Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

Then Came Sunday

Empty Tomb

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun … And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. (Mark 16:2, 4)

The story of mankind is brief and straightforward despite the naturalistic stories invented by evolutionists. God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26). God created man to enjoy fellowship with Him, but man erected a barrier between himself and God by his disobedience to God’s only command: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). That disobedience brought the curse of death – separation from God who is life and the giver of life. “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26). Holy God cannot abide sin. “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (Psalm 94:20).

From that time on, innocent blood has been shed to cover or atone for the sins of man “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Starting with that first sacrificial lamb slaughtered by the Lamb of God (Genesis 3:21), the innocent pay the penalty for the sins of the guilty. So the sacrificial system began carried on by Abel (Genesis 4:4), Noah (Genesis 8:20) and the law delivered by Moses. But the practice failed to bridge the chasm rived by sin “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).

This hopeless situation required a better and permanent solution. This was mankind’s problem and the responsibility fell upon man for resolution. But Holy God cannot be satisfied with anything less a perfect, sinless sacrifice. Only the blood of a perfect, sinless man would do. Where could such a man be found? For, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10, 12). Such a conundrum was no puzzle for an omniscient God. “[He] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). So, God in human form died in the stead of His human creation, and He took upon Himself the penalty that was due to each one of us individually. This is an awesome thing! In all the world religions of man, man sacrifices himself to his god, but the Bible teaches that God sacrificed Himself for man. Is that not incredible!

So Jesus died on the cross at Passover. He became the sacrificial Lamb of God to atone for the sins of mankind. He took on the crushing blow of the curse of death. In His final words He declared, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), and He died. Death took its greatest prize, but then came Sunday! The curse of death was broken. “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (Romans 5:18).

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

(“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” – Isaac Watts, 1707)

His death on the cross covered our sins once and for all. His resurrection bridged the chasm of death separating sinful humanity from Holy God. He has made the way for you and for me. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). After all He has done for you, the least you can do is follow the way He has prepared. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!”

 

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The Triumphal Entry

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:26)

The Sunday before Resurrection Day (I dislike the term “Easter”[1]) is traditionally known as Palm Sunday. This is the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem presenting Himself as the long-awaited Messiah. Daniel predicted this presentation[2] to the exact day, and on the following Wednesday evening[3] (not Friday), Messiah was “cut off.”

The Prophet Zechariah foretold of the presentation like this: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). All four Gospels record this event (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19).[4] Many Bibles insert the title “The Triumphal Entry” before the passage. As one ponders the events that followed that week ending in His crucifixion, one wonders, “Where is the triumph?” In those days, conquering kings entered the conquered cities on a white steed amidst a grand procession of his conquered armies followed by his conquering troops. Jesus entered His city on a young donkey colt cheered on by humble peasants and followed by His bewildered disciples. Just a few days later the same crowd jeered at Him as He hung dying on a Roman cross while all His disciples, save one, were nowhere to be found.

We count His resurrection three days later as a triumph over death, from which we rest assured that our eternal life with Him is secure. But His entry into Jerusalem that fateful week was no triumph. Jesus Himself wept over the event. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37)

It is a misnomer to call His presentation on that Sunday a “triumphal entry.” That day yet awaits His return![5]

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16)

When Jesus returns to reign on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that will be His Triumphal Entry. On that day, He will enter on a white steed followed by a great host of His followers who will not retreat. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7). That day is coming soon. Are you prepared to meet the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? If not read my page “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Easter’s Wrong” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/03/20/easters-wrong/

[2]  “Daniel 9:26 Commentary” by Precept Austin – https://www.preceptaustin.org/daniel_926

[3]  “Three Days, Three Nights” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/07/13/three-days-three-nights/

[4]  “Jesus’ Last Days” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/25/jesus-last-days/

[5]  “The King Is Coming!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/04/09/the-king-is-coming/

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Something to Brag About

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: (Jeremiah 9:23)

Today’s culture encourages us to put ourselves first above everything and everyone else. It’s all about YOU! In my previous life before retirement, I found it difficult to build up myself on a résumé in order to land a job. Not that I did not have the qualifications for the positions I sought, but the idea of over-emphasizing my qualifications, using just the right words and phrases, seemed a bit dishonest to me. However, that practice was encouraged by all employment counselors and followed by all who sought work. I did it, but I did not like it because it went against biblical teaching that I should “not think [of myself] more highly than [I] ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). Jesus said something similar when His disciples argued among themselves about which one would be greater in His kingdom. Jesus made a small child the example of greatness (Matthew 18:1-4). There is no one more unassuming or humble as a child.

