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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

Posts categorized Holy Week

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Jesus: The Impossible Possibility

All of Christianity is anchored in the birth of Jesus, the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus.

  • At conception, Jesus was 100% God and 100% human. Jesus is the God/man.
  • Jesus lived, every moment of every day fully God and fully human.
  • Jesus died fully God and fully human.
  • Fully God and fully human, Jesus was dead for three days and three night.
  • Jesus conquered death as fully God and fully human.

These five actualities about Jesus are the universe’s most crucial truth.  It is impossible for God to be human and yet God became human thus revealing the impossible is possible.

Jesus is the “Impossible Possibility.”

Of huge importance are the realities of “Silent Saturday” on which Jesus, fully God and fully human is dead.

God did not raise Jesus from the cross.  God raised Jesus from the dead.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

The Bible reiterates it many times.  Jesus was not raised on the first day but on third day.  Jesus was dead part of or all of three days.

Jesus’ three days of death are filled with impossible possibilities.

Consider the impossibilities of Holy Saturday.

  1. It is impossible for God to be absent. But Jesus, fully God and fully human was not present.
  2. It is impossible for God to be finite. But Jesus, fully God and fully human finite and lay dead in Joseph’s tomb.
  3. It is impossible for God to be perishable. But Jesus, fully God and fully human is dead and decaying.
  4. It is impossible for God to be dead. But Jesus, fully God and fully human is dead.

The impossibilities in the dead Jesus shout to us, “Every distance of separation from God, sense of God-forsakenness and awareness of the absence of God has been personally and deeply experienced by God the Son.”

God who keeps His promises, said, “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”  Leviticus 26:12

In His death, Jesus walks with us into and out of these great impossibilities.

The world aches for a Lover who engages our fragmented loneliness with a pursuit that reaches us even in the most desperate betrayals. We pine for a Redeemer who has exhausted the power of the violence in our hearts by taking it fully, even fatally, into his own heart, returning peace. We crave a companion in suffering who not only empathizes but can give precious worth to our pain. Only a Mediator who descended into the hell of human rebellion against God can conclude our long war with the Father. Only a Christ who willingly received the lethal consequences of our sin can truly take away the burden of them. Only one who has been there, in the hell of our making, can comfort us in our suffering. If Jesus didn’t get all the way to the bottom of our predicament, our lost and forsaken condition, then we are left unredeemed at the root. We will be forever lonely, ever tarred with shame, never feeling known, never at peace. But because Jesus entered fully into the deathliness of our human existence, then he can bring us into the eternal life of the Triune God. Dawson, Gerrit S. Raising Adam . Oil Lamp Books LLC. Kindle Edition.

Somewhere in the place of the dead and at some time on Holy Saturday night, God (Jesus) transformed from dead victim to Living Victor!

I, he says, am the Christ. I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven, I, he says, am the Christ.  Melito of Sardis, Died Ad 180.  http://www.kerux.com/doc/0401A1.asp

God the Son transformed “Why have you forsaken me?” into, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:6

God the Son transformed “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit (Matthew 27:50)” into “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die (John 11:25, 26).

God the Son transformed His finiteness of death into, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore… (Revelation 1:17, 18).

God the Son transformed death’s bondage into “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17, 18)

In your life experiences when God seems absent, finite, perishable and dead, know that God profoundly and personally understands.

God’s experience of transforming the impossible is ours today as we believe and confess Him in His death, burial and resurrection.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9, 10

Jesus, the impossible possibility, proclaimed, “Because I live, you too shall live.”  John 14:19

Posted on 20th April 2019 in Holy Week, Resurrection, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Devotion and Betrayal: Life Shaping Choices

Devotion and Betrayal: Life Shaping Choices

Mathew 26:6-16

A prayer as we consider the personal decisions of Mary and Judas Iscariot.

“Dear God,

Reveal to me through stories something of what it is like to walk around in someone else’s shoes.


Show me something about myself in the stories I read, something that needs changing, a thought, a feeling or attitude.

