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Archive for March, 2018

John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.””

In the Marvel comic book The Avengers, there was a storyline in Avengers Annual #14 called “The War to End All Skrulls” (the Avengers part of this story was called “Fifth Column”). It had the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, out in space, converging on a plot by a member of the shapeshifting Skrull alien race to use a “doomsday” weapon. A renegade named Zabyk was threatening to use a galactic bomb to take command of the Skrull race in the aftermath of the destruction of its throne world by Galactus. He used the genius of an old compatriot, a scientist named Myrn, to fuel a hyperwave bomb through a dimensional interface on the old Skrull power asteroid to “change the Skrull race forever”. The Avengers had allied themselves with a Skrull contingent under General Zedrao (originally to stop Thanos’s self-proclaimed granddaughter Nebula), and partnered with Zabyk’s old rebel ally, Prince Dezan, to try and stop him. To activate the bomb, Myrn had Zabyk shapeshift his form into insulate-armor, needed due to heavy radiation leakage during the bomb’s powering up. In his moment of seeming triumph, Zabyk slew Myrn and activated the bomb. What the bomb did, though, was not what everyone thought. The dimensional radiation from the bomb stabilized the Skrulls’ deviant DNA throughout the galaxy, thus removing their shapeshifting abilities! As Myrn said, “it would change the Skrull race forever”.

Once the Avengers and the Fantastic Four had broken through the chamber to confront Zabyk, he was pitifully whimpering that he couldn’t get out of the armor! As Reed Richards commented to Zabyk and to Captain America, they had found the dying Myrn when they entered the space station. He confirmed what Reed suspected the device to be. “Ironically,” Reed commented, “Zabyk killed the only person who could have possibly helped him get out of the armor”. No one else could.

In the passage above, Jesus is at the tomb of Lazarus, who had died days earlier. In talking with Lazarus’s sister, Martha, Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise again. When Martha answered that she knew he would rise in the resurrection on the last day, Jesus said to her directly, “I am the resurrection and the life”. Only through belief in Jesus as Savior and Messiah, would a Christian never die. Our old bodies may pass, but our spirits will be forever with Him! Jesus goes on to demonstrate this by physically calling Lazarus back to life.

Only one Savior can give us that promise of resurrection and life. Not Mohammed, not Buddha, not any other prophet of any other religion in the world. Only Jesus gave Himself on the cross as the perfect offering for our sins, and only Jesus died and rose again to conquer sin and death’s power…forever! On this evening before Easter, think on that thought…and rejoice!

Happy Easter! He is Risen indeed!

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Matthew 11:19: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
Mark 2:16-17: “And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.””

Garfield the cat was looking down at a caterpillar, who said (thought), “I’m going to be a butterfly”. “And just how are you going to do that?” Garfield asked. “Uh…” the caterpillar says, pauses, and then says, “I know a guy.” When I read that, I smiled, thinking that the caterpillar was referring to the Creator.

Back in my post of Acts 11:25-26, I used the “I know a guy” quote in the analogy of Barnabas and Paul. In society today, it seems like everyone “knows” someone who’s well-connected, has influence or power, or has favors. Garth Brooks turned this phrase on its ear with his old country ballad “Friends in Low Places”. However, when you think about it, it is always nice to know someone who can help you in situations where you cannot help yourself or achieve some goal by yourself.

The scoffers derided Jesus Christ out loud, saying he frequently was seen with “tax collectors and sinners”, the lowest of the low. Even in Mark 2:16-17, they question why He ate with them. How blessed are we sinners that Jesus didn’t separate Himself, but came to us, to save us, to pay our price, to redeem us. Our Messiah wasn’t some upper-crust rich snob who didn’t let himself be seen with those lower in class; instead, He reached out to us, as a Friend.

What a Friend we have in Jesus!

Something to think about.

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Mark 6:3 [“]Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” so they were offended at Him.”

My oldest son is about to embark on his first post-graduate job in his chosen field. Up to now, he had a job at a concrete fabrication plant. It was hard work, but it demonstrated his work ethic and provided a decent paycheck. He knew God had a carpenter’s job for him, though…it was what he wanted to do. He has good gifts for it, and graduated from our local technical school with a degree in it. Now he’ll get to fulfill his love of carpentry. I always told him that, among other benefits, carpentry is one occupation that can’t be “offshored” to a foreign country. Whenever I take that 2 week break to travel with our Carpenters for Christ, even though I’m primarily a videographer, I do pitch in and help where I can. It’s such a sense of fulfillment to see a building rise from an empty foundation, and by the time we leave, a structure for a church body is sitting on that site. You get a great sense of accomplishment.

Jesus is a builder. Of course, in the verse today, the scoffers were referencing the fact that Jesus was a carpenter, having learned the trade from his human father, Joseph, also a carpenter. That is why they couldn’t understand the wisdom and teachings he was preaching. “But, he’s just a carpenter”, they said. No, Jesus is THE Carpenter. He is the Master Builder who can take destroyed lives and fix them. He is in the business of building up, not tearing down.

Have you put your life in the hands of the Carpenter today?

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Isaiah 28:16 – “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.””
Ephesians 2:20 – “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,”

The following dialogue comes from the new Super Secret Secret Squirrel cartoon, which Hanna-Barbera aired as part of the show 2 Stupid Dogs.

Secret Squirrel was locked up in a cell in a straitjacket. A microscopic menace named Quark had made it look like he was crazy so that he would be locked up. Quark was destroying massive buildings, to which Secret asked him: “how could a subatomic speck like you destroy all those structures?”

Quark: “oh, it’s so simple; I just pulled out the bottom atom!” (which he demonstrates by removing the bottom atom of the stool Secret had sat upon, causing it to crumble.)

