Archive for April, 2009


going-thereCome with me this morning and gaze upon a very sad moment. We find a young woman standing at a tomb, a rich man’s tomb. A huge stone has been rolled away, and she is standing there sobbing her heart out. She is wailing the middle eastern death wail. She has just experienced the most horrible weekend of her life. She had to witness the execution of the man who had saved her life. He had rescued her from a life of sin and abuse. Her life had been so different since he cast the seven demons from her life. She had never known such forgiveness and acceptance and love. He was gone, crucified at the hands of Roman soldiers, and the least thing she could do was to go and anoint his body for a proper burial. To say goodbye one last time. But he is gone. His body is not there. She arrived early in the morning and the stone had been rolled away. The Roman guards were gone, the grave cloths were laying in the grave. Jesus was gone. Someone had stolen the body away.jesus_tomb-mary-weep

Suddenly a man approaches her. He asks her “Why are you weeping”. She doesn’t recognize him, thinks he is the gardener. “Sir”,she asks, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have laid him”. She then turns to stare and sob.

He simply calls her name, “Mary”. And in a flash she knew. She turns to him and says “Rabboni”!

This morning, Jesus stands before each one of us. He is alive. He is God! He is our Savior! He is at the right hand of God His Father. He is awaiting the day when the Father will say, THAT”S ENOUGH! Your day is here.

But until that day when He shall descend from heaven with a shout and the blast of the trumpet, Jesus stands in front of you and asks WHY ARE YOU WEEPING? I am your teacher! Do you not know what I have taught you? He calls each one of us by name and asks, “Why are you weeping?”

You say that’s silly, because I’m not weeping. But I say, Jesus knows your heart. He sees the tears that are there. They may be buried, they may be hidden, but they are there. We can all say as David said in Psalm 44:19: “thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.” Jesus wanted Mary to realize she did not need to weep. She did not need to sob her heart out.

Glenda Brost of Indiana tells us:

On a beautiful day in May 1996, I came home to find that my fifteen-year-old daughter, Patti, had shot herself to death. I was absolutely devastated. Patti had been diagnosed and hospitalized with severe depression that winter, but seemed to be improving dramatically. In April, she gave her life to the Lord, and everyone saw a big change in her.

The first month after Patti’s death was a blur. I knew I had two choices—to allow my anger and hurt to take over my life and my marriage, or allow the Lord to help me through the struggles and somehow bring good out of this tragedy. My husband, Bill, my son, Brent, and I vowed we wouldn’t let Satan have the victory; we would serve the Lord no matter what. That summer I spent much time reading the Bible and praying. I felt the presence of the Lord in such real ways, comforting and strengthening me. Whenever I was down, someone would call or send a card or say she was praying for me.

limbic-systemOur heart records emotional distress and sends the message to the limbic system of our brain. Here the emotional hurts, painful memories are stored just beneath our conscious thought. These memories surface in strange reactions to certain impulses or circumstances. We can’t explain why so and so frustrates us so, or why so and so brings fear. We bear the mark of emotional pain and suffering upon our heart.

It would be horrible to think that a child’s suicide, the death of a small child, the diagnosis of a terminal disease is something we must bear alone. It is even more tragic that there is no God to make sense of all the pain and suffering in this world. There must be something more to this life. There must be a cure to the stain upon our heart that this life can leave.

Every year thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the “stations of the cross” crucifixes-in-italian-alpsto stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough thicket and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the empty tomb. It was neglected. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as they cross, but there they stopped.

I have known people who have let the pain of their heart ruin their marriage, their relationship with their children, ruin their career, ruin their life. If we only focus on the pain and the suffering, we will be held captive and our lives will be ruined. Jesus asked Mary “Why are you weeping.” Don’t focus on the loss, focus on the VICTORY! Don’t stop at the cross, Praise God for the Empty Tomb. Praise God for the Resurrection!

jesus-wears-the-cross-on-his-chestJesus doesn’t wear an “S” on his chest. He wears the cross, because He conquered the cross! He endured the Cross for the Joy that was set before Him. The joy was not heaven, He already had that. The Joy was seeing His VICTORY GIVEN TO YOU AND ME! He wants to MARK our HEART with the Victory of the Resurrection!

