Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

John 7:37-38 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Frozen Niagara Falls

An estimated 500,000 tons of water go over Niagara Falls every minute. On March 29, 1948, the falls suddenly stopped. Those who lived near enough heard the overwhelming silence, and immediately they thought it was a sign – the end of the world had come! However, after thirty hours had passed – the flow of water resumed.

What happened? Heavy winds had set the ice fields of Lake Erie in motion and tons of ice had jammed the Niagara River entrance near Buffalo. The ice blocked the flow of water until finally, there was a shift in the blockage and the river began flowing again.

The river had stopped flowing because of ice.

If we really want the flow of God’s love, peace, joy, and anointing in our lives – we cannot allow our hearts to become like ice. If we do, His life-giving current will stop.

Let the Lord search your heart for those areas where the ice has built up and needs to thaw out. He will show you where they are if you ask. Our hearts should be burning for Him, so let the river flow…. once again.

churchTo make it possible for everyone to attend church this Sunday, we are going to have a special “No Excuse Sunday”:

Cots will be placed in the foyer for those who say, “Sunday is my only day to sleep in.”

There will be a special section with lounge chairs for those who feel that our pews are too hard.

Eye drops will be available for those with tired eyes from watching TV late Saturday night.

We will have steel helmets for those who say, “The roof would cave in if I ever came to church.”

Blankets will be furnished for those who think the church is too cold, and fans for those who say it is too hot.

Scorecards will be available for those who wish to list the hypocrites present.

Relatives and friends will be in attendance for those who can’t go to church and cook dinner, too.

We will distribute “Stamp Out Stewardship” buttons for those that feel the church is always asking for money.

One section will be devoted to trees and grass for those who like to seek God in nature.

Doctors and nurses will be in attendance for those who plan to be sick on Sunday.

The sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who never have seen the church without them.

We will provide hearing aids for those who can’t hear the preacher and cotton wool for those who think he’s too loud!

jesusEaster! It conjurs up all sorts of images from most peoples twice a year trip to Church, to Jesus’ suffering on the cross. But when you really think about it, the only image we should really focus on is His sacrifice so we can be forgiven.

Yes, Jesus died a horrific death on the cross so we could be forgiven of our sins. Yes, He took a step down from the heavens to the lowly earthly realm so He could be the sacrifice for us. But most importantly, He left the tomb and showed us that even though He was hurt and maimed by so many, He forgave and died for them.

This is such a great day to celebrate an act that so many of us have forgotten about, or considered to be so unimportant…the act of forgiveness. It’s so easy to say, “I can forgive, but not forget,” but I thank God He never says that. What our Lord DOES say, and what we should practice more of is, “Isaiah 43:25 I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Notice He says that He will not remember our sins. Then why do we remember and record all the sins that have been committed against us? So why shouldn’t we?

The first reason is that God doesn’t remember ours, so why do we think we’re better than God by remebering all the sins that others have committed against us? Another reason is that it just makes our lives miserable by remembering all the bad things in our lives and not focusing on one of the greatest fruits of the Spirit, which is joy. And finally, one of the biggest ones in my book, is that when we constantly remind someone of what they’ve done wrong, you’re a stumbling block between them and Jesus. You cause them to think that if a person of God cannot forgive (the accuser will always say remember), then certainly God will not. So you’ve now gone from being a Christ-like example to an example of what Christ would not do.

OK, so now you know what’s on my mind today. We need to take this time of year that we celebrate forgiveness and honor the act that Jesus so graciously performed for us. We need to walk out of the tomb of an unforgiving heart and into the freedom of a heart that no longer holds grudges and refuses to forgive others while we ourselves continue to sin. We need to forgive ourselves and others, and to give thanks to the greatest act of kindness ever given….the act of a loving God who chose to die on the cross for those who hurt Him the most. Now if we all did that, then His sacrifice will be truly honored. Will you honor Him today?

 

Some verse to help you towards the goal of forgiveness.

Philippians 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

 

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

 

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …

 

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

 

Isaiah 43:25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

 

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Smoke from Extinguished Candle“Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.”John 19:28-30
Good Friday … I am sure on that first Good Friday, that the first followers of Jesus would have called it anything but Good. That first Good Friday would have been an extremely long, tough, discouraging, dark day.You see these first followers who had followed Jesus for three years and had had such hope, such confidence and such anticipation of the exciting future that Jesus would bring to their world and to their individual lives. And yet on that Friday almost 2000 years ago they saw their dreams and hopes dashed. You see they hadn’t read the rest of the story, they didn’t know how this exciting historic story was going to unfold.

All they knew was this Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had learned to trust, was now hanging before their eyes … dead on a cross. What must have been going through their minds?

