Monday, April 25, 2011

Resurrection Day


Matthew 28

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, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 "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."

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

9 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."

Tell the story of a man working the switch house at a very busy railway junction and how he faced a decision to save a commuter train filled with people he didn’t know at the costs of his only son. What should he have done? What would you do? – Let me tell you what God did …

Two thousand years ago in the city of Jerusalem a 33 year old man named Jesus of Nazareth was falsely accused, wrongfully condemned and sentenced to die on a Roman cross. His only crime was that He upset the religious leaders of His day by demonstrating the love and power of God to deliver from demons, heal the sick, and forgive sins.

During His life, this same Jesus fed the hungry multitudes, paid taxes, faithfully attended synagogue, and kept the feasts. He lived according to the Law of Moses: He honored His parents, encouraged His friends and was kind to strangers. Both rich and poor, male and female, young and old, saint and sinner alike were accepted in His presence and blessed by His wisdom.

All Jesus ever wanted was to be accepted. He was both the Son of

God and the Son of man; Messiah of the Jews and Savior of the world; He came to us as a baby born in a manger; He grew to manhood, began His ministry and showed us His Father’s heart. Jesus overcame every temptation placed before Him and He was without sin.

On the full moon of Passover almost 2000 years ago, this Jesus, the Christ, willingly gave His life as a sacrificial offering to God in exchange as payment for your sins. History records that He was nailed to a wooden Roman cross at noon on a Friday. For 3 hours He hung, suspended between heaven and earth while all creation looked on until the penalty of mankind’s sin was once and for all - paid in full.

It took time for Jesus to look across the span of the ages, generation after generation, person after person, until finally He saw in His spirit every soul who would ever live and stretched Himself into their present life and took their sins upon Himself … then He cried: “It is finished!” With that He gave up the ghost and died in agony.

The scriptures tell us that He entered into death of His own choice at the request of His Father. In death He fulfilled the requirement eternity demanded so that mankind could once again be reconciled unto God. Sin was defeated that day, not only in the courts of heaven but also in every individual’s life from Adam to the last person born on planet earth.

We cannot calculate the exact amount of time He suffered to save each soul, but we do know that Jesus spent some time on the cross just for you. And, at some point during those three hours of agony, He had you on His mind and you in His heart. Personal eye witness accounts further record that some of the blood Jesus spilled on the ground came from His side … it poured forth, according to modern medical examiners, from the severe stress of a broken heart … Jesus’ heart was broken for you and He died in agony to give you a chance to know His Father God.

God set His seal of approval and acceptance upon Jesus of Nazareth, and declared Him to be the one and only Anointed Messiah, when after three days in the grave, God raised Him from the dead. No other claim need be given but that He is risen and He is alive!

All Jesus wants today is to be accepted. He is the Only Begotten Son of God, Messiah, Savior, Lord and Friend. He offered Himself to die in your place … God accepted His sacrifice and you have been invited to partake of that salvation which was so dearly purchased. God did not give His extra son, but His only Son.

Today you can be forgiven and begin a new life by simply accepting Jesus. It is happening for tens of thousands of people all around the world on this very day. You are not here this sanctuary this morning, or there watching our broadcast, by coincidence or happenstance – God has divinely ordered your steps and He is offering you one of Two Divine Opportunities.

Number One: If you have never accepted Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah and asked Him to be your Savior … Today is your day to be born again

John 3:7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ’You must be born again.’

If you will but recognize the faith which is already in your heart and acknowledge that you believe Jesus is Messiah, you will be forgiven of your sins and God will save and secure your soul for all eternity.

Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

It has happened, it has truly happened – Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, He was the last Passover Lamb, and He is alive!

Number Two: If you have been born again but are not living your life pleasing to God – Today is your day to repent and rededicate your life to Christ

1 John 1

8 ¶ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

If you will only repent, confess your sins to God alone, and return your life to His Lordship, He will forgive you, heal you, deliver you and all will be well with you.

I am going to ask the singers and musicians to make their way to the platform and prepare to lead us in worship to our Risen Savior. As they come will you bow your heads, close your eyes and shut off your mind to everything else but the voice of God.

This moment is a special moment not only for those of you sitting here in this congregation but also for those who are watching the broadcast today. This message is for you too … keep listening and participate with us.

In just a moment I am going to ask a question … listen carefully and then trust your heartfelt response. Are you ready?

How many of you can truthfully say in your heart on this Easter Sunday morning that if you were to die today, you know for sure that you would spend eternity in heaven … let me see your hand.

Thank God for all those hands all over the building and I’m sure there were many hands among our viewers as well. Praise God for your confidence in Christ and your choice to make heaven your home.

Unfortunately however, there were some who could not raise their hands in good conscience … some who are not sure, some who sit at the door of decision this morning … some who are in need of a Savior.

How many of you will be honest with yourself and say in your heart, “Pastor, If I were to die today I am not sure where I would spend eternity.” If that is you, raise your hand? Raise it as though you were reaching for the answer to life’s most important question.

Those of you who just raised your hand, stand to your feet.

