Thank You, Jesus

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There are so many thoughts running through my mind this Resurrection Sunday as I consider again just what the Lord Jesus has accomplished for the world. The joy, awe and wonder are as fresh this morning as they were the many years ago when the Savior revealed to me His plan for saving my life, eternally. And yet, there is a sadness in me as well as I consider those near and dear to me who have rejected the love of Christ. Amidst the abundant joy in my heart there are sections that are broken for these people. In many of these cases I have attempted in my limited way to share what God has done for me with them in hopes they would grasp the availability of that same love for themselves.

But this is not a day for discouragement! Today my sole focus is on the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. With this in mind, I would like to share a list (by no means in total) of the things I am grateful for because of the saving power of God as it has been revealed through Christ’s ultimate victory over death. As you read, I ask you to do two things. First, reflect in your own way the ramifications of Jesus’ resurrection on your life. And secondly, be intentional about living out a life of thanksgiving for the incredible gift He has given you, so that others may be attracted to God’s light through you.

Where do I start such a list of things I am thankful for because Jesus rose from the dead to forgive us? The totality of His mercy shown to sinners like me (us) is mind-boggling. So in no particular order, here goes:

  • Thank you, Jesus, for taking my place on that cross. You bore my sin in your body out of obedience to the Father and your love for me. Because of Your resurrection, You have defeated death and offered eternal life to all. You knew that there was no earthly way I/we could earn or deserve the Father’s mercy. So instead you demonstrated grace saturated in love to bring us to God.
  • Thank you, Jesus, for the hope you bring to us because of the above. You have not only supplied, at great cost to Yourself, the way out of our eternal predicament, but because You have, I can be filled with hope in the here and now. I do not have to wait until physical death to be with You. Instead, because of Your love, I can be in a nurturing relationship with You now! This developing relationship carries with it the security of Your ever-present care and protection, for You have promised to never leave nor forsake those who follow You.
  • Thank you, Jesus, of your on-going obedience to the Father, even after Your resurrection. By appearing to over 500 people, You made it known beyond doubt that You had come back to life.
  • Thank you, Jesus, for fulfilling the promise of sending the Holy Spirit after You ascended to heaven. And thank you, Holy Spirit, for Your on-going fulfillment of the Father’s work here on earth. You make the Scriptures come to life and You encourage the Church to fulfill its part in God’s plan as well as You move individual members to walk in obedience to Him.
  • Thank you, Jesus, for the many, many people You have placed in my path that have helped me to see You with greater clarity. These Saints are far to great in number to list individually here, but if you are/were a part of my life in Christ, I praise and thank God for you.
  • Thank you, Jesus, for the opportunities to serve You and make Your name known in the world today. Please help me to always remember that obedience to You is a matter of great joy to You, as it should be for me as well!
  • And thank you, Jesus, for the Scriptures. They truly are alive and active, filled with the very essence of the Father. May I/we in our gratitude for them continue to learn from them.

As I said, this is by no means a completed list, but I do believe it gets to the heart of the matter: I/we owe a debt to our Savior that we cannot repay. Yet out of His ever-loving heart, He has paid it for us. May we, in the lingo of today, take this love and ‘pay it forward’ in humility, love and gratitude.

May the blessings of the Resurrection of Jesus be deeply known to you today,

Pastor Chuck

From the Manger to the Cross: God’s Audacious Salvation Plan

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I know, Faithful Readers, that many of you share in the belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. I rejoice with you! Though differences may exist in how we dot our I’s or cross our t’s, we firmly agree in the fact that salvation only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

I am also aware that some of you do not hold what I believe to be true. I am none the less grateful that you read what I offer here. My belief teaches me to be respectful of all so that I can gladly call you friend even if we hold diametrically opposed opinions.

That having been said, I am unashamedly bold in my proclamation about our loving God. I totally agree with what the Apostle Paul said: I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16a). I attempt, though often poorly, to live out my life in ways that honor my Lord Jesus. To share the hope He has given me is the focal point of each of my days.

It is in this season we call Christmas that I quite often get to share what I know to be true about the birth of the Christ. I do so today under the title I have given this entry: From the Manger to the Cross, God’s Audacious Salvation Plan.

Audacious. It is the best word my limited vocabulary can come up with to describe what God set in motion when Jesus came to the world: as an infant! The same God who caused our world to be created. This same God that is simultaneously and always everywhere. The Creator of absolutely everything, and yet He desires that we enter into a loving and thriving relationship with Him.

With those and countless other accolades to describe this indescribable Deity, the ways in which to implement His salvation plan had to be equally diverse. Yet, with unlimited power and resources, He chose to come to our eternal rescue as a helpless human infant.

I recall from theology classes the necessity that He be both fully God and fully human in order to serve as the only acceptable sacrifice for sinful mankind. But still, with all the power of His own universe at His disposal, why not at least come as an adult, thereby avoiding all the things that can plague us humans as we grow. He could have still been all God/all man, but without acne, if you will.

But no. As a human baby He came. And as I consider these things again, how fitting. With unlimited power and possibilities, I must think there were more flashy ways to get this plan underway.

But as a human baby it was. As always with God, so perfect. The humility of an infant born with the royal bloodline of the Creator. How like our God to present His plan to save people swaddled in cloths and lying in an animal food trough.

From the earliest hours to the final ones as He hung on the cross, Jesus lived as the perfect example of love to all. To any who would doubt the depth of that love, please consider the horror of that crucifixion He suffered so that this audacious plan would come full circle.

