VIDEO Tour The Garden Tomb

Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. John 19:41

For centuries, people have tried to disguise the effects of death by creating gardens around it. A vivid example in America is California’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Hubert Eaton planned it in the early 1900s. He was a firm believer in life after death, and he designed the cemetery to be filled with “towering trees, sweeping lawns, splashing fountains, beautiful statuary, cheerful flowers, [and] noble memorial architecture.” He began the tradition of “Memorial Gardens” rather than simply graveyards.

That’s okay with us. For believers in Christ, it seems fitting to be buried in a garden. Our Lord was buried in a garden—and from a garden He arose.

The ruin of the world occurred in a garden of life, and the redemption of the world occurred in a garden of death, which became a place of resurrection! Whenever you see a beautiful garden, think of the Resurrection. Christ the Lord has risen, and so shall we!

Folded the grave-clothes, tomb filled with light, as the angels announce Christ is risen! Stuart Townsend


John 19:23-42 – Skip Heitzig

 

Jesus suffered a gruesome death on the cross. Not only that, but the majority of his followers abandoned Him in His greatest hour of need. In this message we examine the Roman practice of crucifixion, and what Jesus must have felt as He paid the atoning sacrifice to save us from our sins.

This teaching is from our series 43 John – 2016 with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.

The Mystery of Believing

Through the miracle of redemption, Saul of Tarsus was instantly changed from a strong-willed and forceful Pharisee into a humble and devoted bondservant of the Lord Jesus.

There is nothing miraculous or mysterious about the things we can explain. We control what we are able to explain, consequently it is only natural to seek an explanation for everything. It is not natural to obey, yet it is not necessarily sinful to disobey. There can be no real disobedience, nor any moral virtue in obedience, unless a person recognizes the higher authority of the one giving the orders. If this recognition does not exist, even the one giving the orders may view the other person’s disobedience as freedom. If one rules another by saying, “You must do this,” and, “You will do that,” he breaks the human spirit, making it unfit for God. A person is simply a slave for obeying, unless behind his obedience is the recognition of a holy God.

Many people begin coming to God once they stop being religious, because there is only one master of the human heart— Jesus Christ, not religion. But “Woe is me” if after seeing Him I still will not obey (Isaiah 6:5 , also see Isaiah 6:1). Jesus will never insist that I obey, but if I don’t,I have already begun to sign the death certificate of the Son of God in my soul. When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say, “I will not obey,” He will never insist. But when I do this, I am backing away from the recreating power of His redemption. It makes no difference to God’s grace what an abomination I am, if I will only come to the light. But “Woe is me” if I refuse the light (see John 3:19-21).

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

God engineers circumstances to see what we will do. Will we be the children of our Father in heaven, or will we go back again to the meaner, common-sense attitude? Will we stake all and stand true to Him? “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” The crown of life means I shall see that my Lord has got the victory after all, even in me.  The Highest Good—The Pilgrim’s Song Book, 530 L

From Condemnation to Unconditional Love

Ephesians 6:4

If you have kids, you’re no doubt aware of your unique opportunity to show God’s love to them. You can even be the one to lead them into a personal relationship with Jesus. As parents, however, we can sometimes become a stumbling block for our children rather than a bridge to God. For example, out of a desire for their sons and daughters to be successful, some parents keep raising the bar. For instance, if your child brings home an A, do you look for an A+ next time?

Unless we are careful, our children may mistake their age-appropriate efforts as substandard and disappointing. Later on, they could assume that pleasing God is similarly out of reach.

As we encourage our children to achieve, we must be balanced and affirm who they are, apart from their performance. When we do, they’ll know we appreciate them and that God values them, too.

Of course, the desire of all Christian parents is for their children to acknowledge dependence on God and to receive Christ as Savior. At the end of the day, our own acceptance and appreciation will help them embrace God’s unconditional love and know that He’s both forgiven their sins and erased all condemnation (Rom. 8:1).

Pure Word

“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” (Proverbs 30:5)

When the inspired writer of Proverbs testified here that God’s Word was “pure,” he did not use the usual word for, say, moral purity or metallic purity. Instead, he asserted in effect that every word of God had been refined and purified, as it were in a spiritual furnace, so that any and all contaminants had been purged out, leaving only the pure element.

The same truth is found in the great psalm of the Scriptures (Psalm 119). “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it” (Psalm 119:140). David used the same word in another psalm, where it is translated “tried” in the sense of “tested for purity.” “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him” (Psalm 18:30). The word for “buckler” in this verse is the same as for “shield” in our text. Thus, God equips with a perfect shield against the weapons of any foe, because “His way is perfect” and “every word” in Scripture has been made “pure” before the Spirit of God approved its use by the human writer.