Now I’m going to ask you to walk down here to me. Come forward this morning. These steps are the most important steps you will ever take in this life or throughout eternity. Stand and come forward for Christ. God did the hard part. As you come I want our salvation prayer partners to come forward and stand with them. Jesus said that if you would acknowledge Him before men, He would acknowledge you before His Father in heaven.

(Worship and Prayer for those in the altar before sending them with a prayer partner to the studio.)

Now for those of you still seated, I expect that you are born again believers, confident in your salvation and secure in your eternity. However, I yet have a solemn spiritual challenge for you as well: Will you take this precious moment on this special day to repent and rededicate your life to Jesus and His Lordship?

I’m not going to lead you through a step by step invitation. We are family and you are a child of God. I am simply going to offer you the chance you have been waiting for, an opportunity to stop the insane cycle of life and get back on track with God and His will for your life. There are prayer partners coming now, ready to receive you and pray with you.

Also, if there are any other needs you may have, healing in your body, guidance for your life, prayer for your family ... please take this opportunity to come forward and pray with one of our counselors.

Won’t you all stand for a personal time of prayer or if you will, please come forward and allow us to pray with you right now.

(Dismiss at the appropriate time … Go out with a shout! Happy Resurrection Day!!!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Process


Without regard as to whether your name is Ben, Jill, Peter, Mary, or Jesus … Life is a process … Life is a story, a script which only God can write.

This season of the year supports two main Sundays, Palm Sunday, on which is commemorated the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem, and Easter, on which day we have come to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. In between these two important Sundays is our Wednesday mid-week service in which tonight I hope to use to fill you in on the process that was taking place in Jerusalem during that last week of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry.

The scriptures are full of opportunity for us to see Jesus interacting with people from all walks of life who had come to Jerusalem that week to observe the first of three main feasts of the year, the Feast of Passover.

During the week following Palm Sunday, Jesus lodged in Bethany in the home of His friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. It seems a daily routine for Jesus to make His way down the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley, completing the quarter to half mile walk arriving through either the Eastern gate or the Lion’s gate, whichever He chose.

We find Jesus teaching, preaching and healing much as He had done in the Galilee for the past 3 ½ years. All along, Jesus knows it is His last opportunity to walk like this among the people, ministering to crowds and individuals. This would be the last official Passover and He was going to be chosen to be the sacrificial lamb.

As requested, Jesus’ disciples found and prepared a place for the Passover meal. After the Passover meal, we pick up the story in Matthew 26:30

Matthew 26:30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

1. They sang a song and went out to the Mount of Olives

2. On the short walk, Jesus told them they would stumble and be scattered tonight because of Him. (Peter’s denial)

3. V.36 Jesus brought them to Gethsemane, (Oil Press), for to pray.

4. He split His disciples into two groups as He often did, and took then Peter, James, and John with Him farther and began to share His deep sorrow with them.

5. Jesus asked the three to watch with Him and He went a little farther, fell on His face and prayed the faithful prayer: “… let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

First Clip: In The Garden of Gethsemane

a. V.40 Jesus finds His disciples have fallen asleep. He stirs Peter and rebukes him.

b. V.41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

c. Jesus returns to prayer; “… if I must drink, Your will be done.”

d. The disciples asleep again …

e. A third prayer of the same heart …

f. A third time Jesus finds His disciples sleeping.

g. The betrayal of a kiss and familiar greeting of “Rabbi”

h. Jesus is arrested

i. The disciples are aroused and willing to defend Jesus

j. V.53 “I can now pray to My Father, and He will provide me with more than 12 legions of angels.” – “… it must happen like this.”

6. V.57 Jesus is led away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

7. All during the night Jesus was tried and spit on and cursed, slapped and accused by false witnesses.

8. Peter ultimately denies Jesus three times as predicted.

9. Chapter 27:1 When morning came, the conspiracy continues by sending Jesus bound to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Jews had not the power to sentence to death.

10. Judas attempts to repent and return the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priest and elders. He confessed his sin, left the money in the temple and went out and hanged himself. Prophecy fulfilled!

11. Jesus did not defend Himself before Pilate.

12. V. 18 Pilate knew that the chief priest and elders had handed over Jesus to his judgment because of envy.

13. Pilate washed hands of the responsibility and guilt while the people answered; “His blood be on us and on our children.”

14. Barabbas is released and Jesus is sentenced to be crucified.

15. Jesus was scourged, mocked and struck on the head before being led away to be crucified. (v. 31)

Second Clip: The Basement of Ecco Homo Convent

16. That day, at about noon, Jesus was nailed on the cross of Calvary. He became the sinless sacrifice, the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world. By 3pm that day, It was finished!

Matthew 27: 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

Life is a process. Jesus yielded Himself to the continuing process of God and with each step offered Himself up to God’s will for His life.

From our limited earthly perspective, life can sometimes seem so unfair and the moment we are facing so big – however, we must realize that heaven has its own perspective and we cannot always see what God sees.

