Are You Still Thinking about the Resurrection?

The national holiday of Easter is over, but are you still thinking about Jesus? Are you still thinking about His resurrection?

Unfortunately, for many “Christians” the only time they think about the risen Savior and attend worship service is on Easter Sunday. This idea is completely foreign to the New Testament! In the gospel we read about the early Christians coming together every first day of the week (Sunday) to worship God. Every Sunday they came together to remember the death of Jesus and by implication, His resurrection from the dead. They remembered these events by partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; Acts 20:7).

But even beyond remembering the Lord’s resurrection on Sunday, God expects us to remember the resurrection of His Son all the time. The Apostle Paul emphasizes this in the verse below.

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.”

–  Timothy 2:8

Paul says that the resurrection needs to constantly be on the forefront of our minds each and every day. Every day…

  • We need to remember that the resurrection is the most the significant event not just in religious history, but in human history! It impacted the entire world!
  • We need to remember how it fulfilled a promise made by Jesus. Jesus foretold that He would be killed by evil men and raised three days later (Mark 10:33-34).
  • We need to remember that through, it Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God, was verified (Romans 1:4). It verified that Jesus has the power to save us from our sins.
  • We need to remember how He was seen alive by hundreds of eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).
  • We need to remember how many of the eyewitnesses risked their lives testifying to others about what they saw (Acts 2:23-24, 32; 4:10).
  • We need to remember how it confirms that there is coming a Judgment Day and Jesus will be our judge (Acts 17:30-31).
  • We need to remember how it validates the preaching of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:14).
  • We need to remember how it validates our faith (1 Corinthians 15:17).
  • We need to remember how it gives hope to those who die in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:18).
  • We need to remember how it is the core of the gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Without the resurrection of Christ there is no legitimate reason for one to become a Christian!

As you can see, the importance of the resurrection cannot be overstated. Because of what it means and provides for us, it must be constantly in and on our minds.

Easter may be over. Sunday may still be a few days away. Be the significance of the resurrection still remains! Will you make sure to be ever mindful of it?

– Shawn Jeffries

 

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When Heaven Rejoices

On Monday night they did it again! For the sixth time in their history the North Carolina Tar Heels won the NCAA National Championship. They beat Gonzaga 71-65 in the title game.

If you are a Tar Heels fan, then you probably didn’t sleep much last night. You probably spent much of the night celebrating and rejoicing over your team winning the big game. While there was nothing wrong with that, it is interesting to consider the things that excite us and cause us to rejoice and celebrate.

  • For many (like me) sports does this. When their favorite team wins the championship they jump; they shout; they scream; they high-five. They buy the championship t-shirt and hat. They watch the big game over and over again on their DVR. They brag and boast to their friends on Facebook.
  • Other people are excited about musical concerts. When they attend one they will applaud and celebrate over the sound of a person’s music.
  • And still others get very excited when they experience a personal achievement. Whether it is getting a promotion on their job. Or, hearing news about a pregnancy. Or, hearing someone accept an offer they made on a house.

In life we can find ourselves celebrating over a variety of different things. But what about God? What about those in heaven? What causes them to celebrate?

While this may sound like a weird question, it is one that Jesus addresses in the gospel. In Luke 15 Jesus talks about three instances when people celebrated.

  • In verses 3-7, He talks about the shepherd who has 100 sheep. When he loses one he searches diligently until he finds it. When it is found, he rejoices and urges his neighbors to do the same.
  • In verses 8-9, He talks about a woman who loses a coin that is very precious to her. She searches diligently and carefully until she finds it. When it is found, she calls her friends and neighbors together saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I lost!”
  • In verses 11-32, He talks about a father who loses his son. His son wanted his inheritance early so he could go out into the world and waste it on sinful living. When the boy comes to his senses and returns home the father rejoices and throws a huge celebration.

Why did Jesus tell these stories? The answer is found in verses 7 and 10. Jesus uses these stories (parables) to illustrate how God and His angels respond when one sinner repents. While the world celebrates sports, concerts, and personal achievements, those in heaven celebrate when a sinner comes to God. Those in heaven throw a party when a lost soul humbly decides to seek God’s forgiveness. That is what matters most to God!

