A Note From Chris- March 02, 2023

Over the last week and a half, I was privileged to travel to Israel with 31 other folks from our church. To see the Bible come to life by visiting the Bible places where God did amazing things through his people, and where Jesus was born, did ministry, and ultimately was crucified and raised to life is hard to put into words. Nothing I write here will do it justice, quite honestly. But I want to share a couple of insights with you so that together we can celebrate our awesome God.
1) Our God has always been incredibly faithful.
Everywhere we went in Israel, we were reminded of God’s incredible faithfulness to his people for generations. We visited ancient Jericho, a city which is only referenced in the Bible. You may remember the story from the book of Joshua. After marching around the city 7 times, God caused the walls of Jericho to come tumbling down. While there has been plenty of discrepancy historically about Jericho, today most experts recognize that the city walls from that era surprisingly fell outward, crumbling as they fell, and providing a perfect bridge for those outside the city to enter it. Similarly, there is a burn layer in the ground from the same era, as depicted in Scripture.
As I reflected on God’s promises fulfilled so many years ago in Jericho, I was reminded that God is still faithful and has been every day in between. He is still breaking down walls every day and walking with his people through their battles. As we often sing at Cornerstone, the battle belongs to the Lord.
2) In God’s Kingdom, what seems strong is weak, and what appears weak is strong.
I could write about this one for hours, as it became evident at virtually every location. Let me share just one example with you now. We visited the city of Caesarea, a coastal city on the Mediterranean built by Herod the Great. Even today as it lays in ruins, it is impressive. State of the art architecture and ornate decorations made Caesarea rival even mighty Rome in many ways. As one of Herod’s palaces was built literally INTO the ocean, it was a mighty and impressive city. And at one point, the apostle Paul was a prisoner there. One man, who had seemingly no power, had previously sailed from its coast to spread the gospel to the Gentile world. And later, he was a powerless prisoner who was eventually sent to Rome in an appeal to Caesar. Anyone who saw the situation would immediately assume Herod and Caesarea held all the power. And yet, today it is Paul whose heritage is remembered and celebrated every day worldwide, while Herod is all but forgotten outside of the Biblical text. God works best in the midst of weakness.
3) Jesus’ words are still confounding and transforming hearts.
One day, we visited the Mount of Beatitudes, the approximate location where Jesus delivered his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7). When we visited first thing in the morning, the place was slammed. Buses were everywhere, and people were spread out across the grounds, sort of like I imagine it was at that first sermon. And I was reminded that all these people were there because Jesus’ words have in some way shaped their hearts. They are moved by him, 2,000 years later, and have come to pay respect to what he said. You are the salt of the earth. Give to those who ask of you. Love your neighbor. Pray for those who persecute you. Forgive as God forgives you.
Today, while the location is a reminder, it is the words of Jesus that continue to penetrate hearts and shape lives into the image of the son of God. I’m so glad he calls me his child, and I am so glad to celebrate it with you. See you Sunday.

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