Deliver me from myself, O God, and from the parochial and sometimes prejudiced views I have of other people, other nations, other races, other religions.

Enlarge my heart with a story and change me by the characters I meet there.

May some of the light from their lives spill over into mine, giving me illumination where there was once ignorance, compassion where there was once contempt.” Ken Gire

Personal decisions, choices and determinations are windows into one’s soul.

Mary and Judas’ decisions reveal very different human beings at life’s deepest levels.

Analysis of the Biblical texts indicate Jesus was anointed by a woman on two different occasions.

Anointed in Bethany

Matthew 26:1-13

Mark 14:1-8

John 11:1-2, 12:1-8

Anointed in Nain

Luke 7:11, 36-48

Matthew, from my perspective, intentionally shows the disparity between Mary and Judas’ internal motivations and purity/impurity of heart.

In alignment with the above Ken Gire prayer, we may see traces of Mary and Judas in our souls.

Matthew 26:6-16

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Matthew locates these two narratives next to each other in order to spotlight the differences between devotion and betrayal.

  • Devotion includes being ardently dedicated and loyal with religious fervor.
  • Betrayal includes to deliver to an enemy by treachery and to fail or desert in time of need.
  • (Home spun definition combinations from https://www.merriam-webster.com/

It is important to note that Mary is honored for her decisions and Judas is condemned for his.

Neither robotically or mindlessly functioned as puppets, but intentionally and personally activated their freedom of personal choice.

This is vital, from my perspective, to know I am personally responsible for choosing to be a person of deep and abiding devotion or of broad and significant betrayal.

Devotion gives the self to the other and both are enhanced.

Betrayal takes the self of the other and both are diminished.

 

Devotion values the other far more than material worth.

In betrayal, material worth for the self is far more important than the other.

 

Devotion has expansive impact beyond what the devoted could estimate.

Betrayal has expansive impact beyond what the betrayer could estimate.

 

Signs of Increasing Christian Devotion (Increasing in betrayal includes the opposites)

  1. I am increasing (decreasing) in personal commitment to that to which God is committed.
  2. I am increasing (decreasing) in personal commitment to God’s reward
  3. Pleasing (displeasing) God and knowing His approval (disapproval) brings me increasing (decreasing) peace, joy and contentment.
  4. I am increasing (decreasing) in “upon His law I meditate day and night.”
  5. I am increasing (decreasing) in my love for His church for which He gave His life.

 

 

Posted on 17th April 2019 in Holy Week, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Resurrection Sunday: Firstfruits

Awaken the Wonder:  The feast of firstfruits

Everything God does in His world today, He does by His Spirit.  The Spirit and His ministry are full of wonder and are wonderful.

God’s appointments with Israel and the Jewish people are all significant in the ministry of Jesus.

  1. Passover – Jesus is our Passover lamb. 1 Corinthians 5:7
  2. Unleavened Bread – Jesus’ sinless life. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  3. Firstfruits – Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:20
  4. Pentecost – The harvest of Jesus’ ministry. Acts 2:1, 41
  5. Trumpets – Jesus’ returns with resurrection and rapture. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  6. Day of Atonement – Jesus’ blood placed on the mercy seat in heaven. Hebrews 9:12
  7. Tabernacles – Jesus “tabernacled” with us. John 1:14

The Holy Spirit is wonder full.

Jesus died on the day of preparation of the Passover.

He was buried in a tomb during the feast of Unleavened Bread.

He rose, victorious over sin, death, and the devil on the Feast of Firstfruits.

The Holy Spirit fulfilled, in the life of Jesus, the feast system He established 1,500 years earlier.

The Apostle Paul explains Jesus’ resurrection and the Feast of Firstfruits in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

The question then, is, “By what power did Jesus rise victorious over sin, death, and the devil?”  Romans 8:11

11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[a] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Jesus was raised victorious over sin, death, and the devil by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is Good News!  Sin, death, and the devil are defeated in your life too, when you place your trust in Him.

Imagine sin, death, and the devil destroyed in your life, right now.  Not some day in the future, but in this service today.  1 John 3:8

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Today, placing your trust in Jesus destroys the works of sin, death, and the devil in your life.

