Posted in Christian Living

Is there really power “in” prayer?

I’ve been pondering lately some of the things that I often say and hear about the “power of prayer” or the “power of faith”. Is it really accurate to say that faith is a source of power or that prayers are powerful? I don’t think it is. God is powerful. Prayer and faith have absolutely no inherent power in themselves.

It isn’t the strength of our faith or the existence of our faith that matters. It is the object of our faith that matters. It isn’t the practice of prayer that matters, it is the addressee of our prayers. When we call on God without faith, we are less likely to be answered with powerful results. But we should not confuse that to mean that it was our faith that answered our prayer. It was God.

Many people in our world think that “thinking positive thoughts” or “sending positive vibes” will help a sick person or a family in crisis. Many think that praying to a false god or goddess, or merely “believing in myself” is enough. These are dangerous ideas, especially for a Christian.

I didn’t become a Christian by “just believing” or “just asking”. I was born again because I believed in Jesus and I asked Him to save me from my sins. It wasn’t about how much faith I had as much as it was about Who my faith was in! Often I think the reason our faith is small is because we are focusing on the size of the request instead of the size of the One we are asking.

Posted in Christian Living

The Power

Philippians 3:10

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

The “power” of his resurrection. This is a ponderous phrase that has held my attention for decades. As a boy I recall standing in the sanctuary of the little church where I grew up singing, “there is power, power, wonderworking power, in the precious blood of the Lamb”. The text that I will preach tomorrow says that the power of God unto Salvation is the preaching of the cross. So, what is this power that comes from His resurrection?

The answer seems to be revealed in the rest of the verse. I cannot truly “know” Him if He were dead. I know about George Washington. I know about Socrates. I know about Moses. But I KNOW Jesus. I fellowship with Him in the communion of sufferings. It is there that true “knowledge of a man is found.

I am made “comfortable” to His death by taking up my cross and crucifying myself daily that I might ensue Him. I can follow Him, not on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land tracing Historical footprints across famous places. But following Him in person as He leads me in life.

His resurrection makes it possible for me to be “created in Christ Jesus” from the moment of my new birth until the day I am resurrected from this body of this death wherein I remain trapped.

I live in newness of life and the hope of redemption because He lives.

Posted in Christian Living

Children of Men

Before the rise of the first civilizations on the Earth, the children of men had already begun searching each others’ features not for commonality but for diversity. It is not hard to find. Within the flesh and bone of Adam, his Creator had written into the code that defines his form and shape an infinite number of diverse combinations that might burst forth among the offspring that he should beget.

Celebration of this diversity within the tribe of Adam might well have been the catalyst for growth, adaptation, and ultimately the mastery of Creation and all that is in it. Which is precisely the Destiny which the Father of men was commanded to fulfill. But from the beginning it was not so to be.

In the opening pages of the Book of Beginnings we read of the first tribal division among those born of woman. Cain and his wife separated from their parents and moved into the land of Wandering and built a civilization all their own. Meanwhile the children of Seth would develop along a different path. There was nothing in particular in the curse of Cain that made his offspring physically different from their cousins. But genetic drift among severed peoples will inevitably bring distinctiveness. Within the first millennium Sethites and Cainites how become different enough that when the sons of Seth intermarried with the daughters of Cain the resultant combination of their genetics produced “might men”. It is common enough in nature that hybrid offspring manifest the strongest and most dominant traits of both of their parents’ heritage.

What was it that for so long kept the children of Adam and Eve apart? Was it the that the Sethites called upon the name of Jehovah? Was it animosity on the part of Seth for the loss of the murdered brother he never knew? Was it guilt in the heart of Cain for the blood on his hands that his tears could never wash away?

Within fifteen centuries from the birth of Seth, the wickedness in the heart of man had grown to the point that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. So, God started over. And the sons of Noah; Shem, Ham, and Japheth, descended from the mountains of Ararat and divided a brave new world for their own.

Once again, the families of humanity began to search each other to find what is unique and special and corrupt it into a reason for jealousy, hatred, and competition. We killed, enslaved, robbed, and conquered each other always seeking to prove whose is the birthright to the title, “Masters of the Earth and Sky”.

In the last two centuries men masquerading as prophets, scientists, and philosophers have created empires out of myths and legends that deny the truth revealed by God that He has “made of one blood all the nations of the Earth”. As our world slips again into a whirling vortex of darkness and distrust how might the children of God illumine the night that falls upon the children of men? Light the night, not by joining in the fray, but by showing the way.

Let the church be a beacon that draws all men to her Lord by letting the world see that within her sanctuary men of all colors, nationalities, tribes, families, cultures, and societies can unite as family into one body. Let them wander into the churches and see hate shattered by love as darkness shards when a candle is lit.

Let them see hope in the children of of the Prince of Peace joining arm in arm and creating a haven for the weary and the broken. Let the love of God shed abroad in the hearts of His own dear children draw all men to repentance.

Posted in Christian Living

The timeline of Jesus’ life proves the Bible is true…

So many prophecies of the Old Testament prophets of Israel were fulfilled during the life of Jesus that multi-volume books have been written to describe them.  This blog will not be one of them.  But here’s a look at how Daniel and the gospels prove the incredible historicity and homogeny of scripture.

