Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

A Big Week

April 12, 2017

(This message was preached the Saturday night before Palm Sunday.)

Tomorrow morning kicks off the busiest week in the Christian calendar.  Palm Sunday we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  He cleanses the temple by throwing out those who sold animals for sacrifice and the money changers.  He has several days filled with wonderful teachings and then we have what we now call Maundy Thursday.  That is the night that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, instituted the Lord’s Supper and prayed in the garden before being betrayed and arrested.  Good Friday we remember His time in front of the Sanhedrin, then Pilot, then His crucifixion, death and burial.  Then on Sunday we will celebrate His resurrection.

Like I said, it is a big week, called Holy Week by many Christians.

Since we do not have services through the week here it seems like I need to pick what I consider to be the highlight of the week.  There is so much good material but there is certainly one part that stands out to me.

II Corinthians 5:12-21

 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

I.  Compelled

It is the heart that matters most, but people do see the outside before they get to know what is inside.  Sometimes Pentecostal believers may act in peculiar ways during worship.  People respond differently to an encounter with the Holy Spirit.  When we are spending time in the presence of God our eyes should be on the Lord and not on each other.  When we preach and teach, hopefully, things are more straight forward.  We need to speak in ways that can be understood by all.  Through all of it we are compelled by the love of Christ; whether in worship or in preaching and teaching.

II.  A New Creation

The person who we were has been replaced with the person whom we are becoming in Christ.  The opportunity for a new beginning is a central promise of scripture.  The old man dies and we are born again as a child of God.

III.  Reconciled

A central part of this new life is the fact that we have been reconciled to God.  We were separated from Him because of our sin, but through Jesus Christ we can be reconciled with God.  On our own we could not make this happen.  It was necessary for God to reach out to us.

IV.  The Main Event

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us”.

We cannot begin to comprehend what this phrase truly means.  Jesus as God or man had never sinned.  He understood temptation, but He had never given in to sin.  Yet He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world.  The penalty for our sins was laid upon Him.  Exactly what this entails we can only speculate.  We do know that Jesus in the garden recognized the cost and asked if it could pass from Him, but if not, may the will of God be done.

There was, and is, no other way.

Salvation is only through Jesus and belief in Him who died for us.  (John 14:6)

Everything else in Holy Week is important, wonderful, beautiful and special, but without the death of Christ on the cross we would still be left in our sins.

Thank you God.

Thank you Jesus.

New Life

April 16, 2015

Easter Sunday is my favorite Sunday of the year.  The celebration of the hope of new life that is given to us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ is always a wonderful day.

Luke 24:1-12

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’

And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

I.  He is Risen

Jesus had died and was buried, but He did not stay dead.  He rose from the grave to a life that is everlasting.  It is a wonderful event that brings hope to all of us who believe in Him, that even as He has risen from the dead, so we also will have a new life beyond the grave. Death is no longer to be feared.  It is no longer the end of our story.  Death is only the transition from this life to the next.  That dramatically changes how we look at this life.

II.  The Cross Came First:  Hebrews 12:2

 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Before Jesus could enjoy the triumph of the resurrection, He had to endure the trial of the cross.  It was in the death of Jesus on the cross that His mission on earth was completed.  It was on the cross that atonement was made for the sins of the world.  Without the cross we would be lost in our sins.

It was absolutely necessary for the crucifixion to come before the resurrection.  Only on the cross could Jesus say “It is finished”

III.  Our New Life:  II Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

For all of those who have wanted an opportunity to start over, Christianity offers that chance.  In Christ, the old passes away, we become something new.  It is not exactly a do over, but rather, a begin again.  We are “born again”  a new person in Christ Jesus.

What a wonderful thing!

IV.  The Death of the Old:  Romans 6:1-4

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

We are to die to sin and walk in the newness of life that God has for us.  In this life, while we are still in our old bodies, we are given a new spirit.  The Spirit of God gives us new life.  We are to learn to walk in the newness of that life, even while living in our old bodies.  When the time comes, we will trade these bodies for the new ones.  In the meantime we must die to sin so that we can live for Christ. The person who we were, our old nature, must die, so that the new person, who we are meant to be in Christ can fully come to life.

These are the sermon notes from 4/5/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.    

 

He is Risen

April 24, 2014

One’s perspective can make all the difference.

Matthew 28:1-10

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word

And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

I.  The Angel

Can you even imagine what an honor it was to be the one to give the news of the resurrection?  He begins with the words,”Do not be afraid”.  Most accounts of angels include similar words, apparently there is something about their appearance that can cause fear.  As believers, we do not need to be afraid.  God is with us.

