Sunday – May 5, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 17:20-37 “Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs”

Sunday – May 5, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 5, 2019

Luke 17:22
And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.”

One thing that Jesus has pointed out about the Pharisees is that they tended to appraise things by appearances. The Sermon on the Mount makes much of this. The Lord Jesus told men that sins were not merely external (murder, adultery, etc.), but internal (anger, lust, greed). So, too, righteousness was not so much the doing of external acts (fasting, tithes and offerings, long prayers), but in the attitudes of the heart. In chapter 16, Jesus accused the Pharisees of being far too external in their orientation: “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:14-15).

Is it not easy to understand that when it came to the coming of the promised kingdom of God, men would expect its arrival to be signaled by various external “signs and wonders”? And who but the Pharisees would expect to observe them and recognize the kingdom first. In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, we are told it was the Pharisees who persistently challenged Jesus to prove Himself by performing signs (Matthew 12:38; 16:1; Mark 8:11).

There are three errors described in our text, all of which have to do with the second coming. The first is the error of the Pharisees (verses 20-21). The second error is that of the disciples (verses 22-25). The last error is that of the people as a whole (verses 26-32). From a study of the gospels as a whole, we can see that no one fully understood the prophecies of the Old Testament and how they would be fulfilled in Christ. At best, some had bits and pieces of the story, but no one could put them all together. If this is true, we should be instructed that none of us in the 21st century have a complete understanding of Bible prophecy. We may, like some in Jesus’ day, feel that we are experts in the area of the coming of the kingdom, but we, like they, are not. We have many misconceptions concerning the return of our Lord and the establishment of His kingdom on the earth. We need these words from the lips of our Lord as much as the people of His day needed them.

If you have not yet trusted in Christ as your Savior, you should do so today. Jesus tells us you will not have any warning signs of the coming day of judgment, any more than the preaching of the gospel. There will be no time to repent when that day comes. If you would believe and obey, if you would acknowledge your sin and trust in the work of Christ in your place, for the day of judgment does draw near. Let neither you nor I be unaware or apathetic about its coming. Let us find in Christ that our judgment has already been meted out, and that all that we await is our salvation.

Easter Sunday – April 21, 2019 – 2 Corinthians 5:1-19 “Why the Resurrection Matters”

Sunday – April 21, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 21, 2019

1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

The resurrection is not a religious myth, which coincides with springtime to inspire us with hope and positive thinking. Rather, it is an historic fact that Jesus of Nazareth rose bodily from the dead. It was a physical, not just a “spiritual” resurrection. To be sure, Jesus arose with a resurrection body, which has different properties than our earthly bodies, as Paul explains (15:35-49). But it was a body that could be seen and touched, that could eat and drink.

The resurrection is a matter of great import to the apostle Paul. Few men can claim to have been more impacted by the resurrection of our Lord than Paul. The resurrection of our Lord was the means by which Paul was converted from an enemy of Christ to a true believer. Three times in the Book of Acts (chapters 9, 22, and 26) Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus is reported. This appearance of the risen and glorified Christ blinded Paul, stopping him in his tracks, and led to his conversion. No wonder Paul saw the resurrection of our Lord as such a significant event. It turned Paul’s life upside-down.

Just how important was the resurrection of our Lord to Paul? It was not only the basis for his salvation and apostleship, it was a constant theme in his preaching (Acts 17:30-31; 24:15, 25). It was the reason for Paul’s imprisonment and trial before Caesar (Acts 23:6; 24:21; 26:6-8; 28:20). No wonder Paul is so emphatic about the resurrection of our Lord and about the error of those who say there is no resurrection of the dead. The gospel is the starting point and standard for all Christian teaching and practice. Paul takes us back to our origins to reinforce the vital role which the resurrection of our Lord plays in our salvation and Christian life.

Jesus indicated that the way for Him to bear fruit was to die. And then He applied this same truth to His disciples. Those who love their lives will lose their lives; those who hate their lives in this world will keep them eternally. The way Jesus would “draw all men to Himself” was by being lifted up on the cross of Calvary. Jesus taught that the way to life was the way of the cross. By means of His death, burial, and resurrection, we have been given life by faith in Him. Now, as Christians, we are to apply the same principle to our earthly life. We are to take up our cross, to hate our life, to die to self, and in this way, we will obtain life eternal. Here is an entirely unique approach to life. It is one you will never find originating from unbelievers, but you will find it repeatedly taught in the Word of God. Death is a defeated enemy; death is now our friend, and our way of life. To God be the glory!

