A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Resurrection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Resurrection. Show all posts

April 1, 2024

After the Resurrection: Are We Living in the Power of Jesus?

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead into Life Everlasting is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. No other religion on the earth has an empty tomb. Christians are the only believers who follow a leader that died and then came back to life, with the promise that we, too, can have Eternal Life. Admittedly, the Bible doesn't reveal everything about that miraculous event or what followed. But there are enough hints to give us hope to seek Him and His way of life. The Bible, itself, tells us, "There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were recorded one by one [and in detail], I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written". That's a lot of details we don't have. But it doesn't mean those details are not many, mighty, miraculous, and real. 

Have you ever stopped to think about what happened immediately after Jesus rose; what occurred in addition to the details the Bible does give us? I can only imagine the shock and disbelief, and even fear, when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome arrived at the tomb to anoint him with precious oils, only to find the tomb empty! Granted, Scripture says [both in Mark and Matthew] that Jesus had told them He would be betrayed into the hands of His enemies, and they would kill Him. After three days He would be raised from death to life. The Bible recounts that on one hand, they did not understand Him, nor did they ask Him; and secondly, they were deeply grieved and distressed. 

My first thought is that they had seen Lazarus raised from the dead by Jesus, Himself, and perhaps they were confused... who is going to raise Jesus? As far as I am aware, Scripture doesn't give us any clues that He explained it was by the power of the Holy Spirit. But they were about to be exposed to all the indescribable and supernatural ways in which we can, not only be connected to the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, but live our lives in the same power and miracles. For me, the mystery, the power, the force, the strength, and the authority exhibited in the Resurrection event should overwhelm the mind and senses of every Believer! After all, He told Martha, the sister of Lazarus that not only will Believers live even if we die, but we will never die (John 11:25)! 

So, while they had clues of what was coming, they did not understand. But after the Resurrection! -- Oh, how their world must have been turned upside down. They went from profound grief, disappointment, and depression to being astonished, astounded and awe-struck at the power of the Living Christ in the world! John reports that Mary Magdalene saw the Lord in His pre-Ascension form, and later that evening, the rest of the Disciples saw Him as they met behind barred doors, fearful for their lives.He stood among them, speaking Peace over them, and breathed on them, giving them The Holy Spirit. He also told them He would send them as His Representatives -- not as emissaries of the itinerant Jewish Rabbi, but as ambassadors of the Messiah and Son of God! Then they witnessed the one Disciple [Thomas, who had been absent when He came the first time] stick his finger in the wounds Jesus had received on the Cross and Thomas's profession of faith that Jesus was real and who He said He was. But the part of this passage in John that gets forgotten is verse 30 ... There are also many other signs [attesting miracles] that Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book ... as if this is not enough to believe that by trusting what He has revealed, we may have Life in His Name!

The account of Luke offers us a little more information about what happened after the Resurrection. It seems that there were more women who had gone to the tomb to prepare the Lord's body, and two angels appeared to them, reminding them that Jesus had told them that He would be crucified and rise on the third day. They reported all these things to the Disciples, but being typical men of that era, they did not give credence to the women's story. So, Peter, Himself, got up and ran to the tomb. Finding it empty, he went away wondering about what had happened. The Bible then tells us that this same day, a Disciple of Jesus, named Cleopas (Luke 24:18), and a companion were traveling to a village called Emmaus. They were discussing all the strange things that had occurred since the crucifixion, and Jesus, Himself, began walking with them, asking them what they were talking about.

They couldn't believe this stranger hadn't heard about Jesus of Nazareth, "a prophet powerful in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people". They relayed that they were downhearted because they had hoped He would redeem Israel and set them free from the rule of the Romans. They also shared that the women went to the tomb that morning and had seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive! Those who followed up on the women's report also went to the tomb, but found nothing. Jesus reprimanded the men, calling them "foolish" and "slow of heart" because they had not believed in everything the prophets had spoken down through the centuries. He then explained and interpreted everything that Moses and all the prophets had written about Him in the Scriptures. Yet, the two men still did not recognize Him. 

The three then approached the village of Emmaus and the men urged Him to stay with them. As they enjoyed the evening meal, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Suddenly, God opened their eyes and they recognized Him, before He vanished from their sight. They got up that moment and went back to Jerusalem to report that the Lord had really risen and appeared to Simon Peter, leading us to believe that the second man walking to Emmaus was indeed, Peter.  