You see even as we read this painful description found in the Bible in the 19th Chapter of John, it is only natural to quickly want to turn to the 20th Chapter and read about the victory that came on Sunday. But for just a moment on this Good Friday, let’s imagine what it would have been like for the first believers in Christ to see the one whom they had come to believe was the Son of God, the Messiah, was now hanging on the cross seemingly defeated.

What feelings must have been rushing through their hearts? They must have been experiencing feelings of discouragement, defeat, and hopelessness? You see … its Friday and although Sunday is coming, they didn’t yet know it!

Isn’t that the way it is in our lives sometimes?

We experience a discouraging setback at work… or possibly lose that dream job and we feel discouragement and disappointment. It is Friday and although Sunday is coming, we don’t yet realize it!

We suffer another tough day in our personal life feeling defeated by that particular temptation, addiction or enslaving habit. We feel stupid, embarrassed, angry, and defeated! It is Friday and although Sunday is coming, we don’t yet realize it.

We experiencing a heartbreaking setback in a personal relationship in our lives … We walk out of court with the words “Divorce” echoing in our ears. We feel rejected, lonely and unloved. It is Friday and although Sunday is coming, we don’t yet realize it.

We hear a bad report from the doctor for ourselves, or a loved one. Our hearts race with fear, anxiety and uncertainty. It is Friday and although Sunday is coming, we don’t yet realize it.

We stand beside the grave of someone we love very much and we feel a deep loneliness and ache in our heart. It is Friday and although Sunday is coming, we don’t yet realize it.

It is in those moments that we feel the darkness of that first Good Friday!

It is in those moments that we need to take to heart the example of Jesus that is described in the Bible in the Book of Hebrews. In the 12th chapter of that encouraging book, Jesus is described as our champion who initiates and perfects our faith. We are reminded that as Jesus went to the cross he had the following focus: “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross.” That was an incredible focus!

Corrie ten Boom, who suffered in a Nazi death camp, explained the power of focus: “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ you’ll be at rest!”

… This morning as we allow ourselves to feel the darkness that those first believers must have felt, let’s focus our thoughts on the fact that … Yes at times in life, the candle might have been blown out temporarily, but it will shine again very, very soon! You see … it is Friday, but Easter Sunday is coming! Let’s take a moment now and reflect on what they must have felt and the reminder that no matter what we might be going through in our lives … It is Friday, but Easter Sunday is coming!

because-of-the-cross-titleFor many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. (Philippians 3:18 ESV)

With Easter right around the corner, if you asked the average person on the street what they think of Jesus, the majority of responses would be positive.  Most people would say that he was a good teacher that taught good morals.  But, mention the cross of Christ and all that it entails, you will likely receive a different response.  Paul told the church in Philippi that there are people who are enemies of the cross of Christ. They may like Jesus and what they perceive to be his teachings, yet they don’t like what comes with the cross.  As we read through the Bible we learn a lot about the cross of Christ.

1. Paul wrote that it is foolishness to those that are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18).  People just don’t get it when they are enemies of the cross.

2. Jesus said that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24). The cross is an instrument of death, therefore we must die to ourselves and our passions in order to follow Jesus.  Enemies of the cross don’t like the idea of not being able to do whatever they want.

3. The cross brings peace to all things through forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:20-22).  In order to embrace the cross, you must also admit your sinfulness and then repent of it.

Just as Paul was talking to the church in Philippi, he is also talking to us today.  The Gospel, the good news, is that our sins are forgiven because of the work of Jesus on the cross.  Does the gospel your church preaches talk of sin and the cross of Christ?  Or, does it talk of simply deciding you want heaven and a better life?

Examine your life today and the impact of the cross of Christ in your life.

I took photo with Canon camera in Caldwell Par...

I took photo with Canon camera in Caldwell Parish of Grayson Baptist Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One night an unemployed man was worrying about how he was going to pay his bills, that were already over due. He had searched and searched for a job, but he couldn’t find one. The man was down to his last 50 cents. The two quarters in his pocket, was all that he had to his name. He looked around at his wife and children and was feeling so ashamed that he had failed them. He decided to use the 50 cents to buy another Newspaper. Maybe today someone had placed a help wanted ad in the paper.

He got in his old run down car and drove down state highway #1947 towards Grayson, Ky. Two miles from Grayson the car ran out of gas. He got out and started walking, the rain was pouring down hard. When he got to Barretts Creek church, 1.8 miles from Grayson, the man was soaked from head to toe.

Barretts Creek church is building a new church beside of the old one that they are using now. The new church doesn’t have any doors or windows in it yet, so the man went inside the rough structure that was soon to be Barretts creeks new church. His plan was simply to get in out of the rain.

