VIDEO So Many Statues, So Little Time – Vet Flags

 

by Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.

 

Ronald Reagan once noted, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

There is a frenzy right now of iconoclasm. We are going through a period where so-called “Social Justice Warriors,” are tearing down statues left and right.

It began with heroes of the confederacy, such as Robert E. Lee, but now it has even reached General Lee’s great rival—General Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union army.

When does it stop? Where does it stop? So many statues, so little time. Just last week in the state of Oregon, rioters targeted a statue of George Washington, spray-painting the words “Genocidal Colonist.” Then they burned a U.S. flag on the head of the statue, before pulling it down. And they reveled in their supposedly good deed.

No one is sacrosanct. Not even any of those four heads on Mount Rushmore. Statues of each of them are slated for the chopping block. Like Washington, Jefferson statues have to go. He too committed the original sin of slavery.

Lincoln, though he freed the slaves, has had his statues desecrated recently, and the city of Boston wants to tear down a statue of the “Great Emancipator.” Now it’s Teddy Roosevelt’s turn. How did our 26th president violate today’s standards of political correctness?

WCBS radio reports (6/21/20), “The bronze monument—which features Roosevelt on horseback flanked by a Native American man and a Black man—has been at the front entrance of the [American Museum of Natural History in New York] since 1940.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said, “[The museum] has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior…The City supports the Museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”

If the issue is slavery, then why would the self-styled revolutionaries tear down the statue of Ulysses S. Grant?

TheHill.com reports (6/20/20), “Protesters in San Francisco on Friday toppled the statue of former President Grant, who led the Union Army during the Civil War, in Golden Gate Park. San Francisco police said that approximately 400 people gathered around 8 p.m. to take down the statue, though no arrests were made.”

They also tore down a statue of Francis Scott Key, who wrote our National Anthem, which today is boycotted by the “woke” culture. And they tore down a statue of Father Junipero Serra, an 18th century Catholic missionary who founded many of the missions in California.

It would appear that the real target of all the rioters and iconoclasts is America as founded. But a nation that does not remember its past does not know its future.

A few years ago, James S. Robbins, Ph.D., a writer for USA Today, wrote the book, Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past.

Robbins told my radio audience when his book came out, “It’s a broad-based assault on the American story, on the American legacy. And the intention of it, in my opinion, is to wipe the slate clean, so that the progressives can write in the future whatever stories they want—emphasizing the values that they want to bring.”

To target George Washington is in many ways to target America itself. Born into the fourth generation of slaveholders, Washington freed his slaves—albeit at his death; but he freed them nonetheless.

Robbins told me, “I admire George Washington. He was the founder of our country. And yet he had this difficult legacy with slavery, like a lot of the founders and a lot of the people back then. But it’s not everything about them. He was not just a slave-master. He had a lot of other much more important, salient characteristics that we honor him for.”

Recently, I saw a 1950s television program on George Washington, highlighting the sacrifices he and his troops made, particularly in that brutal winter of 1777-1778 in Valley Forge. The man playing Washington noted that he has 12,000 men in rags and they are starving. 500 die every month of disease and deprivation. But they are sacrificing so that this upstart nation could be independent and free.

And now all these generations later, barbarians in the streets are tearing down statues of Washington and others. So many statues, so little time.

There is a battle for the soul of America. We should always remember what Ronald Reagan said—and thankfully, they haven’t torn down his statue…yet. Said the Gipper, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.”

https://www.djameskennedy.org/article-detail/so-many-statuesso-little-time


Vet Flags

7 Things We Should Do To Be Blessed! (Part-2)

March 19, 2020 hepsibahgarden

Hello dear friends🌸❤️ Blessed day to you all!! 😇

Let me take you to the second part of what we should be doing in order to be blessed!! So, here we go:

4. By blessing others, we become blessed in turn – That’s what Jacob did to Pharoah when he came to Egypt – Jacob blessed Pharoah. Genesis 47:7. Egypt, spiritually refers to this present sinful world. We must be a blessing for people those around us – in our neighbourhood, workplace and places where we live. When we become an encouragement for those who have given up on this world and are heading towards destruction, God will bless and reward us for the help and good we do to them!!

Let our lives be a blessing for others as long as we live!

5. When we do God’s work ON TIME – Yes, that’s right! There will be times when we might delay what we thought of doing for the Lord! For example, Abraham’s elder son Esau delayed in getting the savoury food for his dad ON TIME; and thus, lost the blessing he was supposed to receive.

However, Jesus was very particular regarding this aspect of His ministry – I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. John‬ ‭9:4‬. When we come to God’s presence on time, He blesses us with blessings that lasts forever.

6. When we live peacefully with one another – The Triune God live unitedly, or in other words, they are three-in-one. But the devil desires the opposite of being united and so creates division among people.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Hebrews‬ ‭12:14‬. Peace and Holiness go hand in hand and both are required to be caught up at the coming of Jesus.

7. By preserving the hope of His Coming in us – The Lord loved us before the foundations of the world were laid and Called us by counting us as faithful. 1 Timothy 1:12. Not because of our righteousness or good works, but out of His immense mercy upon us. Now, it’s our duty to abide in this Calling (1 Corinthians 7:20) and grow in it.

