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Rev 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

In the classic movie Beneath the Planet of the Apes, astronaut Brent had followed the same time-travel trajectory of George Taylor; his flight was sent to find out what had happened to him. After several adventures (encountering Nova, Taylor’s mute love interest, discovering Ape City, meeting the simian scientists Cornelius and Zira), he finally found Taylor, a prisoner like himself of a band of underground, radiation-scarred humans with psychic powers of illusion. After the three of them have killed their jailer, Taylor is attempting to treat Brent’s wound, when Brent tells him of the terrifying discovery he and Nova had witnessed: the humans’ “god”.

Brent: “Taylor…Taylor, they’ve got a bomb…atomic bomb…it’s operational! They intend to use it.” (since the gorilla army was advancing on the humans’ stronghold, they were going to fire it at Ape City)
Taylor: “What type is it?”
Brent: “I don’t know…I don’t know, what type, I’ve never seen it before.”
Taylor: “Didn’t you see a series number?”
Brent: “No numbers, just some letters…on one of the fins…Greek letters (Taylor freezes in realization)…”Alpha…”
Taylor: (resignedly) “and Omega.”
Brent: (surprised that Taylor knows) “What?”
Taylor begins dressing Brent’s wound as he explains about the “doomsday bomb”: “Another lovely souvenir from the 20th century. They weren’t satisfied with a bomb that could knock out a city. They finally built one with a cobalt casing…all in the sweet name of peace.”
Brent mutters in despair, realizing the consequences: “if they shoot it off at some of those apes, they’ll set off a chain reaction in the whole atmosphere…”
Taylor: “…burn the planet to a cinder…how’s that for your ultimate weapon?”

I replayed this dialogue on my copy of the DVD movie. Just like Taylor called it…a doomsday bomb, the beginning and the end of any conflict in which it’s used, an Armageddon. Tragically, in the movie, the bomb did go off, destroying everyone and everything.

Now, there really is going to be an Armageddon, but not with a bomb called the Alpha and the Omega. There will be a different Alpha and Omega as John tells us in his vision, which is the book of Revelation. That Beginning and End is Jesus Christ. John 1:1 and Revelation 1:8 reiterate what Christians already know: Jesus existed at the Beginning; He was, is, and always will be. He is God the Son, the Messiah. He is one of the three persons of God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). He will be there at the final battle against Satan, and He will be victorious! He is the End, too. This is part of His Majesty, being the timeless Lord He is. Though He walked the earth as the Lamb of God, He reigns in Heaven, as our Righteous King.

That’s a Beginning and End I will see one day!

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John 10: 11, 14: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”
1 Peter 5:4: “and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”

Our pastor used to live in Wyoming, and among his many encounters, he got to know a local shepherd and wanted to learn about his occupation of caring for sheep. One morning, while the shepherd was rousing the flock to wake up, our pastor saw the shepherd tend to some sheep that had rolled over on their sides. Sheep are similar to turtles; if they fall over sleeping, they need help getting up. They can actually die from asphyxiation if they’re not righted, because they cannot get up on their own. The shepherd would help right the sheep, massaging their legs until they could stand and move on their own. This puzzled our pastor; he asked the shepherd why did he keep those sheep, for all the trouble they caused him. Why didn’t he just get rid of them?

The shepherd looked at our pastor in amazement. He told him he wouldn’t get rid of them; those were some of his best sheep! They were incredibly loyal, and would never wander away from him. They knew the sound of his voice.

(Now, our pastor told us this tale in his own sermon series recently on Jesus: I Am; so, if I’ve quoted the story incorrectly, I’m sure he’ll set me straight. :-) )

We are sheep, and we need a Good Shepherd. Jesus is that Shepherd. He cares for us, protects us, and even corrects us when we stray. Jesus contrasted the Good Shepherd with hirelings who don’t take care of sheep, who run at the first sign of trouble. Jesus isn’t that way; we know the sound of His Voice, and are dependent on him.

Peter writes in 1 Peter, chapter 5, verse 4, that those who care for God’s flock will receive that crown of glory from the Chief Shepherd…and this Shepherd is also Jesus.

Something to think about!

Mark 10:17-18: “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.””

