Sunday, March 27, 2005

Life, Death & Living Again

Life, Death & Living Again


This morning we will be reading from a passage of scripture found in The Gospel of John, Chapter 19

John Calvin commented on this passage and said:

“The weakness of faith is manifested when the confession of faith is withheld.”

We have set aside this time, the traditional Easter Sunday morning church service, to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

It was at Passover almost 2000 years ago that Jesus offered Himself as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.

The blood of Jesus which was shed on the cross of Calvary that day paid the redemption price for every soul who believes in their heart that Jesus is Messiah and accepts Him as the Lord of their life.

The putting to death of the King of the Jews was both a tragic and wonderful event.

Wonderful for all who would be freed from their sins … but tragic for those who were not prepared for Jesus’ death.

Lets look into the scriptures which immediately follow the crucifixion and glean from the truths of God’s word concerning:

Life, Death and The Resurrection

John 19 NKJV

38 ¶ After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.

39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.

40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.

42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

Each step and every moment of Jesus reveals new power.

Here we see two men who become very important figures in this tragic and wonderful moment. First:

* Joseph of Arimathea

> He was a member of the Sanhedrin counsel and

> A very wealthy landowner and well known business man from the city of Ramah

> He was also a secret follower of Jesus … A closet Christian.

> When Jesus was alive Joseph was afraid to personally acknowledge Him or publicly identify with Him for fear he would lose his standing in society.

> Now, in this tragic moment - Jesus is dead and Joseph’s fear gives way to boldness and Joseph comes out of the closet. Next there’s:

* Nicodemus - This is the same Nicodemus from John 3

> Who was a Pharisee and Magistrate and a Chief Ruler of the Jews

> John 3:2 says that he “came to Jesus by night”

There are quite a number of people who only come to Jesus at nighttime. Either each night before they go to sleep by repeating their nighttime prayers they learned as a child or in the nighttime seasons of their life when they are alone and lonely and nothing else has worked.

> Jesus called Nicodemus a master of Israel but one who knew nothing about spiritual things.

> It was to Nicodemus that Jesus uttered the familiar words which so many Christians now memorized:

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

> When Jesus was alive Nicodemus came to him at night

> Now, in the middle of the daytime, Nicodemus decides to publicly acknowledge His relationship with Jesus and brings 100 pounds of expensive spices to perfume the decaying memory of what could have been. (This is enough spices to embalm 200 bodies.)

I. Jesus In Life

A. Both Senator Joseph and Judge Nicodemus were good and honorable men and they both knew about Jesus’ life.

1. They knew about the miracles Jesus performed

2. They knew about the meetings He held

3. They understood the claims He made

4. And they believed He was Messiah

B. But this knowledge of Jesus’ life did little if anything to move either Joseph or Nicodemus to publicly identify themselves as followers of Christ.

C. Perhaps they were too educated, too ambitious, too wealthy, too important or too sensible to publicly follow Jesus in His life and ministry. Maybe they were embarrassed to be identified as a member of that group. Who knows? … However …

Wealth, power and position can make the confession of Christ only the more difficult.

D. What we see here is that while knowing and experiencing Jesus’ life did not move either of these men to serve Him, knowing and experiencing Jesus’ death did!

To experience the life of Christ is to know about Him and perhaps become inquisitive or even embracing of His claims.

* Ambition, fear, position or love of money can still reign

* We can privately and secretly support His cause while publicly supporting our own.

* It is easy to put off paying what we owe - when we think we have all the time in the world.

* But, Time waits for no man.

II. We see the affect of Jesus’ life now let’s look at Jesus In Death

A. To experience the death of Christ is to know Him, not just know about Him, and to therefore extinguish all passions belonging to the flesh.

1. When we see His death for ourselves, we loose heart to follow anything else.

2. We publicly proclaim allegiance without fear of what others may think or what the personal costs may be.

3. Time is no longer our friend - what we do, we must do now

4. Fear is replaced with holy boldness

5. It takes embracing the death of Jesus personally and publicly to break the bonds of fear.

6. Our praise perfumes the living soul like aloes and myrrh the dead.

B. To know the life Jesus lived is good

C. To understand the death Jesus died is even better

D. However, if we want to experience the best God has to offer us, we must get to know Him in the resurrection

1. To experience the resurrection of Christ is to embrace eternity as a certain reality.

2. To know Him in the resurrection gives us eternal perspective.

3. Life viewed from eternity’s vantage point is more powerful than any temptation, test, trial or tragedy life can offer us.

If all we know is His life we may not follow Him publicly.

If all we know is His death we may not follow Him powerfully.