After bragging about his plan to wipe out North America for his entertainment career, he escapes. Suddenly the wall falls down; there stands Secret’s faithful sidekick, Morocco Mole!

Secret: “Morocco!”
Morocco: “Secret! I knew you weren’t crazy. You’re only crazy about catching criminals!”
Secret: “Thanks, Morocco. By the way, how did you knock down that huge wall?”
Morocco: “Simple; I just pulled out the bottom brick! heh.” (showing Secret the bottom brick as he unties him.)

Now what that humorous cartoon points out is a very simple construction fact: most all structures have a dependent component that the rest of the building is fabricated upon. It’s known as the cornerstone in most buildings. Wikipedia defines a cornerstone as “The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornerstone)

My father, a retired brick mason, always started laying out a building by constructing a corner to build the intersecting walls off of; without that steady corner, the walls wouldn’t be sound enough.

What is Jesus without the church? Well, He is still the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior, God; that doesn’t change. What is the church without Jesus? That’s the point in a nutshell. Without Jesus, the church would be like other religions that eventually cave in and collapse. It would be a shell, a sham, a house of cards that would fold under pressure.

Christian, remember today that Jesus is the Cornerstone of your faith; faith built upon such a Rock can stand up to anything.

Something to think about.

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John 6:35 “And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.””

In the Columbo mystery episode entitled “Any Old Port in a Storm”, the killer tried to cover up the victim’s murder by making it look like he had hit his head while scuba diving, and thus drowned. The murderer disposed of the body several days later after returning from out of town to setup his alibi. Columbo is set on the case by the victim’s fiancée, who filed him as a missing person. The detective’s suspicion is aroused when he find out something in the autopsy report. In talking with the fiancée, he discovers the victim was a real healthy, athletic adventurer, and ate to support his active lifestyle. The autopsy report shows that he hadn’t eaten in several days; the fiancée confirms he would never starve himself like that. Columbo even cryptically quotes the report as “depriving himself of food would leave him extremely weak”…”so why would a guy go scuba diving, if he hasn’t eaten in several days?” Columbo thinks out loud.

Food is one of the basic necessities we must have to survive; our physical bodies must have nourishment.

Famed chef Jose Andres was interviewed back in November of 2017 by Anderson Cooper for the CBS news program 60 Minutes. In it, they were discussing the chef’s efforts to help feed the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. During the conversation, Cooper states that “it’s so interesting to me how for you (Andres), food is at the center of everything.” Jose Andres replied, “Anderson, food touches everything. Food is in our DNA. Food touches the economy. Food is science. Food is romanticism. Food is health. Food has many of the opportunities to have a better tomorrow.” (this entire interview can be found at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/feeding-puerto-rico/).

Jesus told his disciples, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger”. Our spiritual lives crave nourishment as well. They can wither into nothing without the fulfillment that they need to grow. Many a scientist has “withered” trying to fill that void with intellectual musings. Jesus is the only answer for our spiritual sustenance, growth, and maturity. Similar to what Jose Andres said about food, to a growing Christian, Jesus touches everything.

God gave my wife an epiphany on this title. She remarked, “The Bread of Life was laid in a feeding trough.” Remember, that’s what the manger in the stable was…a source of food.

Something to think about.

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Well, my deepest apologies for being a couple of months late in starting this new series. Once 2018 hit, we had things going on left and right; also, I’ve been trying to concentrate on Scripture memorization after a message delivered at our church by author Robert J. Morgan inspired me to do so. However, I need to get back to it, so let me begin with a “why” of this particular subject, Jesus: I am the (fill-in-the-blank). This particular study may, at times, be more intermittent than the usual walkthrough of a book of the Bible, but I’m looking forward to it.

After wrapping up Acts, I remembered a devotional thought I was going to use regarding everyday items that we see, that Jesus used to describe Himself. I was also inspired by a late 2017 series our pastor did on some of the “I am the (fill-in-the-blank)” from the book of John. I then felt sort of sheepish, thinking that I didn’t want anyone to think I was just copying our pastor. However, after talking with him, he encouraged me to go ahead with the plan; he had only used the several items from John, and there were many more things in the Testaments that Jesus used to describe Himself to the disciples.

In fact, when I began some background preparation, I used the Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Holy Bible to look up all the “Names, Appellations, and Titles” used to describe Jesus. I found that there were roughly 232 titles and descriptions used to describe our Lord! Now, let me assure you, I’m not going to be covering all of those! However, I’m going to pray and select roughly a dozen to focus on, as the Lord leads me.

I’ve always liked analogies; if you’ve followed these devotions, you can see that. I guess my favorite story, which you’ve heard, is when I lived briefly with my grandmother while attending college and into my first post-graduate occupation. I came home from work as a programmer at a textile corporation, and she asked me how my day was. “Fine.” I replied. “Well, tell me, what did you do?” she asked. Now, my grandmother was not very technical; she couldn’t set the clock on her VCR (and I’m not being mean here…really, she couldn’t!). So how in the world was I going to talk about working with programs, JCL, COBOL, and procs on a mainframe computer? Simple: by phrasing it in a way she’d understand. I described my day like it was a recipe in her cookbook (and my grandmother DID know how to cook!) That way, I could convey what I did in a way she could comprehend.

I guess that’s what drew me to all the names used to describe Jesus. When you think about it, how would God convey Who He was to human beings? The comprehension of that would stagger the most intelligent mind (and still does today!) So, Jesus took the items His disciples were familiar with: fishermen, bread, water, stars, etc., and revealed His glory through those. Sometimes, they still didn’t get it, but eventually they did…and eventually, we will to.

So next time, we’ll begin with Jesus: I am the Bread of Life.

May God bless this study and show you and me something through it.

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