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Showing posts with label Death and Ressurection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Death and Ressurection. Show all posts

Monday, October 18, 2021

Love Never Gives Up

Introduction
If you followed football yesterday, you may know that Ole Miss beat TN.  Alabama beat Mississippi State.  Georgia beat Kentucky. Auburn beat Arkansas. LSU beat Florida. GT beat Duke.

You know, in a football game, there often comes a certain moment in a game where the tide turns for your team and the game is no longer winnable.  You can sometimes gauge when this critical moment comes, because you may see fans start leaving the stadium.  They know their team is beat at this point.  So they start leaving to get ahead of the traffic.

If you’re a true fan, you may hold on to hope.  You may think, “That’s Ok.  We can still get this back.”  And you’re rooting for your team and you’re hoping that they will retake the lead and win the game.  Then, the opposing team get’s another score.  And you’re frustrated.  But it’s still not over. You still believe—because you’re a true believer.  You believe your team can still pull out a win.  But the time is ticking off the clock and soon your down to the final minutes.  And you’re hoping beyond hope that your team can still do it.  Maybe you’re thinking, “If they get the ball back, and this happens and this happens… They could still do it. It’s possible!” You start running through different scenarios in your mind.  “It may take a miracle, but it’s still possible!”  But then the clock is down to the last minute, then the last seconds, and all your timeouts are gone…

I remember watching a few football games with my dad and older brother as a young kid, I would always be the last one to give up hope.  Dad and Nelson were older and knew the game better.  They could read the writing on the wall when the game was lost.  But I was young and na├»ve and I loved our team and was full of hope.  I would hold on till the last seconds.  But then our team would lose.  It was inevitable. 

Well, that’s football.  But love, according the 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, love is another story. Love never gives up.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

The City of Corinth
This passage is from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  The Corinthians lived in Corinth, an important port city in Greece.  Corinth was especially important because it was located on the isthmus of Corinth—a narrow strip of land separating the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf.  Ships could be carried over land about four miles on a special paved road made just for moving ships.  It saved a tremendous amount of time and money and was much safer than sailing 185 miles around the treacherous Peloponnesian peninsula.  Corinth’s strategic location made it a very wealthy city, and with it’s wealth also came debauchery.

Ancient Corinth was the home of the temple of the goddess, Aphrodite—the Greek goddess of love.  It was said that the temple employed 1,000 professional prostitutes to “help” the people “worship” Aphrodite.  (I guess that's one way to get people to church!)  

By the time Paul wrote his letter, Corinth had been taken over by the Romans, who converted the Temple of Aphrodite to the Temple of Venus (the Romans name for the goddess of love).  Both Aphrodite and Venus “are known for their jealousy, their beauty and for their affairs with both gods and mortals.”[i]

Study notes in the The MacArther Study Bible say, “Even by pagan standards of its own culture, Corinth became so morally corrupt that its very name became synonymous with debauchery and moral depravity. To ‘corinthianize’ came to represent gross immorality and drunken debauchery.”

Despite Corinth’s centuries of sin and debauchery and corruption of the virtue of love, God did not give up on them.  God sent Paul to Corinth in AD 49 or 50.  According to Acts 18:11, Paul spent 18 months discipling a group of new Christians who then formed the Corinthian church.  God is always working to save people and bring them back from the brink of destruction.  And it doesn’t matter how far gone they seem to be, God still cares.  We see this clearly in the Corinthian church.  From a city as wicked as Corinth, God established a group of Christians to be a beacon of God’s light.

But they still had a lot to learn.  The Corinthian church had some severely warped ideas of love—no wonder; they were a product of a city that worshipped the so-called “goddess of love” that taught love was only a carnal, consuming thing.  Paul wrote about the One True God’s love that is demonstrated in Jesus self-sacrificing love on the cross.  And Paul wrote “Love is patient and kind.”  It had to teach the Corinthians that real love is not jealous like the so-called love of Apphrodite or Venus.  And love “is not boastful or proud or rude.” So they shouldn’t fight amongst themselves about who was the most important or who was more spiritual or who was in charge.  And today we’re learning that “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful…” just as God never gave up on the Corinthians, despite their centuries of wickedness and sexual immorality and moral corruption.  God's love neve gives up and it changes people's live and even changes the whole world.