He has gone to prepare a place for us, and when He is done preparing He will come back again and take us to be with Him. May the Lord help us!

Be blessed 💕

 

Original here

A NEW YOU: God can change impossible situations

PASTOR RAY PATRICK MARCH 17, 2020

Does this situation look impossible? It’s time to believe God for something that seems impossible? We serve a great and mighty God, and He can create something out of nothing! He can make a way when there seems to be no way. Before God spoke the world into existence, it was formless and void. If God can make the world out of nothing, He can take the empty places in your life and create something beautiful too.

Today, God can speak light into your darkest hour. He can take your formless dreams that seems to be fading and give them shape. He can resurrect your dormant gifts and talents! He can make your crooked places straight! Trust Him in all things, because He can make something out of nothing, there is nothing too hard for Him! trust Him at this time!

“The earth was formless and void…and God said, let there be light.” (Genesis 1:2–3, NASB)

Pray With Me

Yahweh, I trust that You will make a way where there seems to be no way. Father, thank You for forming my shapeless life. Now God, fill the void that is in my life today because of this world’s circumstances and instabilities. Please, I beg You, turn on the light in our darkness today. Give me Your peace and faith, and give me a vision of hope which is bigger than my now. I trust You in Christ’s Name! Amen.

https://godinterest.com/2020/03/17/the-global-coronavirus-recession-is-beginning-however-god-can-change-impossible-situations/

A Prayer for Military Families Remembering D Day

Let us remember that there are men and women far from their families and the comforts of home today – missing hugs and kisses, birthday parties and baseball games, praying for a safe return to the country and the people they love.

These are United States soldiers; some are our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, parents, neighbors, classmates, friends. Others we have never met, but they risk their lives daily for our freedom, and there are so many who have risked their lives for our freedom in many years past.

Will you join us in lifting up these troops and their families? We may honor them on specific days, but their service makes a difference in our lives every day.

Dear Lord,

Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the men and women who serve our country now and in the past, and for the sacrifices their families make so that we can all enjoy the blessing of freedom.

We praise you for calling them to help protect us, and for giving them the courage and ability to do their jobs well.

Guide their choices and their actions, Lord. Help them to see you working in their daily lives, whether in the field, at home, or abroad.

Surround them with your mighty angels; protect them in your mercy; cover them with your grace.

Guard their hearts while they are far from loved ones, and bless them with moments to cherish when they are together.

Hold these families close, Lord. May they look to You for the strength and peace that only You can give.

In Jesus Name we pray,

Amen.

While we continue to lift these brave men and women in prayer, why not take a moment (or two) to share your gratitude for their service and for their sacrifice. Below are a few ideas on how to reach out to U.S. soldiers as well as military families in your community or abroad:

Create a large banner with the words “God Bless You” and invite your group to sign it with their favorite Scripture. Send the banner to a deployed soldier and ask him/her to hang it up where it can be seen by many. Here are a few powerful verses to consider: Joshua 1:9Psalm 46:1Psalm 139:9-102 Corinthians 9:8Psalm 27:1

Set out markers and paper for kids (and kids at heart!) to color pictures for veterans, and then deliver the pictures with some cards of encouragement and thanks.

Find a military family in your community, invite them over for dinner and find out how you can help them. Deployed military members leave behind spouses, children and parents who must try to maintain life as usual while their loved one is away. In addition, they are often left to settle into a new community without the support of local family and friends.

Reach out to a soldier who has recently returned home – pray for them and their family during their time of transition.

Take a few moments to visit a Veterans Hospital, share some loving care, and pass out thank you cards with Scripture shareables.

Even if you don’t have a personal connection, consider asking neighbors, friends or family members if they know someone serving our country today. There are also many websites dedicated to coordinating correspondence with U.S. troops who need encouragement. Whether they’re across the street or around the world, they’ll be blessed to know how much they are appreciated.

https://www.dayspring.com/articles/a-prayer-for-military-families


A University President’s Message

MARCH 19, 2020 BY FRANCES ROGERS

Jerry received his degree in Industrial Engineering on December 15, 1961, from Auburn University. The following excerpts are from the President’s message, one you would not hear from a secular institution, today. We see how far we have come from the foundation of our nation and its institutions of higher education.We pray the Lord would bring us back to our humble beginnings.

“”””””””””””””””””

“My dear Friends,

You have completed your work for the degree in a time of the tremendous expansion of knowledge and in the midst of a world ferment of exploration of all the areas of thought.

I have the distinct feeling that the impact of new knowledge, which is producing so much of change is also reflected in changing outlooks among governments. I believe that you will live to see the effects of these forces also in the individual attitudes and beliefs of men.

We of the Western World have been conditioned in our thought and our morality largely through the beneficent influence of the Christian ethic. Although as individuals and as a nation, we have departed often from this ideal in individual acts, over the years and in the long view, we have been generally governed thereby. I would hope that the growth of knowledge, with the attendant dislocations which harass the world today, may serve to strengthen the influence of the Christian ethic and, eventually, ring wisdom and understanding among men and nations.