Sunday – March 31, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 16:14-18 “Heart Knowledge”

Sunday – March 31, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 31, 2019

Luke 16:14-15
Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

When we experience the rejection of the world for our faith, we gain a small glimpse of the rejection our Lord Jesus experienced. We tend to think that all who scoff at Jesus are outside the religious establishment, similar to our experience. But the gospel accounts show us there are many who put on a pretense of being religious, but who scoff at the Savior. Sadly, not much has changed as the world of religion is filled with those who wear the mantle of piety, but inside seek attention of world over the approval of God. The word “scoff” literally means, “to turn up one’s nose” at someone. It is a term of utter contempt and disregard.

But what, specifically, were the Pharisees scoffing about? They judged on appearances. Jesus was talking a great deal about money, and how to use it. They could well have said to themselves and others, “Who is this expert on money, anyway? Who does He think He is? How much money does He possess? He is so poor that He has to have women of means accompany Him, to provide for His needs!” They may very well have mocked Jesus’ teaching, based simply upon His poverty.

In response to these scoffers, Jesus did not bother pointing out that the Pharisees were really “lovers of money.” Jesus was interested in the source of their problem, not just in symptoms. Loving money was a serious problem, but it was not the root of the Pharisees problem. In verses 15 Jesus exposed the root problem—The Pharisees sought approval from the wrong people, on the wrong basis. I can see why the Pharisees valued money so highly. Money, to the Pharisee, was one of the external proofs of piety. After all, had God not promised to prosper His people Israel if they kept His laws (Deuteronomy 28:1-14), and to bring them great poverty and adversity if they disobeyed (Deuteronomy 28:15)? Money was the proof of piety that would cause an externalist to love.

The Pharisees’ love of money was an indication of their attachment to external standards and appearances, in order to obtain the praise of men. In the process of seeking men’s praise, they also obtained God’s condemnation. It is God, however, who justifies and not men. God does not judge on the basis of outward appearance, but He knows and bases His judgment on what is in man’s heart: “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Sunday – December 30, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 12:35-48 “The Way to Wait”

Sunday – December 30, 2018

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 30, 2018

Luke 12:42-43
And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?  43 “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.

I doubt that there is anything I dislike more than waiting. It may be that you can identify with me in my annoyance with waiting. How many people, during the peak travel times of Thanksgiving and Christmas, were forced to spend a day or more in the airport waiting for the weather to clear or for the airline schedules to be untangled. Think of how many “fast food” restaurants there are compared with those which cook food the slow, old-fashioned way. Credit cards appeal to us because we can buy what we want without having to wait till we have the cash.

When you think of the Bible, waiting is one of the things which men and women of faith are called upon to do. All of those named in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 had to wait for the promised blessings of God. Their wait was even longer than we would like to contemplate—they were still waiting when they died. They are still waiting! If we are required to wait, then you and I had better learn how to do it right.

The problem of waiting usually comes the fact we rarely, if ever, think about the future. When we only think about today, if we get some money, we don’t think about the rent that will be due in two weeks or other bills coming due. We celebrate that we’ve got money in our pocket today, but the one thing we will not do is save any money, because we don’t think about the future. Our Lord taught that we should not be anxious about tomorrow, but He did not teach that we should ignore tomorrow! In fact, to the contrary, Jesus taught that our view of the future ought to be uppermost in our thinking about how we should live today. We should view ourselves as stewards who have been entrusted with time, money, and abilities, which we are to use for our Master’s kingdom and not hypocritically on ourselves.

As I have suggested before, Jesus is dealing with hypocrisy in Luke 12. The other side of the coin of hypocrisy is stewardship- living in a way that is consistent with our calling and the use of the resources God has provided, knowing we are accountable to Him. From the perspective of stewardship, verses 1-12 addressed the disciple’s stewardship of the gospel. The disciple must make good use of the gospel by boldly living and proclaiming it. Verses 13-34 addressed the stewardship of possessions. Our preoccupation must not be with material things, but with true “life.” We need not worry about our life, but we should use things to minister to men’s needs now, which is laying up treasure for ourselves in heaven. In verses 35 and following our Lord turns to the stewardship of time. He will instruct us as how we are to view and use the time which remains until he comes.