This surely tells us that the human writer of Scripture (that is, Moses or David or John or whomever), with all his human proneness to mistakes or other inadequacies, was so controlled by the Holy Spirit that whatever he actually wrote had been purged of any such deficiencies. Thus, his final written text had been made perfectly “pure,” free from any defects. This control applies to “every word” so that we can legitimately refer to the Scriptures as verbally inspired and inerrant throughout.

As the apostle Paul stressed, our spiritual armor in the battle against evil is “the shield of faith” and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:16-17). HMM

Have An Unworthy Conception of God?

For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.

—Psalm 89:6-7

 

Christianity at any given time is strong or weak depending upon her concept of God. And I insist upon this and I have said it many times, that the basic trouble with the Church today is her unworthy conception of God. I talk with learned and godly people all over the country, and they’re all saying the same thing.

Unbelievers say, “Take your cowboy god and go home,” and we get angry and say, “They’re vile heathen.” No, they’re not vile heathen—or at least that’s not why they say that. They can’t respect our “cowboy god.” And since evangelicalism has gone overboard to “cowboy religion,” its conception of God is unworthy of Him. Our religion is little because our god is little…. We do not see God as He is….

A local church will only be as great as its conception of God. An individual Christian will be a success or a failure depending upon what he or she thinks of God. It is critically important that we have a knowledge of the Holy One, that we know what God is like.   AOG041-042

O God, help me to capture once again a realization of Your greatness. May the God I represent in my ministry be a God worthy of lavish worship. Amen.

 

Dig Out the Old Wells

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

—James 4:3

 

Friend, we must dig out the old wells! We must recognize our dryness of spirit, our coldness of heart. We must make the decision to renew our desire for God, for the outpouring of His Spirit and for the seasons of rejoicing as we become more like Jesus.

Many a congregation has been renewed and blessed when believers have been willing to reopen the Bible wells of reconciliation and confession. When Christians are harboring hard feelings against each other, they need to be reconciled. They need to confess and ask forgiveness.

I refer here to actual sins and faults. There are people in continual bondage to mere trifles and inconsequential matters. God has given us the Holy Spirit to be our prompter and our guide. And He has given us good sense as well to go along with our consciences. MMG042

We…[try] to substitute praying for obeying; and it simply will not work….Prayer is never an acceptable substitute for obedience. OGM055-056

 

The Unexpected Jesus

Luke 19:1-9

Zacchaeus was a wealthy Jew who lived in Jericho and made a handsome

living as a tax collector for the Romans. Because of his occupation, he was

viewed by his contemporaries as a sinner before God and a traitor to his country.

Despite his ostracization by fellow Jews, Zacchaeus was not void of spiritual sensitivity. When he learned that Jesus was coming to the area, he determined that he must see the much-heralded Teacher whose preaching, teaching and miracle-working were having such a profound effect.

Because he was short, he climbed a sycamore-fig tree in order to get a good view of Jesus. It must have taken a good deal of fortitude for this rich, sophisticated businessman to throw caution to the wind, to run ahead of Jesus and His entourage and to scamper up a tree as he probably had not done since boyhood.

Amazingly, when Jesus reached the spot, He took notice of the figure hidden among the branches, and He addressed Zacchaeus.

The mass of humanity Crowding around the Master would not have expected Jesus to notice Zacchaeus, much less address him. But God Incarnate had thoughts that were not merely human thoughts. His ways, as the prophet Isaiah declared, are not our ways. So Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus.

Again the crowd was amazed. They might have expected Jesus to rebuke Zacchaeus for his traitorous ways, for serving as an agent of the Roman government, for seeking personal gain by charging more than the assessed tax. There is no way they could have been prepared to hear Jesus say: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately, I must stay at your house today.”

It was an invitation Zacchaeus could not refuse. We can assume that the Holy Guest spoke lovingly and directly to the chief tax collector of the district. And we can assume that the divine Visitor outlined the plan of salvation. These assumptions are based on the results of their meeting. We know, first of all, that Zacchaeus found salvation, for Jesus declared, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9). We know, also, that a great transformation had taken place in Zacchaeus. This man, who had accumulated a fortune through dishonest means, now stated freely, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).

What a marvelous change came to the life of one who had an unexpected encounter with Jesus Christ. And such unexpected encounters are still happening!

Robert E. Thomson, The War Cry

 

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