The prospects of that hope do seem dim at present, but I hope that you will cherish the ideal because I believe mankind must respond to the spirit of good and recoil from the spirit of evil. If this can’t be believed by men, there is little hope that civilization can survive.

I think that, perhaps, the best wish I could make for you on this occasion would be that each of you may be guided by the philosophy of the love of your fellowmen; goodwill; sensitivity to just and honorable relationships; and willingness to stand on the side of good against evil.

I wish for you, also, the joy of hard labor for worthwhile ends, and an awareness of the struggle in which you will be engaged throughout your lives. I wish for each of you good health, happiness, and success in that struggle, and I hope your lives may be blessed by the hope, the wisdom, and the influence of the Christian ethic.”

Ralph B. Draughon

 

The Auburn Creed includes seven points, the last of which is:

“I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by “doing  justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God.” (quote from Micah 6:8)

A University President’s Message

Don’t Get It Twisted – God Is My Sustainer

PASTOR RAY PATRICK MARCH 16, 2020

I was washing my hands thinking about life, I began to think that water is the great sustainer of life – we drink it, bathe in it and now we are being told it could save our lives by washing our hands. We are told most of our sources are generated by water. But don’t get it twisted, the greater sustainer and generator of life is God. He is your source of life. He wants you to abide in Him and rely on Him for everything. He wants to be your source for strength, provision, hope and joy. Like the air you breathe, He wants you to rely on Him for your very existence.

Remember, abiding in God begins by communing with Him, and meditating on His Word all day long. When you abide in Him, you talk to Him before you go to sleep at night. You think about Him when you first wake up. You dwell on His promises all throughout the day, and continually fellowship with Him in prayer. You make Him your number one priority and stay connected with other believers. Notice what this verse says will happen when you abide in Him—you will produce much fruit! He will be your water and sunlight in the midst of your darkness, so that you can produce gigantic fruit for His Kingdom!

Today, when you are connected to God, everything you set your hand to will be fruitful and blessed. Just like a branch thrives when it is connected to the vine, you will thrive and be prosperous when you abide in Him!

I am the vine, you are the branches. The one who abides in me while I abide in him produces much fruit…”

(JOHN 15:5, ISV)

Pray With Me

Yahweh, today I have decided to abide in You. Please be my source. Father, as I wash my hands more than ever before, and drink more water to survive and remain healthy, I won’t get it twisted, but remember, You are my sustainer and I totally depend on You. God, thank You for Your promise of blessing on me, and help me to always be a blessing to others at this time. God, I praise You today because You are my primary sustainer and generator of my life, in Jesus’ Name! Amen.

https://godinterest.com/2020/03/16/dont-get-it-twisted-god-is-my-sustainer/

More Hope Than Optimism

 

PASTOR RAY PATRICK MARCH 12, 2020

 

Talking to some of the youth at school yesterday, amidst their optimism, there also seems to be a lot of hopelessness. It’s time to set our hope on God so we are not easily swayed by the trials of life.

Setting our hope on God means we set our lives in the right direction. One translation of today’s verse says, “look forward to more and more of God’s favour.” God wants to pour out His goodness and grace on you. He wants to help you get ahead in this life. He wants to lead you to the right job. He wants to lead you to the right relationship. But here’s the key: we have to be on the lookout for more and more of God’s favour. More and more of God’s hope. More and more of God’s grace. That tells me that we can’t get stagnant.

Today, meditate on the truth that God wants to do more than you can even ask or think. It says in Ephesians that He wants to show us the immeasurable, limitless, surpassing greatness of His free favour. In other words, God wants to go above and beyond what we’re used to! He wants to show you favour in unusual and extraordinary ways. Set your hopes dynamically higher today, and increase your expectations of what God will do in your life!

“…set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace (divine favour) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed.”

(1 PETER 1:13, AMP)

Pray With Me
Yahweh, thank You for Your abundance in every area of my life today. Father, I will set my hope on You, knowing that You want to do more in my life than I can ever imagine. God, by faith I receive more of Your favour, grace and hope. God, teach me to be a vessel used by You, in Christ’s Name! Amen.

https://godinterest.com/2020/03/12/more-hope-than-optimism/

What Did Jesus REALLY Write in the Sand?

DAVID KYLE FOSTER MARCH 14, 2020

It has long been a mystery what Jesus wrote on the ground the day the scribes and Pharisees dragged an adulterous woman before Him (John 8:3-11).

One day, as I was reading in Jeremiah, I was surprised to find the answer hidden deep in the Old Testament…….

The scribes and Pharisees had demanded that He sentence the woman to death, as taught in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22-24.

[The NASB Study Bible notes that “they altered the law a little. The manner of execution was not prescribed unless the woman was a betrothed virgin. And the law required the execution of both parties, not just the woman”]

If Jesus had said to stone her, they would have charged Him with hypocrisy, since He was always teaching about mercy. If He said NOT to stone her, they would have charged Him with breaking the Mosaic Law.

Spotting their trick, He stooped down and wrote something on the ground, saying…..

