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Bible Word Studies

Good Friday?

Good Friday Image

As we approach this Easter Sunday, I hear the question, “So why do we recognize Good Friday if Sunday is the day Jesus rose from the grave?” And that is a great question. Friday was the day Christ was crucified. It is important because that is the day Jesus took our sins to the cross and He paid the price to redeem us. He was crucified on a hill called Golgotha just outside of Jerusalem. Not only did He go to the cross, but He was nailed to the cross at His wrists and His ankles with large spikes. He was given a crown of thorns as a means of mocking His kingship by the Romans. Jesus was tortured by whips and humiliation and made to carry His own cross to the hill. Suffice it to say, His death was a cruel death. And to make matters worse, He had done nothing wrong other than tell people how they could have eternal life.

The ‘Good’ in Good Friday comes from old English when Good meant Holy. So you could call Good Friday, ‘Holy Friday’. Many people in different countries celebrate the anniversary of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, and death on the Friday before Easter Sunday.  This is an observance that involves people fasting and praying.

We celebrate on Friday that Jesus died for us and then on Easter Sunday we celebrate the risen Christ. But on Monday it’s back to normal. The Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:21, “…Christ also suffered for you…”  Easter gets tucked away in our minds and we don’t think about it again until the following year at this time.

An old prominent African-American preacher named S. M. Lockridge (1913 – 2000) known for his dynamic passionate and fervent sermons preached a sermon entitled “He’s My King!” A few years later the author and speaker Tony Campolo continued the message with his own sermon called, “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming.” The narrative of Jesus crucifixion is one of betrayal.  Denial. Cowardice. Envy.  Hate.  Brutality.  Suffering. Despair. Defeat.  Death.

Yet, Christians celebrate the cross because the story does not end on that fateful Friday. It does not end at the cross.  The irony of the cross was the very instrument Jesus’ enemies used to defeat Him, but it became His greatest victory.  Little did they know when Friday ended what would happen on Sunday to change the course of the world’s history. Regardless of today’s problems. Challenges.  Or defeats.  Just remember that Sunday’s coming!  And that you will enjoy the privilege of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

I know it’s Friday.  But thanks be to God that Sunday’s coming!

From the S. M. Lockridge sermon, “It’s Friday. Jesus is buried. A soldier stands guard. And a rock is rolled into place.  But it’s  Friday. It is only Friday.  Sunday is a comin’!”

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A View Into Heaven

Acts 7.56

I don’t think I’m alone when I often imagine what heaven actually looks like. I hear of people who have dreamed of heaven. I hear of people who have been on their death bed  and have had visions of heaven. Some talk about the streets of gold, while others talk of seeing their parents or grandparents who have gone on to be with the Lord. The older I get, the more I think about heaven.

Here is my happiest feeling, I know I will be in heaven when I die. How do I know that? Jesus clearly tells me in His Word in John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Stoning of Stephen as he envisions Jesus standing at the right hand of God

We all would love to get a peek into heaven. Go ahead and admit it, you know you would like to see into heaven. When Stephen was being stoned to death, God allowed him to see into heaven and what he saw was Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This is a simple confirmation of Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18, “. . . All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus has the power to allow Stephen to look into heaven. The Bible usually represents Jesus seated at the right hand of God after His work is finished on earth.

What a rush of strength Stephen must have had as it appeared Jesus rose to His feet as He saw His servant’s need and was preparing to come to his aid and welcome him into heaven.

That’s what I envision of Jesus too! He is standing there waiting to welcome me home. The wonderful part is this: He is standing there waiting for you also to welcome you home, if you know Him as Lord and Saviour. To God be the glory and praise!

Faith?

Faith is the substance

Just what is the Christian life all about? I suppose the easiest way to explain it to a non-Christian is that it is a life of faith in Jesus Christ. To the non-Christian, the way to live the Christian life is by utilizing the choice God gave you when you were born and accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior by faith. And once you become a Christian you live your life knowing that Jesus has saved you from a life of eternal hell. So how does one know someone is a Christian? This is one of the hardest things to understand nowadays. How do you know someone is a Christian? Have you ever wondered what the visible manifestation of faith is? In other words, how can others see that someone is a Christian?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16, “Let your life shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (NASV) Jesus is the Light of the World, and at salvation, we become children of Light. You see, with Jesus living in us, our character, attitude and words change. When we accepted Christ, He gave us the good work we are supposed to do. Our job is to follow Him and do the work He gave us to do. And how do we know what that work is?

Growing in Faith Together

The life of Christ is the life we are to follow. Jesus performed many good works during His life here on earth. Every good work that He did was because it was God’s will for Him. As a Christian, this should also be our goal as well. How do we know what that is? Simply put, He gave us a guide, the Bible, which lays out the path we are to follow. And if we follow that guide the Lord will be glorified through us.

 

Fascinating Animal!

Leaping Squirrel

Sometimes when I’m daydreaming or thinking and looking out my window oftentimes I see squirrels running along the top of my fence or running along a branch in a tree or just leaping from one branch to another. I could sit and watch them for quite a while if I let myself do it. But when I’m thinking about what my next blog will be or what the Lord is going to lay on my heart, I catch myself watching the squirrels play.

Squirrels Playing

It seems that squirrels are always busy doing something whether it be looking for something to eat or finding nuts and looking for a place to store them in a tree or in my yard. Nevertheless, they rarely stay in one place for long, without a care in the world. Wouldn’t it be great to have nothing to care or worry about? Is the life of a squirrel something we really want to pattern our life after?

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they?” (NASV) God loves His creatures enough to make sure that they are fed. Even though they do not sow, reap, or labor, they still must search out food in order to survive, but not to worry; our “heavenly Father feeds them.” Even though we are “of more value than they,” animals do have value to God.

God gave animals the instinct to survive in this world. God gave us knowledge and a mind to choose what we will do to live and survive in this world. Even though this world is a cruel world and occupied by cruel and wonderful people, He also gave us a mind, and with that mind we are to use it to make choices. With that choice, God showed Adam and Eve what to eat and what not to eat. Since the beginning of the world, we have been making choices. I chose to accept Christ as my Savior back in 1984. It was then that I realized after 37 years, that I had been living my life as though I knew what was right.

God showed me that I was NOT living a life worthy to Him. I was much like the squirrels. Oh I realized I had to support the family I had, but it was more about me and my family. I realized I was destined for a life in hell if I did not put my faith and trust in Christ and accept Him into my heart as Lord and Savior. You see, this is why God gave us a mind. We must make the choice!

How about you? Have you made the right choice for your life? Are you living your life without a care in the world? Jesus said it so simply in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”(NASV)  You see, only you and I have that ability to know where we will spend eternity. The squirrels weren’t given that choice, but God says we don’t have to worry about them because He will take care of them. God’s purpose, when he created us, is for us to have fellowship with Him. He made that opportunity as simple as putting our faith and trust in Him. If you’ve not made this choice today, won’t you do it now? All you have to do is recognize that you are destined for eternity in hell without Him and you need to ask Him into your heart right now and mean it.