The ‘successful’ Resurrection of our Lord is the proof that He indeed is God; the King of kings, the Lord of Lords. For no man can resurrect himself.
It is because Jesus is risen that we can accept the Word of God as true.
It is because He is risen that we can accept His virgin birth, His life on earth of doing good, and miracles and all that He claimed to be.
It is because He is risen that we can confidently preach His Gospel and souls are won to the Kingdom of God.
It is because He is risen that we can pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
It is because He is risen that we can partake in the Holy Communion as we did today in the service.
The resurrection of Christ makes me ‘proud’ to be a Christian and I boldly declare that I serve the only Living God!
Read below a most wonderful prayer from a saint of long ago:
“O Lord God, our Father. You are the light that can never be put out; and now you give us a light that shall drive away all darkness. You are love without coldness, and you have given us such warmth in our hearts that we can love all when we meet. You are the life that defies death, and you have opened for us the way that leads to eternal life.
None of us is a great Christian; we are all humble and ordinary. But your grace is enough for us. Arouse in us that small degree of joy and thankfulness of which we are capable, to the timid faith which we can muster, to the cautious obedience which we cannot refuse, and thus to the wholeness of life which you have prepared for all of us through the death and resurrection of your Son. Do not allow any of us to remain apathetic or indifferent to the wondrous glory of Easter, but let the light of our risen Lord reach every corner of our dull hearts.”
Karl Barth (1886-1968)
A man had a dream. He saw a set of big feet in the sand. They were orderly and moved on a straight line. Then he saw another set of feet, much smaller, going zig –zag, all over the place. After sometime, the smaller feet became one with the big ones. Inside each big foot there was the shadow of the smaller one. That went on for a long time.
Then later he saw that the two sets of feet separated once more. The smaller feet went like mad, zig- zag all over the place. Here in Nigeria, that type of ‘crazy’ pattern we call it ‘ja-ga-ja-ga’.
The man saw the Lord Jesus in the dream and asked him about these three designs in the sand. The Lord said that when he was ‘a baby’ Christian, he was walking quite independent from Him. He was still stubborn and over active. Then the two sets of feet merged together. That is when he became a mature Believer, one with Him in will and purpose.
Then the man said to the Lord:
‘I understand that. But please why are our feet separating again? Did I backslide? Did I become as stubborn and overactive as at the beginning? I am worried Lord…’
The Lord smiled and said:
‘No, my beloved….That ‘ja-ga-ja-ga’ pattern you saw is when we danced together…’
This evening we just danced in the presence of the Lord. All the chairs went up side down as we did pirouettes and tango and waltz and cha-cha –cha under the stars.
Right now my feet are hurting but my liver smiles….
‘For Pilate knew that for envy they had delivered Him (Jesus)’ (Mt 27:18)
Envy is defined as a painful and resentful awareness that others are more blessed or more gifted than me and a desire to have that same advantage, by any means.
Envy is criminal. Envy is sin. Envy nailed Jesus to the Cross.
The only way to be free from the bondage of the sin of envy is to fall in love with Jesus! The fire of His passion for the souls of men will burn to ashes any envy in the heart. This is the truth! It is also my experience as a Believer!
I envy no one for I walk in the path designed by God for me!
I have all things in Christ, my Lord! Whatever I do not have, I do not need!
I am unique, fearfully and wonderfully made by God. I do not desire to be someone else!
I rejoice with the accomplishments and blessings of others! None can receive except from above and I know that my Lord is an extremely generous Person.
Envy has lost its foothold in my heart forever! The miracle happened at the Cross! I saw envy fainted and died! She was buried in an open field and none wept for her! Envy died and remains buried forever!
Praise the Lord all you people!
Jesus died and rose again! I died with Christ and rose with Him! Look up and see me there! In His heart!
