THE GIFT OF GOD

shepherds see angels

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

The greatest Christmas gift is Jesus Christ! We are impressed with the gifts which the Magi brought: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts were expensive and impressive. They inspire the giving of gifts during the Christmas season. However, the major giver for Christmas is God the Father, who gave his only begotten Son so that we might have forgiveness of our sins and gain an eternity in his presence.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Gifts are important at Christmas, are they not? Think of how the children look forward to Christmas day and the opening of gifts for which they have longed. Indeed, there are relatively few who are not enticed—and looking forward to receiving a gift at Christmas. We give Christmas gifts out of love. Sometimes we give Christmas gifts to impress. Some may even give Christmas gifts to outdo someone else in their giving. The purchase of Christmas gifts has become an important factor in our economy. We all know of Black Friday: the Friday after Thanksgiving, when the department stores claim to begin making a profit for the year. The commotion regarding Christmas has become an important economic factor for many businesses.

We read in Romans 3:24,

“…they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8)

We note that gifts are given without any expectation of payment on the part of the receiver. Thus, when we speak of salvation we see it as an act of God’s grace. We are undeserving; unable to repay!

Much of the Christmas music that we cherish and enjoy reminds us of the greatness and glory of our God—and that the true riches are to be found in him. There is a lesson from the gospel of John, chapter four, when Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman near the well.

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink’, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)

“Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born King;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!

Joyful, all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies;

With the angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings,

Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die,

Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to Give them second birth.”

CHRISTMAS IS A TIME TO HUMBLY RECEIVE THE GREAT GIFT THAT GOD GIVES US

IN JESUS CHRIST—AND TO EXPRESS OUR ADORATION OF HIM.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

 Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!

the nativity

Photo thanks to Amy Jung

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

We are now in the midst of the Advent Season, the four weeks that precede Christmas Day. It is the time that Christians remember and celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who emptied himself of many of his divine prerogatives, and came as a baby in order to come and dwell among us.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which you have in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)

Promises of the miraculous birth, life, death, and the powerful resurrection of our Savior are foretold in the Old Testament. Some of the passages, written more than one thousand years before the birth of the Savior; others hundreds of years before.

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feed, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” (Genesis 49:10)

The hope of the believing people of Israel was primarily in the good news of the coming Messiah in scores of passages.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7)

The greatness, the glory, the magnificence of the coming Messiah was celebrated by the prophets in the Old Testament—and also his suffering.

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)

One of the promises was that the Messiah would bring a good and perfect government. A major problem in our world continues to be the corruption and evil of many governments: leaders who use their position to benefit themselves at the expense of the people—whom they are supposed to serve.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Where is the peace? How is it that we have so little of it? Because when we fail to live by the teachings of scripture, we bring the roof down on our heads. Our Savior teaches us how to live in peace, and we are remiss in following him.

“So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

“Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:2,3)

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

These teaching apply to the nations as well as to individuals. If we say and do what we are taught to do, surely we will have an encouraging influence upon others.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

 Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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THANKSGIVING DAY, THURSDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2014

Thankyou-God-adjBy Dr. Foster H. Shannon

We give thanks to God for everything. He has given us our lives. He is the creator of everything: of the mountains, the oceans, the rivers, the lakes, the streams, planet Earth, the solar system, the entire universe. And he has created us in his image and called upon us to live lives that are worthy of him. He gives us home and family and friends.

He gives us the Bible so that we may understand his purposes and plans, so that we may know how to live healthy and happy lives. He warns us of the dangers that we face, how to avoid them, how to live through them. He does not give us his commandments and moral teachings to annoy us! Rather he seeks our well being, and we ignore him at our peril. We have all stumbled and fallen, disregarded his will, and taken our own course. We have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and need his favor. He has taken the consequences of our sin upon himself in the person of Jesus Christ, so that the Heavenly Father poured out his wrath on our sins in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of all who will call upon and trust him.

We properly thank God for the food and clothing and many other things that he gives us. But above and beyond all of that, we have the atoning work of Jesus Christ that makes possible a living eternal relationship with our God.

“since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:23,24)

“He saved us, not by deeds done by us in righteous, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal in the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10,27,28)

There is no greater gift, than the gift of salvation, which we have in Jesus Christ. May we thank him, and thank him, and thank him!

“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” (Abraham Lincoln)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

 Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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AN IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY

tree-by-water

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

A major problem for many Christians is that they do not read the Bible often enough. We may be inclined to depend on the Sunday morning sermon or on the Sunday School Class. These are important, but they are not the end of the line. Again and again in the Bible we are urged to value, to read, to study, to meditate on the scriptures.

According to the Gallup Poll, more than half of Americans believe that the Bible is the word of God. Here are the Bible reading habits according to Gallup: 12% say they read the Bible monthly; 21% say they read the Bible weekly; 16% say they read the Bible every day. 41% say that they rarely or never read the Bible.

