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“As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.” Matthew 24:32 One major sign of the return of Christ will be the renewed courage and strength among those who carry the testimony of the Lord. As it was in the days of the prophets and later the apostles, so shall it be among individuals who will stand for truth without compromise. They will be among a people who have relented to casual Christianity, but will not allow the pressures brought to bear against them to discourage them nor diminish their faith. There will be new life within the Church as both young and old will boldly face persecution if required, for righteousness sake. The sign will be an awakening spreading to the ends of the earth. The Kingdom of God will be their message, the cross will be their standard, and zeal of the Lord will totally consume them. Professor Martin Scharlemann of Concordia Seminary said, “As soon as the missionaries are no longer welcome to do their work and their host countries begin to expel them, look up.”

“Do not be a terror to me; You are my hope in the day of doom.” Jeremiah 17:17 Our confidence is only secured only when we place it entirely in the Hands of the Lord. Life is too uncertain and sudden terror may appear at times when preparation for it is impossible.  Many will wonder why we would place such confidence in a God that we cannot see. Scoffers will rise up thinking that our denial of self and worldly acclaim is but mere superstition. Yet we pray that we do not offend God through any self-defense attempts at preserving our own reputation. Even when we do not make sense to the world, we desire His wisdom to be our guide. All of the wisdom that comes from other sources is being judged.  Only God’s wisdom will stand. He is our hope in the day of testing.  He will take us through the storms of adversity victoriously!

“This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Exodus 12:2 The Passover changed Israel’s calendar by orders from God. What God does affects the measure of everything. Our calendar reflects the birth of Jesus Christ and His death. B.C.  expressing before Christ and A.D., anno Domini, the year of our Lord signifying His death, burial, and resurrection. He made an indelible mark for all humanity. Even those who despise Him or deny Him cannot ignore Him. Eternity invaded time through the coming of our Lord and time would never be the same. God became one of us to completely identify with us, then to die for us. As vast as the universes are and heaven is, He chose this planet and chose us to be with Him forever! When we remember the day of our conversion, we recall our new birthday. Life began anew when we became a new species of humanity enabled to give expression to the love of God with a willingness to please Him. Life may be the same around us, but for us who are being saved, we have a new beginning!

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…”  Phil 3:10 There is continuing aspects of Jesus Christ made available to us. Our spiritual hunger to fully identify with Him qualifies us to know what was unknown. We have come to know that He is our Savior and Lord through His Word. We believe on Him and apply faith in all of His promises. Yet the more we know of Him, a fire is ignited within our hearts to experience Him. To share with Him in His experience of life is the grandest endeavor one could ever attain. The evidence that we know Him is that we recognize that there is much more to be known than what we have come to know. The height and depth of His love is to be explored throughout our lifetime. Oh the joy of knowing that it is Christ working in us and the sufficiency is not of us! We have been raised in newness of life. Now each experience whether it be painful or pleasurable, is ordered by our Master for a purpose far greater than any at this…

“After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:” John 21:1-2 He makes Himself known in ways that are familiar to each person. He once came in human flesh and fully identified with the human experience, yet honoring the Father by not yielding to the temptation of sin. After He was raised from the dead, He continued to show Himself again to His disciples. In His resurrected state, He is still in touch with all things pertaining to us. They were fishermen before their encounter with Jesus. Now that He had been crucified, they returned to their former professions. Their lack of success was challenged by His question, “Children, have you any food?” They had toiled all night to no avail. Jesus then gave them instructions that they could either follow or ignore. But when they cast their nets on the other side of the boat, they could not contain all that was in their nets. The resurrected Christ makes His presence known again among His disciples. He is the same Jesus but now raised in newness of life as the first-born of many brethren. It is…

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:6 He is absent from the place to which He had been carried. His lifeless body lay in a tomb without the strength to either participate or resist. There He was carried and placed by others. But on Resurrection Sunday, the grave was robbed of its victory. The empty tomb served as a witness that He was no longer there. His was not the result of being carried away, for many are absent because they have been carried away by something or someone. “He is risen, as He said.” His Word was confirmed by action. His promise was fulfilled thus giving even greater validity to all that He ever said. The evidence was presented, thus allowing every skeptic and naysayer to see with their own eyes His power to defy death, hell, and the grave. The angel invited them to come inside and see the very place that He once laid. Where a body once laid, and empty tomb reminds us of our own destinies. As we are in Christ Jesus, we too shall be made alive by the same Spirit…

“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” John 19:30 Jesus came into the world for this very moment. He was on a mission to die for the sins of humanity. It required a sinless death and now the moment had arrived. The sufferings would come to an end. At least the bodily sufferings, but there awaited Him a degree of suffering of the soul that only one who loves deeply are able to experience. The purchased price for our redemption was completely paid. But there would be many who He loves that will yet reject all that He came into the world to provide. “He came into the world and the world rejected Him.” Those who did not understand rejected Him then, but now that it is finished, will there remain those who refuse to believe that what He gave was sufficient enough for them? His Spirit returned to the Father and the Holy Spirit has now been sent forth to give life to all who would receive Him. From the fall of Adam, the promise was made for man’s reconciliation to God. The prophets…

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 The question is how can something be foolish to some but so necessary to others? There are some who believe more in their abilities and strength rather than the strength that is ours through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. We were once without strength, dead in trespasses and sins, but Christ died for us. Now as we believe on Him and in His Name, the power of God works within us to the saving of our souls. Both categories have to do with one’s future state of being. On one hand, there are those who are perishing, and on the other hand, there are those who are being saved. The seed of destruction is embedded in the hearts of those who do not believe as it was in us all. Jesus died for sinners before they recognized their need for redemption. Those who reject His offer are perishing. But those who are being saved are in the process of living. The body of sin will perish, but just…

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26  A message is proclaimed at the Communion Table. Jesus invites us to His table in order for those who have been called as His followers to dine with Him. What other disciples had rejected when offered, they were now afforded the opportunity to participate. The criteria for having a part with Him was eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Their passion was for His life to become their very own. Theirs would be that of witnesses. They would ultimately be willing to follow Him to the grave. But now, they must take the cup thus symbolically identifying with His death. Symbolism are meaningless if the life is not ingested. To feed on Jesus is to allow His flesh to become our body and His blood to be our life-blood. We need to be reminded often, thus we come again to the table of the Lord that we should never forget. He gave His life that we may live. Now the life that we live as His witnesses is to proclaim His death as being sufficient for…

“Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.” Mark 14:18 Before Jesus was crucified, He was identified through betrayal by one who sat at His table and ate with Him. One who loved so deeply would be exposed by a friend to His enemies. Jesus knew when it would happen and who it was who would be so used as a spy among them. Yet He did not make Him known among the brethren. There are times when sin must run its course. Any intervention on our part to defend ourselves or expose the adversary would be counterproductive. God will allow many to dwell among us who do not carry our heart or vision. Nevertheless, God uses all things for the fulfillment of His purpose. Jesus loved, provided for, and even dined with His betrayer. These events led to the cross, the inevitable end that marked a new beginning for all who would believe on Him. His will transcended the pain suffered by dishonest companions and even the pain of suffering and death on the cross. The glory that shall be revealed in us was…