A Celebration of Life Eternal
Scripture: (John 11:25 KJV) Jesus said unto her, I am the
resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet
shall he live:
I want to start today's message by telling you about a Russian Orthodox priest that touched my life. In the '80s I converted to the Russian Orthodox religion. It was in Rochester New York that I met this wonderful man of God. I feel real bad not being able to remember his name but somehow I do not think he would mind. He was old, but not real old as some orthodox priest go. he had silver white hair and a long white beard. All dressed in the black vestments his eyes glimmered bright blue. If you ever want to experience a wonderful Easter service you have to find an Orthodox Church and spend Easter Eve service with them. I had been to a couple and they were fantastic, full of tradition and symbolism, but this one Easter morning I will never forget. We walked around the church three times in a candle light procession then the priest knocked upon the door. The Church which at the beginning of the service was dark and empty is now flooded with light. Making our way into the church and finding a seat This man who for so long had seemed to at times simple go through the liturgy by rote came running down the isle of the sanctuary swinging wildly the incense and yelling with pure joy in his heart. "HE IS ALIVE, JESUS IS ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE, HE'S ALIVE, HE'S ALIVE." At that very moment I knew that Jesus Christ was not only alive but that He lived within my heart. If you have never experienced the reality of the presence of God in your life then I urge you to call out to God right now and ask Him, beg Him, to reveal Himself to you in a mighty way. Because the truth is my friend is that JESUS CHRIST IS ALIVE, AND HE IS LORD OF ALL HEAVEN AND EARTH. Is He LORD of your life today? You know I heard Billy Graham say that Jesus Christ was either LORD of all or he is not LORD at all. Today I want to introduce you to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.
This was not something simply made up by a group of people 2,000 years ago with a death wish. You see most of those who witnessed the resurrection and proclaimed it, were brutally put to death. Stephen was stoned. Peter was crucified upside down. James was beheaded. Paul was continually under persecution and finally put to death. All of these and so many more were put to death because they would not recant upon the truth of what they knew. Many people will lie, but not many will stick to that lie when their very lives depend upon it. Neither are we talking simply about a man coming back from the grave. If that was what all the uproar was about then why didn't everyone go crazy when Lazarus was raised from the dead. Or how about the young boy that Elijah brought back to life. or the man that was thrown dead into the grave that Elisha's bones were in and came back to life. Then there was the boy that Jesus raised from the dead in the funeral procession. We all have heard stories about people who have been dead for some period of time and came back. The power is not in the resurrection, the power is in the person of Jesus Christ who is and was and will forever be.
Let us for just one moment look at the prophesy concerning Christ. It was foretold from the beginning starting in Genesis 3:15 where it says that the enemy will bruise his heel but He will crush his head. Moses spoke of the coming of the messiah. Isaiah told of Him coming from the root of Jesse. Micah told of Him being born in Bethlehem. In fact I have for your viewing over 300 messianic prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. Even fulfilling ten of them would be like having a pile of silver dollars up to your knees covering the entire state of Texas and randomly throwing one marked with a red marker in the middle of them all and you finding it being blind folded. But I do not think it needs to be an intellectual debate as to the validity of Christ's claims. It is not a matter of the mind as much as it is of the heart.
You may need to ask yourself the question that Jesus asked Peter; who do you say Jesus is? If He is indeed as the scriptures declare the LORD of all creation, then what exactly happened on that first Easter morning? I want you to open the eyes of your heart now and see the victory that was won and the impact that it has upon your life today. You know, because in reality it doesn't matter much unless it impacts your life. Unless it makes the difference, all the difference. You see, Jesus came and died upon that cross so that whosoever would receive forgiveness of sins would. So the question is are you a whosoever? And if so, what difference is that making in your life? You see, if Jesus just died upon the cross, and that bought us our ticket into heaven then it would not have to make any difference at all in your life. But so much more happened in those three days. For when God came forth from that tomb He made available to you the keys to the kingdom. Have you just accepted the forgiveness and left behind the keys? Have you simply witnessed the death but missed the resurrection? Then again, maybe you know and you do believe but it isn't making a difference. Then I ask if you even really know what you believe? God Himself, the God who created the heavens and the earth and all that are in them, put on this mortal coil and walked amongst men, overcoming all trials and temptations. He then submitted Himself to be beaten and bruised and spat upon, treated as cruelly as any of His children has been treated. He refrained from interfering even as His own creation crucified Him, their creator. Then He forgave them and won the last battle which was death itself, returning to give new life, a rebirth, a new beginning to all that would come unto Him. Life eternal, starting right now. Not some day in the by and by when the rapture happens or that trumpet sounds, but just as Jesus said to Martha, He is, the resurrection and the life. He is, that means right now. Don't you get it? He's alive! HE IS ALIVE!!!! and that makes all the difference. You can now experience the fullness of God. He is not locked up behind some veil or within a golden ark but He lives within the hearts of all who would receive Him.