If anyone of you is without sin, let him

be the first to throw a stone at her.

(JOHN 8:7)

He then proceeded to write something else on the ground, after which they dropped their stones and walked away.

What was it then that Jesus wrote on the ground?

O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away from You will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.

(JEREMIAH 17:13)

This passage seems to indicate that Jesus first wrote their names in the dust and perhaps then wrote a sin that they had committed next to their name. Busted by Jesus, they walked away in shame and frustration. You see, being Yahweh, He knew what was in their hearts. (See 1 Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 12:25; 22:18; John 2:25; 1 Corinthians 14:25).

According to the Venerable Bede, (as well as St. Augustine), when Jesus wrote on the ground with His finger, He was harkening back to the time on Mt Sinai when He had written the Ten Commandments on stone tablets with His finger (Exodus 32:15-16). In other words, the same finger that had written the Law back then was also the finger that was writing on the ground now. Therefore, since He was the author of the Law, He was the One to properly interpret and execute it (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10).

Additionally, being the One who was soon to receive the penalty for the sins of the adulterous woman upon Himself, He had every right to extend grace and mercy to her.

It is interesting to note that in Luke 11:20, Jesus referred to the “finger of God” when He drove the demon out of a man who could not speak. The crowd had accused Him of driving the demon out by the power of Beelzebub – the prince of demons. In response, and for those with eyes to see it, Jesus’ “finger of God” language indicated that He was the same God who wrote the Law on the stone tablets and was therefore God Himself.

A final observation: We should note that since God had created man “out of the dust” (Genesis 2:7) – and since He had come to “write the law on people’s hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33; Psalm 37:31; Romans 2:14-15; 2 Corinthians 3:3; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16), it is likely that in His interaction with the scribes and Pharisees that day, He had in a sense, written the supreme call to mercy in the dust – sending the message that those who refuse mercy will not receive mercy (James 2:12-13), and, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

That allows us to circle back to see one final message to the Pharisees:

Judge not, or you too will be judged.

(MATTHEW 7:1A)

That is the ultimate fulfillment of the Law.

You are a letter from Christ….written not with ink,

but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

https://godinterest.com/2020/03/14/what-did-jesus-really-write-in-the-sand/

Easter Evidence The Beautiful Cross

 

He is risen! I’m happy to see you this Resurrection Sunday. You all look so good! Does anyone have a new cross necklace? I’ve always thought that if you don’t like giving chocolate and bunnies, a cross could make a great gift for Easter morning. Whether you received it today or have worn it for years, how many of you are wearing a cross right now? Some of the crosses you are wearing are so beautiful and elegant. If you have a cross, just hold it for a moment. It’s a special piece of jewelry because it also has such special meaning!

Have you ever thought about what the cross really is? Originally the cross was the tool Rome used to execute its criminals more than two thousand years ago. It wasn’t just a form of execution; it was a form of torture and humiliation—where the victim usually suffocated to death from the weight of his own body. If you had worn a cross around your neck at that time, it would be like wearing a necklace with a little electric chair pendant at the end today. But do not stop wearing your cross. The fact that such an ugly instrument has become a thing of elegance and beauty is actually a testimony and clear picture of what this day is all about.

The Resurrection is the day that took things that were broken, cruel, harsh, ugly, and repulsive and made them beautiful again. The Resurrection is redemption. The Resurrection is transformation. The Resurrection doesn’t make the cross a little less barbaric, a little smoother, or a little kinder. The Resurrection is so powerful and so all encompassing that it has taken a symbol of death and transformed it into our symbol of life and salvation.

Maybe you haven’t thought of your cross like that before, but on this day I want to bring you back to the reality of what really happened on the day that will be celebrated by more than two billion people across the world this weekend. We’re going to look at two important aspects of the Resurrection that go hand in hand—the reality of the event and the amazing beautiful transformation the event brings. Like those beautiful crosses we wear around our necks, the Resurrection points to a harsh reality while at the same time displaying an overwhelming beauty and transformation of grace. Without the Resurrection, the cross is barbaric and meaningless. With the Resurrection, the cross is our hope and life.

 

The Great Proof

As He lived, Jesus foretold His death and resurrection; we read about it in passages like Mark 8:31–32: [Jesus] then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.” Jesus’s Resurrection proves all of Jesus’s words were true, and it proves that His sacrifice for our sins accomplished its work.

Since Jesus rose from the grave, we know that all who believe in Him will be raised from the dead as well. Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 15:17–21, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.”

A scholar by the name of John S. Whale said, “Belief in the Resurrection is not an appendage to the Christian faith; it is the Christian faith.”[1] It is the proof that all Jesus did and all Jesus said was true. Without the Resurrection, Jesus’s claim in John 14:6—“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”—doesn’t make sense. Because of the Resurrection, that same claim is our great and only hope for salvation.

This Resurrection Sunday we have great confidence in both the truth and power of Jesus’s Resurrection. While scholars may argue over what Jesus’s words meant, no serious Bible scholar denies that Jesus was a historical figure who had a profound impact on His immediate world. In fact, historical witnesses outside of the Bible confirm that Jesus lived and was crucified. Amazingly, historical witnesses also prove that Jesus’s earliest followers were extremely serious about their devotion to Him, His teachings, and His resurrection.