Sunday – November 18, 2018 Thankdgiving 2018 Psalm 136

Sunday – November 18, 2018

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 18, 2018

Psalm 136:1
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

Psalm 136 is a unique psalm because the same refrain is repeated 26 times. The only thing close is when Psalm 118:1-4 repeats, “His lovingkindness is everlasting” four times. Psalm 136 was designed for public worship. The Jews called it the Great Hallel (= Praise), and it was especially sung at the Passover. Perhaps the worship leader would recite the first line of each verse, followed by the congregation repeating together the response, “for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” John Calvin’s commentary on Psalm says that the repeated refrain teaches us that to praise the Lord properly, we must acknowledge that everything we receive from Him is bestowed by His grace.

You may note how similar this psalm is to Psalm 135, and see both psalms cite frequently from other Scriptures, especially Deuteronomy. For example, the title, “the God of gods” and “the Lord of lords” (136:2, 3) comes from Deuteronomy 10:17. The reference to God’s strong hand and outstretched arm (136:12) also comes from Deuteronomy (4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 11:2; 26:8). It refers to God’s display of His strength. In verse 15, it literally says that God shook off Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. The same Hebrew verb is used in Exodus 14:27, “then God shook off the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.” Many other expressions in the psalm come directly from other Old Testament Scriptures.

The lesson for us is that it is important for us to know the Scriptures, including the Old Testament, so well that we respond to trials and other situations in our lives with biblical language and thought patterns. The stories in the Old Testament that Psalm 136 alludes to “were written for our instruction,” so that we would not crave evil things as they did, nor be idolaters, nor try the Lord, nor grumble (1 Cor. 10:6-11). If you are not familiar with these events so that they shape your worldview, you will not apply them when you most need to. Rather than thanking the Lord for His everlasting love, you will fall into grumbling with the rest of the world.

So why does the psalmist hammer home 26 times the theme that God’s lovingkindness is everlasting? It’s because the enemy wants us to doubt it, especially when trials hit. This truth was so important that David appointed singers whose job was to repeat at the tabernacle, “give thanks to the Lord, because His lovingkindness is everlasting” (1 Chron. 16:41). Later, when the ark was brought into the newly completed temple, Solomon appointed singers to sing, “He indeed is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (2 Chron. 5:13). God’s response was to fill the temple with the cloud of His glory. Still later, Jehoshaphat appointed singers to lead the army into battle singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (2 Chron. 20:21). It was after this that the Lord routed the enemy.

Sunday May 27, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 6:46-49 “Obedience, Not an Option”

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Luke 6:46-49
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”

The words of our Lord in His Sermon on the Mount are indeed difficult and perplexing, but their essence is clear. We are to do what no one else will do—love our enemy. We are to do so because God has loved us while we were His enemies. We are to do so because God is the One who will bless us for obeying His commands. As Jesus comes to the end of this sermon, He asks pointedly, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

Obedience to the “tough” commands of our Lord proves a person to be a true follower of Christ, and handling the tough tasks now assures us of enduring tough times ahead. Jesus taught that it is not only to call Jesus Lord, they must prove He is Lord by obeying His commands (v. 46). It is in doing the tough things which shows our discipleship. It is not test of a child’s obedience to hand him money and instruct him to go and buy candy. It is a test of obedience to have the child submit to an inoculation at the doctor’s office.

In the parable of the two builders, Jesus sought to illustrate the fact that doing the hard thing now gives confidence in the hard times ahead. When building a house, the wise man “goes the extra mile” of laying a strong foundation. Digging deep to establish a solid foundation is not the easy way, but when the storms come, the building will stand. Obedience to our Lord’s commands regarding the loving of our enemies is not easy, but it does give us confidence that in the future we will have been well founded, well established in our faith and obedience, and able, by His grace, to withstand any coming storms.

In each and every one of these illustrations in the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:20-49), the need for “betterness” has been established, even though the cost is high to live according to Christ’s higher standard. The commands of Christ regarding loving our enemies is a very high standard, higher than that which others hold or practice, but this only shows that with God all things are possible for those who trust in Him, who obey His commands, and who are sustained by His power and grace.

