Passover-Easter Connections Day 7

“He is exalted the King is exalted on High
I will praise You
He is exalted forever exalted
And I will praise His name

He is exalted the King is exalted on High
I will praise Him
He is exalted forever exalted
And I will praise His name

He is the Lord 
Forever His truth shall reign
Heaven and Earth 
Rejoice in His holy name
He is exalted the King is exalted on high” [Twila Paris]

Blessed Easter and Passover to all! 

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.” [Matthew 28:1-8]


Passover-Easter Connections Day 5

Happy Earth Day. Blessed Good Friday. Not in that order. Let  us consider the demonstration of God’s power over nature in the times of both Passover & Easter.

What drove Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go? The constant presence of God sending devastating plagues surely took a toll. The Egyptian magicians could mimic some of God’s power, but there came a point where even they themselves realized their own limitations.

“So Aaron raised his hand over the waters of Egypt, and frogs came up and covered the whole land! But the magicians were able to do the same thing with their magic. They, too, caused frogs to come up on the land of Egypt… So Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded them. When Aaron raised his hand and struck the ground with his staff, gnats infested the entire land, covering the Egyptians and their animals. All the dust in the land of Egypt turned into gnats.

Pharaoh’s magicians tried to do the same thing with their secret arts, but this time they failed. And the gnats covered everyone, people and animals alike. “This is the finger of God!” the magicians exclaimed to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. He wouldn’t listen to them, just as the LORD had predicted…. Even the magicians were unable to stand before Moses, because the boils had broken out on them and all the Egyptians.” [Exodus 8:6-7, 17-19, 9:11]

Later on, it was only by God’s miraculous power over nature that Moses & the Hebrews could leave Egypt safely and later enter into the Promised Land. A certain sea had to be divided. God could have washed up a big boat, an ark perhaps, 🙂 for the Hebrews to use, or another alternative. Instead, God reminded everyone just who was running the show and His favor on the Hebrews while showing His judgement on the Egyptians. He opened the sea for the faithful ones, but then closed it to consume the enemy.

By equally significant and life-altering signs did God show His connection with Jesus and power over the earth. Throughout Jesus’ life, fully divine & full human, He mastered nature’s elements- calming the sea, multiplying food, healing ailments, and so on and so on!

When it came to the point that Jesus would be crucified, what we remember today on Good Friday, God’s power through nature had a response.

“Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” [Matthew 27:50-54]

Look carefully- when the curtain in the Temple tears FROM TOP TO BOTTOM, this is a statement of God demonstrating His power, but also opening up the Temple for everyone. The earthquake = power over what we would consider the most stable thing- the ground. Raising people from the dead = power over death. V.54- in response to God demonstrating His authority, especially over nature, Jesus’ true identity and divinity become undeniably clear to those who had just recently been harassing Him. 

I have never seen any of these amazing signs in my lifetime, but God still speaks to us through nature today. How have you seen God in nature? 

Louie Giglio – Laminin

Passover-Easter Connections Day 4

Servant leadership = a paradox. When most people think of a leader things like authority, assertiveness, domination, power, respect… come to mind. When Jesus talks about leadership He talks about servant leadership. Since today is Maundy Thursday, where we remember the Last Supper, let’s go there:

“Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him…

And since I [Jesus], your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.” [John 13:3-5, 14-17]

It would have been exponentially easier and more pleasant for Jesus to not wash the disciples’ feet. Think the end of the day of camp with mud in crevices and an ingrown toenail… [yikes] Jesus washed and it was clean. He knew how unpleasant the washing would be, but He chose to follow through. The same is true with His painful death.

Compare this with Pharaoh’s leadership. Check out this video clip:

What is the difference between Pharaoh & Moses? Moses not only acknowledges God’s work, but gives Him credit and is obedient. Pharaoh puffs himself up and depends on his own flawed authority. ‘I am the morning and evening star.’ Oh, really? If that is the case, then God made you, Mr. Star and can take you out… and God does! Do you reflect more of Moses or Pharaoh? Sometimes I lean more to Pharaoh, but other times more so Moses. Let us, contemporary followers of our great God, continue to ask where do I need more humility and how can I serve today?

Let us embrace true authority- Jesus’ authority to teach and heal. This is what Easter is partly about- rightfully returning awe and control to God as He demonstrates His power and Jesus rises to life once again!

Passover-Easter Connections Day 3

One of my favorite jokes goes like this: A teacher asks her class to bring something that reminds them of God. The Jewish student brings a Star of David, the Muslim a prayer rug, the Catholic a rosary, and the Baptist a covered dish. 🙂 There is power in a shared meal.

Thinking about Passover- the Seder, the main event, centers around a meal of symbology. 

Egg= the festival sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem, symbol of mourning because of the destruction of the Temple

Bitter herbs= bitterness and harshness of slavery in Egypt

Shank bone= reminder of the lamb’s blood & sacrifice

Charoset= represent the mortar used to build while slaves

Parsley= dipped in salt water to remember the tears

The Seder is meant to be done together with family, friends- a shared experience. I think 1 of the reasons it is commanded to observe this rich with meaning festival every year is so that the work of God and miracle of the exodus cannot be forgotten.

