Has God ever offended you? (Or it seems to feel like it.)

Jesus started His public ministry with a miracle at a wedding. He performed His last one in the gospel of John at a funeral.

His friend Lazarus had just died. Lazarus’ sisters called on Jesus to come for he was a day’s travel away from Bethany.

But when Jesus heard that Lazarus had died, Jesus stayed 2 days longer (John 11:6). Now THAT didn’t make sense. You heard your very close friend was severely sick, and you stayed where you were for 2 days? Was He busy? Well, it didn’t seem that physical distance was a barrier when he healed the centurion’s servant healing for if He wasn’t there.

Have you ever felt that God didn’t make sense?
Why did He allow my baby to die?
Why did my husband lose his job?
Why did God let my mom and dad split up?

But Jesus already established the purpose in verse 4 – “This is for the glory of God!” Question, are you okay with that? If God chooses your situation to display His glory, are you okay with it?

But He didn’t just do it to bring glory to God. He also did it to strengthen the faith of His disciples. Verse 15 tells us, “And for your sake, I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Jesus was glad that Lazarus died? Now, THAT surely is offensive!

Jesus was doing a work in the hearts of the disciples. They were about to embark on a difficult journey filled with persecution and hardships. They needed to have a strong foundation. Jesus was building that foundation through this.

The sign was not just to REVEAL God’s power but also to REINFORCE the disciples’ faith.

Jesus let Lazarus die. He missed his funeral by 4 days. He didn’t just miss the opportunity to pray for him. He missed the memorial services altogether! When he came, Martha met him but Mary stayed in the house. Mary was always excited to meet Jesus and would sit at His feet and be in His presence. But this time was different. She was offended at Him for He didn’t show up when they needed Him.

She later tells Jesus, “If only you had been here.” (John 11:42)

You and I have had those “if only statements”.

If only you gave us a baby, we won’t be separated now.
If only you stopped my brother from starting that business, we won’t be in debt today.
If only you didn’t allow me to be molested and abused by my uncle, I won’t be as messed up today.
IF ONLY…

But Jesus moves past the ash heap of disappointment and tells them a profound truth – “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
Because HE IS, then WE CAN.

Lazarus was raised from the dead.

Because HE IS, WE CAN.

If you have something that seems dead today, Jesus’ resurrection power can bring that thing back to life.

Dead relationships.
Dead business concept.
Dead dream.
Dead marriage.

Whatever is lifeless today, He can breathe life into it.

Remember, He breathed life in Genesis. He created something out of nothing. As humans, we can only create something out of another thing. But only He can create something out of nothing.

Out of something lifeless, He can breathe life into it.

Have a great week ahead!

Blog Banners.001Christmas is the most celebrated time of the year. I can understand why. 

But what Christmas started, Easter actually completed.
The climax of Jesus’ mission on earth wasn’t His birth but His resurrection.

Theologian and apologist Henry Morris had this to say,

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.

What then is the reality, reason and relevance of the resurrection for the 21st century Christ follower?

1. REALITY

Jesus was crucified, died, buried and rose from the dead. Paul writing 20 years after Jesus died says in 1 Corinthians 15:6, “Then He (Jesus) appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of who are still alive.”

This is a critical statement of proof for the resurrection for there were 3 major theories to dispute the bodily rising of Jesus from the grave.

HALLUCINATION THEORY: The disciples were deluded thinking that Jesus rose from the dead.
Now if this were true, it’s hard to have 500 people hallucinate at the same time. And after they’ve finished tripping, you would think at least one would recant after being faced with a death sentence.

HOAX: Jesus’ body didn’t rise from the dead but was just stolen to make people think He rose.
This too is a hard one to pull off. It’s very hard to find someone willing to die for a lie.

SWOON THEORY: Jesus just fainted and didn’t completely die.
The Romans were experts at torture and execution. They couldn’t let this happen. And even if this theory was true, a half dead, wounded, mangled messiah wouldn’t be able to inspire followers to change the word – a fearful group to suddenly become extremely bold.

There’s only one explanation: He DID rise from the dead.

2. REASON

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

Paul tells us that Jesus defeated death, hell and the grave by rising from the dead. But if Jesus didn’t rise, then we would still be in our sins. And if this is so, we are to be pitied among all men for we are believing a lie.

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”― Timothy Keller

3. RELEVANCE

Because He rose from the dead, we too have the hope of victory over death. That’s why Paul could trash talk death to its face and say,

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57)

Because of this, we can live life fearlessly.
Because of this, we can be steadfast and immovable.
Because of this we can continue to abound in the work of the Lord because our labor in Him is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Easter is not just a symbol but a powerful event that is a game changer!

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Most will acknowledge that they have offended a holy and righteous God.
Many realize that they haven’t lived a perfect life.
And hordes will admit that they displeased their Creator.

But here’s a question many ask:
Can God not just grant divine amnesty and declare,
“By My authority, I now give you divine pardon!”

Did Jesus really have to come, become like one of us and die a torturous death on the cross?

Some of you might remember, there was a time when the people of God were held in captivity under the rulership of the Egyptians. God always wanted a people of His own but because they were under slavery, they weren’t their own nation.

God was calling them out through Moses but Pharaoh didn’t want to let His people go. To convince Pharaoh that it was He who was calling them out, He had to send 10 plagues to communicate to Pharaoh that Yahweh is the Lord. The last plague was the plague of the first born where all the first born was going to be visited by the angel of death.

But God’s instruction to His people was to get a lamb, cook it as their meal.
Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.03.11 AMHowever, they are to take the blood and wipe it on the doorposts of their homes so that when the angel of death comes, it will recognize the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. As a result, the angel of death will “passover” their home.