See… and tell… The women are invited to see for themselves and to tell the disciples.  We too, are encouraged to see and tell.  The traditional Easter greeting of Christianity is for one person to say “He is risen.”  and for the other person to respond “He is risen indeed!”  We may not be able to look at an empty tomb, but we are able to see the evidence of lives changed by the power of the Risen Lord.

II.  The Guards

The guards were present when the stone was rolled away.  They also responded with fear but they “became like dead men”.  When they were able to move, they went and told the priest what had happened.  The religious leaders paid them money to tell a lie about what had happened.  Even though they had been eyewitnesses of the resurrection, they did not bear witness to the truth.  They truly were spiritually dead.  They were witnesses, but they did not truly believe.

There are people today who see the power of the gospel to change lives, but they do not believe for themselves.  Their spiritual eyes remain closed and they do not comprehend the truth.

III.  The Women

The women were initially afraid, and then filled with a great joy.  They ran to share the news of the resurrection.

Initially, people may approach the risen Lord with a certain amount of fear and apprehension.  It is new.  It may be frightening.  However, to those who believe, it is a message of great joy.  As Christians we can believe in the power of God, not only to help us in this life, but to give us hope of a life to come.  We, like the women, should run to share the news.

Someone has brought the message of the risen savior to us.  We can be like the guards and not truly believe, and help to spread a lie: or we can be like the women and be filled with the great joy that comes from knowing that our savior lives!

These are the sermon notes from 4/20/14.  Any advertisement that may follow this blog is placed there by WordPress. I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

Palm Sunday

April 14, 2014

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week.  On Palm Sunday we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Next Sunday will be Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  In between these two Sundays of celebration are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  These two days are tremendously important.  On Maundy Thursday, among other things, are the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus, the first celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, and Judas’ betrayal of Christ.  On Good Friday we have the crucifixion.  The primary reason that Jesus came to earth.  He was after all, “the lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world”.   If Jesus had not died for us, we would still be left in our sins.  There is no other way for us to be forgiven than through the sacrifice of Jesus.

I.  Rejoice:  Luke 19:28-40

 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”

32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”

34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” 35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:

‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

The disciples rejoiced over the mighty works they had seen.  After all, they had seen a multitude fed from a few loaves and fish, they had seen the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the blind see.  They had even seen the dead brought back to life.  There was much about which to rejoice.

Do we rejoice about what Christ has done for us?  We may not have had quite the same spectacular stories as the early disciples, but do we not have stories of the faithfulness of God?

II.  Weeping:  Luke 19:41-44

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Luke immediately follows the story of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem with this recital of Jesus weeping for the coming destruction of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was to be destroyed because “they did not know the time of your visitation”.  They had not accepted, truly, that Jesus was the Messiah.  This prophecy came true when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman army in 70AD.

The close proximity to the story of the triumphal entry reminds us of the mixture of emotions that Jesus must have felt.  Sure, He enjoyed the celebration of Palm Sunday, but He fully understood the events of the coming week.  He also knew that not all would receive the gift of salvation that would be offered.  There is a curious mixture of joy and sadness.

We too, should have a burden for the lost.  We should pray that God would touch their hearts, that they would respond to the gospel and be restored like prodigal children coming home to the Father.  Yes, we can celebrate, but we should also, at times, weep for the lost, and pray that God would work through us to reach them with the gospel.

On a related note, this mixture of emotions goes both ways.  During times of testing or trials, when life is painful and difficult; we can rejoice in the knowledge that, in Christ, we are victorious.  That in the end we win.  That Christ is with us always, even in the days of darkness.

III.  Cleansing:  Luke 19:4-46

Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is  a house of prayer’, but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”

The triumphal entry, weeping over the city, and now the cleansing of the temple.  The account in Luke is filled with powerful emotions.  In this section Jesus is distraught over the way that they house of God was being treated.  Some have used this portion of scripture to condemn bake sales in the foyer, or any kind of fundraising sale in the church building.  I think that they have missed the point.  The various fundraisers that go on in a church are not for personal gain.  They are for worth while causes. However there are some issues that we should face regarding our attitude towards the house of God.  Are we attending merely for the sake of appearance?   Perhaps, we are concerned about status?  Maybe we are simply trying to network to further our business.  Certainly, it is possible to have the wrong attitude towards church attendance.  We should be gathering together to pray, to worship, to learn, and to both encourage, and be encouraged by our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Palm Sunday is a wonderful day of celebration, but as we celebrate, let us remember to pray for the lost, and to maintain a right attitude in our own hearts towards the house of God.

These are the sermon notes from 4/13/14.  Any advertisements that may follow this blog are placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any payment from them.

