Why are Orthodox churches celebrating Easter this Sunday?

Why are Orthodox churches celebrating Easter this Sunday?

The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus is the most important day in the Christian calendar. That day differs in the western Christian tradition and among churches in areas of the world that have been influenced by the eastern or Orthodox tradition.

It all goes back to the Roman Empire and a division that took place one thousand years ago between Rome in the West and Constantinople in the East, the two capitals of the empire. Following the split of the government, church leaders aligned themselves with the respective governments. In what has been described as the Great Schism of 1054, the Pope-led Catholic Church in Rome excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, leader of the Orthodox Church, who in turn excommunicated the Pope. Though now separate, the two churches agreed that believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection and acknowledging Christ as savior was central to Christianity.

For the next 500 years everyone in Christianity used the same Julian calendar and set of rules to celebrate Easter after Jewish Passover which was dictated by the Jewish lunar calendar. The problem of two dates for Easter cropped up after countries in Europe began adopting the Gregorian calendar that more accurately accounts for the vernal equinox and summer and winter solstices. The Catholic church began using the new calendar, but Orthodox churches did not even after the countries in which they were situated made the switch. So, Orthodox churches around the world will celebrate Easter this Sunday. In many countries, Egypt, for example, most non-orthodox churches follow the lead of their local Orthodox churches and celebrate Easter at the same time.

For millions of Christians, this is the week they end their 40 days of Lent. This is the week they commemorate the betrayal, trials and crucifixion of Jesus. On Sunday, they will celebrate the resurrection just as hundreds of millions of Christians did three weeks ago. The next time all Christianity will celebrate Easter on the same day will be in 2034.

Do you celebrate Easter? Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If you’re not sure or would like to know more about Jesus, please contact us. We would love to talk with you about how you can enjoy a renewed life and assurance of where you will spend eternity.

Does man have a Noble purpose or do we just exist? Part 2

Does man have a Noble purpose or do we just exist? Part 2

Last week we took an overview approach to answer this question focusing on God’s love. This week we have taken an in-depth search of Scriptures to see what else we can discover about whether or not mankind has a noble purpose ordained by its creator, God.

First, what is man that God is mindful of him? (Psalm 8:4). Well, God created man, a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5), with a purpose to rule over the planet Earth (Genesis 1:28). This purpose was in direct conflict with the former most powerful ruler of Earth, Satan.  Satan attacks man even to this day to remove man as ruler and for Satan to try to gain back his rule over Earth and to destroy Israel.

But, Jesus the Lord God takes on flesh of a man (Hebrews 2:9), coming to Earth as the “son of man.” This son of man defeats Satan at the cross, and is crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9; Psalm 8:5). Jesus raises man to a highly elevated position as a son of God and brother of Jesus, through placement in Christ (Ephesians 2:6) and adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5), for those who receive him (John 1:12). Man is thus raised to the highest place of significance far above that of the place of Satan.

Such a work of God brings glory to God revealing his wonderful grace and mercy. Further, after having raised man to a high position in Christ, God then uses man to join with Him in order to carry out God’s will on Earth.

Man’s purpose is thus: To be an instrument used by God in the face of a powerful enemy, wherein God rules planet Earth through man, to accomplish God’s purposes, and so bring glory to God (1Peter 4:11; Ephesians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Therefore, we can conclude positively from the Scriptures that man has a noble purpose. A purpose that is good and honorable. A purpose that can be admired due to its impressive value in and through the work and activity of God.

If you would like to learn more about how you can become intimately connected to God and truly understand his purpose for you, please go to our Next Steps page.

(Note: The reference to man refers to mankind and includes both men and women, sons and daughters).

How can I leave a Legacy as a Christian?

How can I leave a Legacy as a Christian?

Before we present the answer to this question, allow us to pose another for you to ponder. It may sound a little strange, but think about it for just a moment: what do you want people to say about you at your funeral? Do you want people to say that you were funny, or that you were financially successful? Do you want people to think you were generous or friendly, or a hard worker? Is that enough for you or do you want more? A legacy is about how we are remembered when we are gone. We all leave a legacy. It’s simply a question of what it will be. In fact, you are building your legacy right now. When we die, our legacy lives on. A legacy may even last forever. The Bible says three things in life last forever: God (Deuteronomy 33:27, Psalm 100:5) The Word of God (Isaiah 40:8, Psalm 119:89) The souls of people (Daniel 12:2, John 3:16, Hebrews 9:27).

If you want to leave a legacy as a Christian, you must build your life around these three eternal things. As a Christian you leave a legacy by investing your time, talent and treasure in God and in the things of God. You get to know him, love him, and serve him. You worship him regularly, and learn his ways. You do things that will give him glory. You give financially to his kingdom through churches, ministries and missionaries who are spreading his word. You listen to his Spirit as He guides and directs you throughout your life. As a Christian, you leave a legacy by knowing the Bible and speaking it to everyone all around you with your life, your words and your actions. You teach God’s word to your kids, you share with your neighbor. God’s word is your authority and source of hope in a lost and broken world. You study God’s word to allow it to inform your life. As you do this, your character changes and you become more like Jesus.