When you place your trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit moves in and lives in you.  Ephesians 1:13, 14

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee[d] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,[e] to the praise of his glory.

It is your choice today.  Do you long for sin, death, and the devil to be destroyed in your life? Romans 8:11

11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[a] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Text #yes to 907 337-9495 to continue the conversation.

Posted on 31st March 2018 in Holy Week, Resurrection, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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The Crushing of Christ


In today’s Good Friday service, we investigate a particular portion of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant prophecy in Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Notice the details of the sufferings of Jesus;

  • Pierced
  • Crushed
  • Chastised
  • Wounded

Let us consider the crushing of Christ.

Moses, in Genesis 3:15, quotes God,

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[a] and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

It is clear that the rulers of this world, including Satan, did not understand God’s mysterious plan.

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit

The mystery includes the surprising fact that the crushing of His Son would be the crushing of sin, death, and the Devil.

Sin, death, and the Devil longed to even the score with God.  Banished and restricted to “this present dark world,” their bitterness ran deep.

“Was God crazy?” They must have questioned.  “God became human?  How easy is it to triumph over humans?  We’ve got this.  We’ll steal, kill, and destroy God once and for all.”  They thought.

Their hatred, bitterness, and vitriol were so pronounced they reveled in the thought of a slow, excruciating, and torturous death.

The more miserable, the better.

With every blow to our Savior’s head, with each cut in His precious side, and every curse in His sacred ears Satan was unwittingly crushing his own head.

Crushing of Christ

  1. He came unto his own and they received him not. John 1:11
  2. My soul is overwhelmed with sorry. Matthew 26:38-39
    1. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[d]with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
  3. Sweat as it were great drops of blood. Luke 22:44
    1. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.[a]
  4. Betrayal of Judas. 30 pieces of silver.
  5. Denial of Peter. “I never knew him.”
  6. Insult of the crowd. Matthew 26:66-67
    1. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
  7. Give us Barabbas. Matthew 27:22-23
    1. 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
  8. Crown of thorns.
  9. Plucked beard.
  10. Unable to carry his cross. Simon Cyrene
  11. Taken outside the city.
  12. Nails in the arms and in the feet.
  13. Cross lifted into place.
  14. Mocking crowd.
  15. Spear in his side.

He was crushed for my iniquities.

My sin, iniquity, and rebellion against God empowered the one who hates God.  The God killer gained strength from my sin.

Each turn of the press crushing the Son of God was empowered, in part, by my iniquity.

The crushing continued until:

  • No beating of His Holy heart.
  • No blood in His vicarious veins.
  • No breath in His lofty lungs.
  • No life in Him who is Life.

The crushing of Christ was horrific beyond measure.  Isaiah 52:14

“his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,”

Sin, death, and the Devil did a good job on crushing Christ.

Against everything they had hoped and planned, sin, death, and the Devil’s crushing brought forth the:

  • Life giving blood of the Lamb
  • Juice of God’s victorious vine

The crushed grape became the Sweet Holy Wine.

In crushing Jesus, sin, death, and the Devil crushed themselves.

Posted on 30th March 2018 in Holy Week  •  Comments are off for this post
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Holy Wednesday and the Value System of Jesus

Jesus’ Wednesday of the Week of Palm Sunday, the Cross, and the Resurrection

Today is often called “Holy Wednesday” because of the significance of this day in the life of our Lord.

Let’s pick up the events of Jesus’ Wednesday in John 12:1-8.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound[a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it[c] for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

John 13:21-30 continues the story.

21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side,[e] 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus[f] of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

On Palm Sunday we studied the political and religious implications of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

This study investigates the value system implications seen in the contrast between Mary and Judas.

Church tradition indicates that Lazarus was raised from the dead the day before Palm Sunday.

Indicators of Mary’s personal value system regarding Jesus.

  1. “They gave a dinner for him.” John 12:2
  2. Martha served. Lazarus joined in eating. Mary gave an expensive
  3. More than just giving a gift, she anointed
  4. Mary anointed Jesus’ feet.
  5. She wiped his feet with her hair.