It was the last straw that caused Pharaoh to release God’s people from the clutches of the Egyptian hands. From that time on, it became an annual celebration meal of God’s redemption. You could just imagine the first born during that very first Passover meal thinking,

“The only reason I’m alive is because that thing on the table (the lamb) isn’t.”

Fast forward about 1500 years later, Jesus was having a Passover meal with His disciples. He took the bread and the cup, gave thanks and distributed them to His disciples. The meal was complete except for one thing – the lamb. They were probably thinking, “we have the bread and the wine, but where’s the lamb?”

And here’s the clincher:
“The lamb was not on the table for The Lamb was at the table.”

It was the night before Jesus was going to be crucified.

Why did Jesus have to die?

1. Sin’s payment was death. Sin is a capital offense. For the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid for our death so we can live.

2. Only a perfect sacrifice can pay the penalty. Only Jesus could fulfill this since He was both fully human yet fully God. The sacrifice had to be a perfect, unblemished, sinless sacrifice.
God made Him (Christ), who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

3. A Holy God cannot allow sin go unpunished.
Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe to save a people who owed a debt they couldn’t pay.

That’s why when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he declared, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This sacrifice no longer just covers our sins, He is able to completely wash it away.

All we need to do is to trust His atoning work in Calvary.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This is a reason to rejoice!
This propels us to worship!
This truth will result in a life of gratitude!

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Oklahoma City Thunder coach Monty Williamswife was killed in a car accident. And in front of 900 friends and family members, he delivered a moving and speech of love, strength, wisdom and forgiveness.

I want to close with this, and I think it’s the most important thing we need to understand. Everyone is praying for me and my family, which is right, but let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well, and we have no ill will towards that family.
In my house, we have a sign that says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness. That family didn’t wake up wanting to hurt my wife. Life is hard. It is very hard, and that was tough, but we hold no ill will toward the Donaldson family. And we, as a group, brothers united in unity, should be praying for that family, because they grieve as well. So let’s not lose sight of what’s important.

Towards the end of his speech, he thanks everyone who came and said something profound.

“We didn’t lose my wife. When you lose something, you can’t find it.
I know exactly where my wife is.”

Words of hope, security and faith.

On a time of trial, where are our eyes turned towards?

Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

Here’s the video of his eulogy.

 

There are many who refute His death.

From D.H. Lawrence’s “Swoon Theory” to Hugh Schonfield’s “The Passover Plot”, and Donovan Joyce’s “The Jesus Scroll” to Gary Habermas’ “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”, people have tried to debate the fact that Jesus died.

Why?  Because if people can convince themselves of this fact, then Jesus couldn’t have been God and that all He claimed was a hoax.  Thus, we are no longer compelled to follow His commands and are free to disregard everything He says.

Dr. Metherel, who has a medical degree  from University of Miami and doctorate from University of Bristol in England clearly gives evidence to Jesus’ death in Lee Stobel’s book “The Case For Easter.”

1. His body went through hypovolemic shock.  Hypo means low, vol refers to volume, and emic means blood.  So hypovolemic shock means the person is suffering from the effects of losing large amount of blood.  This was due to the beating, scourging, dehydration, intense stress, lack of sleep from the previous night when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

2. A person who is crucified (though some don’t make it to the crucifixion due to the scourging and flogging) essentially dies a slow agonizing death by asphyxiation.  In order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment.  In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot not mentioning what it does to the person’s nailed wrists/hands.

People then just give up by not pushing up to breathe.  As the person slows down in his breathing, he goes into respiratory acidosis which leads to irregular heartbeat which then leads to cardiac arrest.

3. The legs of the men on Jesus’ left and right were shattered in the lower leg bones to prevent them from pushing up to breathe, thus killing them almost instantaneously.  Jesus’ was already declared dead, thus there was no need to break his legs.  This was to fulfill the prophecy from Ps. 34:20 that “none of his bones will be broken…”

4. To ensure His death, a Roman spear by a professional executioner is thrust in His side.  The Bible says that blood and water gushed out.  Because of the hypovolemic shock, it would have caused a sustained rapid heart rate that would have resulted in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart called pericardial effusion as well as around the lungs, which is called pleural effusion.  Hence the reason for the blood and water exiting His beaten up side.

This confirmed to the Roman executioner that the One crucified was indeed dead.

There are many more evidences to His death.  I could go on and on.

However, with all the evidences, one will still have to make a decision whether to put his faith in the person and work of Jesus.

Bottom line, salvation only comes by faith.  While it is not blind faith, it is definitely a faith on truth.  He is the TRUTH.

Well then, what will it be?

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

funeralWarning: Maybe morbid for some but it was quite a reminder for me.

I had a meeting yesterday with Pastor Joey and a couple of other pastors.  We were discussing a few things we needed to fix.

In the discussion, Pastor Joey mentioned something I’ve heard years ago yet it hit me in a different way yesterday.

He was talking about passion.  He was speaking vision.  We was downloading ‘umph’ in all that we do.

Our time in this planet is limited.  That is true whether you are in your 50’s, 30’s or 20’s or teens.  And that is the reason why we need to give it our best shot every single day.

What has God called me to do in my life?  This year?  This month?  This week?  Today?  At this very moment?

Then he said something that hit me like a left hook from Manny Pacquiao.

“One day, I’m going to be in that casket.  And way before that time comes, I often tell remind myself, what will the people say about the man in that very coffin?

That hit me like a bullet train.

What will people say when I’m gone?

With this question in front of me always, my life, then is going to be lived with passion and umph to do whatever it takes to accomplish God’s will.

Because at the end of it all, it’s not the applause of men that I’m after, but the applause of heaven.  Hearing God saying “Well done, good and faithful servant” is definitely more than enough for me.