THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

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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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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.

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There IS Gain With Pain

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Mark 2:  The paralyzed man being let down through the roof in front of Jesus.

Mark 2: The paralyzed man being let down through the roof in front of Jesus.

The knee replacement surgery, which I experienced on the 10th of January, and the accompanying slowness of recovery and pain has caused me to reflect again on what the Bible has to say about temptation, difficulties, and trials. The Bible makes it plain that all people will suffer in one manner or another, and that the end result can be beneficial. Suffering takes many forms: disappointment, failure, illness, financial losses, mistreatment by others, etc. The experiences of the unbelieving are not necessarily beneficial, but the difficulties of life can lead the believing to draw closer to their Lord. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6,7)

One of the greatest of Christians, the apostle Paul, suffered from a thorn in the flesh. We do not know what it was, but it must have been severe, otherwise he would not have mentioned it. In II Corinthians, chapter 12, he tells of a special blessing; being caught up in the spirit to Heaven and experiencing marvelous things. But our Lord must keep the lives of even the best of Christians in balance. Thus, Paul writes,

“to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.”

God’s purpose for us is that we may grow in his grace:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:18)

Why do we need to be tested? As we look to the scriptures, we find good reasons:

1. To keep us from being conceited. Conceit is overweening self-esteem; having an excessively fine opinion of one’s self. All of us have gifts and abilities, and in some areas find ourselves more able than others. It is all too easy for us to think that we are not only more gifted and skilled–but that we are superior to others.

“Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

2. That we may never forget our need of God and draw near to him.

“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for your 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)

3. That sanctification, our growth in grace, may continue as we reckon with factors in our lives that do not belong.

“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)

Our conclusion: Temptations, illnesses, disappointments will come. Some of our suffering, we bring on ourselves through our own sins, carelessness and bad decisions, but much of it comes from the world, the times in which we live. We are to draw near to God for comfort and strength; to seek his will; and to reckon with our faults

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” (Psalm 118:5)

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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CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE?

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Lady Reading Crystal Ball

 

As we look forward to the New Year, most of us hope for something better. Many make New Year’s resolutions—hoping that their behavior will be better in some significant way. When we look back a year, we might wonder whether 2013 was better than 2012. If anything, the situation in the Middle East was worse with more conflict and no solution to the continuing slaughter in Syria. Conflicts in many African nations have increased. The federal debt in the United States increased: 2012, 16 trillion; 2013, 17 trillion. Many of the divisions that we have in the United States seem to have sharpened rather than lessened.

However, in our families and homes things may be different. Some may be healthier than they were in the previous year. Perhaps for the majority, things are about the same. In a nation of 317 million, how many lottery winners did we have last year? As we look forward to the future, we know that there are uncertainties. We may be surprised by good news or devastated by bad news. Our health may be very good or we may become seriously ill. Promises made to us may be fulfilled—and some not.

In contrast to the uncertainties in many areas of life, our Savior gives us a positive perspective. We are all created in the image of God. We are all loved by God. If we will allow it, we all have a purpose in life. And if we are trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior we have many wonderful promises. Let us consider some of them as we look forward to the new year:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

“For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war nay more.” (Isaiah 2:3,4)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

“And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and rase your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27,28)

The future is in God’s hands: if we are trusting in Jesus as our Savior, we are, for sure, in God’s hands.

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 WORTHWHILENESS OF A LONG JOURNEY

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By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from
the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of
the Jews?’ We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew
2:1,2 NIV)
The Magi (Wise Men in many English Bibles) came from the East. This story
properly belongs with the celebration of the birth of our Savior, although their arrival
was at least a year (probably more) after the Savior was born. Near the beginning of
the first century A.D. Parthia (Persia) was the most prominent kingdom east of the
Holy Land. We properly think of them traveling on camels, which were the Cadillacs of
their day. The camel travel is undoubtedly based on Isaiah 60:6, “A multitude of
camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba
shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of
the Lord.”
The journey of the Magi could have covered as much as a thousand miles. If
we estimate their travel time at 30 miles per day, the journey would have taken at
least a month, if not more. We also properly think of them as traveling on camels,
because they were court astrologers, which would have placed them high in their
governmental structure. In their day, astrology was looked upon as a science. When
they arrived in Jerusalem, they were properly received by Herod the Great as
important emissaries. The whole city took note of their arrival. But their primary
intent was not a diplomatic mission. They had come to find the Messiah of the Jews,
to worship him and bring him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We know for
sure that there was more than one of the Magi. We have probably liked to think of
them as three because they brought three gifts.
At the time of the visit of the Queen of Sheba, Solomon was among the
greatest of kings in the Near East. Like the Magi, she made a long and costly journey
to see Solomon. This event finds a parallel in Luke 11:31, “The queen of the South
will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she
came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold,
something greater than Solomon is here.” In our day, the rover, Curiosity, is
searching the surface of Mars, and the Chinese have just landed a mobile explorer on
the Moon.
How can we miss the lessons to be found here? It is not worth our trouble to
find the Lord? To have God is to have everything. Not to have him is to be incredibly
deprived. Some live their lives as militant and proud atheists, not wanting to have
anything to do with God. But many others just seem plain indifferent. We find
encouragement from the prophet, Isaiah: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call
upon him while he is near;” (Isaiah 55:6) The Christmas Season is a good time for
us to be renewed in worship and in the wonder of our great Savior. May many, who
seem to be tone deaf and not paying attention, find our Lord in these days!

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.

Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!