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Thursday, April 1, 2010

No One Died When Jesus Was Present

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Martha spoke these words to Jesus upon the death of her brother Lazarus. Was she right?

She was. No one ever died in Jesus’ presence. Death and Jesus, the source and giver of life, are mutually exclusive. When Jesus heard that Lazarus of Bethany was sick, He did not go to Bethany immediately, but stayed another two days where He was. He went to Bethany after Lazarus had died.

After arriving in Bethany, Jesus promised Martha that Lazarus “will rise again” (John 11:23). He also assured her that He is the resurrection and the life (v. 25). Accompanied by Martha and her sister Mary and other mourners, Jesus went to Lazarus’ tomb. There, he instructed the mourners to remove the stone that blocked the entrance to the tomb. Then He summoned dead Lazarus to come forth (vv. 39-43). Still bound in graveclothes, Lazarus hobbled out of the tomb—alive!

But didn’t two thieves die on crosses alongside the cross that held Jesus? Yes, but Jesus died before they did. Furthermore, He voluntarily dismissed His spirit after declaring, “It is finished!” (Read John 19:28-33.)

Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate act of amazing grace. He, the Prince of Life, died to give us life—eternal, blissful life. The apostle Paul exclaimed, “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20, 21).

Death is every human being’s enemy, but “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).

Have you claimed the victory by believing in Jesus Christ?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hungry for the Bread of Life?

Between college and my first pastorate I worked as a retail bread salesman in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Gloria and I were newlyweds then. Soon we will celebrate our 52nd Anniversary. I worked long hours in Niagara Falls, six days a week, and earned about $100 per week. Finally, in November of that year (1958) a church called me to be its pastor. In December I stopped selling bread and began to break the bread of life to members of the church that had called me to be its pastor. Suddenly, my salary went from $100 per week to $50 per week, but the privilege of serving a congregation on behalf of the Savior was priceless. Now, 52 years later I still consider ministry a priceless privilege.
Times have changed since 1958. When I sold bread in Niagara Falls, an 18-ounce loaf cost 12 cents and a dozen donuts cost 28 cents. Now a loaf of bread may cost 3 or 4 dollars and one donut costs more than a dozen cost in 1958. Of course, salaries have risen too. However, occasionally I drive many miles to preach, and then I return home with only the satisfaction of having shared the bread of life with hungry believers. I have often said I would rather preach without pay than be paid not to preach; a few congregations have tested that philosophy.
Bread has always been a staple food and probably always will be. It seems consumers are willing to buy bread at any price. I just wish there was a heavy demand for the bread of life throughout the land. It seems many believers want to see a national revival, but how many hunger for the bread of life? We may have a revival someday, but I don’t think it will happen until first we have a reBible.