The Bible gives other examples of this concept, for example, our opening verse above. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom.” The Hebrew word translated “wise” is châkâm, which can be translated “skillful, shrewd, crafty, cunning, subtle, learned, prudent,” It can also be translated as “wise” (ethically and religiously), the kind of wisdom that comes from God. The remaining definitions for “wise” seem well-suited for résumé building. However, God says not to “glory” (i.e., brag or boast) in such wisdom. What is wrong with tooting your own horn about your talents, skills, abilities, knowledge, savvy, etc.? Well, humanly speaking, while you may be better at one thing than the next guy, there is always someone that is better at it than you. Besides all that, no one can top God’s “wisdom.” The wise Solomon said, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).

The verse goes on to say, “neither let the mighty man glory in his might.” The Hebrew word translated “mighty” is gibbôr. It means “strong, brave.” It can also mean “powerful, warrior, tyrant, a valiant man.” When God spoke these words to the Prophet Jeremiah, He was addressing the unfaithful nation of Judah, who trusted in their armies and their alliances, i.e., military might. However, the same idea can be applied to individuals who trust in their own strength, be that physical, financial, intellectual, etc. God says not to “glory” in those things for the same reasons given above. We may out-do one another, but we can never match God in might.

Then He says, “let not the rich man glory in his riches.” The wealth of this world is fleeting. If you have it, when you die, it will go to your heirs (if you have a will) or to the government (if you do not have a will). Solomon considered this when he wrote, “Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19, emphasis mine). Jesus also addressed the vanity of material wealth. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19-20, emphasis mine).

Is there anything about which we can boast? Actually, yes, the Bible gives us something about which we can “glory” in the verse that follows. “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24, emphasis mine). If you want to brag, brag about your understanding and knowledge of God (provided you understand and know Him). God says He exercises “lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness.” If you understand and know God, you will exercise the same things. These are the things in which God delights and when you understand and know God, you will delight in the same things.

If you want to brag, brag on God!

If you do not know God and are unsure of where you will spend eternity, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

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Preach It!

Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them … And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee. (Jeremiah 1:17, 19)

Sometime before the new year, I determined to do my daily Bible reading in my Spanish Bible (Reina-Valera 1960). I completed reading through the New Testament and started reading the major prophets in the Old Testament. I finished reading Isaiah (Isaías) and started reading Jeremiah (Jeremías) this week. When I came to the passage above, I sent it to my pastor as a word of encouragement.

Jeremiah lived in a time when Israel (the Northern Kingdom) had been taken captive by the Assyrians and Babylon was threatening Judah (the Southern Kingdom). These invasions were God’s judgement on the nation for their idolatry. Judah retained a form of religion. They observed all the prescribed feast days and performed all the required sacrifices, but pagan worship and rituals crept into their religious life. Whatever worship they offered God was insincere and offensive to God. His patience exhausted, God said, “… I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands” (Jeremiah 1:16).

So, God assigned Jeremiah to proclaim His Word to the people with the assurance that they would not want to hear the message. God warned that they would fight against him, and indeed they did. Jeremiah was abused, beaten, and cast into a muddy cistern because he tried to warn the people of what was coming. However, God encouraged him, “be not dismayed at their faces … they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee … to deliver thee.” It seems strange that God warns Jeremiah that He will “confound” him if he is dismayed by the angry looks he gets from his audience. The Geneva Bible notes that “God’s vengeance is prepared against them who do not execute their duty faithfully, either for fear of man, or for any other reason.” In other words, God is telling Jeremiah to speak boldly, without fear, or God will allow him to look foolish before his audience.

We live in a time very much like that of Jeremiah’s day. Forget the secular crowd; they make no pretense of religiosity. The church crowd that has adopted the ways of this world and tried to put a religious spin on it will be our opposition. This is Super Bowl Sunday. Think of all the churches that have cancelled Sunday night services so their congregants can stay home and watch the Super Bowl at home. And even if services are not cancelled, how many “Christians” will skip Sunday night services so they will not miss one minute of the Super Bowl?

That is just a small example. What about the churches that have incorporated “critical race theory” and “wokeness” into their practices? How about those churches that for a long-time now have rejected biblical teaching against homosexuality and women pastors? Not only do they embrace the practice but they allow them in their pulpits to preach! If you speak up against such things you will be ridiculed and labeled as a bigot, a racist, a homophobe, intolerant, etc. They will come at you with a vicious vengeance. As God told Jeremiah, “they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee.” Do you believe that? God says, “gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee.”

Paul exhorted his young protégé, Timothy to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). This exhortation does not apply only to “preachers.” It is meant for every one of Jesus’ witnesses. Like it or not, if you claim Jesus as your Savior, if you claim to be a Christian, then you are a witness of Jesus Christ, for good or bad. We have a message to proclaim, in season and out of season. In other words, when it is convenient and when it is not convenient. Many will not appreciate the message, especially those who fancy themselves to be religious and are not. The adage is true that “the truth hurts,” and you can expect pushback when you deliver God’s Word (not your word or opinion). However, as God told Jeremiah, “I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” God is faithful, and He will keep His promise. The question is, do you really believe that? We live in evil days and God does not want us to go into hiding, but to be bold and proclaim His Word in the midst of opposition. HE will deliver us. We need not fear. Preach it!