What about you? Have you given heaven a reason to rejoice? If not, will you? If you currently live a life of sin (a life which is outside of the will of God) will you stop and come to God? If you will, like the lost boy’s father, your heavenly Father will also accept and welcome you. The angels will celebrate the reunion. They will take special notice of your decision and throw a party in heaven!

Will you give heaven the opportunity to rejoice over the most important matter in the world?

– Shawn Jeffries

Sunday’s Are Always Super

Yesterday marked one of the most important days of the year for many people in this country. At 5:30 central time the New England Patriots faced off with the Atlanta Falcons for the biggest prize (the Lombardi trophy) in the biggest game (the Super Bowl). The NFL’s Super Bowl is a HUGE deal in the minds of many. It is the largest single day sporting event in the world (over 1 billion people will view this game on television worldwide). Of the top 10 most watched American television programs of all time nine of them are Super Bowls. Commercials sell for about $5 million per 30 seconds!

While Sunday is deemed “super” for many people, for Christians every Sunday is super. Every Sunday is extremely significant for Christians, not because of some sporting event, but because of the key events that happened on this day 2,000 years ago.

  • It was on a Sunday (the first day of the week) when our Lord Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared to many of His disciples (John 20:1-18). The resurrection lies at the very foundation of the Christian faith. If Jesus was not raised that Sunday morning He was nothing more than a liar and deceiver (Matthew 16:21; John 2:19-22). If Jesus was not raised than that means that God the Father was not pleased with His sacrifice and we are still lost in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:13-19). But thank God that the tomb was found empty on Sunday morning! Praise the Lord that on the first day of the week Jesus was found to be victorious over Satan and death! As someone once said, “When Jesus rose from the dead He transformed your tomb from a permanent residence to temporary housing.”
  • Sunday was also the day when the Lord’s church was established. Jesus promised to build a church (a universal body of saved people) in Matthew 16:18. In Acts 2:1 we learn that it was on Pentecost when this promise was fulfilled. Pentecost was a Jewish feast day under the Law of Moses. It took place 50 days after the Jews partook of the Passover. It also always took place on the first day of the week (Sunday). That means it was on a Sunday when the Lord began “adding to the church day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
  • Since the resurrection and establishment of the church took place on Sunday, it would only make sense to find Sunday being significant to Christians in the Bible. It would only make sense that we find saints coming together on Sunday to partake of the Lord’s Supper and give generously to God (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). It would only make sense that Sunday is a day of worship where God’s people gather to hear preaching, pray, and sing praises to God.

Let us be mindful of these things as we anticipate each Sunday. Let us always remember that Sunday is the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10). It is a day when disciples gather to worship God and encourage each other (Hebrews 10:23-25). It is a day when saints are reminded of many important things pertaining to their faith.

There is nothing wrong with watching the Super Bowl. But let us not get so absorbed in the hype surrounding the biggest game of the year that we forget what really makes Sunday super.

– Shawn Jeffries

Freedom

We live in troubled times. It appears that our country is more divided than it has been in a long time. After our current president was sworn in last Friday, millions of Americans spent the weekend protesting their displeasure. In major cities across the country there were people marching and loudly voicing their displeasure for the direction of the country.

It is certainly discouraging to see how divided we are. In fact, if we just spent an hour watching the news over the past few days, we might think that we live in one of the worst countries in the world. But the truth is, despite all the protest (despite all the anger and pessimism of many) we still live in the greatest country in the world! Our country is great because we have something of great importance and yet it is often taken for granted. We have freedom.

  • Freedom to choose our own path. We live in a country where we can not only dream big, but we can move towards achieving those dreams. We can be doctors and lawyers. We can own businesses. We can be teachers and engineers. We can work hard and accumulate wealth. Our children can get educated and aspire to be whatever they want.
  • Freedom to go anywhere at any time. You need to go to Walmart today? You need to visit someone in their home? You want to go to the mall in Cool Springs, or even to visit New York or California? If you have the resources and the time, go! In this country you have the freedom to go anywhere you want at any time. It is totally up to you.
  • Freedom to vote. I know millions are not happy with the outcome of the recent election (the truth is every election has a group of unhappy folks), but what a blessing it is to have a say in our political process. What a blessing it is to be able to vote and choose our leaders. I have been many places where the people did not have the privilege of voting. In some cases they may have been allowed to vote, but if they didn’t vote a certain way they could be arrested or even killed!
  • Freedom of religion. There are Christians across the globe who would do anything to have this privilege. Our brethren in the first century would have loved to have had this privilege. Instead many of them were arrested, beaten, and killed for their faith (Acts 4:18-20, 23-31; Revelation 2:13). We have the privilege of being able to get up on Sunday morning to go and worship God without fear of any kind of interference from our government. In fact, we have the protected right to worship in our country! We have the protected right to teach the Bible and spread the gospel to others! Unfortunately, so often many struggle with taking advantage of this privilege.