For example, in Annals of Imperial Rome, written around AD 116, the Roman senator and historian Tacitus wrote about how the Emperor Nero burned Rome in AD 64, then blamed it on, to quote, “the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate.” Other non-Christians such as the Jewish historian Josephus[2] wrote about Jesus and His followers as well. Before Tacitus wrote his history, a Roman governor, Pliny the Younger, complained in a letter about how the early Christians he persecuted and punished would “sing hymns to Christ as to a god.”[3]

Dr. Paul Maier called this “positive evidence from a hostile source. In essence, if a source admits a fact that is decidedly not in its favor, the fact is genuine.”[4] These and other witnesses confirm that something monumental and transforming had taken place in the followers of Jesus. Even the pagan Roman rulers testified to the fact that the earliest followers of Jesus, who knew Jesus, did not consider Him to be an ordinary man.

 

The Great Cost

This brings us to another ugly reality that had a beautiful result. In the years after Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples faced persecution and rejection. Acts 12:2 tells us the apostle James was killed by Herod. The Jewish historian Josephus told us that James, the half brother of Jesus, was stoned to death by Jewish leaders.[5] The second-century church father Origen wrote of Peter’s crucifixion.[6] Tradition tells us that all of the other remaining apostles except for John died as martyrs. There is convincing evidence both inside and outside of the Bible that a number of the apostles died for their faith and that they all faced significant persecution for their belief in Jesus’s Resurrection.

Of course, Christianity isn’t the only world religion that has martyrs. But what makes these martyrs so unique is that they died for their belief in something they saw with their own eyes—namely Jesus’s Resurrection. Many people in history have died for what they truly believed as a result of what others have told them. These apostles willingly gave their lives for what they saw with their own eyes rather than deny the Resurrection.

For that matter, Peter, James, the other James, and Paul knowingly and willingly died alone at the hands of various rulers for a lie they purposely fabricated or for an historical event they witnessed with their own eyes. Their determined adherence to believe and proclaim the Resurrection brought no fame, power, or status. Rather, it cost them everything! Herein we find the beautiful aspect of this reality. What a transformation had come about in the hearts of the disciples because of the certainty of the Resurrection!

 

A Change of Heart

You might remember that before the Resurrection, Peter was afraid to admit to a young servant girl that he knew Jesus. After the Resurrection, Peter proclaimed the truth about Jesus not just to one young slave girl but to thousands of men and women. In Acts 4, Peter and John spoke boldly about Jesus. We’re told when the high priest and leaders “saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (verse 13).

The beauty of the Resurrection is the transformation power it brings! Peter and John were changed by it. Countless people throughout the ages have been transformed through it. Today you can be transformed by it as well. At the moment the Resurrection comes into our lives when we allow ourselves to be crucified with Christ, every other moment is transformed from being stuck and bound by the things of this earth to being freed and prepared for the things of heaven.

Not only does the forgiving and healing power of the Resurrection reach out to every day in our future, it also reaches back to every day in our past. To take part in the Resurrection is to believe in the cross. In that belief, Jesus takes all our sin and all our failures and makes us beautiful again. If we take part in the Resurrection, even our greatest failures of the past are transformed completely and totally. At the cross and through the Resurrection, God forgives and redeems our very worst moments. And even our sins are transformed into victory. In the Resurrection your deepest regrets are transformed from unbearable shame to a proclamation of God’s amazing grace, mercy, and love.

In the Resurrection you and I can say, “God loves, God uses, God draws near to, God protects, and God helps people who have even done things like the very worst I have done. My failure is no longer my shame. It has been transformed by the Resurrection into my story of how good God is even when I’m not.” How powerful His love can be even when we are unloving. How far His grace reaches when we fail. How completely He can change the way a person thinks, how a person lives, and even who a person is.

Some point to Jesus’s half brother James as one of the greatest proofs that Jesus rose from the dead. We read in John 7:5 that before the Crucifixion, James didn’t believe in Jesus. But after the Resurrection, James is the central elder of the Christian church in Jerusalem. Think about your brother or sister for a moment. In his book Irresistible, Andy Stanley asked the insightful question, “What would your brother have to do to convince you he was the Son of God?”[7] Wouldn’t the answer be, “Something like rise from the dead”?

Before the Crucifixion, every single one of the twelve disciples deserted Jesus and ran away. After the Resurrection, all eleven of the surviving disciples boldly proclaimed the message of His death and Resurrection. Something happened to them that can only be explained through their firsthand witness of the Resurrection of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

If you have not experienced the transformative power of the Resurrection in your life, today is the day to enter into it. If you have already put your faith in Jesus, today is the day to move forward in its power to make you bold and make you free.