We all need to know Him in His resurrection and in our daily life.

The Apostle Paul vehemently declared in:

Philippians 3

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Muslims do not worship a risen Mohammad

Buddhist do not worship a risen Buddha

Hindus worship cows as sacred reincarnations of their dead ancestors

Only Christians hold claim to the worship of a Risen Savior, Alive and coming again.

IV. Conclusion

A. Do you know Him or just know about Him

1. Are you a closet Christian

2. An undercover Christian

3. A Secret, night-time Christian

B. You can know Him personally and publicly

1. In life

2. In death

3. And in living again … in the power of His resurrection?

C. Will you let Him rise again in you today?

1. He came the first time born from a virgin womb

2. He was resurrected to life again from a virgin tomb

3. He wants to live now through me and through you

D. Let Him Rise Again Today and Everyday In Your Life!

Matthew 28 NKJV

1 ¶ 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.

2 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.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

6 "He is not here; for He is risen …

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A Better Way

A Better Way


Our main text today will come from the book of Galatians.

There was a rich man who died and went to heaven. Upon arriving he was given a tour of the city where he saw beautiful mansions on streets of gold. After a while he was ready to see the house which had been built just for him. The angel turned and led him between two stately and ornate mansions with large doors made of pearl and sapphire and continued past several streets seeing more modest homes to a smaller perimeter road where rows of plain houses sat. “The third one from the corner is yours”, the angel pointed and said. What! Exclaimed the man. Why is my house so plain and small? “Well, you see” replied the angel, “that’s all the material you sent ahead for us to work with … and you still owe for the doors.”

While this story may be a bit far fetched, one still has to believe that: What we do on earth will matter for eternity.

It is certain that we all are a part of

The Circle of Life

Things begin and things end.

Our Challenge Is to:

Believe it

Prepare for it

Deal with it

Not only is there a Circle of Life where things begin and things end, but in between it is certain that we will also experience

The Cycle of Life

Sometimes things are good and sometimes things are bad

There will be Ups and

There will be Downs

Our Challenge Is To:

Not let the ups get us off course, and

Not let the downs get us off course

Make outward changes on the hill

Make inward changes in the valley

There is The Circle of Life, there is The Cycle of Life, and then there is:

The Secret of Life

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

It’s akin to the Law of Reciprocity.

When we do one thing it causes another thing.

The bible puts it this way:

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

In recent history this scripture has been primarily used in relation to finances. Even though this scripture does cover the financial areas of life, it expressly speaks in reference to how we are accustomed to treating our fellow man, or woman, as may be the case.

Lets read on:

Galatians 6:8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Now this verse completes the principle of sowing and reaping and gives us a strong framework around which we can firmly establish exactly what the Apostle Paul is referring to when he gives us this great secret of life.

This morning I would like to use this scripture passage to focus on finding a better way to solve the periodic problems we face in the up and down cycles of life.

First on the up side:

In Deuteronomy 6 Moses told the children of Israel to beware when things start to go your way and when prosperity and ease of life comes your way. Why beware?

Because, it is in those moments of life that people are often tempted to sow carnal seeds and give less attention to the God who blessed them with prosperity and ease of life in the first place.

This is what God said through Moses:

Deuteronomy 6

10 "So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build,

11 "houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full—

12 "then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

When things are going well, we must not forget God, but continue to serve Him faithfully.

God calls people who are blessed and hopes to make them a blessing to others.

God also blesses and increases people who before had very little, in hopes that they will take the opportunity to be a blessing to others.

You have heard of the carnal philosophy:

“Get what you can and can what you get.”

I call that the:

“The Bigger Barn Mentality”

This is described by Jesus in:

Luke 12 (NIV)

16 And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.

17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 "Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

19 And I’ll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."‘

20 "But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God."

We can’t take it with us unless we bless others with it.

We who are blessed with joy, peace, salvation, forgiveness, hope, comfort, faith or resources, can certainly afford to share some of what we have with others - especially your family. What else are you doing that is more important?

Conclusion: When things are going good, Find a way to share a portion of your blessings with others.

What about when things aren’t going so well?

Then, especially then, definitely then, we must find a way to sow seeds in respect to our needs.

What is the answer for world hunger?

Either somebody who has sown seeds and produced a crop gives the hungry food, or

The hungry need to sow some seeds and grow their own crop.


Bad things left to themselves do not get better, they get worse.

What if I told you that it took 4 months to grow corn under the best of circumstances.

Noah’s neighbors would have been the first to tell us that we should not wait until it begins to rain before we start building our ship.

