Rather than host an Easter Outreach on our property, First Central Bible Church joined with the City of Chicopee for their Easter Egg Hunt. This is our second year to participate in the event. We hosted a table where we gave out coffee, water, and snacks. We also gave out free bags which included brochures about the church. Our team served the coffee, gave out the bags, and had many conversations with people. The event allows us to bless the community and be present in a non-threatening manner. Who knows where the conversations and brochures might lead?
Monthly Archives: March 2018
During the Good Friday service at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, I shared a few thoughts on 1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
- “He himself” – Jesus was personally involved. He died in my place.
- “bore our sins” – actually comes first in word order in the Greek New Testament. Peter wanted to emphasize that Christ died for our sins.
- “die to sin and live to righteousness” – not only did Christ free us from the power and penalty of sin, he gave us the power to live differently, to live righteously.
- “By his wounds you have been healed” – this speaks of spiritual healing, not physical healing. The verb is past tense. It has already been accomplished.
I had people write their name of the card, signifying that Jesus died for their sins. They then nailed that card to the cross to drive home the point. Afterwards, people took communion before exiting quietly.
When trying to answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” one has to consider the prophecies of the Old Testament. The New Testament explains that the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah found their fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Here are 14 prophecies about the Messiah that were fulfilled on Good Friday. Click on the link if you want to download a pdf copy of the chart.
Old Testament Prophecy
New Testament Fulfillment
|Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. ||Psalm 41:9||Mark 14:10||Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.|
|“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered;||Zechariah 13:7||Mark 14:50||And they all left him and fled.|
|And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver.||Zechariah 11:12||Matthew 26:15||“What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.|
|I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.||Isaiah 50:6||Matthew 27:26, 30||… and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified … And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.|
|they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.||Psalm 22:18||John 19:24||So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”|
|He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.||Isaiah 53:7||Matthew 27:13, 14||Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.|
|But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.||Isaiah 53:5||John 19:17, 18||and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.|
|… when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced …||Zechariah 12:10||John 19:34||But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.|
|… they have pierced my hands and feet||Psalm 22:16||Luke 24:39||See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.|
|yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.||Isaiah 53:12||Luke 23:34||And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.|
|My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?||Psalm 22:1||Matthew 27:46||And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”|
|and was numbered with the transgressors;||Isaiah 53:12||Luke 23:33||And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.|
|It is finished. (In the Hebrew.)||Psalm 22:31||John 19:30||… he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.|
|And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death,||Isaiah 53:9||Matthew 27:57-60||When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.|
 All Scripture taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Because the Sally Browns of the world are looking for answer, I must study, prepare, and be ready to give an answer. Since people are looking to me for guidance, I need to be in the Scriptures on a regular basis. Not just preparing the next sermon or lesson, but seeking to grow in my knowledge of God and his word.
1 Peter 3:15 – but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Book Review: The Kremlin Conspiracy: A Novel, by Joel C. Rosenberg
From the very first sentence, “Louisa Sherbatov had just turned six, but she would never turn seven,” author Joel C. Rosenberg pulls the reader into his latest novel, The Kremlin Conspiracy, and doesn’t let go until the final page.
The book focuses on two main character. Oleg Kraskin is the son-in-law and close advisor to the Russian president. Marcus Ryker is a dedicated Marine and former member of the United States Secret Service. Initially, neither one is aware of the other one nor how much they have in common. But as Rosenberg weaves the details of the story together, their lives intertwine as they work together to try and change history.
Like many of the author’s books, this one describes event that could easily have been grabbed from the front page of an international newspaper. Russia’s president is a rising czar who wants to restore the glories of the former Soviet Union and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.
Like the author’s other books, he weaves in characters with a distinctive Christian witness and incorporates the gospel in an easy, nonthreatening manner. A fascinating, entertaining book you won’t be able to put down.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/ book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Spring is the season of expectations.
In MLB baseball, every team starts out in first place, believing that this is their year. In the NFL, teams prepare for the draft, hoping they get the right player to help put them into the Super Bowl.
Around the house, people begin their spring cleaning to declutter the storage room or clean out the garage. Others plant flowers and resolve to rid their lawn of crabgrass, moss, or dandelions.
Palm Sunday is a day that is all about expectations. The king is coming and he is going to make changes. We tend to think of Palm Sunday as a day of celebration. We have children waving palm branches. We sing songs of praise. But after the confetti settles, what are we left with? Is the king on his throne? Do we all live happily ever after?
The reality is that Palm Sunday is a declaration of war, not a day of celebration. The king throws down the gauntlet and pushes for a confrontation. Palm Sunday is a day when expectations clash head on.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus Christ presents his claim to be the Messiah. He introduces his credentials. He orchestrates events that fulfill the Scriptures. He calls attention to himself and challenges the religious establishment. This was the only time in his ministry when Jesus actually planned and promoted a public demonstration. Up to this event, he had cautioned people not to tell who he was. He had deliberately avoided public scenes.