Daniel was instructed that “70 weeks” had been determined upon the Israelites for judgment totaling 490 years.  Daniel said that these years would commence with the command to rebuild Jerusalem including the wall.  He also showed that it would be 483 years into the 490 years of judgement when the Messiah would be “cut off” for the people.  So, there it is.  483 years after the command to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Jesus was to be “cut off” in Jerusalem.  How can we tell if that happened or not?

When did the command to rebuild the walls happen?  Nehemiah chapter two tells us that it was in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes that Nehemiah was appointed Governor of Judea and commissioned to rebuild the walls of the ancient capital of David.  Artaxerxes the King became co-regent with his father in 474 B.C..  So the twentieth year of his reign was in 454 B.C. In April.

Since the Gregorian Calendar does not have a year 0, and the calendar year First Year B.C. Is followed by One A.D. We must add one year back to get to the year that Jesus died.  So, 454 minus 483 equals 29 plus one gets us to 30 A.D..  Could Jesus have been the right age to have died in 30 A.D.?

Yes, Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus who reigned for forty years from 27 B.C. To 14 A.D..  Luke 3 tells us that the beginning of John the Baptist’ ministry and then of Jesus began in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius.  It’s easy to assume that this then was the year 29 B.C. since Augustus had died in the year 14.  But Tiberius had already been reigning as “Princeps” since the death of Agrippa in the year 12.  Which means that the fifteenth year of his “reign” was actually A.D. 26.  (Not that he had been reigning for fifteen years and was in the sixteenth year, but rather that he was in the fifteenth year and had therefore ruled for a total of 14 full years.)

Luke chapter three also tells us that in that year when John Baptized Jesus that Jesus began to be about thirty years old in A.D. 26 when John Baptized him.  26 A.D. Minus “about thirty years” takes us back to late 5 B.C. To early 4 B.C. For the birth of Christ.  Which is a topic for another day.  If Jesus began his ministry in 26 B.C. And John records three, possibly four passovers total including the one on which he died, then Jesus died in 30 A.D. at 33 years old.

Passover was on Wednesday, in 30 A.D.  Which means it was also the Preparation Day for the High Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on Thursday.  Which is why the Gospels all say Jesus died on the day of “the preparation” of the Sabbath.  Jesus was laid in the tomb before Sundown.  He prophesied that he would spend three days and three nights in the Tomb.  The tomb was found already empty very early in the morning “before the breaking of day” according to the gospels.  Ergo, Jesus did not spend all of Saturday night in the tomb.  Wednesday night, Thursday Day, Thursday Night, Friday Day, Friday Night, Saturday Day.  In Israel the new day begins at Sundown.  On Saturday evening when the sun set, the First Day of the Week began.  

Somewhere between Sundown and Sunrise on the First Day of the Week, Jesus rose from the Dead and he had already been in the tomb for three full days and three full nights, just as he had foretold.  Daniel’s prophecy that he would die 483 years after the command to rebuild the walls was fulfilled down to the very month.  God is always right on Time!!  

Posted in Christian Living

The Sword in the Pen

“Holy men of God spake as they were moved…”  (2 Peter 2:21)

Once upon a time, long ago, in a land where evil giants did the bidding of petty tyrants and false prophets stole the hearts of men with frightening tales of angry gods who must be appeased with bloody battles and bloodier rituals, there lived a young musician who played in the court of the King.

The lad was a once and future shepherd who understood the power of words. His name is David.  He is now famous the world over because he felled a giant, united a Kingdom, and lifted up his people out of tyranny.  But his most enduring legacy, long after the castles and fortresses have turned to dust, that still lives on are the songs that he wrote.  He was a warrior and a poet.  He knew how to wield both the pen and the sword.

Because the words that he wrote are the very words of God in the sacred psalms there is a sword in his pen.  “The word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.”  Hebrews 4:12  As a Captain and a King, David had to learn how and when to wield the sword in Battle.  What battles are worth fighting?  Not just in terms of whether or not they can be won, but also in terms of at what cost.  

As Christians in a world that is filled with so much anger, hatred, feuding, and brokenness, one of the hardest things to know is when to wield the Word of God as a sword of battle, or when to carry it as “balm of Gilead” to heal the wounded hearts from the battles raging all around us.  It is so easy to take the sword into the meanstreets of the Social Media melee, and start swinging.  Or pick a fight with a class-mate or co-worker and call it “taking a stand”.

But, in the final analysis, does that kind of Battle, won or lost, help us win the war?  Truth is a powerful weapon.  But light doesn’t have to beat back darkness.  Darkness flees from it.  “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”.  (James 1:20) The Good Samaritan, didn’t draw his sword and run after the robbers.  He pulled out his first aid kit and tended the wounded.

There is a time to stand and fight against an evil giant.  There are hills worth fighting for and even dying on.  But there are also issues that come up that we have more important things to worry about than winning those particular arguments.  The only thing more important than knowing how to wield a sword, is knowing when.