Mark Your Ball With “JPT”

Dr David Cook is a renown sports psychologist. He has written a book titled Golf’s Sacred Journey. He was invited to speak and discuss the book at a gathering of Christian golfers at the number one golf course in the World, Pine Valley. These men were all great golfers, successful executives. The last day he was paired up with one of the greatest amateurs. He had a horrible reputation fro being a raging maniac on the course. His attitude had kept him from making it to the pro’s, and had affected his success in business. In the short devotion before they played,

pine-valley-hole-18Dr Cook told him I am going to teach you something that will change the way you approach life. God wants to use golf to change eternity. You’ll never play well until you understand God’s purpose for your life, and that is to use your life to change eternity. God wants to use everything in your life to effect eternity. God wants to use your Golf to change this world for eternity. This game is not about you.It is not about your score, it is not about how you look to other people, it is about God and what He wants to do in your life and the lives of the people you play with.

Gave him a verse I Thess 5:16-17: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances – Joy Prayer Thanksgiving

So he marked his ball with “JPT”

He said “I want you to go and play a great game, but no matter what you do, always have Joy and Give Thanks, whether you birdie, bogey or double bogey. And as you play, pray! This is why God called you, to use your game to change the eternity of those you play with.

Everyone was noticing a different attitude. He was playing great, and was 4 under par at the 12th hole. He was 30 yards out on the 12th hole. He went to hit an easy chip shot for a certain birdie when he duffed it. He hit the ball only two feet. You could just see him turn inward and start to go ballistic. David rushed to his side and said “remember, this game is not about you, it about your purpose in changing eternity. The enemy wants to use circumstances to take you out, to render you powerless. He wants to embarrass you on the golf course. He uses three weapons, “KILL STEAL & DESTROY” That’s how he makes you powerless. Look at your ball, what does it say: “JPT” – Joy Prayer Thanksgiving. Those are your weapons to change your world for eternity.

He calms down, says a quick prayer of thanksgiving and ends up bogeying the hole. He keeps on playing and gets back to 4 under. The last hole and he’s feeling great, everybody is noticing his new attitude. He hits a mighty drive 330 yards and it hits directly into a bunker at the foot of the green. Three feet down from the top. The ball is buried. He goes to his ball and he starts yelling for David to come!

jpt-ball-markLook at this! The only thing showing is the “JPT”. He’s on his knee’s praising God. He says David, this is my message from God. From now on I will use JPT to change the eternity of those around me. No matter how deeply I’m buried I will praise God.

Jesus is before you and he is looking into your heart. He sees the hurt, the disappointment, the bitterness, the coldness, the pride, the scars upon your heart. He wants to mark your heart with JPT, because He has conquered all! He overcame the devil, He overcame sin and our alienation from God. Satan has no claim on us anymore. If we place our life in Jesus, we share in His death, His burial and His resurrection. We already died, so Satan has no power over us. Hebrews 2:14,15 says: “that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

Just because we are in a bad place, buried in the sand, doesn’t mean we have to stay there, crying or angry or frustrated. We all have to go there at times, but we don‘t have to stay there. Jesus has already gone there, and He has given us His victory! Satan wants to kill your love for God, he wants to steal your heart away from loving God, he wants to detroy your effectiveness and testimony.

hebrews-2-14_15Jesus has changed this World for eternity. He has overcome every terrible situation that you could every encounter in your life. He assures us that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28 Through the resurrection we can mark our hearts with “JPT”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ signaled the defeat of Satan, sin and death. But we fail to see the power of the resurrection when we fail to see the power it has for our lives. Jesus knows you will have heartbreak, sorrow, tears, disappointment, mistakes, struggles, you name it, Jesus knows you will have it. But Jesus still stands before you and says: “You don’t need to weep!”

Jesus wants us to know that no matter the tragedy we will face, if we allow His Resurrection to EMPOWER US, he will transform heartbreak and sorrow into POWER to LIVE and LOVE Life. Hebrews 12:2 records that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Jesus had to go to the cross to get to that joy. That joy is knowing that you and I can share in His victory. Our lives can be transformed because Jesus went there to get there.