If you are unsure of where you will spend eternity, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

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Take No Thought

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:25)

Last week the Wuhan Bug arrived at our house. I felt it first. It came on me Saturday evening in the form of a low-grade fever. I felt my ears “burn” as I worked on a sermon that I was supposed to deliver the following day at an assisted living facility. I called Linda, the lady in charge of the services, to let her know the situation. At that time, I was not aware that I had been “bitten” by the bug, but knowing the precautions taken at the facility to keep the residents safe, I felt obligated to report my condition. Linda, our leader, was a little distraught because she did not have a substitute on such short notice. So, I promised that if my fever left, I would show up and fulfill my obligation. The next morning, I was ready to preach.

I battle allergies constantly, especially this time of the year. So, for me, what I experienced was “normal.” My wife June, on the other hand started feeling bad Monday. That evening, she took her temperature and it was over 100º. The next day she called in sick to work and made an appointment to see a doctor. She was tested and diagnosed with COVID-19. Naturally, when she tested positive, they called me in and I tested positive as well. Keep in mind that I was not “feeling” sick during all of this time, except for the low-grade fever on Saturday night. The doctor prescribed an infusion of monoclonal antibodies and a medical team came to our house on Wednesday to administer the infusion to us. Following the infusion, I experienced chills and high fever the next two days. June had a similar experience, but after that, we both felt much better.

Our experience with the Wuhan Bug was a mild one compared to some. God made each one of us unique. Each one of us has a one-of-a-kind genetic makeup so that viruses affect us differently. One of the reasons I oppose the COVID injection being pushed by our government is that it is designed to manipulate your DNA. In simple terms, the mRNA injected into your body is supposed to “train” your God-created DNA into fighting of the spike protein of the coronavirus. The scientists that developed this “gene therapy” are ignorant (compared to the Designer and Creator of DNA), fallen, humans who are trying to manipulate what God has created. We must remember that these scientists, for the most part, believe that humans evolved from some common ancestor with ape, therefore they have a low regard for the notion that we were created in the image of God. I could go on, but that is not the purpose of this article.

From the beginning of the “plandemic” June and I have rejected the fearmongering propaganda surrounding it. We decided from the onset that we would trust God rather than men. Some will argue that God gave men intelligence to develop medicines and vaccines to help improve the health of mankind. To a large extent, I agree. In the past, medicines and vaccines have been developed from substances God created in nature. Past remedies stemmed from men “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” These new so-called mRNA vaccines are none of that. They are all developed from manmade substances which attempt to alter or manipulate what God designed and created. You are welcome to disagree, and you have every right to be wrong, but I digress.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount He stressed, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” The Greek word translated “thought” is merimnaō and it means “to be anxious about” something. The word “anxious” carries the connotation of “sickening worry.” This Wuhan Bug has many people I know and love living in fear, too afraid to come out of their homes for fear of being infected. June and I refuse to live like that without presuming upon God for our safety. We understood that we could be infected, but we also trusted that God would see us through – and He did!

Jesus says to “take no thought for your life.” The Greek word translated “life” here is not the common Greek words translated as “life.” Rather, it is the Greek word, psuchē, which means “breath” or “spirit.” It carries the connotation of the “soul,” which is the very essence of one’s being and existence. A Christian, of all people, should not be worried or anxious about his life knowing that, as Paul said, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8, emphasis mine). If you claim to be a Christian and lack that confidence, then you may need to reassess your position before God.

Jesus goes on to list material things over which we should not worry, but He tied all these back to what He stated earlier. Note that He begins the verse with “Therefore I say unto you.” Anytime we see “therefore” in the Bible, we need to see what it’s “there for.” In this case, Jesus had spoken of storing up treasures in heaven.[1] He stressed the folly of accumulating treasures here on earth, because it decays or can be stolen. “Treasures” can be anything that we value – our home, material possessions, family, time, work, life, etc. These are all temporal in nature. Jesus instructed that we should “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:20).

I really long for the day when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emphasis mine). I am shocked when I run into Christians that do not share my enthusiasm for the Lord’s return, and in fact, they hope that He does not return anytime soon because they have so many treasures here on earth that they are unwilling to turn loose. Jesus reminds us, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Where is your treasure?

Divided loyalties weaken the Christian and make him susceptible to fear and worry. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). You can either put your trust in and serve the things of this world (“mammon”) or you can place your trust in God for His provision knowing that your life, your psuchē, is in His strong and loving hands. If your trust is in Him, the Wuhan Bug should not scare you.

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 6:19-24

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