John 3:16
John 3:16 is probably one of the most well-known verses in the whole Bible, and for good reason.  John 3:16 could be a summary of the entire story of the Bible.  “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

The whole story of the Bible—from beginning to end—is the story of God’s love that “never gives up, never loses faith, and is always hopeful” that people will turn from their evil ways and return to a love relationship with God.  Throughout the centuries, while God is reaching out to people to beckon them to come back to Him, God is also setting up His plan to save the whole world.  The ultimate message of God’s love is given through Jesus Christ.  In Jesus, God came in the flesh to show the world His love.  He came teaching people the truth about how to live.  His presence brought healing and life—everywhere he went, the lame were made whole, the blind could see, and the deaf could hear.  Leprosy and deformity and demonic possession were banished.  And so, hoping beyond hope, God reached out to fallen humanity.  There is a way to heal your spirit!  There is a way to be made whole again!  There is a way to be saved!

And there was a tremendous sense of hope.  The Disciples followed Jesus.  And crowds of people heard his teachings and saw his miracles and they believed.  Could this be the Messiah who was sent to save us, even when it seems all hope is lost?

But They Crucified Him
Jesus came in love, but we crucified him.  Can you imagine the disappointment of Jesus’ disciples and followers?  Jesus was love.  He was hope.  They put all their faith in Him.  And then He was brutally murdered on a Roman cross.

Roman crucifixion was the most painful, humiliating, degrading way to kill someone.  It was intentionally designed to make a bold statement to anyone who dared challenge Roman rule.  Crucifixion’s message was: “We own you.  We can do whatever we want to you—any of you.  It doesn’t matter if you are a peasant, a religious leader, a king, or even supposedly a messiah or god, we can strip you naked and beat you to a pulp and nail you to a cross and hang you up to die and agonizing death that will take days while everyone watches in horror—including your mother.”

If ever there was a moment in history when the game was lost, it was on the Friday they nailed Jesus to the cross.  And I don’t care who you were or how much faith you had, everyone who saw Jesus die new the game was over.  Love had lost.

Some cried bitter tears.  Some got angry and cursed Jesus and spat on him.
Some just left, because they knew the game was over. Some ran away in horror and hid in shame.
Some just stared in disbelief.
How could this happen?  How can evil triumph over good?  What do we do now?

There’s a certain point in a football game that’s the point of now return—when the game is lost and there’s no hope to win.  But football’s just a game.  What do you do when it’s real life?

What do you do when the marriage really is over and ends in divorce?
What do you do when your son’s addiction finally takes him?
What do you do when cancer wins?
What do you do when the game clock of real life finally says zero and it really is over?
What do you do when Jesus is really dead?

A Childlike Faith
Jesus was dead and buried in a tomb.  A stone was rolled over the door. 
Soldiers guarded the entrance.  No one was going to get in. 
But Jesus was going to come out!  On the Third Day, Jesus rose from the grave!

With God’s love, true love, divine love, there is always hope.  1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful…”  Love never fails.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

Children often have more faith than adults.
Adults know better.  We know how the game of life works.  We know when the game is over—even if the clock hasn’t finished running out.  We think we know when all hope is lost and how it will all end.
But children believe in magic.  They believe in hope.  They still believe in miracles.
And God can work through miracles.  He saved the world through a miracle.
Jesus was dead, but then He was alive!
Jesus can save you with a miracle.  

So, we need to be mature and use our intelligence, but we also need to keep our childlike faith.
“Humanly speaking, it may be impossible.  But with God, everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Invitation
I want to tell you something though. 
Sometimes you've got to lose before you can win.
Sometimes you've got to die before you can rise to new life.
There may be something you've got to let go of before God can give you something new.
Do you trust Him?
Open your heart. 
Let go. 
Let God do a new thing in you.



[i] http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/culture-miscellaneous/difference-between-aphrodite-and-venus/

Monday, April 5, 2021

Y.O.L.O.?

Introduction
For our messages over the last couple of months, we’ve been comparing the conventional wisdom of our world with what Christ said. 