2-cor-3-18Paul reveals:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB)

Jesus Christ wants to change us, to reveal His Glory in us. He wants to mark our hearts just like you mark a golf ball. Only He wants to mark it with the power of the Resurrection! Through His HeartMark you will be changed into His Glory! You will be victorious.

You can focus on the pain, the heartache, the broken promises. Or you can focus your life on the Victory of Jesus Christ! You can mark your heart with bitterness and pain, or Joy Prayer and Thanksgiving! The Power of the Resurrection is only experienced as we focus on Jesus and His Victory! If you focus on your problems and your sad situation you are defeated. You are like Mary, staring at the tomb and wondering what you are going to do. Jesus is standing before you saying WHY ARE YOU WEEPING. Whose Mark is on your Heart? Are you willing to claim the victory of Jesus for your life?Are you willing to see your life as changing this world for eternity? Are you willing to have Joy, to Pray in every circumstance, to Thank God for everything? To Believe that Jesus is Victorious?

Joseph

joseph-Heart MarkJoseph was one of the most mis-treated people you could ever meet. He was betrayed by his brothers, falsely accused and thrown into a horrible prison. He was betrayed once again and if had been like most people would have become bitter and angry and rotted away. But he had JPT on his heart. How do I know? Because when he was finally placed on high as the second migthtiest man in the world, and had a chancve to get even with his mean brothers, he said “ You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good! Only someone with JPT on their heart could say that.

Peter

If anyone could ever say he was not fit to follow Jesus, it would be Peter. Such a man with big dreams. He told Jesus he would follow him anywhere. Why he even picked up a sword and tried to prevent a squadron of soldiers from taking Jesus away. He obviously was not a trained swordsman. He only managed to cut off a servants ear.

peter-denies-jesus-meltonWhen push came to shove, and Jesus needed him, Peter was afraid to go with him to the Governors’s court. A simple servant girl, cousin to Malchus, whose ear Peter cut off, said “I know I’ve seen you with Jesus”. He started speaking fisherman and denied he had ever known Jesus. Then he heard the rooster crow for the third time. Peter wept bitterly. All his hopes, dreams plans perished with Jesus on the cross. Peter was a failure, Jesus was a failure. I imagine he was relieved when he heard that Jesus had died. At least his betrayal did not mean anything.

How his guilt came streaming over him when he heard the tomb was empty. He ran to the grave, he went in. There was no body. Peter had failure and regret inscribed upon his heart. Then one morning he saw Jesus on the banks of the sea. Embarrassed Peter jumped into the water and reluctantly swam ashore. There Jesus asked him a funny question. “Do you Love me?” Semantics aside, Jesus wanted Peter to erase the bad heart mark and replace it with LOVE! The Resurrection is the greatest LOVE mark you can ever place on your heart! Do you LOVE me? Then don’t weep, don’t let your heart be destroyed. Love Jesus, Love His Resurrection! Let that be your Heart Mark!

Prodigal Son

prodigal-heart markThe prodigal son broke his father’s heart. He took his inheritance and wasted it on every despicable thing you can imagine. Finally he came to the end of himself and found himself feeding the pigs. But there, amidst the stench and squalor of his life, he remembered the love of his father. His heart still had a touch of his father’s love. He went home to discover that his Father’s love is overwhelming, matchless, victorious. He allowed the Father’s Love to Mark his Heart!

Isaac

Isaac was a young boy when his father Abraham said they were going to Mt Moriah. When Abraham told his servants to stay there, for he and Isaac were going to worship, we can only surmise what was going through Isaac’s mind. isaacFinally he cried out Father, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said God would provide. What horror must have been in his eyes as he watched his father raise the knife, because he was the sacrifice! When the angel stopped Abraham’s hand, I know that Isaac did not hesitate to get off the altar. But I know that indelibly etched upon his heart was the image of the ram that God indeed provide for the offering. He could have been that offering, but God provided another.

The sacrifice of that ‘lamb’ was indelibly inscribed upon young Isaac’s heart. And so should the Sacrifice and Victory of Jesus be inscribed upon ours.

jesus-gives-us-victoryJesus Christ is the only begotten son of God. He stepped forward and said I’ll save them. I’ll go to the cross. I’ll drink the cup of God’s wrath. Because He died on the cross and rose from the dead, WE HAVE LIFE! We are not defeated. We can stamp JPT on our hearts. We can have Joy no matter the heartache. We can have continual prayer with our Father who loves us. We can be thankful for all things because we know that all things work to good for those who love God.