 

The Empty Tomb

Through the Resurrection, the cold, hard, heartless tomb itself is transformed into a symbol of hope! Matthew 28:13 shows us that there is little debate as to whether or not the tomb was empty. Even Jesus’s detractors admitted it was. Rather than say, “Jesus is still there,” the Jewish leaders bribed the guards and told them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’”

The priests couldn’t produce proof that Jesus’s body remained in the tomb, so this statement seemed to provide a plausible explanation of the empty tomb. However, over the years and decades their lie unraveled as the disciples faced persecution and death for their insistence that the tomb was empty and the body could not be found because Jesus rose from the dead. More than five hundred different witnesses saw the risen Lord in the weeks after His Crucifixion—yet none of them came forward to refute the truth of the empty tomb through the Resurrection.

When you’re looking for a place to relax or connect with others, I would guess that you wouldn’t choose a graveyard. A cemetery is the last place most of us would go to find hope. But the Resurrection does more than put a nice stamp on a tombstone. The Resurrection transforms the meaning, the impact, and the result of the grave itself. Now the cold tomb is for us a symbol of hope and life. Hope is now found in the tomb because Jesus was not found in the tomb. He died for our sins, and three days later, He rose again from the dead. And that changes everything!

Author Clarence W. Hall said it like this: “The resurrection of Jesus changes the face of death for all His people. Death is no longer a prison, but a passage into God’s presence. Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”[8] The Resurrection completely transforms death for those who will believe in it. Without the Resurrection, death is the tragic ending to life. With the Resurrection, death is just the beginning of eternal life. Without the Resurrection, death is where our strength finally runs out. With the Resurrection, death is where our eternal glory begins.

Paul encouraged us in Colossians 3:1–4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

 

The Change Is Complete

Watchman Nee said, “Our old history ends with the Cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.”[9] This may be the most precious and amazing transformation the Resurrection brings. The Resurrection makes us new. Will you enter in to the Resurrection today? If you have already done so, will you choose to live every day in the freedom, joy, and hope of the Resurrection?

The Resurrection doesn’t make us a little bit better. It’s not one step on the road to self-improvement. It doesn’t help us be good. What so many people don’t understand is that being good or better isn’t the issue. Being good enough or kind enough isn’t what God is looking for. To be human means to be broken. To be human means to be divided. To be human means to have potential for incredible nobility and moments of exceptional kindness and generosity. It also means to have moments of selfishness, greed, and desperate depravity.

In God, there is no duplicity. There is no corruption. So to be human means to be separate from God, in need of forgiveness and transformation that can be found only in the Resurrection if we want to be with God and in His presence. Some would say, “Well, if God wants to separate Himself from me just because I’m human, I don’t want anything to do with a God like that anyway.” But we fail to understand that we have separated ourselves. The Crucifixion and Resurrection are God’s work to close the gap. And God loves you so much that He made a way for you despite your inherited and willful weakness of humanity.

It would kind of be like if I threw this huge Hollywood-style party at an incredible mansion, and I handed you an invitation. I then said to you, “In order to get into the party, you have to have an invitation.” And you said, “Well, if I have to have an invitation, I’m not coming to your party.” I gave you the invitation—that’s how you get in. It is, after all, my party. But in Jesus, everyone’s invited!

God has extended the invitation of the Resurrection to anyone who will simply put their faith in Jesus. He didn’t make it too hard for us. In Romans 10:9, Paul said, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” If you don’t want Him on this earth, He’s not going to force you to be with Him forever in heaven. If you don’t want to accept His invitation, He won’t force you to take it.

Understand this: God’s call is not for you to be better. His plea is not “Get it under control.” His call is “Come.” Come to the cross and die to your control. Die to the substitutes for God in your life. Die to your sin that lingers all around you like bad breath. To take His invitation is to lay down your pride and the weakness of your humanity and to be transformed by the Resurrection. Let the righteousness of Jesus make you right. Look to the goodness of God to make you good. Look to the forgiveness of the cross to make you whole. Let the power of the Resurrection make you free. He doesn’t want you to be good. He wants you to be forgiven so that you can be near.

Let me remind you of where we began—the cross that some of us wear around our necks or on our wrists. This symbols reminds us that God’s heart is to take that which is coarse, dark, and broken and to resurrect it into something beautiful. So I want to give you an opportunity to join in on the Resurrection right now. It’s not because I want you to be like me; it’s because I hope for your soul to be beautiful and free. I hope that you will experience what it means to have your most ugly moments transformed into a story of God’s forgiveness, love, and grace.

That change begins with a prayer. But I want you to know it doesn’t end there. In fact, praying this prayer from your heart means that you want to live in the Resurrection for the rest of your life—and all eternity. It means that you will ask Jesus to forgive your sins and to guide your life. When you make this decision through this prayer, you will be changed—whether you feel it or not. You will be forgiven. You will be a child of God. But it’s not the end. It’s the beginning of lifelong transformation where the Resurrection works deeper and deeper into your heart as it comes out through your life. Whether you pray that for the first time right now or if you’ve given your life to Jesus years ago, I want to challenge you to come back and join us here next week and to take the next step in that journey.