Nonetheless, we can always trust in two sure things:

1. God hears our prayers.

2. We can trust His answer … even when His answer is no!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday


What is Palm Sunday? Preparation!

Matthew 21 NKJV

1 ¶ Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,

2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.

3 "And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ’The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them."

4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:

5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, ’Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’"

6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.

7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.

8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! ’Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!"

10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, "Who is this?"

11 So the multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee."

All of this whole account is without specific significance except that it be tied to the reality that Messiah is coming, as promised, to a people who are waiting for His appearing.

The fact that it was still one week before the great and most important Feast of Passover, signifies the importance God places on preparation for His coming. There is an established pattern or preparation.

Before God sent His Only Begotten Son into the world as a baby in the manger of Bethlehem, He first sent a forerunner to announce the good news. John the Baptist came as a voice of one crying in the wilderness saying “prepare” for the coming of the Lord.

Before God destroyed the earth with a flood, He first raised up Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and commissioned him to build an ark and make preparation for the coming salvation of the Lord. Noah preached repentance for 120 years, telling others that they should also prepare for the great and terrible day of the Lord.

In the Palm Sunday passages of scripture the prophecy once again is echoed to “prepare for the coming of the Lord.” Only 7 days after Palm Sunday, on the resurrection day of our Lord Jesus was another chosen vessel, Mary, who was sent with a message to tell the followers of Christ that their Messiah had risen and was going to meet with them as He had promised.

The message of this season establishes our call as believers to first embrace for ourselves and then announce to others that the coming of the Lord is upon us.

As did all those nameless individuals in that day, we too must play our part and go out into the highways and byways and draw others to Christ.

What can we do? How can we fulfill our part in God’s Kingdom plan today? By going and telling others the good news … “Your King is coming to you!”

Those who followed Jesus that day worshipped and served Him by doing whatever they could to prepare the way and make it easy for that little donkey to carry Christ to their city.

· Some put their garments on the little donkey. This was a sign of their approval. This was their personal banner advertising the fact that they were in agreement with His choice of a messenger.

· Others put their garments and palm branches on the road so that the little donkey could experience an easier path. By this action these men and women were helping the little donkey to carry the important burden with as much ease as possible.

· Still others cried and sang aloud the praises of the King – Hosanna … the Lord saves. With their voices they were lending their testimony to the moment and the ministry taking place on that hillside that day.

· This is our continuing privilege today!

Imagine that Jesus is ready to come to the hearts and homes of every person in your city, each one in your neighborhood, and every individual at your workplace. If God follows the pattern established from the foundation of the world, He will send someone to awaken the interest and announce this good news opportunity to their friends. This week, the someone God wants to use is you!

One week from today, just as in Jesus' time, a great celebration will take place in our church and in churches all around the world. This celebration I speak of is known as Easter, the Resurrection Day of the Lord.

It cannot be denied that this season of the year is the most powerful spiritual season God ordained. Each year more souls are drawn to a personal encounter with Christ than at any other time of the year. Next Sunday people from all walks of life will be primed to receive the coming Messiah into their hearts and homes like never before.

Only one puzzle piece is lacking – who will go and tell? Who will answer the call to awaken the interest and share the opportunity?

· How many of us will go out of our way to lay our garments on this little donkey, lending him our credibility?

· How many of us will spread our garments or lay palm branches on the pathway leading to salvation for some friend or family member?

· How many of us will lend our voice to publicly praise and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

· Will you encourage someone to come and meet Jesus?

I have been preparing for months to give you the best opportunity and easiest way to participate in God’s plan for this special season of the year. The Holy Spirit has been working behind the scenes getting the hearts and homes of your friends, neighbors, school mates and co-workers ready for this week. They are prepared to receive an invitation or word of encouragement from you to attend church either with you or wherever they would most likely attend this coming Sunday morning.

Your part, is to: “Tell the daughter of Zion” that her King is coming. How can you do this? The ushers have invitation cards which I have asked them to make available to you. And, in just a moment I am going to ask you to take 2 or 3 of these cards and give them to someone this week.

I am asking that you use these invitations to simply encourage friends and family members to not miss attending church this coming Easter Sunday. If they don’t have a good church home which they plan to attend, invite them to come to Church with you next week.

I promise you, this little donkey will carry Jesus into their hearts and into their homes this Resurrection Day and they will never be the same.

· God is prepared

· I am prepared

· They are prepared

The only thing needed to fulfill God’s eternal plan is you. Will you help?

You get them here and we will give them Jesus.

This week our church will be encouraging thousands of people from all over the Golden Triangle to attend the church of their choice this coming Easter Sunday. We will be using cards similar to those you will be receiving this morning with one exception. The cards our volunteer workers will be passing out this week do not have any reference to Church On The Rock. They simply encourage people to attend Church on Easter. This is our investment in the hearts, homes and many wonderful churches in our area.

Will you help us in our church’s efforts to reach every heart and every home in 2011 with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ushers, make cards available to our congregation. Please take 2 or 3 and use them this week to tell the daughter of Zion that her King is coming! Encourage someone to attend church with you on Resurrection Day.