“This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous and then you shall have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)

“You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” (I Peter 1:23)

I have been teaching a Sunday School course on “Ten Outstanding Christians” at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, Redondo Beach. Right now I am finishing up the last five, week by week: George Whitefield, Hannah More, William Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, and William Ewart Gladstone. Hannah More and four men (of course, there were many others) nonetheless, were the leaders in a movement, with strong Christian foundations that transformed England for one hundred and fifty years. They varied in their backgrounds and their talents, but this they had in common: they were devoted students of the Bible—and on its teachings, they built their lives.

The Christian is to grow in the grace of our Lord from the time of new birth until he/she enters Heaven.

Thus, I Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation…”

In your reading of the Bible, it is important to set aside a time every day for study and prayer.

“O Lord, in the morning you do hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you, and watch.”  ~Ps.5:3

The Bible must be read and studied one book at a time. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. In my opinion, it is better to spend at least one-half of your reading time in the New Testament. It is good in your study of the Bible to have a notebook at hand, and to write some notes and to outline (not too complex) the book you are reading. If you are fairly new in Bible reading, here in my recommendation for a starter: Matthew, John, Acts, Romans, Genesis, Ephesians.

“Blessed is the person who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

 Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!





 

JESUS DOES NOT WANT YOU TO WORRY

GodsYellowPages-sm2

Why Worry if you can pray? If you CAN’T pray, THEN you have something to worry about!

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7)

What do we worry about?

1. What do other people think of me?

2. Will I be able to pay my bills next month?

3. Do I have an unrecognized disease or ailment?

4. Will I succeed in getting a job?

5. Will we have enough money when I retire?

6. What does God think of me?

The Philippians passage reminds us that we are not to be anxious or worry about anything. It affirms that the remedy is in our prayer life: supplication, thanksgiving, and requests. Prayer is very important for everyone who believes in God. Worry and distress drain our energy. They cause us to concentrate on our problems rather than on the solutions. They cause us to lose focus and to let our imaginations run amuck, so that in our thought processes we seek to solve problems that will never arise. There is something about praying about these concerns that brings us to the assurance that we have not been left alone. If something is on our mind, it is very important that we share it with God.

“Cast all you anxieties on him for he cares about you.” (I Peter 5:7)

Thanksgiving helps us to remember what is good: The love of God, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that the destiny of everyone who believes in Jesus Christ is with God for all eternity. That God guides us into much that is good for us: righteousness, justice, compassion, goodness, truth, love for our neighbors. That God is concerned for our needs and will provide for them as we trust in him and seek to serve him.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat? Or What shall we drink? Or what shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

This scripture passage reminds us that our priorities are important. Some of our difficulties may result because we seek the wrong things. If we believe in Jesus Christ, we commit ourselves wholly to him; we are a part of his family. We trust in him, we enjoy him, we delight to do his will. We know that he is with us and will not fail us! It is true that times of unexpected crisis come, that we find greatly disappointing and even shattering. We should turn to God first, but we must also avail ourselves of friends and family. We should not go it alone!

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29:11,12)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!

 

DOES GOD ANSWER OUR PRAYERS?

Albert Durer’s Hands painted by his brother Albrecht Durer

Albert Durer’s Hands painted by his brother Albrecht Durer

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.  Matthew” 21:22
Prayer is exemplary in the Bible. We find it everywhere. There are many teachings on prayer; many commendations of prayer. Jesus is an example to us in his recourse to prayer—and the Bible is abundant in teaching and inviting us to pray. Jesus gave us instructions regarding prayer:

1) Don’t pray like the Pharisees who love to be heard in public for the impression that they can make. (Matthew 6:5)

2) Pray in private; “Go into your own room and close the door and pray there.” (Matthew 6:6)

3) “Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:46)

4) “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:28)

5) Jesus gave us a pattern of prayer in the Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed be thy
name—Thy kingdom come—Thy will be done…Give us this day our daily bread…Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

Prayer presumes a personal relationship with the living God. There are prerequisites to prayer: We must pray in faith, believing that God will hear and answer our prayers. We must pray according to the will of God;

“Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name; ask and you will receive that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)

If we affirm that God answers our prayers, we mean all of the following: That he will give us, sooner or later, what we have asked of him. That he will tell us to be patient and wait; the answer will come. That the answer will come because we have asked for something that is good for us or for others. That we are to be in harmony with God in our prayers.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7)

Jesus told the parable of the widow and the judge (John 18:1-8), who ignored her and refused to decide her case, because it was a small matter that was beneath him. However, she persisted, and continued to come back to court. He finally said, to get her off his back, “I will decide her case”.