The texts of both Matthew and Mark do not vary greatly from the others, except that Matthew reports there was a great earthquake after the crucifixion, and suggesting that it contributed to the stone being rolled away from Jesus's tomb. Matthew also suggests that there were some Roman guards who witnessed "everything that had happened", resulting in the chief priests bribing the guards to keep quiet about the supernatural events. They feared for their own safety and position if the Jewish masses learned [let alone believed] that Jesus could be the long-awaited Messiah. Scripture then makes the startling statement: "this [fabricated] story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to the present day".  

But both Matthew and Mark offer something that the other gospels do not ... what is known as The Great Commission. After chastising them [in Mark] for not believing the women who had testified of His resurrection, He commanded them to "Go" and make disciples of all the nations. They were to "help the people learn of Him, believe in Him, and obey His words, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you". He then promises them that He will be with us always, no matter what the circumstances, even to the end of the age. And then they witnessed His ascension into Heaven and sit down at the right hand of God.

So, what is the age He is talking about? The "Church Age", which the first chapter of Acts introduces. And it is the Book of Acts that shows us the effects of Jesus's ministry on earth AFTER the Resurrection. I love the language of this first chapter in Acts; the words that describe the supernatural manifestations of Jesus's Deity and His divine power and authority. Luke, the author of Acts, describes the appearance of Jesus after His Resurrection "by a series of many infallible proofs and unquestionable demonstrations, appearing to them over a period of forty days and talking to them about the things concerning the kingdom of God". Now, I don't know about you, but I want to know all the details of those forty days! What did Jesus demonstrate and what were the things He told them about the kingdom of God? But it is the encouragement He gives them that "you will be baptized and empowered and united with the Holy Spirit, not long from now". And so it was, on the day of Pentecost, that a rushing, violent wind came from heaven, bestowing tongues of fire on each of the Disciples as they received the Holy Spirit and were filled with the power of Jesus.

There are other displays of supernatural events after the Crucifixion and Resurrection ... the veil of the Holy of Holies in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth shook (the aforementioned earthquake) and the rocks split; tombs were opened, and many bodies of believers were raised to life; and coming out of the tombs after His Resurrection, they entered Jerusalem and appeared to many people; He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, the majority of whom were still alive, but some were dead; many wonders and attesting miracles were taking place through the apostles [as noted in Acts 2]. The Lord moved in the lives of these faithful people who, day after day, met in the temple, continuing with one mind and breaking bread in various private homes. They met together with joy and generous hearts, praising God continually, and receiving favor with all people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved. 

THIS ... this is what it looks like to be living in the power of Jesus! Yet, we as modern-day Believers in Him celebrate one day a year in honor of His Resurrection. Our lives change -- maybe for a couple of hours -- IF we happen to hear an inspiring sermon. But come Monday morning, any supernatural considerations we might have entertained have evaporated and we're back in our natural lives. Sadly, many of our modern churches have little resemblance to the beginning of the Church in the Book of Acts. 

On Sunday, I decided to tune into the live broadcast of a mega-church we attended 15 years ago. The pastor we had liked had retired, and I will tell you that I have never heard a more lukewarm sermon on the spiritual repercussions and power that the Resurrection symbolizes! They touted the 200+ baptisms they would be doing during the service -- and believe me, I do not belittle that accomplishment! But if these baptized people are not stewarded, trained, and equipped to go out and do what Jesus did Himself, and commands us to do -- heal the sick, cast out demons, cleanse the lepers (the physically, spiritually, and emotionally shunned), raise the dead, and spread the Good News of the availability of Salvation and the Kingdom through faith in our Lord -- then the end of the Church Age is definitely in view. 

So, ask yourselves this ... are you moved in your heart and spirit, as you think upon the Resurrection of Jesus and all it portends for you? Are you committed to sharing all you have learned of Him, and the ways [including the supernatural] that He has touched your life? Do you truly want the life that the Disciples experienced with Him -- or are you comfortable to live a "safer" life in the world? Are you willing to lose this life to gain all that the Lord wants to give you in the next one?  I fear if the lukewarm sermon I saw streamed on Sunday is any measurement of the power of Jesus's Resurrection in the American Church, Jesus is going to have to come soon to save "even the elect" from weak and powerless faith. Pray that His remnant will continue to walk in Spirit and Truth; not cowering or hiding from the power and authority that is ours to change the world. We have a purpose and a destiny until the day He returns. Come, Lord Jesus! Strengthen us and Empower us!