As a Christian, you leave a legacy by investing in other people. People live forever, either with or without God. You share with others how they can know Jesus to ensure they will spend eternity with him. You disciple and mentor people, you love and serve and guide them. People and relationships are the most important thing to God. Jesus loved people and taught them, fed them, healed them and ultimately gave his life for that. At your funeral, what if instead of people saying that you were funny, they said, “here was a man who changed the world because he invested in eternity,” or “here is a woman who invested in God, the word of God, and other people. She is someone who left a great legacy.”

If you want to leave a legacy as a Christian, you must situate your life around these three eternal things. As a Christian you leave a legacy by investing your time, talent and treasure in God and in the things of God. You get to know him, love him, and serve him. You worship him regularly, and learn his ways. You do things that will give him glory. You give financially to his kingdom through churches, ministries and missionaries who are spreading his word. You listen to his Spirit as He guides and directs you throughout your life. As a Christian, you leave a legacy by knowing the Bible and speaking it to everyone all around you with your life, your words and your actions. You teach God’s word to your kids, you share with your neighbor. God’s word is your authority and source of hope in a lost and broken world. You study God’s word to allow it to inform your life. As you do this, your character changes and you become more like Jesus.

As a Christian, you leave a legacy by investing in other people. People live forever, either with or without God. You share with others how they can know Jesus to ensure they will spend eternity with him. You disciple and mentor people, you love and serve and guide them. People and relationships are the most important thing to God. Jesus loved people and taught them, fed them, healed them and ultimately gave his life for that. At your funeral, what if instead of people saying that you were funny, they said, “here was a man who changed the world because he invested in eternity,” or “here is a woman who invested in God, the word of God, and other people. She is someone who left a great legacy.”

Does sin matter if I’m basically a good person?

​​ This answer requires us to define two words, SIN and GOOD.

The Bible defines sin not as a bad deed, but rather anything that we do that separates us from an intimate relationship with God. We can recognize how adultery destroys the trust between a husband and wife often leads to separation. That’s what sin is like, an action that seems to be good, or one that we rationalize as good can cause a break in a relationship. Stealing items of value, or lying, or saying something that damages the reputation of another person are all acts that destroy trust and break relationships. We may not feel it at the time, but sinful acts often create feelings of guilt and shame and can lead to depression or worse.
 The second definition we have to consider is “good”.  What do you mean when you say that you are “basically good”? What is your objective standard for measuring goodness? In the Bible we are reminded that no matter how good or righteous we think we are, by God’s standard of holiness and perfection our righteousness is like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) So, it is clear by God’s standard that you are a sinner even when you believe you are a “good” person. You don’t get to place all of your goodness on one side of a scale and expect it to outweigh your sin on the other side of the scale. No matter how much good is attributed to you, if you do not believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you will not be able to experience God’s love and forgiveness.
The good news is that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Jesus paid the penalty for our sins at the cross. So now we can experience forgiveness and relief from sin that God offers when we put our trust and faith in Him. That also means that when we stumble into sin again we can seek God’s forgiveness and restore our relationship with Him. When we abide in Christ and walk in the light of God’s Inspired Word we are able to overcome sin and its power in our lives. Are you a follower of Jesus so you can enjoy God’s forgiveness and the abundant and eternal life that is available only in Him? If not, why not do it today. 

What Does it Mean to Worship God?

What Does it Mean to Worship God?

Worship is the grateful response to a gracious and loving God. It means honoring the God of creation who has given life and the assurance of eternal life for all put their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Worship is a spontaneous and voluntary act of gratitude offered by the saved sinner to the Savior.

Simply stated, worship is just saying, “thank you God for all your blessings.”  The fact is that every good thing a person has in life is a gift from God. So in worship, we praise God for his amazing works in creation. We praise him because His power is great and His unfailing love is even greater. In a greater sense, worship reflects the condition of the human heart and lifts the human spirit. Worship connects people with God at the spiritual level.

In the Christian perspective, Stewardship is worship. Service in missions and in the church is worship. Good works, done in Jesus name, is worship. Singing praises to the Lord as worship. Sharing the good news of the Gospel with others is worship.  In other words, all of life’s activities should be worship. Worship will be one of the primary activities for eternity in heaven. In worship we say, “To God be the glory. Great things he has done!”  This is what it means to worship God.

Can a Christian become demon-possessed?

Can a Christian become demon-possessed?

The simple answer is, no. But the forces of evil can both influence and tempt you, even if you are a Christ-follower.

As a child of God, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, you are protected from any inroads of demons. In Johns gospel, he reminds us that “Greater is he that is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) The “ he ” John is referencing is God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, who is within all believers. That Holy Spirit is greater than the spirit of evil represented by Satan.

Satan uses many devices to draw Christians away from God. He is a master of deceit and uses all manner of temptations to try and separate a Christian from his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. In fact, it was on Jesus, that Satan tried all of his tricks to tempt Jesus to turn his back on his Father and the mission he came to earth to fulfill. Jesus was tempted in all the ways that a Christian may be tempted, but he did not give in, he did not sin.

Unlike Jesus, we are not God, and all people, Christians and non-Christians alike will sin. But, if you sin and you confess that sin to God and ask for his forgiveness, he will forgive and bring you back into a right relationship with him. The good news is that God also gives you the power to flee from temptation and not enter into sin. You have been given the free will to decide how you will respond. Choose wisely.