WHY ARE YOU WEEPING? WHY ARE YOU DEFEATED? WHY ARE YOU LETTING THE ENEMY TAKE YOU OUT, EMBARRASS YOU, RENDER YOU POWERLESS. WHY DO LET HIM STEAL KILL AND DESTROY. LOOK AT THE INITIALS ON YOUR HEART – JPT. BECAUSE JESUS LIVES WE HAVE JOY WE HAVE PRAYER WE HAVE THANKSGIVING! WE HAVE TOTAL VICTORY! LET THE RESURRECTION BE YOUR HEARTMARK!

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (ESV)


crucifix-carved-italian-alps1A popular sermon illustration is this one from “Sermons Illustrated”. crucifixes-in-italian-alps

“Every year thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the “stations of the cross” to stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough thicket and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the empty tomb. It was neglected. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as the Cross, but there they stopped.”

I can’t verify the place although I found some references to something similar. The pictures speak for themselves.

empty-tomb-1Neither can I find first hand proof that there is a shrine to the empty tomb. It doesn’t matter. I know the tomb is empty. I was not there. I can not find any time stamped photographs of the actual empty tomb. I have stood inside an empty tomb which they believe was His. I have read the eyewitness accounts recorded in the Scriptures. But none of that convinces me that the tomb was empty.

I know the tomb was empty because I have experienced the power of Christ’s resurrected life. Christ lives in me, and because He has changed me and continues to change me I know He lives. The tomb had to be empty. Jesus was not there, nor was His lifeless body taken somewhere. Jesus is ALIVE and He lives in me! Sometimes I am like Peter, marveling at what has happened in my life.

“But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened”. Luke 24:12 (NKJV)

I know many are skeptics. Even the Apostles had trouble believing at first: “Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.Mark 16:14 (ESV)

empty-tomb-3

If THEY had trouble believing, is it any wonder people of today fail to see the TRUTH of His resurrection?

empty-tomb-with-resurrection“The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” Luke 24:5-7 (NLT)

jesus-at-empty-tombWhy do you look for the living among the dead? This is the key to believing that the tomb is empty. If you love this life and love yourself the way you are, there is no need to believe in an empty tomb. Your life is full and complete by itself. You have your god whoever he is. But if you see the emptiness of this life, if you have a void in your heart that is never satisfied, then you are ready to find the empty tomb. For standing just outside is our Risen Savior. He has faced the sin and emptiness of this fleshly life, and He has won. He has defeated every enemy. The tomb is empty just as our life is empty without our Lord Jesus Christ. Look up and see Him reigning on High, ready willing and able to be your Living Savior. No other religion can say that. No other religion has a leader that got up out of his or her tomb. Their tombs are not empty, but filled with lifeless dust. Their religious belief’s can offer nothing else than lifelessness and death.

Why do you seek the living among the dead? The tomb is empty. See Jesus. He is ALIVE and REIGNING on high! Is He your Savior?Does He Live in You?

empty-tomb

empty-tomb-jesus-comes-forth1As Paul writes: “But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 (NLT) jesus-comes-forth-from-empty-tomb

Paul continues to discuss the ramifications of the empty tomb. “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 (NLT)empty-tomb-with-verse

Is there a need for God in your life? Discover the Living God, Jesus Christ.


we-would-see-jesusA little boy was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from church with his mother. His father returned from church holding a palm branch. The little boy was curious and asked, “Why do you have that palm branch, dad?” “You see, when Jesus came into town, everyone waved Palm Branches to honor him, so we got Palm Branches today.” The little boy replied, “ Aw Shucks! The one Sunday I miss is the Sunday that Jesus shows up!”

Have you ever though how wonderful it would have been to be there when the throngs of people lined the streets leading to Jerusalem. How marvelous to see Jesus riding through the Eastern Gate and shouting Hosanna to the Highest!

The whole city was a buzz of talk of the Messiah. The hubbub was so great that everyone was wanting to see Jesus.