Sunday May 13, 2018 – Mother’s Day

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Sunday May 13, 2018 – Mother’s Day “How to Raise Godly Grandchildren” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

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Deuteronomy 6:1-2

These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.”

Deuteronomy 6 has been called the Magna Carta of the home, a constitution which would guarantee the happiness and well-being of the family in the purpose of God. But while it is an important passage for the home, this passage must not be used outside of its overall context and purpose or it loses its real impact for the home. One of the chief purposes of this section of Scripture is a call to ministry and testimony as the people of God through obedience to God.

This is not simply a call to obedience for the sake of obedience or happiness, nor is it just a passage with mere principles for the home. It is a call to obedience for God’s glory, as an evidence of love for God and for a ministry to the world through the perpetuation of faith in the Lord from generation to generation to generation. Personal blessing is promised to those who respond to the challenge of God, but primarily as a by-product of relationship with the Lord, not as an end in itself.

As soon as you mention obedience, many Christians think “legalism.” Obedience can become legalistic when people do it outwardly to look good before others. But their hearts are far from devotion to God. Some Jews, for example, obeyed Verses 8 and 9 quite literally. They wore these verses in little boxes strapped to their hands and foreheads, and they put them in a little box by their doors and on their gateposts. But they missed the sense of the passage, which is that the Word of God is to permeate every area of life. Not just the outward behavior, but the sacred space within.

There are Pharisees in the church today, who lay down rules that are not in the Bible in an attempt to get their kids to look like good Christians to the rest of the church. But they themselves are judgmental of those who don’t meet their manmade standards; they gossip and they’re proud. That’s not biblical obedience. Biblical obedience goes down to the heart level, where God’s Word judges our sinful thoughts, motives, and attitudes. The obedience of faith means that out of love for the God who showed me mercy at the cross, I seek to be conformed to Christ in the inner man. As God’s people today, this is our call and responsibility. Remember, these Old Testament principles, warnings, and exhortations are given for us today as examples to us and for our instruction and “that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Sunday May 6, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 6:27-35 “Love, According to Jesus”

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Luke 6:35-36
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

“Tough Love,” is a popular topic in self-help circles, but I think you will soon recognize that I mean something very different from what this expression generally has been used to describe, even in Christian circles — especially in Christian circles. In our relationships with others, we often try to “under love” the other person, as opposed to outdoing the other in love. The reason is that love has obligations and so the one who loves most also owes most. Thus, to be free from the debts of love one must love less, making the other person more in debt to you than you are to them. A kind of “unbalance of payments” rationalization.

We often act out of unrealistic expectations. Many of our acts of love done toward others are very selfishly motivated. We love others in hopes of being loved in return. We give in hopes of receiving. We do good so that good will be done to us. We serve on the basis of expected reciprocity. Whether or not we continue to serve and love others is conditioned on how others respond and if they return equal value. Our Lord’s words are intended to show such thinking as utterly mistaken. We must serve others, expecting nothing in return but assured we will receive our reward from God. And the beauty of God’s grace is that He rewards us far beyond that which we deserve. He rewards in accordance with His grace and His riches.

Love, as defined here by Jesus, is vastly different from a meaning often propagated in the name of Christianity today. “Tough love,” as it is called, is love that is tough on others, love that looks out for one’s own interests. Biblical “tough love” is that that is tough on us, the lover, and merciful to others, even our enemies. You will not find our text in most books that deal with “tough love” because our Lord’s words condemn what is popularly taught.

God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts, nor are His ways our ways. So, we should expect that much of what our Lord has to say will be challenging to accept. Our initial reaction to His Truth may well be difficult to embrace. Only after much thought and prayer can we see the hard things are exactly what our Lord meant, and what our fallen nature wants to reject. The corollary to this is the false teaching that makes things easy on us. What “sounds good” can be easily accepted without critical thought. Let us beware of teaching that “sounds good.” The renewing of our minds requires our thinking to conform with God’s Word. Hard to hear and accept or not, let us try to more fully grasp what our Lord has taught us in this passage.

