Christ the Lord is risen today!

The Garden Tomb (and Gordon’s Calvary) is a special place to visit in Jerusalem. This site is named after the British General Charles Gordon. General Gordon was a guest of the Spaffords at the American Colony, enjoying a little “R and R.” The American Colony was started in 1881, aiming to help others with physical and economic needs. Horatio Spafford is best known as the author of the words to the hymn “It is well, with my soul.”

The story is told that as General Gordon was strolling along the rampart wall of Old City Jerusalem, he was thinking about the death and burial of Jesus Christ. In his walk, he glanced across the road and saw a rock formation that seemed to resemble a “skull” (which in Latin is “calvary”). General Gordon believed this site to be where Jesus was crucified and buried.

Today, the Garden Tomb is an oasis in the midst of a very noisy city. The roar of the traffic and crowds becomes a quiet hum inside their walls. It is beautifully landscaped and a reverent place to think about the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the tomb they claim to be the one Jesus temporarily used is not correct. That tomb dates to the Old Testament Iron Age (1200-600 BC). Scripture says that Jesus was laid in a “new tomb” (Matthew 27:59-61).

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether Jesus died on Skull Rock and was buried in the Garden Tomb or near where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands today or somewhere else in Jerusalem. The truth is Jesus died, was buried, and rose again the third day.

May we agree with Paul in his letter to the Romans and with one voice respond, He is risen, indeed!

Have I got a deal for you!

What is your normal response when you hear the words, “have I got a deal for you”? Do you immediately walk away? Disconnect the phone? Do you cautiously listen?

Jeremiah was given a difficult responsibility. It was a depressing time for Judah. They were on the verge of being destroyed and taken captive. God told Jeremiah to go the people and remind them, “have I got a deal for you.” Israel was a skeptical bunch, but God wanted them to have a truth to hold on to while they were in exile.

Jeremiah 31:31-37 is in the middle of God’s promises for Israel’s future comfort. Part of God’s promise includes the restoration of Israel as a nation. With this restoration will come the establishment of a new relationship between God and His people, Israel. This new relationship will include 1) a new beginning, 2) a new covenant, and 3) a new city. The following verses describe God’s new covenant with Israel.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Thus says the Lord,?Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (The Lord of hosts is His name):

“If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord,?Then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.”

Thus says the Lord:?“If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,?I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the Lord” (Jer. 31:31-37).

What will God’s new covenant with Israel be like?

1. Verse 33, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God’s new covenant will give Israel the inner ability to obey His righteous standards and enjoy His blessings.

2. Verse 34, Death of Jesus Christ. God’s new covenant makes provision for canceling the penalty of sin required from man through a once-for-all-time sacrificial Substitute.

3. Verses 35-37, Promise of the Father. God’s new covenant will forever preserve Israel as a nation.
One day, in the Millennium, Israel will be part of the complete fulfillment of this new covenant. Then Israel, as a nation, will acknowledge her sin and turn to the Messiah for forgiveness.

What about us? Do we get in on this new covenant? As God’s Church, we enjoy today some of the benefits of God’s new covenant with Israel because of our union with Jesus Christ. We are blessed—declared righteous because of Jesus Christ; being transformed in holiness because of the indwelling Holy Spirit; and eternally adopted heirs because of the Father. We are blessed!

*Blessed Lord, You have invited us to know You. You have redeemed all who are willing to accept Jesus Christ’s salvation. You have poured out Your Spirit to indwell us. You have made us partakers in a vast spiritual inheritance. We are blessed and sometimes we need to be reminded of these blessings so that we might thank and praise You, the Blesser.

Here comes the Judge

Did you ever ask or has it ever been asked of you, “Who made you the judge of me?” or “What gives you the right to judge me?”

Asaph was a leading Levite musician in the Temple. In Psalm 50, he presents a vivid picture of a court-room scene. The judge is present. The witnesses are ready to testify. The accusation against the defendant is clear. Because of the imagery and the content, it is a little difficult to imagine this psalm was sung in the Temple worship service. Continue reading

Milestones, part 4

Read Milestones, part 3

Jesus saith unto him, …no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. —John 14:6

It appears the last milestone had part of its information chiseled out. Fortunately, the next marker was not vandalized. The third milestone said, “the wages of sin is death.” While the information that sign gave is accurate (and got us to the next milestone), by itself it was incomplete. What further direction should have been given? Continue reading

Milestones, part 3

Read Milestones, part 2

Jesus saith unto him, …no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
—John 14:6

We made our way in record time. But the directions on this milestone are no better, it appears to be even worse. We didn’t make a wrong turn, did we? The first milestone pointed to a principle. We are not our own but indebted to our Creator. The second milestone revealed a problem. Without exception everyone, all of humanity, desires and choses to act contrary to our Creator’s will. The Bible calls this “sin.” The time to trust our guide is when we are unsure, otherwise we could wander from the path and possibly never find the right way again. What does this milestone say?

Milestone Three – Romans 6:23a
“For the wages of sin is death…”

The third milestone points to a fatal Penalty: Death. What is death? Death is the result of sin. Death is a consequence of possessing a sin nature and having actually disobeyed God. Death is physical. Physical death is a separation of the soul from the body resulting in the termination of physical life. Death is also spiritual. Spiritual death does not mean an end of existence. The soul, our spirit, lives forever. Spiritual death is far worse than physical death. Spiritual death is a separation of the soul from God and His presence. It is an eternal consequence of sin.

In physical life everyone enjoys a measure of God’s presence. For example, He sends rain without discrimination. Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as God? He sends rain on your crops to sustain physical life. Are you unsure who really is the Creator of all that exists? He doesn’t wait for you to figure it all out, He waters your crops, too. Maybe you are one who denies the reality of any deity. Whether you believe He is there or not, you also receive rain and therefore are a recipient of His presence. But, after this life, spiritual death will result in being separated from even the measure of God’s presence that everyone currently benefits from—forever. That’s harsh! Despite this danger…,

Some demand answers, “Why am I responsible?” Others try to use persuasive arguments in hopes of changing God’s mind. “I didn’t ask to be born.” “It’s not my fault that someone else disobeyed God first.” “God is not being fair!” “Everyone should stand or fall on their own merit.”

Romans 6:23, teaches us about the consequences of sin. Because God is himself perfect, he demands absolute perfection from His creation. The Bible talks about God’s perfection as “righteous,” “just,” and “holy.” When His will is disobeyed, God acts justly (in a fair way) toward every offender. Many people refuse to accept the truth that “I deserve (physical and spiritual) death because of my sin.” The punishment that we have earned for our sins is death. Not only physical death, but eternal death as well!

Those on the only road to God know because of their offenses against the Creator they are already as good as dead and unable to do anything about their condition or their destination.

We are “the walking dead” and it is a long, uphill hike to the next milestone.

Read Milestones, part 4

Milestones, part 2

Read “Milestones, part 1”.

Jesus saith unto him, …no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. —John 14:6

These milestones are very helpful in guiding our walk on the right road and keep us headed to our final destination. A wrong turn here would be disastrous.

Milestone Two – Romans 3:10-11, 23
“As it has been written, ‘There is none righteous, no not one! There is none that understands, there is not one that seeks after God.’ … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory [what pleases or makes God happy] of God.” Continue reading