The Pharisees were so jealous. In John 12:19 they exclaimed, “Look, the whole world has gone after him!”rock-star-jesus2

Jesus had become a Rock Star to use language you might understand. It was as if He had won American Idol. And with fame comes those who are curious. Look with me at John 12:20-36.

Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die. The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them. John 12:21-36 (NKJV)

A simple request, Sir, we want to see Jesus! Yet John doesn’t record that they were able to see Jesus. In fact he says Jesus went and hid himself. Could it be that Jesus hides Himself from people today? We need to go back to the beginning of Christ’s ministry and see why Jesus reacted this way. Why He said and God said what He did. From the very beginning of His ministry people wanted to see Jesus.

1. People Wanted To See Jesus For What He Could Do…

jesus-casts-out-unclean-spirits1

  • Luke 4:35 Jesus casts out unclean spirits. The report of what He had done went out throughout the region.
  • Luke 5:12 Jesus cleanses a Leper. More reports, Great multitudes. (vs 15)
  • Luke 5:19, A Paralyzed man is lowered through the roof.
  • Luke 6, A man with a withered hand.
  • Jesus heals a whole multitude (Luke 6:19)
  • Luke 7:2 A Centurion seeks Jesus
  • Luke 7:13 Jesus raises the son of a widow woman from the deadjesus-raises-widows-son1
  • Luke 8:4 Great multitudes assembled and Jesus taught
  • Luke 8:41 Jairus wants to see Jesus to get him to heal his daughter. Jairus is a ruler of a local synagogue.
  • hem-of-his-garment2Luke 8:44 A woman with an issue of blood (12 years) touches the hem of the robe of Jesus
  • Luke 8:50, Jesus raises the daughter to life!
  • Luke 9:21 Jesus predicts His death.
  • Luke 9:37 Great multitudes continue to seek Jesus.
  • Luke 9:44 Jesus pleads with them to let His words sink down into their ears. He is about to die!
  • Luke 16:31 Story of a Rich man and a beggar they all knew as Lazarus. “If they do not Hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”
  • Luke 18:31 Jesus for the THIRD time predicts his Death but also His resurrection.multitude-praises-jesus1
  • Luke 18:41 WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO FOR YOU?
  • Luke 18:42 He gives the blind man his sight
  • Luke 19:3 Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus.
  • Luke 19:28 The crowds reach the tumult, for His triumphant entry.
  • see-jesus-for-selfish-wants

    2. People Wanted To See Jesus For Their Own Selfish Wants

    • Luke 23:8 Herod was glad to see Jesus, for he thought he was a court jester, able to do miracles for entertainment.
      • He was a good luck charm, there for the Kings pleasure.
    • John 11:32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
      • They wanted Jesus to do their bidding, to bail them out of a jam, heal their brother. They thought they had a monopoly on Jesus.

    People just didn’t understand Jesus. They valued Jesus only as someone who could do something for them. They did not value Jesus for who He is.

    Mary and Martha saw Jesus as the Christ of God, able to do mighty miracles because God would respond to His prayers. But Jesus wanted them to see that HE is LIFE. He is the Resurrection. He is God.

    Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:21-27 (NKJV)

    BUT THEY DID NOT SEE THAT GOD HIMSELF WAS STANDING BEFORE THEM, THAT JESUS CHRIST WAS THE RESURRECTION AND LIFE. HE IS LIFE.

    If you do not see Jesus as He is, you might as well be like the countless multitude who every Christmas gaze upon the manger scene and think how wonderful baby Jesus is. Look how neat he is to be born at Christmas time so we can get all kinds of gifts. You might as well get you a charm or a cross and wear it and tell all your friends how good Jesus is to you and how you love Him so. In the meantime you go around sinning just like the world. Jesus is just a lucky charm that you pull out when you get sick or things aren’t going right at work or home. You only want to see Jesus because He can do something for you. Jesus loves me after all. He forgives me, he loves me just the way I am.

    3. Do You Really Want to See Jesus?

    do-you-really-want-to-see-jesusDo you want to see the real Jesus Christ? Do you want to know the Son of God? Do you desire as Paul Prayed in Ephesians…

    “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” EPH 3:17-19   Christ came that we might be FILLED WITH THE FULLNESS OF GOD!