“And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.”  (John 18:7)

Prayer does not mean that we put God under our control. We are to be submissive to God, who is amazingly great. He is not to be submissive to us. Prayer is not like Aladdin’s Lamp (just rub it and your wish will be fulfilled). Indeed, prayer is speaking with God. We should expect to listen as well as to speak. He speaks to us through the scriptures, through the Sunday sermon, through our consciences.

Many have recognized that there are five aspects to the complete prayer:
1) Adoration and praise
2) Confession
3) Thanksgiving
4) Supplication
5) Intercession

“Call to me and I will answer you—and will tell you great and hidden things which
you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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IS IT HARD TO BE A CHRISTIAN?

Jesus_Savior_Pilot_Me

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Is it hard to believe in God? It appears that many think that it is hard. They cite deficiencies in the scriptures; the failure of God to banish all evil, and Christians who are not true to their faith. It is said that the British philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell, an atheist, was asked—if he died and found himself standing before God, what would he say? He responded, “not enough evidence”.

Actually, the evidence is abundant. The scriptures say, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1,2) The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:19,20)

Jesus was asked by the pharisees, “Show us a sign from heaven.” The fact is that Jesus was daily performing miracles around them, giving sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, hearing to the deaf, feeding multitudes—but they wanted something special. They wanted to be compelled to believe! Jesus refused, although he pointed ahead to his resurrection by referring to Jonah who was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. It appears that if people are determined not to believe, nothing will change them.

The evidences for Christianity are many:

  • the evidence of design in the universe and in all of life
  • the consistency and reliability of the Bible
  • the person of Jesus Christ; no other human being is his equal
  • the public miracles of Jesus
  • the astounding resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • persons whose lives are radically transformed by their Savior
  • without righteous, justice, and goodness we are destitute without God

Our troubles, as human beings, are the consequence of our own wrongs and sins: we fight wars; we steal from one another; we murder people whom we hate or from whom we would take their possessions, we can be mean and cruel. I am speaking of the human race. We commit all kinds of sin, and then we ask why does not God do something about it? The answer is that God teaches us in the scriptures the kind of life that we should live. He reckons with our sin and in our inability to save ourselves in calling us to trust in him for our salvation. Every person on Earth has the opportunity and responsibility to believe in God; to study the scriptures; to confess Christ as Savior; to become engaged in the work of the kingdom of God. Is it hard to believe in God? Jesus said, “take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28,29)

What is the gain in following Jesus Christ?

  • We are forgiven by God of all of our sins
  • We become members of God’s family
  • Life has meaning and significance
  • Sanctification: we grow to become the persons that God would have
  • We live eternally in heaven with our Heavenly Father

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)


Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

Garden-Tomb-1

The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem, Israel – Photo courtesy of Your Divine Inspirations

 

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Easter Sunday is this week. It is the most recognized of all Christian celebrations. Why is it so significant? For many, it is a spring festival with parades, Easter egg hunts, dressing up, possibly remembering some of the nice things that Jesus has said. But for Easter Sunday, we reach much deeper than that. It is God’s challenge to the powers and forces of evil, who sought the destruction of
Jesus, through arrest, false trials, and execution. The Devil would no longer have to worry about the Son of God promised by the Old Testament prophets. Those who feared the teachings of Jesus could ignore them. Those who saw in him a threat to their cordial relations with the Romans would be freed from concern. Sin would be victorious!

Jesus was beaten, humiliated, crucified. His death was pronounced. He was buried in a tomb, a large stone was rolled against the opening, and a military guard was set before it. This was all on “Good Friday”. The followers of Jesus were all convinced that he was dead; thus, his burial in the tomb with the care of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. On the Sabbath (Saturday) the followers of Jesus rested. Early Sunday morning a number of believing women went to the tomb, with the purpose of completing the burial process for Jesus. When they arrived, they found the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb. The Roman guard had fled, and the women encountered angels who told them that Jesus was not dead—that he was alive. They ran to report what they had seen and heard to the
disciples. Mary Magdalene lingered near the tomb and encountered Jesus—not expecting to see him—supposed that he was the gardener, and inquired what had happened to the body of Jesus. Then she recognized Jesus and worshiped him. He was not dead; he was alive.

The powers and forces of evil had met defeat with the resurrection of Jesus. More than that the forgiveness of sins for all who would believe in him had been secured! The New Testament recounts what many had been unable to understand:  the efforts to destroy the Messiah, The Son of God, the Savior had failed. But there was something more. The Old Testament, written prior to the earthly life of Christ, and the New Testament, shortly after his death, tell us that the purposes of God had been fulfilled.

All of us are sinful. We have broken the commandments of God. We have ignored the prompting of our consciences. We have deeply offended a perfect and righteous God. He could not and will not overlook the depth of our sin. His justice demands either condemnation or atonement for all of us. The Heavenly Father offered his Son as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all who will believe in him and trust in him. Jesus on the cross was the offering to God to endure the penalty for the sins of all who would believe. The Trinity made this possible. God is one, yet Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus, God could be in heaven condemning his Son for our sins and, at the same time, become the sin offering enabling God to forgive our sins.