Now, Jesus throws down the gauntlet. He publicly presents his credentials. The responses he receives range from praise and adoration to statements of personal expectations to outright resistance and disrespect.
Three events immediately precede Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and help explain what occurs. (1) For the third time, Jesus predicts his imminent death (Matthew 20:17-19). (2) In a discussion on rank and privilege, Jesus explains that greatness is based on service (Matthew 20:20-28). (3) In a nation of spiritually blind people, Jesus gives sight and salvation to the blind (Matthew 20:29-34).
Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday is one of the few events of his life recorded in all four gospels. By weaving them together, one can gain a composite view of the chronology of the events that took place on that day.
Jesus makes preparations for his entrance into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-3, 6, 7a; Mark 11:1-7a; Luke 19:28-35a; John 12:2, 12). As Jesus departs from Bethany, he sends two of his disciples into a small village, Bethphage. He gives them detailed instructions in order to enable them to fetch a donkey on which he plans to ride into Jerusalem. The disciples carry out Christ’s command.
Jesus starts riding toward Jerusalem (Matthew 21:4, 5, 7; Mark 11:7b; Luke 19:35b; John 12:14, 15). The disciples throw their garments on both of the animals, and when it becomes clear that Jesus wishes to ride upon the colt, they assist him in mounting it. Jesus starts riding toward Jerusalem. Jesus is deliberately staging the manner of his entrance into Jerusalem to fulfill the prophetic expectations of Zechariah 9:9.
People accompanying Jesus from Bethany spread their outer garments on the path, while others cut branches from the trees to help pave the way (Matthew 21:8; Mark 11:8; Luke 19:36). Between the garments and the branches, they are giving Jesus the “red carpet treatment.”
Pilgrims already in Jerusalem who had heard about the raising of Lazarus join in the celebration (John 12:1, 12, 13a, 18). The crowds in Jerusalem pour out of the city to join with those on the road to welcome the Messiah.
As the two groups meet, the enthusiasm mounts (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9, 10; Luke 19:37, 38; John 12:13b). As the crowd moved along, they shouted words of praise, celebrating the arrival of Israel’s Savior, the Messiah-King. Hosanna is literally a plea to “save now.”
The excitement reaches a climax as those who had seen the resurrection of Lazarus bear testimony (John 12:7).
Beside themselves with envy, the Pharisees appeal to Jesus to stop the celebration (Luke 19:39, 40).
As Jesus sees the city of Jerusalem, he weeps (Luke 19:41-44). Jesus knows that the praise will soon turn to scorn and the voices crying, “Hosanna!” will soon be shouting, “Crucify him!”
As Jesus enters Jerusalem, the entire city is stirred (Matthew 21:10, 11; Mark 11:11, 12). Everyone is asking, “Who is this?”
On Palm Sunday, the question is asked, “Who is Jesus?” (Matthew 21:10). Some think he is the Messiah (Matthew 21:9). Others believe he is just a prophet (Matthew 21:11). What the people missed is that Jesus had already presented his credentials.
- Jesus is the suffering servant who will die for his people.
- He has power over sickness and death.
- Jesus is omniscient, knowing all.
- He is Lord of all. He fulfills prophecy.
- He is the king who brings peace.
- He accepts worship.
- He is compassionate.
Palm Sunday declares boldly that Jesus is the Sovereign King who brings Salvation.
Book Review: A Call for Courage: Living with Power, Truth, and Love in an Age of Intolerance and Fear, by Michael Anthony
Far too many Christ followers are afraid to address the ills of society. They cower in the corner and hide from the attacks of the world. Rather than circle the wagons, pastor and author Michael Anthony believes we need to sit up, stand up, and speak out. He wants to mobilize and equip followers of Christ to walk by faith rather than by fear. That is the theme of his book, A Call for Courage: Living with Power, Truth, and Love in an Age of Intolerance and Fear.
In the first few chapters, the author addresses some of the areas where Christianity and moral values are under attack. He speaks about intolerance, religious freedom, sexual orientation, mind control, haters, and other societal issues. Rather than presenting points and counterpoints, his approach is to stress how to speak the truth in love. While speaking out about our convictions, we should do it in a winsome manner.
The strength of the book is in chapter 12, “Battle Plan,” where he describes 20 methods or strategies to stand up and speak out about issues of concern. Each chapter ends with a list of “Courageous Humility in Action,” practical ideas you can implement in daily life. The final chapter aims at “cultivating a courageous, humble church.”
The weakness of the book is that much of his ideas on based on his personal experience in how he addressed the issues. While encouraging, the reader might feel like they cannot identify with what he is doing. He also invites readers to participate in his movement, the national week of repentance, and his website couragematters.com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.