29 Prophecies - 24 Hours

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In the Christian calendar this week, known as Holy Week, is the last week of Lent. We turn our thoughts to the betrayal, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is mind boggling to think that the events of this week had been prophesied hundreds of years before they occurred. Fulfilled prophecy provides evidence for the truth that Jesus was the Son of God. Some scholars estimate the Old Testament records over 300 prophecies that refer to Jesus. Twenty-nine of these prophecies from the Old Testament were fulfilled in a 24-hour period that led to Jesus’ death.

"But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets...He has thus fulfilled" (Acts 3:18).

Following are some of the prophecies relating to the 24 hours that culminated in the burial of Christ.

Betrayed by a friend (Psalm 55:12-14)
Sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12)
Forsaken by disciples (Zechariah 13:7)
Wounded and bruised (Isaiah 53:5)
Smitten and spit upon (Isaiah 53:6)
Silent before accusers (Isaiah 53:7)
Mocked (Psalm 22:7-8)
Fell under the cross (Psalm 109:24-25)
Hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16)
Crucified with criminals (Isaiah 53:12)
Despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3)
Abused by the crowd (Psalm 109:25)
Lots cast on clothes (Psalm 22:18)
Thirsted (Psalm 22:15)
Gall and wine offered (Psalm 69:21)
Spirit committed to God (Psalm 31:5)
No bones broken (Psalm 34:20)
Side pierced with spear (Zechariah 12:10)
Darkness over the land (Amos 8:9)
Buried in rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9)

What is the possibility that one man can fulfill these prophecies? Professor Peter Stoner (1888-1980) calculated this probability and published his research in Science Speaks in 1944. Stoner concluded that the probability of one person fulfilling eight specific prophecies was only one chance in 1017. He then concluded that one person fulfilling 48 of the over 300 prophecies has one chance in 10157. This is a statistical impossibility.

The foretelling of these events hundreds of years before they happened can only be called a miracle! Hallelujah, What a Savior!

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

After a tortuous beating and humiliating mocking, the Roman soldiers led Jesus to his crucifixion. Jesus must have been physically exhausted as he set out for Calvary on that Friday morning. John tells us that Jesus carried his own cross, probably the horizontal beam which may have weighed as much as 100 pounds. The other Gospel accounts tell us that at a certain point during the one third mile trip Simon of Cyrene was forced by the Roman soldiers to carry the cross. We know very little about Simon. Was he in Jerusalem to observe Passover? Was he a bystander who knew Jesus? Was he a sympathetic Jew? Was he even a Jew? We just don’t know much about him, yet we know he was an ordinary man pressed into act of service. Instead of being an observant bystander, Simon of Cyrene came to be known for carrying Jesus’ burden. Instead of watching at a safe distance, Simon was forced into action. Simon stepped into the road. He took up the cross and followed Jesus. What a moving and powerful image! And what an example for us!

Galatians 6:2 instructs: “Bear one another's burdens.” Simon was bearing Jesus’ burden when he took up the cross. Mother Theresa had this same passion for carrying the burdens of others. Known as the “Saint of the Gutters” and living with the poorest of the poor, she saw Jesus in everyone she met. She wanted to lift their burdens and said, “Serve and love one person at a time. God does not want us to love crowds of people; that is an impossibility. He wants us to love Him in every single person we meet, when we meet that person.”

How many opportunities do we have to go from bystander to suffering servant? How many times do we try to hide in the crowd instead of stepping out in service like Simon? How often do we love Jesus “in every single person we meet” like Mother Theresa? How often do we share in another’s burdens?

Who in your world is burdened today? What is an act of sacrifice you can perform?

Just Choose Jesus

Sunday, March 14, 2010

During the Lenten season, many of us read or watch films about the last week of Jesus’ life. Inevitably, when I get to the part where Pilate asks the crowd to choose between Pilate or Jesus, I want to shout to the mob, “Just choose Jesus!” Then I wander what choice I would have made had I been there.

During the Passover festival it was customary for the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to release one prisoner. Pilate had two prisoners before him: Barabbas and Jesus. Struggling with giving the order to kill Jesus, Pilate left the decision to the throng gathered outside his fortress. “Who shall I release? Will it be Barabbas or Jesus?” Surely, those who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday a few days earlier would scream with all their conviction, “Jesus! Release Jesus!” But they did not. Because of the early hour, many of his followers probably did not even know about the trial. We know that Jesus’ mother, his disciple John, and maybe Peter gathered on that Friday morning. However, the crowd most likely included members of the Sanhedrin, along with their servants, and some town rabble-rousers. In addition, the money changers and merchants, who had been chastised by Jesus a few days earlier, were probably there looking for revenge.

This man named “Barabbas Jesus,” known as a freedom fighter (Mark 15:7) promised to fight the Roman government by the sword, reclaim their taxes, make them prosperous, and restore their Jewish kingdom.

