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A desire to finish well

I started rereading Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul, by Lance Witt. It was one of the books recommended at the SonScape Retreat. I agree with the author’s statement at the end of the first chapter.

I want to get to the finish line still in love with Jesus, still in love with the church, still in love with being a pastor. With my head held high, with my dignity and honor still intact, I want to look back over my shoulder and say it was worth it.

To that, I say, “Amen!” I want to finish well. But it means I need to guard my heart and feed my soul.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2019 in Personal growth, Quotes

 

Is the Resurrection too good to be True?

There are some things that sound too good to be true. Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. The Tooth Fairy. Fat free food that tastes good. Guilt free chocolate. Healthy fast food. Sasquatch. All of these things fall into that category. Some people, including some of Jesus’ disciples, would place the resurrection of Jesus Christ into the too-good-to-be-true category. They have a hard time believing it actually took place.

In Luke 24:36-53, Jesus presented his disciples with three types of evidence to convince them that he actually rose from the dead. Rather than continue in our skepticism and disbelief, we need to consider the evidence closely. There is more than enough evidence to believe—physical evidence, biblical evidence, and personal evidence. When we believe the evidence for the resurrection, our lives will be transformed.

Physical Evidence: Jesus Christ had a physical body (36-43). The disciples were meeting in the upper room trying to process the stories they were hearing that Jesus had risen from the dead. Suddenly, he appeared in their midst. Needless to say, they were stunned and shocked. Jesus asked them two questions—Why are you troubled? and Why are you doubting? He stretched out his hands and offered them as evidence that he was not a ghost. Like a sports fan marveling at a last second winning goal, home run, or three-point shot, they disbelieved with joy. If they still weren’t convinced, Jesus asked for some food and ate some broiled fish. Add up the evidence and you conclude that Jesus Christ had a physical body that could be seen and touched.

Biblical Evidence: Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecies of Scripture (44-46). Jesus took them on a journey through the three major sections of the Old Testament—the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms or Writings—and demonstrated that he is the central focus of Scripture.

 

Messiah would Suffer

Messiah would Rise from the dead

Law

Exodus 12

Exodus 3:6

Prophets

Isaiah 53

Hosea 6:2

Psalms

Psalm 22

Psalm 16:8-11

Add up the evidence and you conclude that Jesus Christ is the focus and fulfillment of Scripture.

Personal Evidence: The disciples were transformed (47-53). Jesus gave his disciples a mission to accomplish. They were to tell of what they had seen. Rather than being a change in direction, this too was spoken of in the Old Testament.

Mission

Law

Genesis 12:2, 3

Prophets

Isaiah 49:6

Quoted in Acts 13

Psalms

Psalm 22:27, 28

Before setting off on their mission, they were to wait for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. As the book of Acts testifies, the disciples were transformed and were never the same again. They went from cowardice to confidence, from fearful to boldness, from hiding to public, from worry to worship. Add up the evidence and you conclude that the disciples were transformed by the truth of the resurrection.

How should we respond to this account? Let me encourage you to examine the evidence. Ask God to answer your questions. Believe the message. Receive the gift of forgiveness. Let God transform your life.

When we believe the evidence for the resurrection, our lives will be transformed.

The Lord is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on April 21, 2019. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Chicopee Easter Egg Hunt 2019

The Chicopee Parks & Recreation Department sponsors a community Easter Egg Hunt the day before Easter. It is normally held at Szot Park, but due to a rainy, soggy day, this year’s event was held in the DuPont Middle School Gymnasium. First Central Bible Church sponsors a refreshment table at the event. We give out water, coffee, muffins, and bags with a coffee mug and literature about the church. It provides us with an opportunity to bless the community and connect with our neighbors on their turf rather than always waiting for them to come to us.

 

 

A worship prayer

Father, what do you want me to learn today? Not my neighbor, but me? How do you want me to respond? Please open my ears and my heart to your word. Amen.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Prayer, Worship

 

Before & After the Cross

After reading Romans 5:6-11, I constructed a chart that paints a before & after picture with the death of Christ being a hinge.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Before

 

 

Christ died for us

(6, 8, 10)

After

Weak, powerless (6)

 

Ungodly (6)

Justified (9)

Sinners (8)

Saved (9)

Enemies (10)

Reconciled (10)

 

Rejoicing (11)

This is part of the devotional I shared during our Good Friday service at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on April 19, 2019.

 

Russia 2019 – April Update

Praying friends,

Thanks to God’s grace and your prayers, my passport and visa to Russia arrived this morning. Considering I leave in 10 days, it arrived none too soon!

On this trip, I will be teaching a three-day course on the Harmony of the Gospels in two locations—Anapa and Elista, Russia. So far, 25 students have registered and the number will probably increase as we get closer to the date. Last year, 43 people from 4 cities attended the classes.

At this point, the preparations are essentially complete. My notes are ready to go. I made copies of my handouts in Russian to take along. I purchased short-term ministry trip insurance. The only thing left to do is get some dental work taken care of and then pack.

Here are some items for your intercessory efforts:

PRAISES

  • Passport and visa to Russia arrived in a timely manner without complications.
  • The trip is fully funded.
  • Carol and I enjoyed a wonderful, refreshing time at the SonScape Retreat in Colorado.
  • I am finally healthy, having gotten over a cold/cough that plagued me for two weeks.

PRAYER REQUESTS

  • The students who will attend.
  • Safe travel.
  • Good health.
  • Effective ministry.
  • Dental work—I’m getting a root canal in a tooth on Monday.
  • Good Friday and Easter services this weekend.
  • Pray for Carol as she remains at home.

While you are praying, could you also pray that God will provide the necessary funds for Carol and me to minister in Moscow this fall in October? We will be part of a team teaching a week-long seminar on leadership development—identifying and training young, emerging leaders in the church. So far, $825 has been given towards the $4,200 needed for the trip. My prayer is that God will provide the total amount by June so that we can purchase airfare and make plans. If you would like to support the trip financially, please send a check to First Central Bible Church, 50 Broadway St, Chicopee, MA, 01020. Checks should be made out to FCBC with “Moscow Conference” in the notation line.

Thanks so much for your prayers, encouragement, and support. I’m grateful.

Mark Wheeler

 

Preview of Good Friday & Easter services