    JESUS REVEALED THREE CONDITIONS THAT MUST BE MET BEFORE YOU CAN REALLY SEE JESUS.

    A. HEAR & OBEY THE WORD OF CHRIST

    hear-and-obey-word-of-christ2 IN OUR TEXT: “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world”

    • Three times Jesus told them that He would die and rise again.
    • He told Martha that He was the resurrection and the Life.
    • He told the Rich man that if they did not listen to Moses and the prophets they would not believe even if they witnessed a person raise form the dead.

    There is only one thing that can open your eyes to see Jesus. A willingness to OBEY the Word of God.

    But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV)

    Obedience to the Words of Christ will result in a change of heart. That change of heart will result in a heart that desires to obey Him!

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)

    But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? Luke 6:46 (NKJV)

    You can say you LOVE Jesus. He can even be like a Rock Star to you. You can get you all teary eyed because He loves you so. But if you do not Listen to His Word, Believe His Word and OBEY it, take it into Your Heart and Life, you do not know the Real Jesus, and worst yet, He does not know you. Why should He reveal Himself to you if you don’t intend to fully obey Him. YOU ARE JUST LIKE ALL THE OTHERS WHO ARE TAKERS AND NOT OBEYERS.

    The Greeks wanted to see Jesus, and in answer, a Voice came from Heaven. It was the Voice of Jehovah, El Shaddai, Creator God. It was the Voice to be listened to and obeyed. “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world. Listen to the Voice of God, the Word of God. Obey, for Judgment has come.

    B. FOLLOW JESUS by SERVING HIM

    follow-jesus-by-serving-himIn our text: He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also.

    Jesus said: He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. MATT 10:37-39

    Seeing the real Jesus requires a total surrender of your life, all that you want, all that you have. Anything less and you just want a good luck charm, You want to live your life for your benefit, and not Jesus. Why should He show His true self to someone who doesn’t want to follow Him, who doesn’t want to know Him as THEIR LORD, AS THEIR LIFE? If you love your life, your possessions, your place in this world, you can’t see Jesus. If you want to see the Author of Eternal Life, you must see Him without holding on to anything. Jesus will never show himself to you if you merely want someone to tag along as you live your life.

    C. GLORY IN THE POWER OF THE CROSS

    glory-in-the-power-of-the-crossIN OUR TEXT: And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.

    For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (NKJV)

    Jesus never came to the world to be a Rock Star, the King of newly liberated Jews. Some teach that if only the Jews had accepted Him. No. Jesus came for the cross. He came to be cursed for you and me.

    The Cross is the most powerful message Christians have. Christians are nothing without the Cross.

    On the Cross Christ experienced the most severe physical pain, the most severe psychological pain, but worse than all that, He experienced Hell for all eternity. He became sin, He became the most disgusting thing in the entire universe. He became you and me. He took our place. “that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9

    He experienced an eternity of Hell for me. He experienced an eternity of Hell for you.

    It is curious that people who are filled with horrified indignation whenever a cat kills a sparrow can hear the story of the killing of God told Sunday after Sunday and not experience any shock at all.

    Jesus told his disciples, that if these men wanted to see Him, they must see Him on the Cross. “Judgment was now upon the world, and Satan was about to be dealt with. Jesus was about to be lifted up athe covenant sacrifice between God and man, Heaven and earth, Holy God and cursed man.

    Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die. The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.

    The cross is what brought light into the world. To see the Light of the world is not possible without seeing Christ crucified on the cross. But that is not enough. You don’t gaze upon the cross and think of poor Jesus. You don’t think upon the cross and wonder such a waste. What could he have done…

    We MUST EXPERIENCE the CROSS of CHRIST

    experience-the-cross-of-christThis is where most pretend followers fail. Like Judas, like Demas. Paul tells us we IDENTIFY with the Cross. Paul tells us that the Cross must be central in our life, It must be the core belief in our Walk with Jesus Christ. If we are to See Jesus on a Daily Basis, we must take up the cross DAILY, without complaint, without regret.