Mary’s value system indicates Jesus is more valuable than:

  1. Reputation.
  2. Social constructs
  3. Material goods and the value human beings give them.
  4. Pride

Indicator of Judas’ personal value system regarding Jesus

  1. He valued a supposed sale and gift to the poor above the adoration of Jesus.
  2. With God before him, he valued material goods more than God Himself.
  3. He valued a lie about himself (gifts for the poor) more than the truth about God.
  4. Eisegetically, I wonder if Judas would have the same response if Mary anointed his feet?

Considerations on Holy Wednesday

  1. Do I withhold things of great value from my worship of Jesus?
  2. Am I willing to lose my reputation because of my worship of Jesus?
  3. Am I willing to break social norms in my worship of Jesus?
  4. Am I willing to embrace humility in my worship of Jesus?
  5. Does failure to value Jesus open me to a fate similar to “Satan entered into him?”

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on 28th March 2018 in Holy Week, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Palm Sunday and the Politics and Religion of Jesus

Today is the first day of what is often named “Holy Week.”

  • Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday
  • Holy Monday to Spy Wednesday
  • Maundy (mandate) Thursday
  • Good (from the now archaic meaning of holy) Friday
  • Holy Saturday (Black Saturday)

MCA Church is committed, this year, to the celebration of the Jewish feasts.  Passover celebrates the Jewish people’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt and in particular the blood of a lamb as the statement of obedience.  In this obedience of blood, God’s judgement passed over that home.  Additionally, Jesus fulfills many of the components of Passover.  For example, He is the Passover Lamb of our lives today.

In reality, this week is no more holy than every other week but is considered holy because of the commemorations and personal participation in the week of Jesus’ suffering.

Palm Sunday celebrates what is called the “Triumphant Entry of Jesus” into Jerusalem.

King Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem:

  • Fulfillment of prophecy about the kingdom
  • Establishes the King is in His kingdom
  • Anticipates the Kingly rule of Jesus in the eternal kingdom

It is precisely the “King” portion of Palm Sunday that was troubling to the world.

Politics is an English word built upon the Greek word for city and refers to gaining and exercising positions of power and control over a community.

King Jesus was a GIGANTIC political threat to the national powers of the day.

Rome and Israel were sort of the “two party system” at the time.

  • Rome’s authority was king Herod
  • Israel’s authority was the High Priest, Caiaphas.

Jesus and his “politics” were a threat to Rome and Judaism.

  • Political power
  • Religious power

Today, Jesus and those in his kingdom are as much a threat to political and religious powers as they were 2,000 years ago.

Any attempt to separate Jesus from politics and religion is foreign to the record of our Lord’s life and ministry.

  1. The politics and religion of Jesus are humble.
  2. The politics and religion of Jesus are an upheaval of the politics and religion of power and privilege.
  3. The politics and religion of Jesus are hated by most people.
  4. The politics and religion of Jesus lead to illegal trials, false accusers, untruthful convictions, physical and mental abuse, public scorn, and crosses.
  5. People move in a few short days, from “Hosanna to God in the highest” to “Crucify Him!” when Jesus lives out His politic and religion.

Recommendations

  1. Don’t succumb to the requirements and immense pressure to keep your Christian faith private. Matthew 5:16
  2. Seek to learn the politics and religion of Jesus as revealed in the Bible. John 18:36
  3. Celebrate your citizenship in Jesus’ invisible kingdom and His kingly rule. Mark 11:9, 10
Posted on 24th March 2018 in Holy Week, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Rejoicing in Anticipation on Good Friday

We approach the wretchedness of crucifixion with rejoicing anticipation. At the cross of Jesus we experience the many and varied deaths of this life and lift up our heads and look up with joyous anticipation.  Luke 21:28

The Holy Forty Martyrs exemplify the fact that the poor in spirit followers of Jesus live with unwavering commitment to that which is unseen by physical eyes.