“Celebrate this Festival of Unleavened Bread, for it will remind you that I brought your forces out of the land of Egypt on this very day. This festival will be a permanent law for you; celebrate this day from generation to generation.” [Exodus 12:17]
What was Jesus doing during the Last Supper? Celebrating Passover! 

“Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it.

Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” [Luke 22:15-20]

Similarly, a reason Jesus commands us to do this [Communion] is so that we will not forget the events around His death. Let us never take lightly Jesus’ self-sacrifice or the need for His sacrifice- sin.

“He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.” [1Peter 2:24-25]

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” [James 5:16]

Passover-Easter Connections Day 2

What does it take for God to get your attention? How does God speak to you? Sometimes it may take something like plagues-

“And that night at midnight, the LORD struck down all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn son of the prisoner in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed.

Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died. Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. “Get out!” he ordered. “Leave my people—and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the LORD as you have requested.” [Exodus 12:30-31]

or maybe silence-

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind.

After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” [1 Kings 19:11-12]

what about overwhelming grace?

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” [Romans 5:8-11]

Both Easter and Passover celebrate the saving of God’s people- Passover by leaving Egypt, Easter by the redemptive work of Jesus’ death & resurrection that saves all believers from Judgement. After the Hebrews were led out of Egypt, there were tough times but they received God’s guidance by the pillar of smoke, 10 Commandments, etc. After Christians, Christ believers, leave their former state of unbelief, they receive God’s guidance through prayer and the continual guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Hebrews were eventually led into the literal Promised Land. Christians believe that Jesus Christ, Messiah, will lead us into the heavenly Promised Land.

 “But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 6:22-23]

“But—”When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” [Titus 3:4-7]

Let us approach this week of holy-ness with reverence and reflection, perhaps with a bit of awe in response to what God has done for the Hebrews out of Egypt and for all who accept Jesus sacrifice. Let us also consider what God is doing within us, individually and collectively, now and where He leads us into the future.

One of my favorite parts of the Seder is a sort of poem/song where the response is ‘it would have been enough of us’ or ‘dayenu’:

Passover-Easter Connections Day 1

Today starts Holy Week and therefore a series on the Passover-Easter connections. It is not too unusual for Passover and Easter to be in the same month, but for Passover and Holy Week to start at the same time is pretty unusual. As Christians go through Holy Week, we will be nearly on the same schedule that Jesus was nearly 2,000 years ago. Too many times, Christians forget our Jewish spiritual heritage. Jesus was Jewish.

One of the first things to do in preparation for Passover is to clean the house and get rid of everything that contains yeast or other leavening. Yeast represents sin and cleaning the house is good spring cleaning, but also gets rid of all crumbs and remnants of leavening. Does this not sound similar to Lent? One of the goals for Lent, through fasting and different prayer, is to ask God where is my sin and to be thankful for forgiveness! Thankfully, God’s forgiveness is not only a broom that leaves a pesky dustpan line of dirt and dust, but completely picks up everything and cleans to a standard higher than military drill sergeant’s cleanliness.

“Against you, [God] you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” [Psalm 51:4-7, 10]

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” [Psalms 32:1-2]

Baruch Atah Adonai [praise to You, O God] for forgiveness and the sacrifice of Jesus. Shalom Amen!

“For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice. [Hebrews 9:24-26]

Here’s Your Sign- Passion 2011

This time 2 weeks ago I was in a stadium full of about 10,000 college students at Passion Conference in Ft.Worth! There were lots of interesting ideas and music, etc, but there is one thing that was really meaningful to me- the sign language interpreter. I know that may be kind of strange since I am not hearing impaired. There were 4-6 interpreters for each main session. I’m telling you, these ladies were wiping their brow trying to keep up with Louie Giglio, Charlie Hall, Chris Tomlin, John Piper, and the crew. What was really amazing was watching them sign Lecrae! Whoa! Rapping sign language! Amazing! One of the signers in particular moved almost like a dance with her arms to the music. It seemed like such a genuine connection with God worship experience for her. Watching signs for words like Jesus, Lord, save, heaven, power, Father, speak, etc was so moving [ha- pun] and beautiful!

Throughout the weekend, the participants raised money to help translate the Bible into the ‘heart language’ [1st language] of the Koso people inAfrica. Did you know that there are about 6,872 unreached with the Good News of Jesus people groups, or 2.8 billion people in the world? The Koso are one of these people groups. The point is access to the Bible and information about Jesus Christ.

While I realize that the majority of the hearing impaired are able to read the Bible, there can still be an access problem to a full worship experience and inclusion in church life. It makes me wonder certainly on a global scale who hasn’t heard about the Messiah and who misses out on this great thing I know- The Church, but also who misses out around me? More importantly what can I do to include everyone in the church experience who is interested?

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” [Hebrews 13:15-16]

“For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’ But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” [Romans 10:13-14]

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away!” [Matthew 18:12-13]

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.” [1Corinthians 15:3-6]

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