Out of Death Comes Life

April 4, 2013

Here are the sermon notes  from Easter Sunday March 31, 2013.

I.  Resurrection:  Matthew 28:1-10

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

Rejoice!  The first word of Jesus to the women in this gospel account is to  rejoice.  Christians ever since that first Easter morning truly have rejoiced that Christ has risen!  It has made all the difference in the world.  It confirms the message that Jesus preached, and gives us a hope that goes beyond the grave.

Our church does not have Holy Week services.  We do not have a Maunday Thursday, or a Good Friday service.  We celebrate the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday, and the resurrection on Easter.  This gives the impression that the season is only that of celebration.

We must remember that you do not have a resurrection, without first having a death.  Hebrews 12:1-2 says:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We will never be able to fully comprehend the true suffering of Christ on the cross.  We cannot understand what it means to take the sins of the world.  Jesus knew what it was going to be like, and He asked three times that “this cup might pass from me”.  However, the Father, and Jesus also, knew there was no other way so “may thy will be done”.

II.  Out of Death Comes Life:  Matthew 16:21-27

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

I am concerned that we want to skip an important step.  We do not get to have the new life that Christ has for us unless we are willing to lay down the old one.  It seems as though many people want the promise of God’s help in this life and the promise of life to come, but they want to remain the masters of their own lives.  They  do not want to give their lives to Christ, they want to keep them for themselves.  Not everyone seems willing to say “not my will, but thine be done”.

Romans 6:1-4:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

I am concerned that many of us are so busy telling God what we want Him to do, that we forget to ask God what He wants us to do.

Years ago the Imperials recorded a song titled Water Grave.  It contains the words:

I’m going down to the river.

I’m going to be buried alive.

I’m going to show my heavenly Father

the man I used to be has finally died.

I have a 1983 Yamaha Venture motorcycle.  It runs good, but cosmetically it is in pretty rough shape.  If someday I get a different motorcycle I will have to choose which one I ride.  I can’t ride two bikes at the same time.

We cannot live our lives for ourselves, and live for God at the same time.

If we die to self, only then can we live for Christ.

Christ came that we might have life, and that more abundantly.  Let’s trust God enough to give up the lives that we had, so that we might live the life He has for us.

Obviously, I am not talking about a physical death.  I am talking about telling God “not my will, but Thine be done”.

New Life

April 10, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from Easter Sunday 4/8/12.

I.  Matthew 28:1-8  He has risen.

Easter morning we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  We should remember that there can be no resurrection without the crucifixion.

II.  Romans 6:1-4  Walk in Newness of Life

Christ has offered us a new life through His death and resurrection.  We are to die to sin, be buried with Christ in baptism, and walk in newness of life.  If the Spirit of God is dwelling in our hearts, we will be changed.

III.  II Corinthians 5:14-17  A New Creation

We are not to live for ourselves, but for Christ.  The old is gone, we are new in Christ.

Holy Week and Easter

April 21, 2011

Today is Maundy Thursday, tomorrow Good Friday, and then Sunday is Easter morning.  In some liturgical churches, there are services on Thursday and Friday.  The church that I now pastor celebrates Palm Sunday and then Easter.

I suppose you could say that we hit the highlights.

I sometimes suspect that we might be missing out on some important lessons.  Jesus washing the feet of the disciples powerfully displays an attitude of humble service.  His submission to the shame, beatings and the crucifixion demonstrate obedience and sacrifice.

The celebration of victory and the new life that we have in Christ is great, but, humble service and obedient sacrifice are concepts that should be regularly reinforced to the people of God.

Resurection Sunday

April 5, 2010

People around the world celebrated Easter yesterday.  For some it is a fun celebration of the coming spring, with new outfits, easter egg hunts, candy, and family gatherings.  For others, it is an important religious holiday, where the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated.  For many, it is a combination of the two.

Many of you are familiar with the phrase, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”  as a reference to discovering the crucial starting point.  I would like to remind everyone that you could not have the resurrection, without first having the crucifixion.

It is at the crucifixion of Jesus that the sins of the world are paid for by Jesus.  “He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay”.  There is a tendency to want to celebrate the good without recognizing the cost.

This idea is carried over into our lives.  We want the benefits of salvation, without “picking up our cross’ in terms of discipleship and service.  We want the “abundant life” without the “tests and trials of our faith’.

It goes further into society.  We want success in sports, or business, without the work and sacrifice.  We want the benefits of a happy marriage, without working out, and through, the various interpersonal conflicts that can occur.

We want the reward without the cost.

Life doesn’t work that way.