Results for tag "easter"

7 Articles

The Painful Middle

I’m writing this in the waning hours of “Silent Saturday”. That awful day between the death of Christ and the dawning of a Sunday that would change everything. A day when God seemed silent and perhaps silenced. As I anticipate Easter I find myself running to Sunday a bit too quickly without pausing to realize what Saturday is trying to teach me.

The middle is hard. It is painful, dark, and full of doubt.

A wise brother said too me a few months ago, “We forget that when we read the accounts of redemption in the Bible that we have the benefit of knowing how it turned out. We forget that the middle is mess.

Pause to imagine yourself in the shoes of:

  • David: just a fugitive being hunted by King Saul.
  • Moses: After Pharoh changed his mind the 5th or 6th time and seeing no deliverance just plague after plague.
  • Peter: After seeing Christ die and facing the truth that you denied knowing him 3 times

Those aren’t scenes that make the final cut of our victory narrative. They are however where God does some of his most important work.

When you hear the testimony of someone delivered after years of alcohol and drug abuse and see how God has used them it’s easy to praise God for showing his power. But what if you were there for day 2 of detox?

Would you have doubts? Would you wonder about this being truly God’s plan? Would you consider doing the logical thing to end the pain?

This middle is where doubts and fears challenge the core of our faith. This is the place where all our accumulated knowledge of God isn’t enough to anchor us and we are left with we really believe? 

Which is exactly the point.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭3‬ ESV)

Poor in spirit might be expressed as reaching the end of yourself. Knowing that no amount of self-will or self-discipline will overcome this struggle. When you are left with nothing but crying out to God and pleading for mercy, grace, and divine power.

Don’t miss that God hasn’t even answered yet in this “Silent Saturday”. I can imagine Peter pleading and distraught as he wept this day. Feeling nothing but fear, loneliness, and shame. 

BUT – Was God silent?

NO! Hell was trembling because the very Son of God had come to declare victory over death because the price of sin had been paid. This day was the day the Devil lost. It was the turning point of all eternity.

And tomorrow morning when day breaks that Son of God will be raised by the Holy Spirit and be exalted by the Father. And what does the Angel say? 

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.” (‭Mark‬ ‭16‬:‭7‬ ESV)

And Peter.

Those 2 words are astounding, they are the Gospel. 

Hold fast my brothers and sisters. 

The storms and trials of this world can crush us and we can’t see how this chapter ends. God can and is working to make you more like him. So even in the painful middle we can believe that God is Sovreign, loving, and at work.

He may actually be doing His most important work.

I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’” (‭Zechariah‬ ‭13‬:‭9‬ NLT)

34 views

The Same Voice Still Speaks Life

sunday_is_coming_life_voice

God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Acts 2:24 ESV)

At the point that all seemed lost I imagine hearing God the Father’s voice speaking the name of his Son in the darkness of Saturday night. Divine vocal chords piercing into the abyss of death and hell. A phrase that changed everything.  – Jesus, my son, Arise.

The Bible doesn’t tell us the exact words God used but it does tell us repeatedly that the same voice calls life out of our death as well.

When we are trapped by our sin suffocating under the weight of our self-centeredness and wickedness that voice of YHWH pierces through. The power it contained 2000 years ago hasn’t diminished one iota. God is still in the resurrection business.

That voice is giving life to men, women, orphans, families, murderers, deacons, Sunday school teachers, our homeless neighbors and even we folks that have lost sight of God in our business of church. Gods speaks life to all who will come.

Wherever you are tonight do not despair. The Good News still stands, your debt has been paid.

Do not mistake seeing Jesus sacrifice as rudimentary appeasement of an angry terrible beast name God. He died because the wages of sin is death. God is Life and Holy and cannot abide sin. Justice demands a price and once we chose to sin that price was demanded of you and I. It is through God’s love and mercy that he made a means of atonement for you and I. Take hold of the cross and choose to live!

Glory Hallelujah Sunday is COMING!

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 ESV)

//image credit Stephen A. Wolfe
2 views

Words about dead men

A friend of mine attended the funeral of a kind and faith-full man yesterday and later he remarked about how we speak about people that have passed on. He said have you ever thought about what kind words we say about the dead? Truly some folks have earned those kind words but,

“I don’t want people to lie at my funeral”

In other words don’t candy coat who I am. I know and Jesus knows, so let my life be a testimony not to me but to him.

My eulogy should read something like,

He was not always kind. He was often gruff, unmerciful, unloving, and selfish.

He failed his wife and kids on a weekly basis.

His witness was hesitant.

He made ever mistake in the book.

He struggled with being lured by the vain things of this world.

Jesus loved Him anyway. If Jesus can love and use someone like Keith just think what he can do with you.

 

While I know I’m a work in progress the truth is there is no reason to lie at my funeral either. Feel free to tell the other broken, struggling, and messed up people in the room that Jesus came to seek and save them.

On this Good Friday I’m mindful of one other eulogy uttered by a Roman officer after seeing a Jesus die, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matt 27:54

Take a look at the cross today and place your faith in a dead man. The Lamb of God that was sacrificed in your place. Stick around cause this story ain’t over yet.

 

27 views

2 cups, 1 Choice

Don’t read this post now. Read it when you have 20-30 minutes to devote to this powerful sermon.


communion-cup_breadThe Other Cup – by Ray Dillard

This may be the most soul-stirring lesson on God’s wrath and grace I’ve ever encountered. I’m hesitant to share any excerpts because you must read the article in its entirety but to give you a brief insight of the lesson that lies before you,

“understand that the cross, which is the supreme demonstration of the love of God, is simultaneously the supreme demonstration of how much God hates sin and of what sin costs because it’s at the cross that we learn to estimate the price of sin.”

“we have two cups laid down side by side: the one cup—the wine of God’s fury—the one Christ would take for us, and the other cup, the one you and I are going to share this night in remembrance of Him, the cup of the forgiveness of sins… I wish there were a third option. I wish it were possible to find a middle ground. But we have only two cups. That’s all. As Jeremiah said to that crowd so long ago, “You must, and you shall, drink.” The issue is just which cup is it going to be. That’s all.”

see the whole sermon [PDF]

2 views

Friend, do what you came to do

Jesus has been praying for hours in the Garden of Gethsemane wrestling with what was ahead. Imagine the loneliness. His closest disciples were sleeping and even if they’d been awake they could not conceive what the next days would bring. Judas and the soldiers arrive and after the betrayal kiss Jesus says,

“Friend, do what you came to do.” –Matthew 26:50

Of all the things Christ could have justly called Judas he chooses the word Friend.judas-iscariot

Can you imagine standing there knowing you sold out this man for 30 coins and he calls you friend? Even in this time of ultimate betrayal I hear the compassion in Christ’s voice.

What’s more astounding is to consider that Christ was not surprised by the betrayal but knew it before he ever formed Judas in his mother’s womb. Years of walking with Judas, teaching him, breaking bread together all the while knowing this man would hand you over.

It’s compassion beyond comprehension.

Who will betray?

A few hours before at the Last Supper Christ told the disciples, “one of you will betray me”. As my Pastor pointed out this evening each began introspection asking Christ, “Is it I, Lord?”

Who will betray him? The difficult answer is every one of us.

I will bring shame to Him, sin against Him, despise Him, and betray Him.

I will be disloyal, defiant, and ungrateful.

But God…

Hallelujah let me tell you about this “but God”

“But God shows his love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Christ knowing all this chose to die in my place and pay for my sins so I might be reconciled to a Holy God.

He chose to call me friend.

I choose to call Him Lord.

1 view