So if that’s the journey you want to begin, if you want to accept God’s invitation, pray this Resurrection prayer with me right now. I’ll lead you in it, and you can repeat after me. Dear God . . . I admit that I have done some ugly things . . . I ask for forgiveness for my sin . . . Thank You that Jesus paid the price on the cross for me . . . I put my faith in Jesus . . . I ask Jesus into my heart . . . I am ready to take part in Your Resurrection . . . Fill me with Your Holy Spirit . . . As I give my life to you . . . In Jesus’s name, I pray . . . Amen.

[1] Kevin Halloran, “40 Easter Bible Verses and Resurrection Quotes,” Unlocking the Bible, March 18, 2016, https://unlockingthebible.org/2016/03/40-easter-bible-verses-and-resurrection-quotes/.

 

[2] Note to the Pastor: While many scholars agree that Josephus wrote about Jesus, there is no lack of controversy concerning the complete authenticity of his famous reference to Jesus known as the Testimonium Falvianum, where it appears Josephus testified to and believed in Jesus’s Resurrection. See Ken Olson, “A Eusebian Reading of the Testimonium Flavianum,” Center for Hellenistic Studies, Harvard University, https://www.chs.harvard.edu/CHS/article/display/5871.5-a-eusebian-reading-of-the-testimonium-flavianum-ken-olson.

[3] Christopher Klein, “The Bible Says Jesus Was Real. What Other Proofs Exist?” History.com, April 16, 2019, https://www.history.com/news/was-jesus-real-historical-evidence; Michael Gleghorn, “Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources,” bethinking.org, https://www.bethinking.org/jesus/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-christian-sources; http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/pliny.html.

[4] Matt Perman, “Historical Evidence for the Resurrection,” DesiringGod.org, September 12, 2007, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection.

[5] Stephen Miller, “What Happened to Jesus’ ‘Brothers’?” Christianity Today, Issue 59, 1998, https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-59/what-happened-to-jesus-brothers.html.

[6] Steven Gertz, “How Do We Know Ten of the Disciples Were Martyred?” ChristianityToday.com, August 8, 2008, https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/august/how-do-we-know-10-of-disciples-were-martyred.html.

[7] Andy Stanley, Irresistible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 124.

[8] Daryl Evans, “Quotes About the Resurrection: 23 Good Sayings,” What Christians Want to Know, https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/quotes-about-the-resurrection-23-good-sayings/.

[9] Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Bombay, India: Gospel Literature Service, 1957).


 

 

VIDEO I Still Believe

Introduction/Connection

 

 

Last week we began a 2-part sermon series as we prepare to go and see the movie, I Still Believe.

 

(Pastor – You may be attending the movie as a church, as small groups, or as individual families. This could be a good time to share any relevant announcements about the movie that would be helpful for the congregation).

 

We previously talked about unanswered prayer and discussed three practical ways we can respond when we are confused, frustrated, or angry about the way God is responding, or not responding to us. When we find ourselves in those situations we can choose to wait, to continue walking with God, and/or to worship. Today we are going to take it a step further and talk about the imperative ingredient needed in these, and any of the other ways we choose to respond to God, as the people of God.

Conveniently, the imperative ingredient of our faith is in fact, FAITH.

 

It takes faith to wait, faith to keep walking, and faith to worship.

  • The author of Hebrews reminds us that, “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

 

  • Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

 

  • Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! (HAVE FAITH) I have overcome the world!”

 

Today we are going to look at 3 powerful examples of faith. Two of them come from the New Testament and one from the life of an extremely courageous and bold missionary named Brother Andrew. But before we jump into those stories I want to share with you again the chorus from Jeremy Camp’s song, Walk by Faith. In it he sings;

 

Well I will walk by faith,

Even when I cannot see.

Because this broken road,

Prepares your will for me.

 

There are some of you here today who will hear these next stories and I pray you’ll be encouraged by them. The broken road you are currently traveling is difficult, but God has a plan and purpose for it. Even if you cannot see or understand what is happening, I want you to know that God is faithful. There are others who will hear these stories today and be reminded of difficult seasons God has faithfully delivered them from. And finally there are those of you here today who will sooner or later enter into a season that tests your faith. I can only hope that the stories I share today will come back to mind and in the midst of frustration, confusion, and anger you will choose to walk by faith.

But before we get into our 3 stories for the day, I’d like to take a moment to pray that we would all be open to receive the hope and encouragement the Lord has for us.

 

(Pray)

Main Teaching/Body

 

Story 1

 

Please open your bibles again to Mark chapter 5. You may remember last week we looked at the story of Jairus the synagogue leader and his interaction with Jesus. We learned Jairus was in a unique situation where he had to keep walking with Christ for quite some time before receiving an answer to his request. Today, we are going to look at the woman who interrupted Jesus as he walked with Jairus, and the faith she had to exercise just to get to Christ.

From the passage in Mark 5 we know, “there was a woman there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.” (Mark 5:25-26) This is, in and of itself, an incredibly difficult position to be in. She’s sick, she’s seeing doctors, and she’s getting nowhere. To add insult to injury she’s spent all her money in the process and after twelve long years she truly has no options left.