Regardless of whether the person you voted for won or not, don’t lose sight of the blessings of freedom. Don’t take for granted how wonderful it is to live in a free country! Millions of people in the world would do anything to have all the freedoms that come with being an American.

The question is: do you have the freedom that Jesus died to give you? Jesus didn’t die so you can have the freedom that comes with being an American citizen. Jesus died so you can be set free from sin (Romans 5:8-10; 6:17-18). There are many Americans who have all the freedoms mentioned above, but they are still slaves of the terrible master of sin (John 8:34). As a result, they will die lost in their sins (John 8:24). Don’t let that be you! Surrender to Jesus. Obey the truth because only it can set you free (John 8:32).

– Shawn Jeffries

Never Give Up

In 2016 did you go through feelings of disappointment? Did you ever get frustrated because you felt like you kept stumbling in your walk with God? If so, please understand that you are not alone. Servants of God that we can read about in the Bible found themselves going through the same types of things.

  • Moses, the great leader of Israel, was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because there was an occasion when he disobeyed God. When Israel was thirsty and begging for water, Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it like God commanded (Numbers 20:8-12). God allowed water to still come out of the rock, but He was very angry with Moses’ decision.
  • Samson broke his vow to God by telling Delilah about his covenant with God. Because of his disobedience God took his supernatural strength from him and allowed the Philistines to capture him (Judges 16:1-27).
  • Eli invited God’s judgment on his entire household because he did not rebuke his sons for the sins they committed in the tabernacle. Eli was a good priest and judge, but a terrible father (1 Samuel 3:10-14).
  • David (a man after God’s own heart) committed adultery with Bathsheba and tried to cover his sin by having her husband, Uriah, killed in battle (2 Samuel 11and 12). He also took a census of the people toward the end of his reign. This greatly angered the Lord (maybe because it showed David trusted more in his army than in the Lord). This decision brought the judgment of God upon the kingdom of Israel (2 Samuel 24).
  • In an effort to save his own life, Peter denied the Lord three times (Matthew 26:69-75). This was something he promised he would not do (Matthew 26:35).
  • Saul of Tarsus went from house to house dragging Christians out of their homes and throwing them in jail. He also consented to the murder of Stephen (Acts 8:1-4).

These are examples of servants of God who made some serious mistakes in their lives. They went through moments of disappointment and defeat. But the great thing about their stories is that they did not let those moments utterly destroy their faith. They took responsibility for their mistakes. They repented. They picked themselves up and continued to serve the Lord.

(1) Even though he himself would not be able to enter, Moses still equipped Joshua to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land after his death (Deuteronomy 31:1-8). (2) Samson was vindicated by God against the Philistines (Judges 16:28-30). (3) Eli accepted his punishment and continued to serve God (1 Samuel 3:18). (4) David repented and also accepted his punishments (2 Samuel 12:13; 24:10-14). (5) Peter turned back to Jesus and went on to preach the gospel (Acts 2). (6) Saul of Tarsus became a Christian and an apostle and went on to write much of the New Testament (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Like these servants of God, there will be times when we go through moments of disappointment and defeat. But we must never abandon our faith. We must always pick ourselves up and return to Jesus (1 John 1:8-10). The ultimate failure is not when we fail, but when we give up as a result of having failed. Even after our failures, God can continue to use us for His glory. The question is, if I have been failing God will I continue feeling sorry for myself and come up with excuses as to why I am not where God wants me to be? Or, will I get up, dust myself off, seek God’s forgiveness, and trust in His ability to still use me?

– Shawn Jeffries

A Literal Black Friday

Image result for darkness when jesus died on the cross

Did you do any shopping on Black Friday? Most Americans did. Black Friday is often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Millions of people rush to the nearest Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, or Macy’s in order to find the best deals on big screen televisions, tablets, video game consoles, clothing, smart phones, Blue Ray/DVD players, and a host of other items. Each year I try to tell myself I won’t get involved with Black Friday, but the super deals and ability to save hundreds of dollars consistently changes my mind. I am a huge fan of getting more, while paying less!