    But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14 (NKJV)

    The cross is what seperates the Christian from being like the world. We die to self we die to what we want. To See Jesus we must serve Him, We must give our lives to the Cross. Paul cried his heart out over supposed Christians who became the enemy of the Cross.enemy-of-the-cross

    Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things. Philippians 3:17-19 (NKJV)

    If you are a “professed” Christian, yet not embracing the cross, not dying to self, living in the world, loving the things of the world, doing shameful things, don’t pretend to be a follower of Christ. In reality you are an enemy of the cross, you are just like those soldiers beating and taunting Jesus. You haven’t seen Jesus on the Cross. The world has not been crucified to you.

    All those people wanted Jesus to do something for them. They followed and praised because He was a great prophet who could do such wonderful things for them. He healed, he spoke amazing words. But it is not about what Jesus can do for us.

    Jesus is no rock star. He is no American Idol. He does not want us to think about him that way. He will never reveal himself if you have that mind-set.

    What he told his disciples many times, what he told the crowds at least three times, if you want to see the Real Jesus, the Son of God Jesus, the Savior Jesus, the Redeemer Jesus, Jesus the Lamb of God, you must look long and hard at the Cross. You must look and see Him upon the Cross, dying for you. You must be willing to die to what you want, you must be willing to follow Him by taking up His Cross.

    He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:37-39 (NKJV)

    In saving Private Ryan, we see a group of Army Rangers led by Tom Hanks trying to reach Private Ryan and bring him home. He wants to stay for one last fight, and in the battle, Tom Ryan is mortally wounded.

    Private Ryan leans over to him, and Tom Hanks whispers something to him. Private Ryan bent down and Tom Hanks said, “Earn this.”

    The truth is, no Army Ranger would ever say “Earn This”. Why? Because the Ranger motto for the past two hundred years has not been “Earn this.” The Ranger motto for the past two hundred years has been Sua sponte, “I chose this.” I volunteered for this.

    So, when Private Ryan bent down, if Tom Hanks was really a Ranger he would have said, “Sua sponte, I chose this. This is free. You don’t pay anything for this. I give up my life for you. That’s my job.”

    And so when you look at the cross and see Jesus hanging there, what you do not hear is “Earn this.” You never hear Jesus say, “Earn this.” He doesn’t say, “I’ve given everything for you. Now you need to gut it out for me.” What he says is “Sua sponte.” OF MY OWN ACCORD I volunteered for this. You don’t have to pay anything for it.

    take-up-your-cross-and-follow-jesusBut Jesus adds something else, that only the Son of God can say. He says, “Follow Me”.

    Because Jesus redeemed you with His life, Because He showed Sin and Satan and Death that His sacrifice was not in vain, for He rose from the dead as we will celebrate next week, He now says to you;

    Once you look upon the cross and turn away from your sin, this sinful world and being the boss of your life, then you must give your heart and life to me. I can give you Life. I can say to you FOLLOW ME.

    John Michael Montgomery sings “The Little Girl.”

    Her parents never took the young girl to church
    Never spoke of His name
    Never read her His word
    Two non-believers walking lost in this world
    Took their baby with them
    What a sad little girl

    Her daddy drank all day and mommy did drugs
    Never wanted to play
    Or give kisses and hugs
    She’d watch the TV and sit there on the couch
    While her mom fell asleep And her daddy went out

    And the drinking and the fighting
    just got worse every night
    Behind their couch she’d be hiding
    Oh what a sad little life

    And like it always does, the bad just got worse
    With every slap and every curse
    Until her daddy in a drunk rage one night
    Used a gun on her mom and then took his life

    And some people from the city took the girl far away
    To a new mom and a new dad
    kisses and hugs everyday

    the-little-girl-held-by-jesusHer first day of Sunday school the teacher walked in
    And a small little girl
    Stared at a picture of Him
    She said I know that man up there on that cross
    I don’t know His name
    But I know He got off

    Cause He was there in my old house
    and held me close to His side
    As I hid there behind our couch
    The night that my parents died

    This little girl saw Jesus. She didn’t know better. He came to her in her need. One time His light shown upon your life. He came to you in your need. What has happened since?

    Some of you have let your will, your life, your things, your world keep you from seeing Jesus. He is only a charm now. The cross is only something you wear around your neck. He is only a profession made years ago.