Romans 1:4-5    [He] was declared to be the Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead; Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His Name among all the nations ...                    

April 17, 2022

Jesus: Our Living Hope! Happy Resurrection Day!

I was saddened, but not surprised, to wake up this morning to the New York Times headline, "In This Time of War, I Propose We Give Up God". Of all mornings -- Resurrection Sunday -- this newspaper chooses to publish an op ed article disparaging the One who has never given up on us. 

Using the backdrop of the current war in Eastern Europe, the author [who self-identifies as a Jew] wants to blame the One True God of the Universe, and brand Him as hateful and brutal; even suggesting He should be labeled "a war criminal" for His part in allowing the suffering and oppression that is on display across the globe. The author states that we should stop trying to be like Him, and even goes so far as to suggest that we stop teaching our children about Him... they should "be as unlike him as possible". And then the article ends with this disgraceful statement, "Killing gods is an idea I can get behind".

First of all, I will pray for this person because I recognize the hopelessness that is in their heart, and the disillusionment they have experienced in their Jewish faith. I refuse to disparage anyone's faith -- unless it is rooted in Satan and his wickedness. But it grieves me when I see people express the emptiness they feel when they look upon Jesus. This day, of all days, speaks of the pain and agony He endured for our sake. It is a story of His horrific sacrificial death and His miraculous restoration to life, that He might sit at the right hand of Almighty God on His heavenly throne, interceding for us! And it is a gift to all who believe in Him; that we have the hope of eternal life with Him and the Father!

I am sorry that the writer and the paper chose today to publish this sad article. Today is so much more than a day spent in the midst of brightly colored eggs in foil-wrapped baskets, filled with chocolate bunny rabbits and stuffed animals. In fact, it is the one day that the entire foundation of our Christian faith rests upon. I would love to have a conversation with the disillusioned NYT writer. I would explain to Him that God has not "allowed" this war we are witnessing; or any other war in history. He does not use war to punish people, and this day does not honor Him as a warmonger. I would like to explain to the writer that humankind has an enemy that is not God. He name is Satan and it is he that comes to kill, steal, and destroy.  I want the writer to know and understand that it is Satan's actions that he [the writer] is attributing to God, who is the Most High among all the "little g" gods of the earth.

I would like the writer to know that, from the beginning of the Old Testament, the Godhead planned for Christ's birth, death, and resurrection. It was stated, "And I will put enmity (open hostility) between you and the woman, and between your seed (offspring) and her Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, and you shall [only] bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15). I would instruct the writer that the word enmity means hostility, bad blood, hatred, malice, and is the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something... in other words, it describes WAR. 

Genesis 3:15 is the first prophecy about the Messiah (Christ), who through His death on the cross, and His resurrection, would ultimately defeat Satan, the power behind all that the writer hates in the brutality, oppression, brutality, and war that he wants to lay at the feet of God. So, I would like to invite him [or her] to do some research on the true oppressor of this conflict/war. For I will find my hope in my God; the One True God who chose to come to earth to save me from those who follow the Enemy. 

This won't be the last article calling for the death of the worship of God. Our Holy Book tells us so. And we, who celebrate the Resurrection of Yeshua Ha Mashiach today, know that hatred for Him will grow upon the earth. But we will endure and overcome as we weep over the wickedness in the world; struggle with our adversaries; minister to those who need hope in Him; and continue to find joy in the face of evil --- knowing that our Lord goes before us as we fulfill our assignments. Today is a day of eternal hope. No newspaper article will ever convince me to give up God. I pray that this writer has a supernatural encounter with Jesus which will find him writing an article of praise, reverence, and retraction. Let him see Your Truth, Lord! Happy Resurrection Day!

Romans 8:34   Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the One who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

April 4, 2021

Passover and Resurrection Day: God's Holy Alignment in 2021!

I want to begin this post by saying that today, I unequivocally celebrate the resurrection of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, from Death into Life, and I praise Him for making that possible for me, too! And as you know, if you have followed this blog for any length of time, that I love researching the Word for historical and theological context. So, it is with awe and wonder that I find that our Christian celebration of Easter this year coincides with the last day of the Jewish faith's Passover celebration. Let me share with you how the two come together to show the glory and sovereignty of YHWH, the Creator of the Universe and the Most High God.