Taize is an ecumenical sung and silent participatory prayer service designed to achieve a contemplative state through music, song and silence. The Taize Community is made of more than a hundred Christian brothers from more than thirty countries. They come from all churches, catholic and protestant. They are monks; they pledged their lives to live ‘like Jesus’. They willingly chose to live a simple life, celibate and deeply spiritual. Taize is a village in France. Brother Roger, a Swiss Protestant believer, was the founder of the community in 1940. The community has become one of the world’s most important sites of Christian pilgrimage. Over 100,000 young people from around the world make pilgrimages to Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work. Through the community’s ecumenical outlook, they are encouraged to live in the spirit of kindness, simplicity and reconciliation. Brother Roger was killed by a mentally deranged woman at the age of 90 while conducting prayers from his wheelchair. More than 10000 people attended his funeral.
The original house that Brother Roger bought at the beginning became too small for the visitors that come throughout the year. With contributions from many people and dedicated effort from the willing volunteers, a church is built there now. It is surrounded by many simple wooden chalets for the visitors.
Surprisingly, the community attracts many young people who go there for personal spiritual retreat. They participate in daily activities as follows: simple breakfast, Bible studies, prayers of healing and deliverance, lunch, worship with songs and playing guitars, more Bible studies and prayers, dinner, then more worship until midnight.
This is one of their prayer-songs:
“Lord Jesus, You came to unbind the chains of every slavery, friend of the humble, bread of hungry hearts,
Jesus, full of patience and goodness, You showed forgiveness and kindness to the very end.
Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, You call to yourself all who are weary and burdened.
Jesus, You came into the world to serve and to give Your life…You were betrayed for money, dragged before judges and nailed to the cross.
Jesus, Lord of the universe, by Your resurrection from the dead You are alive at the Father’s side and there You prepare a place for us…
We bless us, O, Lord Jesus Christ; for You burn away the trials of life in the fire of Your presence…
We worship You, Lord, upon the cross!”
(I have not been there myself, but this is another proof that young people all over the world are hungry and thirsty to know God, to have a living, intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, thru the Person of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for the young people all over the world, that they will hate sin and come to Jesus!)
(Picture shows many young people praying on the grounds of the church at Taize, France)
‘We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’ (Lk 15:32)
A rich Land Owner King had two lost sons. The younger one was lost outside the church, the elder inside. Their Father is God!
The younger man soon got tired of farm work. Some traders from ‘the far country’ came passing by with their wares displayed for all to see. This was the first time the young man saw pictures of ‘half dressed’ women. They gave him a taste of drink and a little cigarette with it. In his father’s house, things like these were never found. Little by little the desire to go and settle abroad, in ‘the far country’ of fun and excitement, grew inside him. He became restless. The work at the father’s farm became burdensome. The odor of the animals and the sweat of the laborers made him ‘mad’. Then one day he got the courage to ask:
‘Father, give me the portion of my inheritance…cash please…’
That was the beginning of a road that went down to the pit. Except for the grace of God intercepting him who wasted it all to prostitutes and thieves, he could have lost even his soul. The devil only shows the sweet beginning of sin; he never shows the end of it, the emptiness, the despair and the pain without cure.
He finally came back to himself and came home. He told himself: ‘It is better to be a door man in the House of my Father than to dwell in the diamond studded tents of wickedness’
The elder brother got angry. He never prayed for the lost brother. He never thought that they will see eye to eye in this life. He never thought that he will ever have to divide his own share with anyone else again. He hated the rejoicing, the party, the music so much out of place in the house of God…so he thought…he never knew the pain of his father, the longing to see all his children surrounding his table…with all the servants and staff, one son was missing and all the money in the world could not buy a son…He never joined the father in the race to welcome his son…his brother really…
When the father saw the slow moving shadow of his son coming home…HE RAN…the Old Man ran as fast as he could…to embrace, to kiss, to dress, to cover, to restore, to rejoice…
The fatten calf has been slain! Blood was shed that we may rejoice!
Life should always be enough reason for celebration!