    For you to see Jesus, you must die to everything that is yours, you must embrace the cross, you must carry the cross, You must feel the cross. By the cross of Christ, disobedience, rebellion, hurts, bitterness, the flesh is crucified, and Jesus is allowed to LIVE in your life. Jesus becomes real.

    see-jesus-crucified-for-youDO YOU REALLY WANT TO SEE JESUS?


    job-covered-with-soresThen his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” Job 2:9 (ESV)

    Satan knew just who to leave behind to comfort Job. His nagging wife. Obviously shamed by her husband’s appearance and the loss of all that she held dear, she begged Job to let go of his integrity and curse God. She hoped he would then die at the hands of God and she could play the part of the mourning widow. Her honor would be restored and she could remarry, perhaps collect on the insurance policy. As it was now, she shared in her husband’s shame. She was scorned by her friends and neighbors.

    She obviously did not know her husband as well as God did. Job’s integrity (innocence, character) was so integral with his life that he could not let go, he could not be separated from it. This is witnessed in his response to the catastrophic loss of his possessions and his children. We would have been on the phone with 911, our insurance agent, our Pastor, and anyone else we depended upon. Job simply tore his robe, shaved his head and fell to the ground, worshiping God.job-worships-god

    God knew Job. God knew that early on in his life Job had made a decision to place his life, his family, his possessions in the hands of the God he called “El Shaddai”. El Shaddai is used more than 30 times in the book of Job. It means the God who is Almighty. God knew Job because Job trusted Him with everything he owned, including his family, and his reputation, even his future. And whenever we give something to God, He takes it seriously. Job considered his life, his family, his possessions INTEGRAL with the power of Almighty God. This led him to offer sacrifices for his children lest their partying led them to forget God.

    Job and everything he had was integral with the power of God. Integral is defined as “essential or necessary for completeness”. God called Job “blameless” (תָּם tām)in the Hebrew. His wife told him to let go of his integrity (תֹּם tōm). Both Hebrew words are from the word תָּמַם (tāmam) which carries the visual image of being ‘whole, complete’. God’s Word is called ‘(‏תָּמִים tāmîm) perfect, complete, whole, converting the soul. David is described as shepherding according to the ‘tōm’ (integrity) of his heart.

    davidDavid was a man after God’s own heart. David’s life and character were integral with the Word of God! One only has to read Psalm 119 to know this. Job had no Word of God, no Pentateuch. Yet within his heart he knew God as “El Shaddai”. Even as he sat amidst the garbage and scraped his sores he proclaimed “I know my Redeemer Lives” (19:25). Job’s integrity and blameless character that even God had remarked upon was based entirely upon the Power of El Shaddai, Almighty God. Job could never, never let go of his integrity. His integrity was integral with the character and Power of God.

    God chose Abraham and told him that he would be the father of a great multitude of people. For years Abraham waited, but his wife bore him no children. When Abraham was 99 God appeared and revealed himself as “El Shaddai”; “walk before me, and be blameless (תָּמִים tāmîm). The idea of Job’s as well as Abraham’s integrity and blameless character are seen in this word translated ‘complete’. It too shares meaning with ‘tām’ and ‘tōm’. Abram, in order to become Abraham, had to place every possession, every promise of God, every dream of his heart into the hands of “El Shaddai”. Only when he could trust Jehovah as El Shaddai could God consider him ‘blameless’ and able to start this great Jewish nation.abraham

    God has always been “El Shaddai” He is Almighty, All Powerful. Yet He only becomes that to us when we trust Him with our possessions, our family, and our lives. We must be INTEGRAL with Him. When we do we become complete, whole, blameless (תָּמַם tāmam). God then becomes complete with us as well. Without our dependence and trust He is simply El. When He is the Shaddai we depend upon, El becomes Jehovah, our LORD.

    Is your life integrally intertwined with El Shaddai? Is this Almighty God your LORD, the ONE who makes your life whole, complete. He will be satisfied with nothing less than all of you, all of your possessions, everything in your life. Our God’s name is ‘jealous’. He will allow no other god’s before Him. Have you made the decision of Abraham, David and Job? Have you bowed before Almighty God and given Him ownership of everything and every person in your life? Is your life INTEGRAL with His?

    Prayer: Lord, enable me to trust You with my life and everything I have or ever want to have. Give me grace to trust You as my “El Shaddai”. May my life be INTEGRAL with Yours!