There is good reason to worship and celebrate at Easter. The resurrection of our Saviour was a stupendous work on the part of God. It was a rebuke to all that is evil, and it was the assurance of triumph for all who believe in Jesus Christ. Let us rejoice as we worship on Easter Sunday!

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

jesus-man-lies-sm

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

It is not unusual for many of us to feel that the world is being overcome with
evil! Where do we find goodness? There is only one source, and that is with the God
who has created us. We can pass laws to restrain evil behavior, and surely they help.
But all nations, from the beginning of history to the present, have been passing such
laws, and the problem of evil continues. Most of us would like to live in peace without
having to worry about those who would harm us—deceive us—exploit us—mislead us.
To ignore God is folly and dangerous. To attempt to solve problems without him will
frequently lead to disaster.

Many of us were stunned by the arrest of California State Senator, Leland Yee
the week of March 24. According to the San Jose MercuryNews: “The 65 year old
career politician has been charged with seven federal felonies as a result of dozens of
such clandestine meetings with undercover FBI agents, many involving promises of
political favors, influence peddling with fellow legislators and a Hollywood-stye scheme
to arrange a multimillion-dollar illegal weapons deal through the Philippines for an
undercover operative claiming to be a New Jersey Mobster.” Somewhere in his life, he
turned his back on goodness and decided to walk on the path of evil.

Why does a person with an important position, prestige, and respect stoop to
deceit, corruption, and conspiracy? Here, we have a single individual. But alas, the
story has been told in the lives of many others, and in all times and locations.
Choosing evil over good is not uncommon. Yet, what we desire in all people is
goodness. What we find all too often are “successful” people, who are consciously
willing to do wrong to add to the money or power that they already have. As we look
at the world, we must not always see it through skeptical eyes, as if there is only
darkness. Neither, should we live in a denial as some do, ignoring or explaining away
the evil that is in our midst; pretending that it does not exist.

Where do we get the concept of goodness and integrity? We are fortunate that
we know the source. Our Savior, of whom we read in the Bible, is the ultimate source
of light and life and goodness. All other sources are either insufficient or detrimental.
We must bend our wills to the will of God. “I myself am satisfied about you, my
brethren that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able
to instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)

The words in the following passage were written by the prophet, Jeremiah, but
it is a promise for us today: “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare
it in the coastlands afar off; say, He who scattered Israel will gather him, and
will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock. For the Lord has ransomed
Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. They shall
come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the
goodness of the Lord,” (Jeremiah 31:10-12) Healing and help and goodness come
from God.

We need good institutions of government, education, business, family. Do we
sometimes look in the wrong place? Our salvation is in our Lord!

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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ASH WEDNESDAY AND LENT

Lent

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Ash Wednesday is right in front of us:  Wednesday, March 5. The idea is to begin preparation for the recognition and celebration of Christ’s sacrificial offering of himself on Good Friday, and the triumph of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday begins six and one-half weeks before Easter Sunday. Its purpose is to begin a period of spiritual renewal leading up to Good Friday and Easter. For many Catholics and Protestants it encourages accepting a special discipline during this period. It may mean giving up a bad habit that you may have taken on—or some of the foods or desserts that you might otherwise eat —or taking on a spiritual discipline of prayer and scripture reading. Many churches offer programs to encourage and further such practices including special studies and times of prayer.

As you know a counter reaction is that of Mardi Gras. The idea that you should live it up before the time of discipline begins! This is a bad idea. It frequently leads to excesses that have nothing to do with Christianity. I fear for some people it even implies that you can do naughty things leading up to Lent, thinking that in the following weeks you can find forgiveness. The Bible does not encourage us to follow such a pattern.

As a matter of fact, times of spiritual renewal are encouraged in the scriptures.

The apostle Paul to Timothy: “Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;” (II Timothy 1:6)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings to closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)

“For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.” Romans 6:19)

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

I was reminded this week of my first awareness of real spiritual renewal. I was in the sixth grade in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. In our neighborhood the father of one of the girls was a reporter for the Tulsa World and Tribune and published a local newspaper for our town. He was know for excessive drinking (in a dry state!) and disregard for Christian principles. Somehow, his daughter persuaded her dad to go to church with her. He not only attended, but came to the point of professing his faith in Christ. I was amazed when I realized later that he had become the teacher of the men’s Bible class! Over the years, I have had the privilege of witnessing that kind of transformation many times.

If Lent is a later invention by the church, it is surely in harmony with the sprit of new life and new living that the scriptures encourage. So bless your brothers and sisters who are in earnest about Lent. And consider the participation that is appropriate for you.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.

Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!