Posted in Christian Living

Summer of Psalms

Summer brings longer days and  warmer temperatures that inspire us to laze and lounge. Why not invest some of that “down” time to reading the Bible?

This summer, St. Helens Baptist Church encourages everyone to commit to reading through the Psalms during the summer months.

Sure, it’s the longest book in the Bible. But it contains the shortest chapter. (And the longest, but that won’t sell the program.)

During our Summer of Psalms, we’ve divided the book into day-sized readings. Some days it means reading a single song. Other days you might read two or three.

150 psalms in 92 days. (Well, 86 now because I didn’t post this on the first day of June.)

This is a manageable feat. Continue reading “Summer of Psalms”

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

Will You Miss the Risen Lord this Easter?

Standing in celebration next Sunday morning, we will sing of Jesus and His real – and our ultimate – resurrection from this life to the next.

But what about after Sunday? In the days and weeks that follow, will we see our risen Lord as he continues walking among us?

Or will we, like so many in the New Testament account, miss the risen Jesus?

  • In the garden: Grief, disorientation and fear closed the eyes of Mary Magdalene who took the risen Jesus to be a gardener. (John 20:1)
  • On the road: Grief and incomplete theology closed the eyes of two followers who concluded he was but a fellow traveler taking up conversation to pass the journey. (Luke 24:15)
  • In the Upper Room: Doubt, fear and nonsensical thinking closed the eyes of the disciples who concluded Jesus was a ghost. (Luke 24:37)
  • On the beach: Distance and dismay blinded the disciples to the presence of their Lord. (John 21: 4)

In each situation, followers of Jesus were blinded by unexpectedness. They saw him dying and decided he was dead and would stay dead. When he appeared, in a garden, on the road, in the Upper Room, on the beach, they didn’t expect him to be where he was. So they missed him.

In each post-resurrection circumstance – in God’s sovereign timing – eyes were opened and Jesus was revealed (Luke 24:31). And while admittedly, we can only “see” God when he enlightens the eyes of our souls to see him, when God makes a surprise appearance in our everyday, don’t we often miss him too?

As we undertake our Easter journey, both this week and next and in the seasons that follow, can we cooperate with God in his eye-opening work? Can we watch for him to reveal what he wants to reveal to us when he wants to reveal it?

Let’s not miss Jesus …

Watch. Jesus is risen! Here he comes!

**This post is from Elisa Morgan and was copied from her website. View the entire post here.

In some circles, this is Passion Week. It’s easy to see Jesus in the vivid details on the final road to His ultimate obedience.

But are we expecting him to show up at work with us on Wednesday? Do we invite him into the midst of our gatherings of friends on Friday night?

Every Sunday should remind us of the power and promise of the resurrection. And every day we should be looking for the one who loved us so much to walk beside us in the mundane.

Where have you seen Jesus this week?

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.

Posted in Christian Living

A Place Called “Everlasting”…

It’s a common mistake.  Anyone could make it.  Someone would ask me, “Where’s Jesus from?”  My first response used to be “Nazareth” or “Bethelehem”.  After all, He is called a “Nazarene” for a reason.  He grew up and lived most of his life in Nazareth.  But when we look to the gospels we find that even though Jesus’ family lived in Nazareth, He was not actually born there.  Both Matthew and Luke record the birthplace of Jesus as Bethlehem in Judea.  What is more, Jesus’ parents were both descended from David’s house.  David was a Judean (of the tribe of Judah) and his family was from Bethlehem.  The implication of Luke’s record about the tax census in Luke chapter two is that his mother’s husband, Joseph, had to go to Bethlehem to register because Joseph was born there too.  So, it would not be accurate to say Jesus was really “from Nazareth” as a place of origin. But He wasn’t really from Bethlehem either.  John makes it clear in both chapter one and in chapter two of his Gospel that Jesus came down from Heaven to Earth.  He didn’t come into being or begin to exist when He was conceived in the womb of Mary.  So, is Jesus from Heaven?  Colossians chapter one makes it clear that God created all things “by” or through Christ.  John Chapter one tells us that “all things were made by Him” and that “without Him was not anything made that was made”.  The first statement of the Torah in Genesis declares that God created “the Heaven”.  So, if God created the Heaven and God created everything that was made “by” Jesus and without Jesus nothing was made that was made, then, Jesus made the Heavens.  And if Jesus made it, then He didn’t come from there originally.  He came from Nazareth when He came to be baptized and begin his ministry.  He came from Bethlehem to Nazareth, by way of Egypt.  He came down from the Glorious Heaven to Earth.  But Jesus can’t be originally “from” any of these places because He made them all and must then have pre-existed them all.

So, where does Jesus come from?  Or in a broader sense, where does God come from?  An often overlooked profit who lived at the same time as Isaiah named Micah gives us the clearest answer to this question in chapter five of the book that bears his name.  But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, (though) thou be little among the thousands of Judah, (yet) out of thee shall he come forth unto me (that is) to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth (have been) from of old, from everlasting.  (Micah 5:2)

Jesus has been “going forth” from “of old”.  His original hometown is before time, before space, before creation.  He is “from everlasting.”  This is one of the clearest teachings about God and Christ in the Bible.  God is truly Timeless.  Omnipresent through time as He is through space.  Not a creature in time, but the Creator of time.  And if Jesus is older than the years, than what does that mean?  How can I relate to Him?  I can kind of conceive of Everlasting future.  From the moment of my new birth in Christ when I repented of my sins and believed the gospel, I have been living eternally.  My body may decay, but in truth, I cannot die.  But, both my temporal physical life and my eternal spiritual life have definite beginnings.  When my parents love brought them to intimate joining and God blessed their union by quickening my life within my mother’s womb, I began to live in time physically.  When the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin, convinced me of the gospel, and called me to repentance and faith, and I responded to His voice, I began to live in Eternity spiritually.  Each of those two kinds of life that are in me have a source and a beginning.  I can kind of understand it.  But, God is not a creature.  He has no point of origin.  No genuine “nativity”.  The Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit have been “going forth” from “of old”.  They are “from” a place called “Everlasting”. 

I may not claim to ascertain the meaning of that.  But I have laid claim to the message in it.  My God Who is my Father is bigger than the moment I am trapped in.  He’s more available than a heartbeat away.  He’s going to outlast the Kings and Presidents and Prime Ministers of all temporal Kingdoms and Republics of men.  He will still be God when I run out of Time.  He has been God when the Old World perished in the Flood.  He was God enough to save Adam’s seed through the Ark of Noah.  He was God enough to stop Abraham’s hand from sacrificing Isaac.  He was God enough to deliver Goliath into David’s hand and the Kingdom to His posterity.  He was God enough to bear the darkness of Golgotha.  And God enough to be the Sonrise of that first Easter Sunday.  He was God enough keep the candles burning in the Lord’s persecuted churches through those Dark days that stretched into Dark Ages.  He is God enough hold me when I earthly parents die.  When my children make choices that break their parents’ hearts, He’ll be God enough.  When this world finally spins out of all control but His, He’ll be God enough to take His children home, and set His wrath in motion.  And when His fury has been spent, He’ll be God enough to come in Person to heal the land that He made.  Whenever the days are too long and the hours are too full of Darkness, I know that He is still God enough, because He not only will be forevermore, He already has been fromevermore.