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Personal from the President: February 18, 2021

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Personal from the President

February 18, 2021

Preparing for your best Passover yet (Part 1)

For all of humanity, the Passover stands alone as the singular event in history. Billions of years ago—a number incomprehensible to the human mind—God and the eternal Being known then as the Word (Logos) laid plans to create a vast physical universe packed with many marvels. This universe would be created for a purpose. This new physical universe would center on the Word and His future roles as Jesus Christ, the Savior of humanity, the Son of God and King of Kings in the coming Kingdom of God.

What would be the purpose of this massive, spectacular universe? From the very beginning, it all would be focused on eventually “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×
, English Standard Version).

As the foundations of the world were planned, Jesus would play a pivotal role in everything, including bringing into being every physical element, from the tiniest nanoparticle to the largest stellar supercluster to life itself! John’s words are simple, but astonishingly profound: “God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him” (John 1:3 John 1:3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation, emphasis added throughout).

A great timetable then came into play, and as the billions of years advanced and the universe matured into the spectacular proof of God’s existence (Romans 1:20 Romans 1:20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
American King James Version×
), an all-important event took place, just as it was planned: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×
, ESV).

As the Messiah, Jesus completed a 3½ year prophetic ministry, magnifying the law that He gave at Sinai (1 Corinthians 10:4 1 Corinthians 10:4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
American King James Version×
), firmly demonstrating that the two greatest commandments were deeply grounded in love—love for God and love for each other (Matthew 22:37-40 Matthew 22:37-40 [37] Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. [38] This is the first and great commandment. [39] And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×
).

At the end of His ministry—which we will soon observe—Jesus laid his life down in a never-to-be-equaled sacrifice, dying a humiliating death typically reserved for base criminals. The very Son of God paid the ultimate price.

And with His blood He flung open the door that allows us to be reconciled to His Father and become the very children of God, heirs to life eternal! At the moment of His death, in what must have been an overwhelming sight, unseen hands tore the thick curtain hung in front of the Jewish temple’s Holy of Holies “from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51 Matthew 27:51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
American King James Version×
), powerfully symbolizing that the way to God Himself was now open!

Without this sacrifice, none of God’s plan for humanity could come to pass. As Paul wrote, “Christ [the Messiah], our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
American King James Version×
, ESV). So, we are commanded to observe and remember Jesus’ death and sacrifice, as we will in a little over 40 days.

This year, I would like to challenge all of us to take steps for each of us to experience a truly memorable Passover. For many, if not most, of us, this has been a trying year since we last took of the bread and wine. Some of us lost family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of us experienced it firsthand. Many endured lockdowns and economic tough times.

The good news is that we made it to this point!

But even though we now see perhaps a light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel, many of us are fatigued, even worn out. Some still feel discouraged, even depressed. As I know from many phone calls, conversations, emails and personal experience, this past year truly took a toll on all of us.

But there is hope! The coming Holy Days give us a powerful framework for renewing our spiritual, mental and physical lives. Now is an excellent time for a personal re-set.

Here are some thoughts to consider: each year at this time, we open our Bibles and read the words of 1 Corinthians 11:27-31 1 Corinthians 11:27-31 [27] Why whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. [28] But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. [29] For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. [30] For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. [31] For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
American King James Version×
, including the warning: “whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” But we do have a positive process to deal with this: “let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

The process of examining oneself is a critical one. It is not, of course, a one-time annual event, as Paul later writes: “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you” (2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?
American King James Version×
, NLT).

While we are encouraged to honestly review our lives and take a spiritual inventory before the Passover, we are to do so in a way to build us up, renewing our understanding—and our relationship—with Jesus Christ, who is also our Elder Brother.

In my half century in the ministry, I have seen well-meaning brethren sometimes take this “examining” process to an extreme, heaping up unnecessary toxic guilt on themselves in an effort to somehow demonstrate how “unworthy” they are.

The truth is none of us is worthy. Without the saving grace of Jesus Christ as the life-giver, none of us stand a chance. Jesus is truly the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
American King James Version×
), “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 Acts 4:12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
American King James Version×
, ESV).

Despite our status, God’s marvelous plan bridges the gap! What does the Passover do? When observed properly, it reminds us deeply how much God loves us, that He would give His only Son to enable a direct, eternal relationship with us (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×
). It reminds us of the truly incredible human potential that each of us holds as a very child of God (1 John 3:2 1 John 3:2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×
). It reminds and energizes us to be grateful and to embrace humility as a way of life as we appreciate what has been done for us. And it renews our commitment and dedication to be overcomers, more than conquerors (Romans 8:37 Romans 8:37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
American King James Version×
).

This column will be the first of two to address how this Passover can help us re-set our minds, our emotions and even our spiritual joy. We can perhaps even recapture our first love for the truth (Revelation 2:4 Revelation 2:4Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love.
American King James Version×
).

So, between now and next week, I challenge us all to commit to some extra time to come before God in humble prayer, asking for the refreshing power of spiritual renewal. I challenge us to ask in faith, believing that God knows our every need (Philippians 4:19 Philippians 4:19But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
). Let us ask that we each can elevate our personal relationship with Jesus Christ our Savior that we can become as Peter wrote: “Though you have not seen him [physically, as Peter had], you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8 1 Peter 1:8Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
American King James Version×
, ESV).

Let’s start preparing now for this Passover in earnest, working to make it truly and joyously memorable, even possibly the best yet. More to come next week!