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Monday, April 13, 2020

The Empty Tomb

"The Ultimate Game Changer"

Message summary: The first verbal witness of the resurrection in Matthew’s Gospel is the angel who testified this simple, yet  game changing, life changing truth, "He is not here; He is risen". And that remains the victorious testimony of the faithful church and faithful Christians.

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"He is not here; He is risen, just as He said" (Matthew 28:6).

Yesterday Christians around the world celebrated the resurrection Of Jesus Christ. For the first in our lifetime and, perhaps all of history, few gathered in groups with others due to the coronavirus. We watched a service online as did many of you.

The custom of celebrating Resurrection Day is an ancient ritual of the church. However in the New Testament there is no specific reference to it being celebrated annually, apart from the first Resurrection Day. The early Christians continued to celebrate the Passover and of course would have had the additional dimension of the resurrection of Christ in mind. The actual introduction of Easter Sunday appears to have occurred after Emperor Hadrian ruthlessly crushed the Barkokeba revolt (A.D. 132-135). However Christians, beginning on Resurrection Day itself, celebrated the resurrection each week on the Lord’s Day!

A two word phrase we are hearing a lot during this coronavirus pandemic is "game changer
". Game changer is an idiom that has been in use since the late 1980s to early 1990s. A game changer may be a new person, idea, event or protocol that upends the established order. Something that is a game changer is radical and disruptive, usually in a positive way.

These are recent headlines from a Google search:
  • "As others see it: Is Hydroxychloroquine a ‘game changer’. We can only hope."
  • "Plasma treatment being tested in New York may be a coronavirus 'game changer'"
  • "Coronavirus antibody tests would be a 'game changer,’ Dr. John Torres says."
  • "Boston hospitals getting ‘game changer’ machine that sterilizes 80,000 protective masks a day."
Today let us consider the ultimate game changer. In using this phrase we are not trivializing the resurrection or implying that it's some kind of game. Rather we are considering the Person and event that upended the established order in the most dramatic way possible and most certainly in a positive way summed up in these familiar words,

"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives"

The New Testament uniformly teaches the centrality of Christ’s resurrection. Most are familiar with the accounts of the resurrection found in the gospels. That’s likely the message most preachers preached on yesterday, including our own pastor. Each of the four gospels ends with an account of the resurrection.

Today's text is a simple yet profound message:
"He is not here; He is risen, just as He said."
  • "He is not here" The tomb was empty!
  • "He is risen" The explanation on why the tomb was empty.
  • "Just as He said" He had prophesied numerous times that this is what would happen.
This week we will examine a resurrection truth from the other four major sections of the New Testament; Acts, Paul’s epistles, the general epistles and Revelation. Each affirms the centrality of the resurrection of Christ, what Paul calls of "first importance" (I Corinthians 15:3). "First importance (protos) in this context refers to first in prominence, most important or foremost. The truth that follows is among first things. Not to time, but to importance." (Precept Austin online commentary)

These essential truths of the gospel are of first importance:

    * Christ died for our sins
    * He was dead and was buried
    * He was raised from the dead
    * He appeared to many witnesses

The first verbal witness of the resurrection in Matthew’s Gospel is the angel who testified this simple, yet  game changing, life changing truth, "He is not here; He is risen". And that remains the victorious testimony of the faithful church and faithful Christians.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the announcement made by the angel at the tomb continues to echo throughout the centuries. Just as the women told the disciples that Jesus was not in the tomb, but He is risen, disciples of Christ have repeated the life-changing Good News to all who will hear. Though Jesus was dead He lives again. Though we were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins we are set free and made alive through the saving blood of Jesus Christ. His resurrected power raises us up out of the dark tomb of our sinful despair, and promises us a home in heaven where darkness is banned. No light from a lamp or rays from the sun will be needed, for the Lord God is the Light of Heaven. Keep us looking to Jesus, the Everlasting Light, as we journey in a land where darkness reigns. In the name of Jesus we pray Amen.

Easter is mentioned in some versions of the Bible in Acts 12:4, although most versions use the word “Passover” in this passage: “And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.” (Setting: Herod had killed James and, seeing that it pleased the Jews, he then arrested Peter.)

Here are some more "game changer" headlines:

"The coronavirus pandemic is a game changer for the future of health care.'
"Coronavirus is a game changer for society not just the economy."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Because He LivesVideo   Guy Penrod

"Because He Lives (Amen)"  Video  West Coast Choir

"Way Maker"  Video  Sinach  Like many we have been so blessed by this song!

Finally today:

We remain essentially home bound although we ventured out Saturday afternoon to buy some flowers from our Amish neighbors at the Creekside Greenhouse with Brooksyne turning cloth dinner napkins into makeshift masks. Thankfully, we have some beautiful scenery along our walking trails as seen below:

Donegal Springs
Donegal Springs, a quiet stream, just below the Presbyterian Church. Many weddings take place at this site and walkers enjoy walking alongside the stream and nearby paths taking in many beautiful flowers including these bleeding hearts.

Donegal Springs ducks
Donegal Springs is home to many ducks, ducklings, and fish.

Front lawn view
In recent years our neighbors have purchased golf carts and Easter Sunday was a perfect day to drive them on the mile long trail right across the street from us.

Front porch greetings
Enjoying our coffee on the front porch while visiting over the phone with Stephen's brother in San Francisco. This was actually a photo we sent to him in an email.

Front porch flowers
Women can put just about anything in their purses except fresh flowers. How about a purse full of living flowers? This purse is hanging just below our front yard porch light seen in above photo.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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