Today, we briefly look at a very popular expression in our world right now, and it’s very fitting for Easter Sunday—Y.O.L.O.

"YOLO" is an acronym for "you only live once". Along the same lines as the Latin carpe diem ('seize the day'), it is a call to live life to its fullest extent, even embracing behavior which carries inherent risk. It became a popular internet slang term in 2012.[i]

On the one hand, YOLO could motivate some people to push themselves to make the most of their time.  The thinking is, if you only live once, you better use your time wisely and make the most of your limited life.  You’ve only got one shot at this, so make it count.

On the other hand, YOLO can also be fatalistic.  If this life is all you ever get, why waste your limited time serving others or doing good.  Why not simply “Eat, drink, and be merry” because tomorrow (or one day) you will die and it will all come to nothing.

But what did Jesus say about YOLO?

John 11:25
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.

Jesus utterly rejects the concept of YOLO.  He says anyone who believes in Him will live again.  You will not only live once.  You will live again.  This life is not all there is.  There is something after—an afterlife.

YOLO is a popular modern acronym that expresses an old idea.  Going all the way back to the ancients, there have been people who believed this life we can see is all there is.  But thankfully on Easter Sunday, we celebrate that YOLO is utterly untrue.  Jesus said He is the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in Him will live, even after dying!

Well, it is one thing to say it.  That’s the problem isn’t it?  We may want to believe in life after death, but this life is all most people ever see.  We can’t see beyond the veil of death.

But Jesus didn’t just say “You Will Live Again.”  On Easter, we celebrate He actually did it!  He died on on the cross and His lifeless body was placed in a tomb, but on the 3rd day He lived again!

Y.W.L.A.
The Disciples saw Jesus die and the witnessed Him alive again.  The women who were closest to Jesus saw it too.  Many of His followers--as many as 500 people--also claimed to have seen the ressurected Jesus.  They saw Him, talked with Him, ate with Him, and touched Him.  They were utterly convinced.  The disciples really believed Jesus was resurrected and it completely changed their lives.  

Some might wonder if the disciples were just deluded.  If only one or two of them had believed Jesus was alive, you might be able to make a case for delusion.  However, it's much harder to believe that all the disciples, all the women, and all the other followers who saw Jesus alive were deluded.  

Furthermore, there is the very real difference the resurrection made for these grieving people.  If you've ever lost someone you love, you know the grief and pain it brings.  Our grief does not go away over night.  It stays with you a long time--perhaps forever.  Jesus' followers had more cause for grief than anyone.  Jesus was their everything.  Many of them had given up everything to follow Him.  Though Jesus was completely innocent, He was wrongfully accused, treated shamefully, and cruelly beaten and crucified.  You can't imagine the deep grief these followers bore.  The reality of Christ’s resurrection transformed them instantly from an utterly broken, grieving, defeated group into a inspired, motivated, joyful people on a mission to tell the world about their risen Lord.  That doesn't happen because of a lie or a delusion.  That kind of transformation could only occur because they knew Christ was indeed alive again.  

The Disciples and early followers of Christ spent the rest of their lives on a mission to tell the world that Jesus was alive.  They went their graves believing and preaching that Jesus is the Risen Lord and believing in they would also be resurrected to eternal life because of their faith in Jesus.

The Church’s faith in an actual resurrected Christ ultimately transformed the Roman empire who crucified Jesus into a Christian Empire.

Conclusion
YOLO just isn’t true.  It’s a dangerous philosophy that could have devastating consequences for the way you live, leading you hurt yourself and others.  Believing or acting as if You Only Live Once could have eternal consequences, because you will live again.  Jesus clearly said this and proved this.  So, you will either live with Jesus if you have faith in Him and accept Him as Lord (Heaven) or you will live eternally separated from Jesus if you reject Him (and that is the very definition of Hell).

So, if you are not truly celebrating the resurrection of Christ—believing it with all your heart—you may need to do some soul searching  Do you really believe You Only Live Once?  Is this life all there is? 

Or do you believe Jesus when He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.