So lets see what difference it makes. First of course you get forgiveness of your sins. That will take away a lot of those quilt feelings you may have been harboring up for years. Then He gives you the strength to overcome those sins and that will make you feel even better about yourself. Then there is the realization that you are loved unconditionally with an everlasting, never ending love. That will take off the pressure of having to perform. Then there are all those promises of God. Maybe what we need to do is come to a closer realization of our position in Christ. When you believe upon the LORD Jesus Christ you become a new creation. You become a child of the most high God.
Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ form the
grave. Today we celebrate life eternal. I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that
simply said the meaning of life is to enjoy it. Far too many of us do not enjoy
it. But that joy can come. Like the song said, you can trade in all of your
sorrow and all of your shame, and lay them down for the joy of the LORD. I am
not saying that life as a Christian is always nothing but a dream,
shaboom-shaboom? But I am telling you what the word of God says and that is that
even though we may face tribulation in this world we can be of good cheer for
He, our LORD and savior Jesus Christ, over came the world and has given us the
keys to the kingdom. I am speaking to two people today. One of you knows Jesus
as your LORD and savior but you can not seem to hang onto the joy of the LORD.
The pressures and the pain are just too much at times. You have heard all the
sermons, you know that He welcomes all those who labor and are heavy laden for
He will give you rest. And you do find rest in His arms yet you still carry
around this heavy load. You have fellowshipped in His suffering and now, now it
is time to know the power of His resurrection. Look quickly with me in the book
of Philippians. (Philippians 3:10-14 KJV) That I may know him, and the power
of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made
conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection
of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect:
but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended
of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one
thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto
those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the
high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Do not miss this opportunity to take hold of that which God has laid up for you. Do not let the enemy rob you any more of the joy that is rightfully yours. fix your eyes firmly on the goal and know that you are a child of the most high God and you are highly favored of Him. In fact as my friend Steve Brown always says, God is quite fond of you. Walk in that knowledge, run in that reality. Jump up and down and seek the many gifts that await you. Jesus said that we were to enter in as children. Well imagine yourself being a child again and there is an Easter egg hunt for the blessings of God. They can be found all around you. they are in His word. they are in the fellowship of one another. They are in the helping of those who need a helping hand. the blessing of God are eternal and abundant. And so, knock and the door will be opened, seek and you shall find, ask and it will be given, May you be filled to the over flowing today, right now. Let the power of His resurrection be manifested in your life, today tomorrow and for always.
The other person I am writing to, and you know who you are. You are ready. You have been led this far and are hungry for the truth. You know the truth. You know the sin that you have been wallowing in. You know the pain that it really has caused you and others, even though you have tried to deny it and cover it up for so long. Well, today is that day that everything changes. Today is that day that you finally nail that sin to the cross. Today is the day that you let the blood of Jesus wash you white as snow. Today is the day that you firmly place a stake in the ground and say no more. Right now, right now your life can change. In just a minute you are about to become a new creation. You are about to experience the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in your life. Right now you are going to pray this prayer with me and accept Jesus Christ as your LORD and savior and your life is never going to be the same again. It might seem awkward at first. And you may struggle and stumble and fall at first, but God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit will be right there with you and together you will win this fight, and for the first time in your life be able to truly celebrate life eternal. Let's all pray together;
Dear LORD God, Heavenly father, Dear Jesus, We call upon your name. Your Word tells us that whosoever will call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved. It also tells us that when we confess with our mouths that Jesus is LORD and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead that we would be saved. So we are calling upon the name of Jesus right Now. Right now I accept you LORD Jesus as my savior, as my LORD, as my closest friend. I invite you into my heart to stay. I repent of my sins. I call that which is sin, sin and I turn away from it all right now. I renounce all control it has over me. Even if I invited it into my life in the past I renounce it now and I rejoice in the reality of the resurrection. I rejoice it the forgiveness of my sins. I rejoice in the new beginning of my life. I rejoice in the renewed strength to overcome. I rejoice in the love of God which has been so graciously poured out upon me. I rejoice in the infilling of the Holy Spirit. I rejoice in now being a child of the most High God. I rejoice for I am a Christian.
My friends we have the victory. It is a new day. This is the day that the LORD has made, Let us be glad and rejoice in it. Go now in the power of the resurrection and celebrate life eternal, In Jesus name Amen.