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Easter

In the Old Testament, perfect and spotless lambs had to be sacrificed to atone for human sin. In the New Testament, Jesus, the Lamb of God, willingly shed His own blood as a final sacrifice, taking away the sins of the world. In John 19 Jesus had just been brutally beaten and crucified on a cross, fulfilling multiple prophesies from the Old Testament.  His body was mutilated yet not a bone was broken. After His death, He was taken to a tomb where He laid behind a large stone guarded by Roman soldiers.

Typically when we pick up a biography and read it through, the end of the story comes at no surprise with death and burial. But Jesus’ story isn’t finished at death. Being fully God and fully man, He continued with the miracle of resurrecting from the dead three days after His burial. This true historical event is the climax of the gospel message and an essential doctrine in the Christian faith. It has even been proven by non-Christian historians and eyewitnesses that all the events in the New Testament about Jesus’ resurrection are true. The empty tomb is God’s voucher to us that the full debt of our sins and the sins of the world have been paid.

Let’s look together at the Resurrection story and see the impact Christ had on the Mary.

 


 

John 20:11 -16

But Mary stood outside the tomb, crying. As she was crying, she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’s body had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“Because they’ve taken away my Lord,” she told them, “and I don’t know where they’ve put him.”

14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know it was Jesus. 15 “Woman,” Jesus said to her, “why are you crying? Who is it that you’re seeking?”

Supposing he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you’ve carried him away, tell me where you’ve put him, and I will take him away.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

Turning around, she said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”— which means “Teacher.”

Can you imagine? Mary broken, distraught, perhaps even hopeless, is standing outside the tomb crying. Jesus, the one who had changed her life and brought hope to hopelessness is gone, not only dead but now missing.

All of us have experienced the tragedy of loss. We’ve lost family members, friends, even prominent world figures. When experiencing these losses we remember the times we shared with our loved ones, we reflect on the contributions they may have had on our lives (both good and bad) and we mourn their present and future absence on our lives. Here, on earth it is a final, we will no longer see them living, breathing or talking. In addition to all these emotions Mary also had stood by and watched helplessly as Jesus suffered and excruciating death before her very eyes. Most certainly, for Mary, all hope was lost.

Then it happens, the impossible becomes possible, Jesus standing, alive and talking to Mary. At first Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus but then Jesus calls her by name. Just take second today and let this soak in…. Looking at Jesus she did not recognize Him but when she heard Him call her name she knew at that moment it was Jesus! It was Jesus!! IT…WAS…JESUS!!! He’s alive!

  John 10:27 says “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.”  Mary knew the Masters voice and has just gone from the pit of despair to the the pinnacle of life…she’s the first to see our risen Savior, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Mourning has turned to joy!

Can you imagine? Every year we celebrate Easter. How do we remember, reflect and rejoice the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let us pray to have the same sheer joy that must’ve overwhelmed Mary. JESUS IS ALIVE!

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Power-full Conversations

Power-Full Conversations

Acts 4:29-31

“‘And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your servants may speak Your word with all boldness, while You stretch out Your hand for healing, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.'  When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly.”

“Don’t challenge anyone’s beliefs”, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion”, “Live and let live”, “What you believe to be true, is truth”, “I am glad that Church thing works for you but it’s not for me”, “Many roads lead to enlightenment”, and the list goes on… Trying to share the Good News in today’s culture can sometimes make you feel like you are climbing up a muddy hill in a white suit. The outcome is a mudslide, and at the end you are no closer to the top than when you started, just muddy, tired and discouraged.

So, what is our response to this ever changing and neutrally grey culture? We adapt. We take on a new approach that is less intrusive and confrontational. We develop our own belief system… “I will be the silent witness that sets a good example”, “I will share the Good News, only if someone asks me”, “I am afraid to invite them to my Church because it might freak them out”, I will get a bumper sticker so they know I am a Christian”, “I won’t get a bumper sticker because it might turn them away”, and the list goes on. We have become a Church that backs it’s way timidly into the arena of evangelism and hope for the best.

Don’t get me wrong, the list’s above in themselves are good and necessary. We are called to be a light to the world (Matthew 15:14-16). However; We were also called to “go”; better translated “as you are going” (Matthew 28:18-20); and take the Good News to the entire world (Acts 1:8).  Unfortunately, along the way we have lost our boldness.

The early Church knew what they needed to do and cried aloud to the Lord asking for the boldness necessary to spread the Good News (Acts 4:29) and the Lord responded with His Holy Spirit and the spoke boldly.

So, how do we reclaim that boldness which comes from the Holy Spirit? We begin by having ‘POWER-Full’ conversations with God, our own families, our church brothers and sisters, and then the world. A POWER-Full conversation is the core spiritual disciplines that are acknowledged by the church and biblically necessary to experience a sanctifying and active faith, that in turn, helps us accomplish Christ’s mission. Let’s take a quick look at what these disciplines look like…

P - Prayer

O - Obedience

W - Word

E - Exalting the Father

R - Relationships

FULL - Dependance in the Holy Spirit

Our lives are to be fully set aside to the Lord, we begin by applying these disciplines daily in our relationship with the Father. This disciplined relationship then overflows into every conversation with those around us. I find it amazing that I unintentionally reveal where my heart is by the nature of conversation I have with those around me. If I am excited about something I am going to find a way to “sneak” it into every conversation, just ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that they are aware of my new love for motorcycles because I can’t shut up about it. What is in our hearts comes out to all around us (Luke 6:45). If we are living a spiritually disciplined life, our actions, conversation, and obedience to spreading the Good News will be evident and overflow out of us wherever we “go”.

I recently began meeting with a member of our church body for the purpose of discipleship. I cannot begin to tell you the excitement that has bubbled out of this relationship. Each time we meet we can’t shut up about what it means to live a POWER-Full life. We encourage one another, we pray together, we spend time in the Word, we celebrate and “go” out from this time together to intentionally share this joy and excitement with those we encounter. Make no mistake, there is an undeniable difference with a conversation that is driven by the Holy Spirit and a conversation that is void of the spiritual disciplines. A spiritually disciplined conversation strengthens and prepares us to “go”. A conversation void of these components leave us with acute spiritual atrophy.

What do our POWER-Full conversations look like? Are we meeting with others just to shoot the breeze or are we “boldly” taking the Good News to all who are in our life circles? It is time for us to be intentional with our relationships and begin with a POWER-Full conversation.

Pressing on Toward the Goal,
Jim Booth
Discipleship Pastor

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