Thursday, April 17, 2014

Devotional Verses From Paul's Letters To The Christians In Galatia And Corinth

For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 
1 Corinthians 2:18
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Galatians 6:14

     By now the statement of an Al-Qaeda Islamic extremist has been reported around the world. He said "We must eliminate the cross. The bearer of the cross is America!" And, thus exposed the foundation of extremism as religious hatred. Christians, Americans, those who live in Western civilizations where freedom and opportunity has been a result  of the faith of the cross, we are the targets of Al-Quaeda and other Islamic extremists.

     By faith, those who trust in Jesus, the Savior who died on the cross, know that the cross is set down in the center of God's heart and in the center of God's universe. The cross is the symbol of God's love for all people, including the Al-Qaeda extremists. Wicked sinners, false religions,  ruthless-faithless governments have all tried to eliminate or exterminate the cross; from Roman emperors to modern murderers. It cannot happen, and will not happen because God is the God of the cross.

     That is why we, who are believers in Jesus, and have known the new life experience He gives, join with the apostle Paul and glory in the cross of Christ, now and forever.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What The Angel Said

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
Mark 16:5-7

     So there it is, the ladies who had come to the tomb to find Jesus' body had come to the wrong place. I love what the Angel says, "He is not here." Don't look for Jesus in the graveyard among the dead. He is alive forevermore. And what the Angel says following is of tremendous importance "Go tell his disciples," they need to know without a doubt that the cross, that death, that sin had not conquered their Savior. He is risen! Peter gets special mention here, we know his story how he betrayed Jesus and Jesus died. Imagine his guilt, but the angel says let him know death did not win, Jesus is alive. Is it any wonder that these men and women could go out and share this story and turn the world upside down?

     Believers today, you and me, we need to know He's not in the graveyard. Ministers today who are preaching for God need to know without doubt in their heart that Jesus is risen from the dead. Missionaries need to know that too. All of us who may ever have the chance of witnessing to our faith in Christ as Savior need to be absolutely certain and proclaim it with assurance, that Jesus Christ died for me. and He rose again for me, and I am justified because of him.

     So may the pulpits of the churches worldwide ring this coming Sunday, Easter, with the absolute certain sound of preachers telling the church and all the world that He was crucified, but He is risen from the dead.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Devotional Verse From Romans
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him:
Romans 6:9
Hallelujah!

Friday, April 11, 2014

More On The Resurrection, Devotional Verses From Paul's Letter To The Romans

     Introducing the theology of the gospel of God, Paul writes: Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
Romans 1:3,4
     The resurrection declares something about Jesus: it declares that He is the Son of God. Tying this statement that He is declared to be the Son of God because of His rising from the grave into the wider spectrum of New Testament theology, we could also say: He is declared to have died for our sins; He is declared to have defeated death; He is declared to have set us free from the fear of death; He is declared to be living in our hearts by His Holy Spirit; He is declared to be coming again; He is declared to be King of Kings and Lord of lords.
     The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Devotional Thoughts On Easter From The Acts Of The Apostles

     In this news story from the Scriptures we find that those who did not believe Paul's preaching had run riot, and Paul ended up under arrest by the occupying government. His enemies, who sought his death, came and testified against him. The Roman governor, who had just heard the case, was describing it to a visiting dignitary, and this is how he described the courtroom drama: ... They brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
Acts 25:19

     Though they had other things against Paul, the great dissension was about Jesus, and the key was, not that the historical facts of Jesus' death had been distorted but that Paul affirmed, declared, proclaimed, announced, witnessed to the fact that Jesus is alive.

     With Easter only days away as I write, let me affirm that this is the Easter story: Jesus is alive. All the jails in the world cannot destroy the declaration of that message. All the persecution in the world cannot stamp out that message. All the ridicule in the world cannot laugh off that message. The Bible believing church throughout the world affirms with Paul, Jesus is alive.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Devotional Thoughts From The Book Of The Acts Of The Apostles
     The riot in Thessalonica was in opposition to the preaching of Christianity. Those who did not believe and opposed the Christian preaching "took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down art come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one of Jesus."
Acts 17:5-7
     The society then was much like our own. The government allowed, if not endorsed, various sins. When Christians expressed theology and ideas that contradicted the powerful people around town, those who disagreed orchestrated attacks on the Christians seeking to harm them because of their differing views.
     If you watch the news you are aware that similar things are happening in America. If a person gives a contribution to support a concept like traditional marriage, the powerful opposition forces may force him out of his job. If an organization disagrees with a certain style of living it might be harassed and threatened with loss of funds and government favor until they change their deeply held moral views to suit the less than traditional morality of our declining national standards. If a company treats its employees well, but because of religious commitment does not wish to provide drugs that produce abortions which would violate their conscience, and are readily available at low cost, to individual employees who might wish to purchase them on their own, they are threatened with debilitating fines. These violent reactions bespeak intolerance of the worst sort. It is as if the purveyors of nontraditional morality are saying "Believe something that disagrees with our point of view and you'll get hurt: you may lose your job; you may lose your income; you may lose your freedom of speech." It sounds like a very similar reaction to what happened in Thessalonica.
     Despite the threats to Christians who speak and live their faith, we declare Jesus is king.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Devotional Verses From The Acts Of The Apostles
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. ... But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priest?
Acts 9:1,2,21
     Imagine a maniacal persecutor, so set on punishing those who disagree with his view of religion that the very breath he exhales seems to express his fury, rage, and hatred. He is a man who is feared and truly dangerous. At the very least, his victims will be deported and then jailed. This terror of a man is known to the world as Saul of Tarsus, and the evil he had perpetrated on followers of Jesus had them running for cover. If it had been up to Saul, he would have dug them out until no Christians were left. Then he has an encounter with Christ, and he, himself, becomes a Christian, and for a time the church has rest. It is an absolutely amazing turnabout, so dramatic that the Christians were hardly able to conceive it. What God did was "beyond belief," until God did it. And Saul's conversion to Jesus was one of the greatest things God ever did for His church.
     Can God do something like this again? Of course! There is no question about it. Evil heads of state, terrorists, warlords, gang leaders, none are beyond God's reach. Pray for those you know of to have a saving experience with Jesus the way Saul did. Pray for rest for God's church wherever her enemies are breathing out threatenings and slaughter. Pray for the conversion of wicked persecutors of the church     wherever there is persecution. Wouldn't it be wonderful if persecutors woke up one morning suddenly believing in Jesus, and loving the very people they had been pursuing to persecute?
     It could happen. God please do it again!