Stonework

“Who will roll the stone away?” As if their task were not challenging enough, this heavy burden lay on the hearts and minds of the women as they made their way to the tomb on Easter morning. They witnessed the execution of their Teacher and Friend on Friday. They were slowing making their march to the cemetery to say their last goodbyes. Now they had to worry about the big stone in their way?

You and I may ask the very same question. Who will roll the stone away—the seemingly insurmountable obstacle that’s looming big before us right now? Problems with health? Relationships? Worried about paying the bills? All of us have stones in our lives - obstacles that impede the growth of our faith.

As it turned out, the stone was no obstacle at all. Jesus had conquered death. He wasn't even in that grave anymore. He was alive!

Who will roll the stone away? Jesus is the master stoneworker. As we celebrate the Easter season, we will be amazed to see what Jesus can do with the stones in our lives.

This coming Sunday we tackle the tough GRINDSTONE. Though we may be embarrassed when our faith is subjected to the grindstone of misgivings and doubt, Scripture is not. As Jesus answers doubts head on, faith finds even more reason for certainty and hope.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3 NIV

Hold on just a minute...let me check...Yup, he's still alive. Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!!

the breakdown:
April 20 - Gravestone (Matthew 28:1-10)
April 27 - Grindstone (1 Peter 1:3-9)
May 4 - Living Stones (1 Peter 2:4-10)
May 11 - Touchstone (1 Peter 2:19-25)
May 18 - Milestone (1 Peter 1:17-21)
May 25 - Keystone (1 Peter 3:15-22)
June 1 - Cornerstone (1 Peter 4:12-17; 5:6-11)

Jesus is...Redeemer

In the Star-Spangled Banner, Americans sing about living in the “land of the free and home of the brave.” But do we always feel free? Aren’t there times when we feel as if “chains” were shackling us? There are the chains of responsibility at work and home, the pains we face or the financial strains that come our way. There are the chains of guilt that press us down as we look back at our past wrongdoings.

This month we celebrate Easter. What is Easter all about? In the Bible Job tells us, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25). Easter celebrates the reality that our Redeemer lives. A redeemer is someone who delivers others out of trouble by paying a great price for their freedom. Jesus, the Son of God, came into this world to be our Redeemer. From what did he redeem us?

The story is told of the devil, Satan, who once met Jesus. Satan had a caged wagon that was crammed full of people. And you were in it. “Who are these people?” Jesus asked. “They are the sinners of the world. I am taking them to hell with me,” Satan replied.

Jesus looked at Satan and said, “I don’t want that. Can I buy these people from you?”

“You don’t know what you are asking. The price is very high. And these people won’t always love you. They will doubt you, complain against you and even curse you at times,” responded Satan.

“I don’t care,” said Jesus. “I want to buy them back from you.”

“Okay, but it will cost your life” Satan said.

Jesus answered right back, “I’m willing to do that because I love them.”

And that is what Jesus did. He paid for your release, your freedom from sin’s punishment, by dying on the cross for you. He rose from the dead on Easter to prove that his payment was complete and you are freed. “Because I live, you also will live,” Jesus says to you (John 14:19). Rely on Jesus your Redeemer. By his blood he bought you for a life of glory in heaven. As your Redeemer he is always present to help as you deal with the “chains” of living in this world. Trust him for he loves you.

Jesus is...the Lamb of God

In today’s urban society, many people don’t often come into contact with farm animals. So when the Bible describes Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” it’s easy to miss the comfort in this unique name for our Savior.

When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” it would have immediately grabbed the Jews attention. God had commanded the sacrifice of lambs as part of their worship life to teach them that they needed the blood of a substitute to pay for their sins. They couldn’t just make that sacrifice once. They had to offer it again and again because it was imperfect blood offered by imperfect people. They sacrificed animals, lambs that could never really take away their sin.

Sometimes we don’t understand the full magnitude of our sin. Sin isn’t just what we read about in the newspapers. Sin is when parents want the best for their children, but allow other things to become more important. Sin is when spouses want to be loving, but instead put their own needs and desires first. Sin is when teenagers struggle for independence and step over the line of disrespecting their parents and others in authority. Sin is nothing more and nothing less than failing to be the perfect people our perfect God demands of us.

We need the perfect blood of a substitute to take away our sins. Jesus is the only Lamb who could do that because he’s the Lamb of God. He’s the perfect Lamb who never fell short of God’s expectations. He’s the Substitute offered on the altar of the cross. His blood fully pays for the sin of the world. And that means he paid for your sin too! He’s the Sacrifice that enables you to live life without fear of God’s punishment. Jesus is the Lamb who gave you what you could never earn—eternal life and a home with him in heaven.

As we enter Lent this month, our focus is on everything the Lamb has done for us. We invite you to gather with us to thank him who died for us and to sing, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” (Revelation 5:12).

Jesus is...the Lamb of God
John 1:29
"Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

Jesus is...the Messiah, the Christ

Many expressions of love and affection will be exchanged once again this Valentine’s Day. Yet, there is no greater act of love than the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus for our salvation. The whole of Scripture revolves around this one supreme act of unconditional love!

But why is it that Christians associate the title Christ with God’s love in Jesus? What does the word Christ mean? A look at God’s Word will help explain this. The Gospel of Matthew begins by recording the genealogy of Jesus, “…and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” (Matthew 1:16).

As Matthew sets the tone for his Gospel, he is careful to note that Jesus was revered as Christ. This familiar title is actually a form of the Greek word chrio meaning “to pour or anoint.” To anoint was to pour sacred oil over someone's head as a visible sign that God had set him aside for a special task. Jesus bore the title Christ because he was the one God anointed to be the world’s Savior.

The Gospel of John in the first chapter reveals Jesus, the Word made flesh, and describes Andrew’s excitement at having met Jesus: “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ)” (John 1:41). Andrew bursts forth in joyful acclamation, using the title Messiah which is the Hebrew equivalent of Christ, “the Anointed One.”

The Gospel writer John is keen to point out that from the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry the hope of the ages was intimately associated with salvation in Jesus. Yes, at the time of his baptism Jesus was consecrated for his messianic ministry in a remarkable way…“heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17). Jesus was anointed by the Spirit of God and received the clear approval of his heavenly Father. Talk about divine endorsement!

Because Jesus is The Anointed One, he is the one foretold in ancient prophecy who would bring salvation, redeeming us from the curse of sin! There is no greater act of love—true love! Now that’s a magnificent valentine!

Jesus is . . . the Messiah, the Christ
John 1:41
“We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).

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