Sunday April 15, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 6:1-11 “Taking the Fun Out of Sunday”

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Luke 6:3-5
Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”  Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

The Lord Jesus and His disciples were passing through some grain fields on the Sabbath, followed by a delegation of Pharisees. The Pharisees knew the popularity Jesus was growing steadily. They also were becoming alarmed at the realization that Jesus was not in their camp, indeed, was often attacking them. They were afraid to leave Jesus to Himself, unwatched, unchallenged. Furthermore, they were eager to catch Jesus in some transgression of their rules, so that they could point their fingers at Him and accuse Him of being wrong.

Much to their delight, some of the disciples began to strip heads of grain from the field, rub them in their hands to separate the grain from the sheaf, and pop it into their mouths. This, to the Pharisee, was harvesting and threshing grain, something which one could do on any other day, but not on the Sabbath. The challenge was made, both to Jesus (Matthew and Mark) and to the disciples (Luke), “How the Sabbath be so blatantly broken by doing this?” Our Lord’s response, as outlined by Luke, is based upon a very simple premise: WHO YOU ARE DETERMINES WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE FREE TO BREAK THE SABBATH.

Jesus’ argument was amazingly simple: “David broke the law, and if he could have done so, I all the more.” Technically speaking, David did break the letter of the law when he ate bread that only the priests were allowed to partake. David also gave this bread to his men, and was condemned for doing so. David’s actions could be justified by several lines of argument. David was hungry, as were his men. He might have died without this bread. The answer which Jesus is seeking is something different, however. Jesus wants His critics to admit that they don’t condemn David’s actions because David was so revered by the Pharisees, even though it was a violation of the law. Who you are determines what you can get away with. The central issue, then, was not whether or not Jesus broke the Sabbath, but who Jesus was.

If Jesus has fulfilled the Sabbath by coming with a greater rest, then the commandment to keep the Sabbath can be set aside. Why work to rest under the law when Christ gives rest from the law? Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath in the sense that He is greater than the Sabbath, and thus able to set it aside. To be Lord of the Sabbath is to be Lord over the Sabbath. When Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath, He claimed to be greater than the Sabbath, in authority over the Sabbath, and thus far more qualified than David to break the law pertaining to the Sabbath.

Sunday April 1, 2018 – Resurrection Sunday Service

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1 Timothy 1:15-16
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.”

The significance of Easter is often overlooked or distorted by churches in America. All too often, Easter Sunday is more of a “coming out” ritual, a part of the celebration of the commencement of Spring, than it is an observance and celebration of the resurrection of our Lord. Ladies can show off their new hats and outfits. Once-a-year church attenders can show up to shock the preacher, and to give him his annual “shot” at them as they attend. I am convinced, however, that many of the non-Christians who attend Easter Sunday services accept the resurrection of Christ as a fact. They simply have not come to recognize and act upon the resurrection’s personal significance.

There are many religious unbelievers who have taken the resurrection of Christ to be true academically, but have not taken this matter personally. Allow me to give you two biblical examples of those who took the resurrection of Christ personally. In the second chapter of the Book of Acts, we find the church being baptized by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Peter took this occasion to explain that this manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s power was a partial fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. This prophecy spoke of the coming “day of the Lord” when God would judge the sins of His people. Peter boldly proclaimed that while they had been responsible for the death of Christ, God had purposed to save them by His death, and had also overruled their actions by raising His Son from the grave. The bottom line of Peter’s message was this: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). Taking this personally, many in that crowd confessed their sins and professed faith in Christ as their Savior.

Saul, later known as Paul, also had a personal encounter with the resurrected Christ, as recorded several times in the Book of Acts. When Saul was intercepted by Christ on his way to Damascus, he acknowledged Christ as Lord, and he came to see the ugliness of his own sins, even though they were religious and outwardly commendable in the sight of men. It was when Saul saw his own sinfulness and Christ’s majesty and power that he was converted.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most significant events in history. I pray that you, like those in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts, Chapter 2) and like Saul (Acts, Chapter 9), will come to recognize the seriousness of your sinful condition, the holiness and awesome majesty of God, and will come to trust in Him as your Savior and Lord. I urge you to trust in Him, in His death, burial, and resurrection, not only in an intellectual and academic way, but in a very personal way, as God’s only provision for your salvation.