While he was standing in God’s church, waiting for the rain to slack down some. He could feel God’s presence’s there. Tears started to roll from his eyes. He knelt down on his knees to pray, he said: Lord, it’s been a long time sense I’ve been in your house, too long I know.

Lord, I’m sure you know the mess that I’m in. It’s my fault for trying to do it all on my own and forgetting about you. I’ve been so foolish Lord, please forgive me. I need to get back in church and sense I know for sure that you are here in this one. I think this is the one, this is where me and my family should be. I ask that your will to be done, and in Jesus’s Precious name I ask, A-men.

The man got up and started on his way again, on the long, wet walk to Grayson. The two quarters, jingled in his other wise empty pocket as he walked. He was now filled with joy and hope, for he no longer felt like he was walking alone. He knew Jesus had always been there by his side and ready to help. But he hadn’t asked Jesus for help lately. He realized that he couldn’t possibly be fruitful, when he was so far removed of from the vine.

When he had walked a little ways farther, a pickup truck stopped and the drive offered him a ride. The driver asked if that was his car that was sitting beside of the road? The man said: Yes, I ran out of gas. The driver said: Your lucky I came a long, I’m on my way to Grayson to get a newspaper. The man said: So am I.

The driver said: I wanted to see if they put my ad in there today, the newspaper forgot to yesterday. They pulled into the parking lot of the Super Quick in Grayson. The driver said: I just want to see if my add is in the paper and then you can have it, I don’t need it after that. He said: There is a empty gas can in the back of the truck, you get some gas and I’ll get us a newspaper.

The man put 50 cents worth of gas in the gas can, then set it carefully in the back of the truck and paid for it inside. The driver had already looked at the newspaper by the time the man had returned. The driver handed the man the newspaper and said: They didn’t put my ad in here again today either, and I need some one to start first thing in the morning. Do you know anyone that needs a job?

The man said: Yes, I do! Thats why I wanted a newspaper. The driver said: I need help, the job is yours if you want it, I pay 9 dollars an hour to start out. The man said: I’ll take it, I put the last 50 cents I had in that gas can back there. The drive said: That is not enough to get you to work in the morning, I’ll follow you back to Super Quick and fill your car up. I can take it out of your first weeks pay check. The man said: Will you do me one more favor?

The driver said: What is it? The man said: Stop at the church so I can thank God for your help and for the job. The man went inside the church again, he knelt down to pray. He said: Dear Father in Heaven, I wanted to stop back in your church and give thanks for how you have jumped in there and straightened me out, and to thank you for the job. Now I can go home and face my family again. Thank you, in Jesus Precious name, A-men. As he started back out the opening of the church, he stopped and said: Oh by the way Lord, like Jesus once said: ” I’ll be back again”.

Last night I watched the movie, The ten Commandments. Many people consider this to be an Easter tradition. I loved that movie and I used to enjoy sitting around Easter Day watching many more of the classic movies about Jesus but today I have noticed a huge emptiness as void as Jesus’ tomb itself. The it hit me, Jesus has disappeared from Easter.

When I was growing up in the late 60’s and throughout the70’s, you saw the word Jesus as often as you saw the word Easter, but not anymore. As I’m sitting here typing this blog, I have the TV on for background noise and I hear the word Easter a lot, but not one mention of Jesus. I have searched the TV guide to see when I will watch the next movie about the life of Jesus, but there are none to be found. I feel like we have lost the true meaning of the day.

So where did Jesus go in all of this? Of course we know He’s still here, but I mean where did He go a far as the world is concerned, and why? The answer is simple, we have become lazy in the Christian ranks. We stopped believing that we needed to continue to tell people about Jesus and expected them to come to us. We quit telling the story of Easter and why our Lord did what He did and expect them to understand the Holiday. We have allowed the Muslims and others to talk to our neighbors while we read the Bible by ourselves. The Church has stayed in it’s walls polishing it’s ornate fixtures and forgotten the people in the community. In short, we allowed Jesus to be kidnapped.

One of my favorite parts of the Easter story is after Jesus was resurrected, He came back to tell His followers what would be expected of them until He returned. One of the greatest requests that He made is call the great commission which is explained to us in Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Jesus has been taken from us and it’s our own fault. He paid the ransom for our sins, but we have quit on Him. Getting Him back is simple, we need to get out of our houses and Churches and meet the people where Jesus did…in the world where they live. We need to be sharing our faith at all time in all places. Until all of us are willing to do this we will see less and less of Jesus every Easter. Are you willing to be an accomplice in the kidnapping of Jesus?