Tuesday, May 29, 2012
In the Old Testament story of The Valley of Dry Bones, the prophet Ezekiel looks out over a lifeless valley of death, as the words of Yahweh ring in his ear, "Can These Bones Live?"
That is the question, is it not? That is the question we all ask as well. In the hospital, in the nursing home, at the funeral home, in the cemetery. Can these bones live?
The great good news for you today is that the answer is yes! For the breath of God from the Living Christ fills our hearts and lives, and gives life to all who believe. By the power of the Holy Spirit, this breath of God and His words of life call us forth from the grave - they raise us up from the dead to give us new life again.
Just like the Israelites in captivity, just like the disciples the first Easter morning, just like the 3000 baptized believers on that first Pentecost. Our sins are forgiven, our fears are dispelled, our sorrow is turned to joy, and death is overcome. Christ is Risen ... Jesus is Alive .... and because He lives, we will live also.
And someday, on the last day, God will also raise us up from the dead. He'll bring us home to be with Him and place us into His blessed promised land forever. And on that day - we can surely say - these bones will live!
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,700-year-old seal that bears the inscription "Bethlehem". Eexperts believe it to be the oldest artifact with the name of Jesus' traditional birthplace.
The tiny clay seal's existence and age provide vivid evidence that Bethlehem was not just the name of a fabled biblical town, but also a bustling place of trade linked to the nearby city of Jerusalem.
The seal dates back to the period of the first biblical Jewish Temple, at a time when Jewish kings reigned over the ancient kingdom of Judah, and 700 years before Jesus was born.
The seal was written in ancient Hebrew script from the same time. Pottery found nearby also dated back to the same period. The stamp was likely used to seal an administrative tax document, sent from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, the seat of Jewish power at the time. It was found as archaeologists sifted through mounds of dirt they had dug up in an excavation outside Jerusalem's Old City walls.
The discovery is the oldest reference to Bethlehem ever found outside of the Bible.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The Ascension proclaims the reign of Christ over all things – for in Him and by Him and through Him are all things. His name alone is the name above all names – greater than any prophet, priest, or king – greater than anyone or anything in the sky above or on the earth below. So great is the name of the incarnate Son of God that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. But our risen, ascended, and exalted Lord Jesus Christ does not exercise his supreme power and might for self-serving reasons or to bring glory to himself. He instead uses His great power and mighty strength for the sake of His people, to protect and defend God’s people on the earth, to intercede on their behalf, and to bring forgiveness and salvation to all who believe.
Monday, May 7, 2012
"I am the Vine, you are the Branches" - John 15
In Christ, God has done everything so that we might be connected to Him. Even though we have all turned away and have cut ourselves off, He has still loved us, embraced us, and forgiven us. He has grafted us into the true Vine and has pruned away all our unfruitful branches. He is always there for us, always faithful, always fruitful. "I am the Vine, you are the branches. I will fill you with life, strength, hope, and peace. Apart from me there is no life - only death and destruction. I have embraced you in my death and resurrection. I am the Resurrection and the Life - no one comes to the Father but through me. So remain in me. That's where you belong. That's where you will remain alive and fruitful. Not by yourself, but in me. Remain in me, as I remain in you. I am the Vine, you are the branches."
Jesus is life. Only in Him can we truly live.