Invitation
Today, I invite to decide in your heart to believe Jesus and to trust Him to save you.  I invite you to join with the Disciples and choose to follow Jesus as your Lord.  Become part of His ressurection people.  Let the truth of Christ rising change you forever and guide everything about your life from this day forward.  Because Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!



[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YOLO_(aphorism)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Sunrise - A New Beginning

Copyright April 2, 2015 by Chris Mullis
Romans 6:3-11

Read Romans 6:3-11
Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. 

A Sunrise is the Symbol of a New Beginning
Every time I see a sunrise, it reminds me of the possibilities of a new day.  Whatever happened yesterday is over.  It’s a brand new day.  Anything can happen!  And I think that the core of the Christian message.  Because of what Christ did on the first Easter, we can make a brand new start.  The old has passed away.  We are no longer controlled by what happened before.  We can start over.  Just as Christ died and was buried in a tomb, our old way of thinking and acting can be buried if we let it.  And just as Christ rose from the dead, we can rise with him to a new life with new and better ways of thinking and living.  This si the glorious good news of Easter! 

The Story of Tom’s New Beginning
            I met a new friend when I lived in Lithia Springs, Georgia.  His name was Tom Kaznicki.  I was serving in my first appointment and also in seminary.  We lived in an apartment next to Tom’s parents and Tom was living with them.  We thought it was strange that Tom—who was in his 30s—was living with his parents, but we never asked about it.  We would say hello as we saw him from time to time—just being friendly neighbors. 
            When I found out Tom liked the outdoors like me, I invited him to go on a hike with me at Sweetwater State Park.  As we were walking and talking, Tom asked me what I did and I told him I was a pastor and was in seminary and shared how I was working as a chaplain at a drug rehab center.  Tom got quiet and I thought, “Great.  I ruined it now.  He thinks I’m some sort of religious nut.”  (Tom had never attended church as a kid or an adult.  This often happens to me when people find out I’m a pastor.  People start to treat you different; they stop seeing you as just a person and then only see you as a “pastor”.) 
After a few minutes of silence, Tom said, “You know it’s really strange that you said you work in a drug rehab center.  That’s the reason I’m living with my parents.  I was living in Michigan, but I relapsed in my drug addiction and lost my job and had to move back in with my parents.”  It turned out Tom had been struggling with an addiction to methamphetamines since he was 17.
Tom and I stayed friends over the years—even after I moved away to another town.  Tom and I would talk on the phone every so often.  Sometimes, Tom would call me confide in his struggles with the addiction.  Once, he called me and was so disappointed and frustrated he had relapsed yet again.  He said, “Chris, I just wish I could die and start over.  I wish go back to when I was 17 and just never try those drugs.”
The Holy Spirit gave me the right words to say.  I said, “Tom, that’s what Jesus did for us.  Because of what he did on the cross and the way he rose from the grave, we can die and start over.  That’s what it means to be a Christian.  There’s a scripture that says, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lived in me (Galatians 2:20).  So you see, if we give ourselves to Christ, we can die and be reborn as a new person.  We can have a brand new start.”
About a year later, I received a letter from Tom.  He thanked me for being his friend and for my advice.  Tom was in a Christian drug rehab program and had given his life to Christ and had been clean for over a year.  Tom thanked me for planting the seed that had helped him come to Christ.
A few years later, Tom died.  When I heard the news I thought, “Oh no.  Tom relapsed again and overdosed.”  But to my relief I found out it wasn’t so.  Tom had remained drug free.  However, the years of drug use had taken their toll on Tom’s body and he had a heart attack even though he was still relatively young.  But I am not sad for Tom, because I know he is in heaven now.  And I know I will see him again one day on those streets of gold, because I believe in what Jesus did for us all on Easter. 

Conclusion
Because of Jesus, you no longer have to be trapped in your sin.  You no longer have to be chained to your past.  Christ has set us free to make a brand new beginning.  And just as the sun rises each new day, you can make a fresh start again and again if you have to.  But don’t go on in your sin on purpose.  Don’t waste the power Christ gives you.  Take hold of your New Beginning and let your old sinful self die forever.  Step into the new life of your new day and choose to walk in the light forever, never going back.  Burry your old sins forever in a tomb and rise to the new life Christ offers you.