Where did the term “Black Friday” come from? Many retailers are said to traditionally operate at a financial loss (“in the red”) from January to November. But Black Friday indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or get “in the black.” For a store like Wal-Mart, their net income is positive starting on January 1, and Black Friday can boost their year to date net profit from $14 billion to $19 billion. I always thought the name “Black Friday” was given due to aggressive crowds in many stores. There is just something negative about annual reports of assaults, shootings, and throngs of people trampling on other shoppers in an attempt to get the best deal on the product they want before it runs out.

Our culture is obsessed with the Friday after Thanksgiving. But did you know there is a “Black Friday” in the Bible? Don’t misunderstand. There wasn’t a day when hundreds of Jews went to a Macy’s or Wal-Mart to purchase expensive products for half the price. But there was a Friday in which the land of Judea was literally dark for hours because God’s plan to save us from our sins was at work.

Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

                                                                                                            – Matthew 27:41-46

Although the death of the perfect and sinless Son of God provided a literal dark time on the face of the earth, spiritually men had never seen anything brighter. Because of sin, every person of an accountable age deserves to be lost in hell forever (Romans 3:23; 6:23). But through the death of Jesus the penalty for our sins was paid (Romans 5:6-9). Now we can be reconciled to God and be saved. This is only made possible because 2,000 years ago Deity stepped out of heaven, walked on this earth, lived a perfect life, and gave Himself as a sin sacrifice.

What a paradox we find at the cross! What happened at the cross was the darkest moment in human history (a literal black Friday). And yet, mankind has never seen a brighter moment. While men are killing the Son of God He was giving the most wonderful gift ever given to man – the gift of salvation. While there is nothing wrong with shopping on the day our culture calls “Black Friday,” never forget to thank God for the events that took place on that Friday 2,000 years ago.

– Shawn Jeffries

 

Just Do It!

One of the best slogans in advertising is that of the shoe company Nike. Since 1988 their slogan has been “Just do it.” It often appears alongside the Nike “swoosh” logo.

Nike’s slogan actually has an interesting backstory. Advertising executive Dan Wieden credits his inspiration for it to the last words of Gary Wilmore. Gary Wilmore was someone who several decades ago gained international notoriety because he was the first person in 10 years to be executed under the death penalty in the United States. Convicted on 2 counts of murder, Gilmore was executed by firing squad in 1977 in Utah. When asked for any last words, Gilmore replied with three words: “Just do it.”

Interestingly enough, not only does the principle of Gilmore’s last words make for a good slogan for Nike, but they also accurately define what our lives should be all about when it comes to responding to Bible teaching. When it comes to responding to God’s word, God wants us to “just do it!”

This is something that is emphasized by the inspired writer James.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”                   – James 1:22-25

Do the words of James describe you? Are you a doer of God’s word? Or, are you someone who merely hears and is living a life of deception?

  • Do you constantly hear sermons and teaching from the Bible, but never personally apply the things you are learning? Or, are you someone who hears and applies like those Peter preached to in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:36-38, 41)?
  • Do you read your Bible several times a day, but constantly fail to make application? Or, are you someone who reads, grows in knowledge, and makes an effort to be transformed and changed by the things you are reading (Psalm 119:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17)?
  • Do you faithfully go to worship services and Bible classes, but fail to be faithful to the Lord? Or, are you someone who strives to please and glorify God 24 hours a day and 7 days a week (Luke 9:23; Colossians 1:10)?
  • Do you constantly do your Bible lesson before going to class, but fail to live the things you have learned? Or, are you someone who does a Bible lesson with the strong intent of making application to the godly principles you are learning?

The Bible is very clear in how we should be able to answer these questions. Instead of being merely hearers and readers of God’s word, God demands that we be doers! God demands that we understand that hearing His word will do us no good if we don’t apply it to our lives.

Will you challenge yourself to be both a hearer and a doer? After learning something from the Bible, you will always make sure you take action and apply it to your life? Being this kind of person will lead to blessings in your life (James 1:25). Being this kind of person will determine what words you will hear from Jesus on the Judgment Day (Matthew 7:21).

– Shawn Jeffries