All of us have been taught throughout our lives, whether we wish to admit it or not, whether we were willing participants or not. Some of the people who taught me, I remember more fondly than others. Some were good teachers. Experience itself can be a hard teacher. But there are some good teachers we can all recall. Two instances I remember: one was my grandmother, who taught me in Sunday School when I was very young. She and my mother made sure I knew about God, Jesus, and the Bible. Two, was my first grade teacher; as a little boy, I had a crush on her! 🙂 She was so tall and pretty. She loved us kids in her class a lot. Now, she could be tough when she had to be, but I fondly remember learning the alphabet and math under her guidance. (For the record, when I saw her years later, I discovered that she wasn’t as tall as I thought…but then again, I was a short first-grader!) I still love her; she was a second mama figure to us!

Good teachers are those who care about us, and want us to learn the right things. The rich young ruler, when he greeted Jesus, addressed Him as “Good Teacher” due to His reputation as a prophet and teacher. I find Jesus’s response wonderfully ironic when He answered him and said, “why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” And, of course, Jesus is God!

The point is, Jesus does care about us, He loves us, and He wants to teach us. What we have to do is learn (and I do mean LEARN) to listen and to obey Him, when He teaches us.

Class is in session.

Something to think about!

Ever seen two bighorn sheep “go at it”? Our pastor used to live in the Rocky Mountains area, and he has seen them. He told me it is truly something to see these 600-lb rams go full-tilt at each other, and then you hear that “CRACK” as they collide. It’s the power in that sound that gets your attention. I’d only seen it on TV programs such as National Geographic specials or Marty Stouffer’s Wild America.

When I first saw this name for Jesus, I was curious. True, Jesus is not recorded in the New Testament as calling Himself by that name, but others did. Once God loosened his mute voice upon the naming of his son John, Zacharias the priest (the father of John the Baptist) praised God, saying “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David,” (Luke 1:68-69) I had thought “horn” in this case meant something like a musical instrument, but I was mistaken.

Below are some commentaries I have copied on this verse; I found them at http://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/1-69.htm

You’ll also find the most common cross-reference from Psalms 132:17: “There I will make the horn of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.”

“Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
(69) Hath raised up an horn of salvation.—The symbolism of the horn comes from Psalm 132:17, where it is used of the representative of the House of David, and answers to the “Anointed” of the other clause of the verse. It originated obviously in the impression made by the horns of the bull or stag, as the symbols of strength. Here, following in the steps of the Psalmist, Zacharias uses it as a description of the coming Christ, who is to be raised up in the House of David.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
And hath raised up a horn – A horn is a symbol of strength. The figure is taken from the fact that in horned animals the strength lies in the “horn.” Particularly, the great power of the rhinoceros or unicorn is manifested by the use of a single horn of great “strength,” placed on the head near the end of the nose. When the sacred writers, therefore, speak of great strength they often use the word “horn,” Psalm 148:14; Deuteronomy 33:17; Daniel 7:7-8; Daniel 7:21. The word salvation, connected here with the word “horn,” means that this “strength,” or this mighty Redeemer, was able to save. It is possible that this whole figure may be taken from the Jewish “altar.” On each of the four corners of the altar there was an eminence or small projection called a “horn.” To this persons might flee for safety when in danger, and be safe, 1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28. Compare the notes at Luke 1:11. So the Redeemer “may be” called the “horn of salvation,” because those who flee to him are safe. In the house – In the family, or among the descendants of David.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
69. horn of salvation—that is “strength of salvation,” or “mighty Salvation,” meaning the Saviour Himself, whom Simeon calls “Thy Salvation” (Lu 2:30). The metaphor is taken from those animals whose strength is in their horns (Ps 18:2; 75:10; 132:17). house of … David—This shows that Mary must have been known to be of the royal line, independent of Joseph; of whom Zacharias, if he knew anything, could not know that after this he would recognize Mary.

Expositor’s Greek Testament
Luke 1:69…because kings were anointed with a horn of oil…because in their horn all horned animals have their power”

Many times, Christians and non-Christians alike point to the meekness and gentleness of our Savior. But do not be misled. Jesus is the mighty Horn of Salvation; only through Him can we be saved from sin. And as you’ll recall, He could be roused to righteous anger, too (just ask those moneychangers in the Temple!) Like the contemporary song states, “Our God is Mighty to Save”.

Something to think about.

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!

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.

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?