The poor in spirit followers of Jesus know their true treasure is not made by human hands, measured in possessions, or received in this life.

The Holy Forty Martyrs, in prayer the night before their martyrdom, heard the voice of the Lord saying,

“He who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live.  Be bold and have no fear of short-lived torment which soon passes; endure…that you may receive crowns.”

Today, just as our lives are unfolding, we rejoice in anticipation of a heavenly crown.  The Bible details the heavenly crown with five unique descriptors:

  1. The Imperishable Crown – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
  2. The Crown of Rejoicing – 1 Thessalonians 2:19
  3. The Crown of Righteousness – 2 Timothy 4:8
  4. The Crown of Glory – 1 Peter 5:4
  5. The Crown of Life – Revelation 2:10

John and Betty Stam

Born in 1906 in Albion, Michigan, she grew up in China, where her parents were missionaries. When she was seventeen years old, she came back to the United States for her last year of high school, followed by college and study at Moody Bible Institute.

On September 11, 1934, their daughter, Helen Priscilla, was born. Three months later, John and Betty, along with their infant daughter, were arrested by hostile Communist soldiers. After spending the first night in a local prison, they were forced to march twelve miles with the soldiers to another town. They finally stopped for the night at the home of a wealthy man who had fled. Before they left the next morning, Betty hid her baby in the house inside a small sleeping bag. Then, John and Betty were marched down the streets of the town, their hands tightly bound, stripped of their outer garments.

On their way to the site of the execution, a Christian shopkeeper tried to persuade the soldiers not to kill the couple. He, too, was dragged away to be killed. When John pled with the soldiers not to kill the man, the Communist leader ordered him to kneel, then beheaded him with a sword. Betty fell down bound at her husband’s side, no scream coming from her lips. Moments later, the same sword that had killed her husband ended her life.

Baby Helen was discovered thirty hours later by a local pastor. She was safe and warm, apparently none the worse for having gone all that time without milk. Inside her clothing, the pastor found extra diapers and two five-dollar bills that Betty had pinned there—just enough to provide for a rescue party to get her to safety.

https://www.reviveourhearts.com/true-woman/blog/betty-scott-stam-life-surrender/

John and Betty Stam’s bodies were taken, buried, with the following grave stones.

John Cornelius Stam, January 18, 1907, “That Christ may be glorified whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:20

Elisabeth Scott Stam, February 22, 1906, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

December 8, 1934, Miaosheo, Anhui, “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10

  • What is there in you that may distract you from the cross and crown?
  • What fear may stop your commitment to the cross and the crown?
  • What relationship may hinder you from the cross and the crown?

You may have brought your Palm Sunday frond formed into the shape of a cross or you may have received a palm frond cross when you entered today.

Would you be willing to “crucify” anything and everything that may hinder you, distract you, or stop you from pursuing the cross and the crown?

Write, on your palm frond cross, those things that are in your way of taking up your cross and receiving your crown.

  • Fear?
  • A friend?
  • Bitterness?
  • Disease?
  • Past hurt?
  • Selfishness?
  • Pride?
  • Age?

As we worship and contemplate Jesus’ death on the cross and His call to us to anticipate, with joy, the crown on the other side of the cross, please feel free to move to the front and nail or pin your written declaration on the cross with the intent of remembering that Jesus cancels every hindrance by His death on the cross.

Andrew, feeling unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus, received his crown after being crucified with arms and legs apart.

Peter, also feeling unworthy to die similarly to Jesus, received his crown after being crucified upside down.

Jesus received His crown after being crucified on Golgotha’s rugged cross.

Betty Scott Stam, at eighteen years of age, expressed the desire of her soul in the following prayer.

Lord, I give up my own plans and purposes, all my own desires, hopes and ambitions, and I accept Thy will for my life. I give up myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee, to be Thine forever. I hand over to Thy keeping all of my friendships; all the people whom I love are to take second place in my heart. Fill me now and seal me with Thy Spirit. Work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost.  Amen.

Posted on 15th April 2017 in Holy Week, Lent  •  Comments are off for this post
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Jesus is Alive!

