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John 1:29: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!””

Night of the Lepus” was a science fiction/horror film from 1972, starring Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun, Paul Fix, and DeForest Kelley. In this film, the monstrous antagonist was kept secret in press releases and trailers. Finally, when the film debuted, the audiences saw that the monstrous creatures stalking the humans were…giant…bunny…rabbits. Yep, you read right. Giant bunnies that had become carnivorous were the monsters in this film. Now, you can make a lot of animals look vicious or creepy: spiders, snakes, bugs, wolves, bears, bats, etc….but bunny rabbits? Even as a child watching this film, my only thought was “they don’t look scary”…not even with ketchup on their mouths to be the effect of blood! Believe it or not, this was based on a novel, The Year of the Angry Rabbit , by Russell Braddon (I’m sure something got lost in translation from book to film). This movie went down in the annals of B-movies and camp. Who would believe a killer bunny? (more information can be read at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Lepus).

Our Savior has many titles, but one may strike non-Christians as odd. Jesus has been described as King, God, Lord, Savior, Shepherd, and Alpha and Omega. But do you realize one of His titles is…the Lamb of God? “A lamb?” you might ask. Yes, because besides all of His mighty titles, Jesus Christ came as a living sacrifice to pay our sin debt. In Bible times, sacrifices were made at the temple to pay for atonement from sins. Often, a spotless animal was the sacrifice, and in many of those cases, it was a lamb without blemish. A lamb, meek and mild. Our Savior is the Lamb of God; He willingly went to the cross to pay a debt we couldn’t pay…the only spotless, perfect sacrifice that could be made. The world might ask, “your Lord is a Lamb?” Yes…THE LAMB OF GOD. Unlike Hollywood movies, this is fact, not fiction.

Something to think about!

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2 Cor. 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

“One Froggy Evening” was a 1955 Looney Tunes cartoon that has gone on to become one of the masterpieces in cartoon history. It tells the story of an unnamed construction worker, helping to demolish an old building. As he is uncovering the cornerstone, he finds a time capsule of sorts. Included in this collection, a frog hops out. Once he spies the fellow looking back at him, the frog dons a top hat, grabs a cane, and starts dancing and singing “Hello, Ma Baby”!

What a gift! A singing/dancing frog! Does the fellow enjoy this gift that he has uncovered? Does he take him home to enjoy the unheard-of talents for such an amphibian? No, he does like most of us would do…dollar signs dancing in his head, he tries to find a way to cash in on his new discovery. The trouble is, every time he tries to show the frog’s talent, the frog reverts to type, sits there and croaks. He’ll only perform for the man and only if it is just the man watching. Through a series of attempts to get rich, the man becomes bankrupt, homeless, thrown in an asylum for being crazy, and finally becoming free again. Spying the construction site of a new building, he quickly puts the box with the frog in it inside its cornerstone, and runs away free. Years later in the future, a spacesuit-garbed “demolition man” is disintegrating the now old building. He find the frog, the frog dances and sings for him,…and history repeats itself as he scurries away with his gift, looking to cash in.

We, as Christians, have come into possession of a Gift offered to us. The Gift of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He paid the penalty of sin for us, and through accepting Him as Lord and Savior in our lives, guarantees us eternal life in Heaven. A set of dictionaries filled with every positive adjective in the English language would utterly fail at adding to the one adjective used in 2 Corinthians to describe this Gift: Indescribable. As such, we need to remember that we don’t need to waste the precious value of this Gift of God. We don’t need to behave like “heathens” brazenly continuing to sin just because we have “fire insurance”. We need to live for Jesus every day, telling others about Him, so that we can help share this Gift. We certainly don’t need to keep it to ourselves! People will see the value of this Gift, if they see the change that is brought in our lives by Jesus. Remember, we may be the only exposure of Jesus some people might see.

So what are you going to do with your Gift today?

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”

We were doing some yard work recently, and my wife was complimenting me on the trimming of a small tree/bush near my son’s window. My wife noticed that some leaves poking out were different from the other leaves she saw. While she was looking at the leaves, I was tracing the branches down to the root. While we were discussing if it was the same plant or not, I commented, “Honey, you’re looking at the leaves, and I’m looking at the roots!” Sure enough, it turns out that new leaves were part of one tree, and the other leaves belonged to a second tree growing close alongside. To look at it from far off, you would think it was the same tree, but when you look closely, you see which tree which branch of leaves belongs to.

Jesus was telling His disciples that they cannot bear fruit unless they abide in Him. Just like a branch cannot bear fruit unless it is attached ultimately to the roots, we cannot bear Christian witness or works apart from Jesus Christ. He is our Source. When I was a little boy, my grandmother had some grapevines that strung across an old bed spring-like fencing. Unfortunately, also in this fencing was poison oak. I didn’t want to touch either because I couldn’t tell which was which. Of course, once the grapes started growing, I could easily tell where the true grapevine was.

Jesus also told his disciples that God “prunes” the good branches to produce more fruit; if He has branches not producing fruit, they are taken away. Once you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, your salvation is guaranteed and you are going to Heaven. But we also need to use our gifts and abilities (that God gave us, by the way) to glorify Him and serve Him, else those gifts get rusty or fall into disuse…and what a waste of God-given talents that would be!

Tis better to be a fruit-producing branch of the True Vine; wouldn’t you agree?

Something to think about.

Song of Solomon 2:1: “I am the rose of Sharon, And the lily of the valleys.”

Shortly after I graduated college and had my first job, I was travelling home from watching a local high school football game with a friend. It was raining, and I was driving down a dark country road. I hit a tree branch that had fallen in the road; it was large enough that it caused me to skid off the road into a dark ditch. I couldn’t see the bottom of the ditch, so I had no idea if I could climb down; I was close enough to the road that I could climb out the window of my door. It was all but pitch-black and still raining. I had no idea how close I was to my folks’ house (that’s where I was heading), plus being the country, there were bound to be wild animals out. Well, it wasn’t too long after, a truck came down the road, and I managed to flag it down. the driver called out to me from his vehicle and asked was I okay. I told him I was, and asked if he could give me a lift to my folks’ house. He called out my name, recognizing my voice, and said “Is that you?” I aid, “Yes, it’s me! Who are you?” Turns out it was a friend of my family’s (for privacy, we’ll just call him Tommy) When he told me who he was, man, was I ever glad to see him! He told me to hop in, and he’d take me to my folks. The next day we were able to pull the truck out of the ditch with a tractor. At the time, no better friend and hero did I know than Tommy! He was a life saver in my dire predicament.

I always wondered why the “rose of Sharon” was one of the appellations for Jesus Christ. The Song of Solomon is a beautiful love poem between King Solomon and his Shulamite bride. It is also an analogy of the love between Jesus Christ (bridegroom) and the Church (bride). Though it is commonly assumed that this verse is spoken by the bride, many other translations state that it is the bridegroom who makes these statements (I did some research using Thru the Bible Commentary on Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon by Dr. J. Vernon McGee.) In Chapter 2, page 134, of this commentary, Dr. McGee states that “These words describe the Lord Jesus.” He explains that for anyone else to state this, it would be pride, but our Lord came down as a meek and lowly Savior, so it comes across as humility.

As Christians, we not only NEED a Savior, we should DESIRE or WANT a Savior. He should be the hero we need to rescue us in our sinful situation. And He is! The rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley are among the most beautiful flowers in that part of the world. Like my friend Tommy was that night, my Lord Jesus is the most wonderful Person I could see. He is there in times of trouble and of plenty.

To me, the old hymn says it best:
“I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
The Lily of the Valley, In Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.”

There is no more beautiful a Friend than Jesus.

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!

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!