Yes, it might have been splashier to do a huge intro, but the depth of His reveal has resonated through the world for over 2000 years now. I for one trust that His salvation plan is proceeding just as it should and am forever grateful that His love is so vast that it included an invitation to lowly ones such as myself.

A blessed celebration of the Savior’s birth to you all. I appreciate the time you spend with me and trust that our relationship will only grow deeper and better as we continue on together.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

Watergate and Jesus Gate: Two Cover-ups that Did Not Work

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It has been said that if we don’t remember the lessons of the past, we are likely to make similar mistakes in the future. History has proved this time and time again with regard to the attempts of people in power attempting to cover-up actions they had taken, or at least had condoned. People my age grew up in a time when this truism was the hot button topic: The Watergate Cover-up.

For the many who are younger than me or perhaps those living in other parts of our world, here is my brief synopsis: In 1972, then President Richard M. Nixon was caught up in a scandal that would eventually lead to his resignation from this land’s highest office. He, or at the very least some in his administration that were very close to him, ordered a break-in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters located in the Watergate Office building for the purpose of obtaining intel on his political opponents.

The actual perpetrators acted more like a slap-stick comedy team than actual burglars. Their ill-advised and planned break-in was quickly discovered, which started the ball rolling on the plan to cover up any Whitehouse involvement in it.

I’ll spare you the sordid details, suffice to say that the many and varied attempts to cover up or suppress truth ultimately failed. The depth of the president’s involvement was revealed, which led to his resignation in August of 1974. Though Nixon was later pardoned by his replacement Gerald Ford, over 60 of his staff were convicted and sentenced to prison time. The cover-up had failed completely.

Another government sponsored cover-up that did not work happened about 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. Matthew’s gospel, written approximately 30 years after the events mentioned here, describes it this way:

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble. Matthew 28:11-14 NIV.

Hush money didn’t work then, much the same as it failed to hide the events at the Watergate building in 1972. The Roman guards received a “large sum” of money to keep quiet about what really happened as Jesus was resurrected, but the evidence was too overwhelming in support of the truth: He was risen from the dead!

Human history is pock-marked with countless attempts to conceal true events. I am not so naïve to believe that some of them haven’t been somewhat successful. But I count myself blessed to know the truth about that first Easter! No cover-up could prevent the news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His victory over death frees me and all who would believe in Him from its clutches. Why would anyone want to cover that up?

Thanks for reading and be safe,

Pastor Chuck

 

 

The stone was rolled away to allow us in, not to let Jesus out

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The importance of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be overstated! It is the foundational piece of what we as Christians believe. Our faith is to be wholly placed on this act of divine intervention for the salvation of sin-plagued mankind.

I have been using some of the ‘extra’ time I now have on my frequently sanitized hands to ponder this awesome act of love. In particular, I’ve been focusing on something Pastor Diane of the local Lutheran Church said during her Easter sermon. Betsy and I used Zoom to gather virtually with that wonderful group of folks. The Pastor made mention of the stone that was rolled away from the front of Jesus’ tomb was not done to let Him out, but rather to let us in.

This thought struck me and has stuck with me all this week. Like so many things, I have to put aside my understanding of how things work in the natural world so that I can more fully appreciate how God works in the supernatural. When I do, I can see that the resurrected Jesus was freed from the physical limitations He had during His time on earth. Thus, He did not need to have that stone rolled from the entrance of the tomb, it simply could not hold Him there.

The gift of faith God gives allows me to accept this as true and what a blessing that is! What joy it brings. And I find additional comfort in the fact that those who actually spent time with Jesus were faced with similar concerns about that stone. They didn’t ‘get it,’ and some of them spent 3 years in daily contact with Jesus.

Here is how the gospel writer Mark describes the journey of some of these folks to the tomb Jesus had been placed in that first Easter morning:

Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16:2-3 NIV).

The question of who is never directly answered, because as Mark goes on to record:

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. (Mark 16:4 NIV).

When they peered in, they saw that Jesus was not there, yet the tomb wasn’t empty, either. An angel was sitting there, and he told them that Jesus was risen and that He would meet them in Galilee. Initially frightened and still quite flustered, these women went back to tell the other disciples what they had seen and heard. It would take the Lord Jesus appearing to the entire group later that day before the reality of what was going on would begin to sink in.

Fast forward to today, some 2,000 years after these things first occurred. Many still wonder about that stone. Who moved it and how? Important questions to some, and I understand that. Yet I would submit the more pressing question is why. If, as I said about faith, that Jesus did not need the stone rolled away, we are left with the premise Pastor Diane stated, “It was rolled away to let us in.”

There is such a depth of truth in this! The theological implications are enormous. The Bible teaches that we, as sinful humans, are separated from God. Furthermore, the distance between us and Him is immeasurable and cannot be spanned by any effort of our own. Hence this separation can only be bridged by God Himself. He does this by rolling that stone away from the entrance to the tomb that held Jesus’ body.

The now opened tomb has but one-way in. There is no side door or any other hidden passageway. We must see for ourselves that the immovable stone has indeed been rolled out of the way. We have access, by faith, to the resurrected Jesus because God has removed the barrier.

If you never have, please consider the eternal implication of not taking the step into the place Jesus was. He was there for you! Because the Lord no longer is there the truth of God’s love has been revealed. He has rolled the stone away to let you in. Please take the step of faith to see for yourself.

Blessings to all and be safe,

Pastor Chuck