In our Christian faith, Easter has come to mean the celebration of the resurrection of Christ three days after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year because of what Christ did for us.  His willingness to pay the debt owed by all mankind throughout history, for the sins we have committed, culminates at the Cross.  He endured God's wrath so that we don't have to and could be forgiven our sins and reconciled with God, our Father in heaven.  Christ's crucifixion and resurrection constitutes the single most important event upon which Christianity is based.

I have written many posts about the corrupted history of Easter and how it came to be in the traditions of our faith and the Church. You can enter the word "Easter" in the search bar of this blog and peruse those, if you are interested. For the purpose of this post, here is a short summary of that history: In 325 AD, Emperor Constantine, at the Nicean Council, ordered all Churches to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.  The early Church had celebrated the Resurrection during the Passover, beginning on the 14th day of the Hebrew month called Nisan, which could fall on any day of the week [being governed by the Jewish lunar year].  But the Churches near Rome had abandoned the practice because they hated the Jews, blaming them for the death of Jesus, so they fixed the date to the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring, which coincided with the ancient Roman celebration called ‘Easter’, after the pagan goddess of Spring, Eostre. It helps to know that Constantine, before his self-professed conversion, was a pagan who worshiped the Sun God, hence his desire to move the celebration of Christ's resurrection to "Sunday". 

His Satan-induced hatred of the Jews caused the Jewish influence (in the form of the Feasts) to be erased from the Church.  Here is a direct quote from Constantine himself:   “And truly, in the first place, it seems to everyone a most unworthy thing that we should follow the customs of the Jews in the celebration of this most holy solemnity, who, polluted wretches! having stained their hands with a nefarious crime, are justly blinded in their minds. It is fit, therefore, that rejecting the practice of this people, we should perpetuate to all future ages the celebration of this rite, in a more legitimate order, which we have kept from the first day of our "Lord's" passion even to the present times. Let us then have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews.” (Council of Nicea, pg. 52.)

Now that you have that background, I hope you can appreciate the importance of Christian acknowledgement of the Lord's Feasts (they are not "the Jewish feasts"), especially the celebration of the Feast of Passover, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits. There is actually so much significance that ties the Jewish Passover celebration and the Christian celebration of Easter, or Resurrection Day, as it is becoming more popularly known.  And there is an interesting correlation between the two this year.

First of all, there are eight days assigned to the Feast of Passover by YHWH. And in the Christian tradition, there are eight days from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Day/Easter. The last day of Passover is celebrated in commemoration of the crossing of the Red Sea [or the Sea of Reeds, as some versions of the Bible call it].  Eighty years prior to this event, the infant Moses was delivered from the waters of the Nile River, after the Pharaoh of Egypt decreed that all Hebrew sons born to the Israelite slaves should be drowned. Eighty years later, this same man called Moses, would be instrumental in delivering the nation of Israel from the waters of the Red Sea. This experience is known in the Bible as the Exodus; when Israel is delivered out of their bondage of slavery in Egypt into a new birth, or existence, if you will. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:2 tells us that in crossing through the Red Sea "all Israel were baptized into Moses [into his safekeeping as their leader]... That event is what is being celebrated around the world today, on Resurrection Day, by millions of Jews. 

In a similar manner, today we Christians celebrate that we are baptized into Christ, united with Him in His death and burial [as our sins are crucified and buried through His sacrifice on the Cross] and in His resurrection [as the Forerunner of our own birth into a future resurrected life]. He is the First Fruit of the Harvest of believers into an eternal resurrected life. This year, the Feast of First Fruits falls on the same day as Resurrection Day/Easter! I do not believe this is a coincidence in 2021! This year, I believe YHWH is calling the attention of His faithful to His Holy calendar. I believe we are coming close to His ordained time when we will be united in the worship of our Redeemer, the Jewish King of the Universe. This year, whether Jew or Christian, we will all be celebrating our deliverance from bondage into God's Grace and His strong will and desire to save us all and transfer us into His Kingdom on earth. So, join me, in praising God for bringing our faiths into alignment this year, as we pray that His promise of dwelling with us on earth will soon come to pass. Happy Pesach and Happy Resurrection Day!

Romans 8:11    Yes, God raised Jesus to life! And since God’s Spirit of Resurrection lives in you, He will also raise your dying body to life by the same Spirit that breathes life into you!