example by not seeking His own will, but the will of the Father (John 5:30, 6:38).

Example of George Muller

Muller, GeorgeGeorge Muller, an English evangelist and philanthropist (1805-1898) who established orphanages and relied on God in faith to supply all the needs for them, wrote these helpful thoughts about how to seek God’s will:

“I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter.   Nine-tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be.   When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.

“Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression.   If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.   I seek the Will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God” (Answers to Prayer from George Müller’s Narratives compiled by A. E. C. Brooks. Chicago.: Moody Press, ca. 1897).

Yes, we can know God’s will.   We pray for it.   We study God’s Word for it.

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