This man named “Jesus of Nazareth,” spoke a message of love, not war. He spoke of serving, not being served. He spoke of a heavenly kingdom, not an earthly. He said that man cannot serve both God and money.

The Romans saw them both as rebel leaders. Both were seen as messiahs. As Christians, we know that one was a faux messiah and one the real Messiah. One promised earthy rewards and one promised heavenly rewards.

The Romans chose physical power over the power of peace.

Pilate was too weak to betray the crowd. Even against his better judgment, Pilate was pulled by the pressure of the mob. Barabbas was set free; Jesus was sent to the cross.

The truth is… every day we face opportunities either to follow a faux messiah or the real Messiah.

How do we respond when asked, “Will you choose Barabbas or will you choose Jesus? When we face opposition and turmoil, do we respond with the love and peace of Jesus or with the anger and fighting spirit of Barabbas? When settling differences, do we look to Christ for our guidance in settling differences or do we become a rabble-rouser looking for revenge? When faced with moral dilemmas, do we become like Pilate and go with the crowd’s choice or do we stand on our convictions?

Like the mob at the fortress, we have choices. Will we choose like Pilate? Will we choose like the crowd? Will we choose Barabbas? Will we choose Jesus?

International Women's Day

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Did you know that Monday, March 8th is International Women’s Day (IWD)? This day is set aside each year to celebrate the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. While there is little recognition of this day in the USA, there are celebrations around the world ranging from political rallies to conferences to parades to craft markets. Some years the search engine Google even changes its logo to one with the IWD logo.

The recognition began at the turn of the 20th century when the industrialized world saw a growth in population and more women in the work force. IWD was established as a way to recognize the contribution and struggles of women.

Jesus was way ahead of the curve in recognizing the contribution women make in the world. The women of the New Testament played a prominent role in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus welcomed women into his closest discipleship:

"After this he journeyed through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve accompanied him, and also some women.... Mary called the Magdalene, ...Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who were assisting them out of their means." (Lk 8:1-5).

Women welcomed him into their homes, fed him, prayed with and for him, and contributed financially to his ministry. They also traveled with him and the disciples. This kind of association with women during the 1st Century was highly unusual because women didn’t normally even speak to men in public, not to mention travel around the countryside with them. Some of the women risked their lives by witnessing his death on the cross. And Jesus even chose a woman, Mary Magdalene, to make his first appearance after his resurrection. What an honor!

Yes, Jesus acknowledged the gifts, talents, and contributions of women way before an international day was put on the calendar. The women he honored were virtuous women. They were women filled with the love of Jesus and were willing to sacrifice in order for his message to be proclaimed. They were women of excellence.

I am blessed with an abundance of women friends. They have seen me through the best of times and the worst of times. I salute the women in my life on International Women’s Day. I encourage you to find a way to encourage a woman who has influenced your life in a positive way. Lift her up! Follow the lead of Jesus and acknowledge her gifts, talents, and contributions!

Then, women, let us strive to be virtuous women, women who worship and fear the Lord, and women who are not ashamed of the gospel. Let us be women of excellence.

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-GOD.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!
Proverbs 31:30-31

3 Faith Shaping Questions

Monday, March 1, 2010

Finding our God-given purpose in life can be a daunting task, can’t it?

God created each of us for a purpose and has given each of us spiritual gifts for carrying out our purpose. He has designed us with a unique personal style of relating to others and to our circumstances. He has created us with a passion or heart’s desire to make a difference. God wants us to continually grow in our spiritual development and to fulfill specific ministry needs.

But how do we do that?

It is sometimes a matter of connecting the dots of your life to determine how you can best serve Christ. In my ministry at Christ United Methodist Church I help groups and individuals connect the dots to show them how to become fruitful and fulfilled in service to God. I typically use 3 questions to drive this process: Who am I? Where am I going? And how am I going to get there? Whether designing a new ministry or helping a woman with her faith journey, frequently returning to these 3 questions helps us to keep moving forward in finding our purpose.

To answer the question, “Who am I?” we do a Life Map that shows the peaks and valleys of your spiritual life. Then we do spiritual gifts assessments and discover your skills and passions in life.

To answer the question, “Where am I going?” we write our values, vision, and a mission statement. Then we’re able to identify our purpose and the area of service where we want to focus.

Then to answer the question, “How am I going to get there?” we create an action plan that sets us moving forward.

These 3 questions are asked frequently during a ministry’s growth or an individual’s journey.

What I also realize in my ministry is the widespread challenge that we face in finding purpose in a broken world. What happens to your purpose when your plans fail? When you face disappointment? Catastrophe? Divorce? Death? Nothing can stand in the way of God’s purpose as Psalm 57:2 reminds us,
“I cry out to God most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.”

I recently spoke at a Scenic City Women’s Network lunch and shared how the three questions have shaped my own spiritual growth through a series of trials and tribulations that tested my faith. You can hear this speech by clicking on the following link: www.christplace.org/pdfs/ScenicCityFeb2010.mp3

Leading Forward - by Templates para novo blogger