When things are on the down side of life and perhaps we are in a difficult moment with no peace, no joy, no hope or no resources, it can be difficult to even think of helping someone else.

There are many reasons why people in an immediate need can’t see their way clear to begin sowing seeds for a future harvest.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 He who observes the wind will not sow, And he who regards the clouds will not reap. (NKJV)

Ecclesiastes 11:4 If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. (NLT)

A carnal person sows what they have reaped while a spiritual person sows what they desire to reap.

I leave you this morning with the next two verses to finish out the thought we started in Galatians, Chapter 6.

Galatians 6 (NKJV)

9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

In conclusion this morning:

* Believe there will be good and blessed seasons of life

* If you are in one look around to see how you can use this time to be a blessing to others.

* If you are not in a blessed season of life, look around and see how you can sow some seeds to produce a blessing.

* Share some forgiveness, joy, peace, patience, hope and resources with others.

* It’s either your duty or it’s your salvation.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Doors Of Opportunity

Doors Of Opportunity


Dr Cho, Senior Pastor of the Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, the largest church thus far in Christendom, says that:

“Dreams and visions are the language of the spirit.”

If you would like to get ahead, I will be reading from the book of 1 Corinthians Chapter 2 later on this morning.

Joel 2:28 ¶ "And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.

Joel the prophet who lived 800 years before Christ, prophesied that one day God would pour out His Spirit on all kinds and types of people who would then begin to dream God inspired dreams, see heavenly visions and speak of things not yet seen.

Acts 2:16 "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel

On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, the Apostle Peter declared that the prophecy of Joel had begun.

From that day to this every man, woman, boy and girl who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, without respect to their station or status of life, has resident within themselves a spiritual awakening just waiting to break forth and be released.

God has always, throughout history, found holy men and women with whom He could commune and share His plans. Now however, He has made all who come to Christ holy reservoirs of His purpose and plans.

God has a plan. He will succeed. We have an opportunity to participate.

Don’t be presumptuous, however, … our opportunity is just and only that - an opportunity.

We possess the potential to reach our highest calling and do our greatest good for God’s Kingdom.

Lest we get too complacent, remember - better candidates than we have failed in their attempts by getting sidetracked, disheartened, disillusioned, detoured, derailed and destroyed along the way.

It was God who first gave His dream to Adam and Eve.

Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth …

God had a plan

He will succeed

Adam and Eve had an opportunity to participate.

But in part, they failed! (They did fill the earth)

Sin can shut the doors on opportunity.

So God chose another … not another plan but another people.

Over 1600 years later, when Noah came out of the ark, God chose him and his family:

Genesis 9:1 ¶ So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

I think of Moses. Given a dream by God of going down into Egypt, delivering the children of Israel and bringing them into a land flowing with milk and honey.

God had a plan.

He did succeed

Moses had an opportunity to participate.

But he only got it half right before he became frustrated with God’s people and stubbornly disobeyed and angered God so that God chose someone else.

Stubbornness can shut the doors on opportunity.

God did not choose another plan but another people. He also chose Joshua who embraced the dream and picked up where Moses failed.

I think of the four leprous men in the days of Elijah, who were faced with famine and would have died if they had not taken the inspired opportunity God gave them, saving themselves and the whole city of Samaria. This passage should inspire every Christian.

2 Kings 7:3 ¶ Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate: and they said one to another, “Why sit we here until we die?”

Complacency can shut the doors of opportunity.

I think of Ester, given the opportunity to participate in God’s plan and to save the Jews in her city from certain death. She did not think she could do it. Facing execution herself, she nonetheless found the courage to rise to her opportunity and speak out for her people.

The famous quote is read from the book of Ester which was sent to her by her guardian cousin, Mordecai:

"For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Ester 4:14

Fear can shut the doors of opportunity.

We see in this scripture that God is determined to succeed.

His plan will go forward with the one He chooses or with the next one He chooses.

In the Old Testament the Spirit of God came upon Holy men and women in times, when necessary, to advance the Kingdom cause.

Joel prophesied that one day God would share His Spirit with mortal man, baptizing them with dreams, visions and utterances, detailing the plans of God.

Now, since the day of Pentecost, those who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior have received that Spirit which makes us one with God.

No longer does the Holy Spirit of God have to come upon us in times of need, but rather, the Holy Spirit of God lives within us and comes out from us, illuminating our hearts and refreshing our minds, giving us glorious glimpses of things yet in the dreams of God.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

Oh but dear saint, don’t stop there --- keep reading:

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

My friend, I am here to tell you this morning that God is no respecter of persons. He has a plan for this world, He will succeed and you have an opportunity to participate.