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In a suburban area of Dallas, Texas, there is a popular attraction called “Miracle at Pentecost” – a huge art painting depicting the coming of the Holy Spirit at the time of Pentecost, and Peter’s sermon as recorded in Acts, chapter 2, verses 1 – 47. In the very dramatic narration which accompanies the light and sound presentation of the painting, the spokesman recalls Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the day we now refer to as Palm Sunday. After describing the cries of the crowds, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest,” the narrator says very calmly, “A few days later He was dead.”

The huge painting, one of the most spectacular works of art on display in America, commemorates the birthday of the Church, the Church that Jesus said He would build. (Matt. 16:18) Peter’s sermon on that occasion, is one of the most moving, most enlightening Christian messages ever delivered, and focuses on the power of God as demonstrated in Christ’s resurrection, using these words, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost … therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” At this beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ, the Scripture records that following Peter’s sermon some three thousand believed and were baptized, and that from that moment on the believers expanded their witness, and “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

Thus it is evident that the message of the apostles in the first century following the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, was concerning His resurrection and the fulfillment of the ancient promises of God. Last Sunday we observed Palm Sunday, commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, and now we approach Good Friday when we remember His crucifixion, followed by Easter Sunday when we rejoice in His resurrection, events which were recorded in all four of the Gospel accounts of His life and ministry.

Even as His crucifixion and resurrection were the most important elements of the witness of the apostles in that first century, so those foundational pillars of the Christian faith are, and must always be, the most important elements of our Christian witness in this twenty first century. On this occasion Peter preached the first sermon for the Church which Jesus promised to build, established upon the faith which Peter himself had expressed to his Lord, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter, who had been so close a follower of Jesus, recognized the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel where God promised, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh,” and he recalled the words of Jesus which Luke recorded, “I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Realizing what was happening on that day of Pentecost, the heart of Peter's message was the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of the sins of all mankind. The people believed and responded, and the Church began to grow.

Nothing has changed in the two thousand years since. The acclaim with which Jesus was greeted as He entered Jerusalem was soon replaced with cries of “Crucify him.” And He was crucified, and He was buried, and He did rise from the grave and ministered to His followers until He ascended into heaven, to take His place – as Peter affirmed – at the right hand of God the Father. In the first century, in those days closely following upon His resurrection, this was the message that Peter deemed most important to proclaim. Later in the first century, Paul expressed the same conviction, “I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified … woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel!” (I Cor. 2:2; 9:16) In writing to the Galatians, Paul expressed his convictions very clearly, repeating this warning for emphasis, “So say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8-9)

No, nothing has changed. The Christian faith which Jesus left for us was once the rule of life here in America and in most of the civilized world, but the observance of that faith is not as prevalent as it once was in many parts of the world, and its enemies here in America are attacking it with more vigor than ever before. Within the world of Christendom, some have focused on a “gospel” of good works and social betterment and protecting the environment. And there is nothing wrong with those outworkings of the Christian life. But the true gospel message has not changed: Jesus Christ was crucified and rose again for our salvation. That is now, and has always been, the message of Easter. It transcends all other issues, and only as the Church of Jesus Christ emphasizes that message will its mission and purpose be accomplished.

Quote for this week: “Now let the heavens be joyful, let earth her song begin; let the round world keep triumph, and all that is therein; invisible and visible, their notes let all things blend, for Christ the Lord is risen, our joy that hath no end.” -- St. John of Damascus, 7th-8th century


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Verse of the Day

* * * Four Important Things To KNOW: #1) For ALL (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) have sinned & fall short of the glory of God. #2) For the wages of above (see #1) are DEATH (Hell, eternal separation from God, & damnation) but the Gift (free & at no charge to you) of God (Creator, Jehovah, & Trinity) is Eternal Life (Heaven) through (in union with) Jesus Christ (God, Lord, 2nd Person of The Trinity, Messiah, Prince of Peace & Savior of the World). #3) For God so greatly loved & dearly prized the world (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) that He even gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, that whosoever (anyone, anywhere, anytime - while still living) believes (trust in, relies on, clings to, depends completely on) Him shall have eternal (everlasting) life (heaven). #4) Jesus said: "I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, & THE LIFE. No one (male/female - American, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Asian, Presbyterian, European, Baptist, Brazilian, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc. ) comes (arrives) to the Father (with GOD in Heaven) EXCEPT BY (through) ME (no other name). *** This wonderful loving GOD gives you the choice - - - (Rev. 3:20) {Please note that church membership, baptism, doing good things, etc. are not requirements for becoming a Christian - however they are great afterwards!!!} *** Jesus said, "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction (Hell, damnation, eternal punishment), and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (Heaven, eternal happiness, forever with God), and only a few find it.

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But these are written so that you may
believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the
Son of God, and that by believing in
Him you will have life. Jn 20:31

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call on Him while He is near. Let the
wicked forsake his way and the evil
man his thoughts. Let him turn to the
Lord, and He will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for He will freely
pardon. "For My thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways
My ways," declares the Lord. "As the
heavens are higher than the earth, so
are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down
from heaven, and do not return to it
without watering the earth and making
it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed
for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My
mouth: It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and
achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth
in peace; the mountains and hills will
burst into song before you, and all the
trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the
pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle
will grow. This will be for the Lord's
renown, for an everlasting sign, which
will not be destroyed." Is 55

O Lord, you have searched me and you
know me. You know when I sit and when
I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying
down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know
it completely, O Lord. You hem me in -
behind and before; you have laid your
hand upon me. Such knowledge is too
wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where
can I flee from your presence? If I go up
to the heavens, you are there; if I make
my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide
me and the light become night around
me," even the darkness will not be dark
to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. For you
created my inmost being; you knit me
together in my mother's womb. I praise
you because I am fearfully and wonderfully
made; your works are wonderful, I know
that full well. My frame was not hidden
from you when I was made in the secret
place. When I was woven together in the
depths of the earth, your eyes saw my
unformed body. All the days ordained
for me were written in your book before
one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts,
O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would
outnumber the grains of sand. When
I awake, I am still with you. Search me,
O God, and know my heart; test me
and know my anxious thoughts. See
if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Ps 139

But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up,
that I may show My power in you, and that My
Name may be declared in all the earth. Ex 9:16

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.

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.
- - Isaac Watts

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