 

What we don’t learn from the passage in Mark 5 is that her issue of bleeding would’ve made her ceremonially unclean according to the Levitical law, which we can read about in Leviticus 15:25-27. Being unclean would have excluded her from all forms of Jewish worship both in the synagogue and at the temple. Every chair and bed she sat on or slept in would also be unclean during the time of her bleeding, and anyone who touched them would become unclean. This may sound gross and even confusing but it is all important information as we try to comprehend the pain and loneliness this woman was living in. For twelve years she was unable to worship with her community, unable to share her home with others, and unable to find relief from her pain.

 

It is from this desperate place that an unbelievable act of faith and correspondingly tremendous miracle occur. “When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” (Mark 5:27-29)

 

The woman experienced an immediate miracle as the healing power of Christ flowed into her body. She was instantaneously restored to fellowship, to community, and to physical health because of her bold act of faith.

 

And bold faith is exactly how I would describe the subject of our next story as well.

 

Story 2

Andrew van der Bijl, or Brother Andrew, is a christian missionary and founder of the organization Open Doors, who is known for smuggling Bibles into communist countries during the height of the Cold War. One of the most loved Brother Andrew stories recounts a risky incident from early in his ministry and I want to share it with you today as our second story of faith.

 

On this particular occasion, Brother Andrew approached the Romanian border in his car—which was packed with illegal Bibles. He could only hope the border guards were moving swiftly and not paying much attention, which might allow him to pass through undetected. But just as he was hoping this, Brother Andrew saw the guards stop the car at the front of the line. He watched, in anticipation, as the vehicle’s owners were forced to take out all of the car’s contents and spread them on the ground for inspection. Each car that followed received the same treatment, with the fourth car’s inspection lasting the longest. The guard took a full hour to sift through it, including removing hubcaps, taking the engine apart, and even removing the seats.

 

“Dear Lord,” Brother Andrew remembers praying, “What am I going to do?”

 

As he prayed, a bold idea came to Brother Andrew. “I know that no amount of cleverness on my part can get me through this border search. Dare I ask for a miracle? Let me take some of the Bibles out and leave them in the open where they will be seen.” Putting the Bibles out in the open would truly be depending on God, rather than his own intelligence, he thought. So when the guards ushered Andrew forward, he did just this. “I handed him my papers and started to get out. But his knee was against the door, holding it closed.”

 

And then, the almost unbelievable happened.

 

The guard looked at Brother Andrew’s passport and abruptly waved him on. “Surely thirty seconds had not passed,” he remembers. Brother Andrew started the engine and began pulling away, all the while wondering if he was supposed to pull over so the car could be taken apart and examined. “I coasted forward, my foot poised above the brake. Nothing happened. I looked out the rear mirror. The guard was waving the next car to a stop, indicating to the driver that he had to get out.”

 

God cleared the way for Brother Andrew to smuggle the Bible to Christians who had no access to God’s Word.

 

By all measures this is a gigantic act of faith in the face of near certain disaster. It is the striking boldness of our first two stories that should remind all of us that faith often precipitates a step into the unknown. Our last story highlights the persistence of one who has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

Please turn with me to Luke chapter 18.

 

Story 3

 

In Luke 18 we find the parable of the persistent widow. The story doesn’t need much introduction so let’s jump in and read it together:

 

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and never give up. He said, ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’

 

And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.

 

However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

 

And that’s the question we still have to wrestle with isn’t it? When He comes again, will He find faith on earth? In our city? In our church? In you?

Conclusion

Life is quite a journey isn’t it? It takes strength, encouragement, and faith.

 

I think that’s at least in part why the writer of Hebrews says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

I hope that the stories I shared with you here today are an encouragement to you. Whether you are in the middle of a difficult season, on the other side of one, or possibly heading towards one — it is our collective testimonies of God’s faithfulness that help spur each other on.

 

We actually have one more story to share together, and that’s the story of Jeremy Camp called I Still Believe. While I don’t want to give anything away, I do think it would be appropriate to share with you just one line from the song he wrote, conveniently called, I Still Believe. In the midst of his own frustration, confusion, and sadness Camp wrote this as the last line of his chorus;

 

Even when I don’t see, I still believe.

 

And that’s what I want to leave you with today too. In the midst of life’s storms, when things aren’t making sense and you don’t know how to respond to the ways God is responding to you — will you wait on Him? Will you keep walking with Him? Will you give him your worship?

Will you step out in faith and say, “Yes Lord! Even when I don’t see, I still believe.”

Let’s pray together.

 

(Pastor – Hopefully you’re able to see the movie very soon after delivering this message. Seeing the movie together as part of the “take-away” will provide you with ample talking points to connect with your congregation. I pray that new doors are opened in your community and that God would give you wisdom and discernment in your responses.)

 

Follow-Up Questions

Here are some potential questions to prepare for:

 

Why didn’t God just heal Jeremy Camp’s wife? Wouldn’t that have been the best for everyone?

 

Why would God heal Melissa just to take her away again?

 

If God is good why do people die? Why doesn’t God just take away sickness and death?

 

How do I wait well and keep my faith even after I feel like I haven’t received any answer in a really long time?

 

I used to believe but I just don’t feel like God is there or cares about me and my life.