In the death of Jesus Christ death died.  Whosever places their full trust and faith in Jesus receives the full and eternal life of his resurrection.  He lives!

Yet much in our world shows signs that the enemies of this life are posturing to destroy as much as possible before their final demise.   The enemies of life are brilliant in their strategy and implementation.

Enemy of Life Strategy One

Kill the Bible.  This strategy has required an amazing turn of events.  For thousands of years the enemy has tried to kill the Bible from outside.  Other religions, atheists, and agnostics have given their best genius at destroying the Living Word.  To no avail.  

The enemies of life had to regroup.  “Let’s figure out how to do an inside job.  Let’s get religious church type folks to kill the Bible for us.”  So, the “smart” people began to say that the Bible isn’t infallible.  It isn’t authoritative.  It isn’t the Word of God, but parts of it contain the words of God.  

Lately the attack has been “The Bible isn’t the Word of God, it is the story of God’s action with people.  Let’s replace the Word of God with narrative theology.”

Enemy of Life Strategy Two

Kill the preaching of the Bible.  Since the Bible is no longer Good News, but fairly good advice, let’s make preaching more of an entertainment event than a proclamation of wisdom from God.  Those who hate God seek to make the preaching event all about humans and making life better here and now.

The unpardonable sin would be to offend the culture.  It is the stupid, mindless preacher who is willing to offend the culture.  Galatians 5:11 reveals that the cross of Jesus is offensive to some.  The enemies of life had to pull off an inside job to remove the preaching of the cross from thousands of “churches.”

Enemy of Life Strategy Three

Kill the student of the Bible.  Why study the Bible if it only contains the words of God?  No need to memorize the scripture in order to catch the general idea of the narrative of God.  Maybe the new mantra is “Thy Word have we hidden from your church that we might sin against thee.”  

The local bar didn’t cancel Sunday School.  The folks on the inside did.  The local Atheist Society didn’t shut down mid week Bible studies.  It was an inside job.

The problem for the enemies of life is that the resurrection of Jesus is proof positive that death has died. 

God’s living Word, the Bible, is yet fully alive.

The preaching of the Living Word is alive.

Students of the Bible are are flourishing through the Living Word.

Those who know the Living Word of God know that abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide are sins against the Holy and Moral God.

Those who know the Living Word of God know that marriage is a sacred bond between God, one man, and one woman (for life).

In the end, the Living Word of God will deal the death blow to all of the arguments of all the enemies of life, because, Jesus’ death killed death forever.

Posted on 30th March 2013 in Holy Week, Spiritual Growth  •  Comments are off for this post
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Reflect on the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus during Holy Week

One of the highlights of my year is the celebration of Holy Week. The joy of Palm Sunday, deep reflection of Good Friday, the quietness of Holy Saturday, and the sheer exuberance of Resurrection Sunday are abidingly meaningful.

The MCA Good Friday Service, from 12-1 PM, rivets our attention on Jesus’ death, the shedding of his blood, and all that he means to us today. In my opinion, every Christian should attend a Good Friday service if at all possible.

For your personal reflection upon the death of our Lord, we will be showing “The Passion of the Christ” in MCA LIVE at 1:30 PM, 4:00 PM, and 6:30 PM.

Resurrection morning’s Son Rise service will be a triumphant keeping of the actions of the first resurrection morning. Early in the morning (7:30) we will meet outdoors at the Russian Jack Chalet, now known as the Lidia Selkregg Chalet (1600 Lidia Selkregg Lane). This is one of the most exciting services of the year (and often, due to the cold, the shortest).

Following the Resurrection Son Rise service, we will celebrate our Lord’s triumph over death by enjoying breakfast together. Breakfast is served at 8:00 AM in the MCA Central Campus Relationship Center.

MCA welcomes the guitar stylings of Dennis Agajanian to the 9:15 and 11:15 services on Resurrection Sunday, March 31.

Be encouraged to bring several friends along to the services with you.

He LIVES!

Posted on 13th March 2013 in Events, Holy Week  •  Comments are off for this post