Eternal life should always be the reason for dancing, and singing, and rejoicing, for it is a gift paid with the Blood of the Lamb!
I am a sinner saved by grace…I was blind, but now I see…I was lost but now I am found…I was dead in trespassing and sins but now I live… therefore I rejoice…let the angels take the lead, I shall follow…let the music begin…and never end! Forever!
‘See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise’ (Eph 5:15)
This is command to the believers! Our ‘walking’, our behavior, our way of life should be totally in the Spirit and not lead by emotions or by the lust of the eyes.
What does it mean to walk circumspectly? The answer is simple: walk like a cat!
Have you seen a cat walking on dirty or wet ground? She hates it! She is set to remain clean, wisely choosing her steps. She walks carefully, slowly, looking where to place each foot, jumping over if the place is too soiled…At the end of the journey, her body and even her paws are still clean, compared with the road she had to pass thru. At last, she will not rest until every stain is removed by her rough tongue. You may not like cats like I do, but please accept this: cats are always clean!
This world is full of sin. Some believers boast that they can go anywhere and visit anyone, no matter how corrupt or wicked. If the Lord sends you with a message to ‘the red district’ or to ‘the mafia headquarters’, then go with faith and you shall be protected. But if the center of your spiritual journey is a mixture of religion, adventure and material gain, you will not be protected from the corruption of the flesh and from the unclean spirits ‘urinating’ on you. Your white clothes shall be soiled with lust, greed and deception. You shall lose your ‘virginity’ to satan, just like Eve lost hers. You shall hate the light for exposing your stains and run towards darkness like unto a friend.
It is only true confession and repentance, the deep work of the Cross that can change the heart. It is only the Blood of Jesus that can cleanse these stains of mockery and shame.
Be wise therefore! Even a stray cat knows how to avoid dirt!
Be clean! Be pure!
In Jesus name, Amen!
‘So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled’ (Josh 21:43-45)
Men may promise you wonderful things, but no man is able to totally fulfill them. God is the only Person who gives hope and promises to you and He alone is able to fulfill them all. God never gives false hopes.
God’s promises are all good and they are found in Christ. These good blessings are beyond number: salvation, healing, deliverance, prosperity, protection, provision, fruitfulness, relationships…
You cannot ‘claim’ the promises if you do not have a living relationship with the One who gives them. You must be born again; you must give your life to Christ, before you can ‘enjoy’ the benefit of God’s promises to men.
In the text above we see three basic promises fulfilled:
A PLACE – God who made the heavens and the earth promises you to have a place of your own where you can live in peace. Jesus said that He will prepare a place for us, a mansion for each one of His children. The way to that place is found only in Christ. Please remember this: NO Christ- No Mansion! (Jn 14:1-6)
REST –God alone gives rest from (overtime) labor and (deceptive) worries. Jesus calls us to take His yoke of service and that we shall find rest of our souls (Mt 11:28-30). You who pray for a job, please remember that the world can only give you work but cannot give you rest from that work. Rest is God’s gift to His faithful servants.
VICTORY – God is your shield against all the attacks of your enemies. His presence will surround you and you can live in peace even in the midst of wicked men. Your ‘rough’ neighborhood is not stronger then God’s shield. Jesus is Lord even in the ghetto!
In Christ the only way to move ahead is from victory to triumph! (2Cor 2:14)
The conclusion is this: trust God! Trust and do not doubt God’s power, promises and His provision. He is the faithful God! Read, study and mediate upon God’s promises! The promises He gave to you are the means for you to discover the reality of God! God’s Word never fails! It will always perform according to the purpose for which it has been sent to you (Is 55:10, 11). Do you think that you read that portion of scripture by mistake? You can never even touch a Bible by mistake! God lead you to read that particular verse this morning! Trust God to the end! Time may go on and things look the same, but remember that God’s Word never fails!
So, enjoy and serve God without fear! He who is faithful, will do it!