Death And Beyond–Sunrise 2014

SCRIPTURE

John 20:1-18, NLT

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.

11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” 16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). 17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

First of all Mary went to the tomb to find a body, not an empty grave. When she found the tomb empty, she was very disturbed. She was already in deep grief and now everything is made worse because the body is missing. Her first conclusion is that someone has illegally taken the body and thus her Mission is to find the body. June and I are watching a Sunday night soap opera called “Crisis” where the bad guys stay at least one step ahead of the good guys. Jesus, the good guy, was several steps ahead of His followers. The reason Mary found an empty tomb was that Jesus was alive and walking around. He simply borrowed the tomb for three nights but  time was up and He no longer needs a tomb but that does not dawn on the disciples are the women, not at first. Their first reaction was, “Someone has taken the body and moved it.”

Jesus had the infinite ability to see through things and see beyond the present crisis. When he looked at the cross, He saw the agony but He also saw beyond the cross and He could see the joy awaiting Him after the cross was history. Things that depress us did not bother Him because He could see through them. We operate in a cloud, a fog called the present. We can see the present but we cannot see the future. Oh yes we can dream but we cannot predict, not accurately. I picked up a book at the Associational office; they were there for the taking due to the passing of one of our pastors. It is a book written and published in 1962 by Wayne Dehoney.  Chapter one was on the rise of communism as a threat to our existence. I was 13 years old when this book was published and I do remember the cold war and the threat of communism. I remember Khrushchev’s lifted fist and words, “We will bury you.” He made that statement while on American soil. He said, “I prophecy that your children [my generation] and your grandchildren [Joe David’s generation] will live under communism.” Khrushchev could not prophecy because he could not see through. He could see the present but he could not see the future and the fall of the Iron Curtain. Wayne Dehoney was a good man but practically everything he predicted did not materialize, why? Because we see but we do not see through. We can see present problems and we have some idea of where these things are going but the bottom line is that we can only guess about the future. Communism may still be a threat but Islam seems to be the biggest threat and the major difference is that our leadership in Washington sees nothing wrong with Islam and they did recognize that communism was a threat.

Mary saw an empty tomb but she didn’t see through, in time she did but only after Jesus showed Himself to her. David said, “Sorrow may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” We have to see through the darkness, the gloom and the only way to do this is to take Jesus at His word. Jesus predicted His death and His resurrection. The disciples did not have or need the infinite ability to see through, all they had to do was believe what Jesus said but they did not listen nor believe.

Most of us have never had a day go as bad as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus and all the other women who followed and supported Jesus. Their world was set on Jesus; a part from Him, they had no life–He was their life. They saw the life crushed out of HIM and it devastated them. The only thing they had left was a memory and that was connected to a grave. When they found the empty tomb, it intensified their grief. I hope you and I never see the horror they saw at Calvary. I hope we never feel the lost of hope they felt but even in our difficult and dark situations we need to cling to Jesus promise that we have a future in the Father’s house. Whether you see that house clearly is not important, the important thing is that you trust Jesus because He is the way to the Father’s house and yes, the way leads through a tomb but the tomb is actually a door. You may say, “Well, it looks like a grave to me and dead people look dead,” I know, the grave looks the same to all and yes death looks like the end but Jesus says it is the beginning not the end. You have to decide, are you going to trust your senses or in His word? If you can’t see through death, trust Jesus: He has been there and back and now beyond.

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Paul’s Prayer For The Colossians

Scripture

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. 11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

INTRODUCTION

How would you like to get a personal letter from the greatest missionary in the world? Last year we participated with the Graham’s in MY HOPE AMERICA  and I got several letters from Franklin but they were all form letters. We even got a Christmas Card from the Graham family but it was a form not personal. I get a personal letter from one of the world’s greatest evangelist every now and then and I keep them in a file. Paul the great Missionary wrote the Colossians these words…”I am thankful for you. Every time I pray, I give thanks for you.” Isn’t that great; when did you last write a note or a card and tell a friend, “I am thankful for you and every time I pray, I think of you.” Wow, what an encouragement that would be to get a letter from a friend with those words.

What did Paul pray in particular?

I. THAT THE COLOSSIANS BE FILLED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S WILL [v.9]

[Note: he did not pray for them to be filled with knowledge but knowledge of God’s will. Knowledge alone puffs up, it causes us to become proud]

In verse 9, Paul uses three words that are akin to each other but yet all have distinct meanings.

  1. Knowledge–the Acquisition or apprehension of truth. The truth we seek is locked up in His will. The object of prayer is to know the will of God. In prayer we are not attempting to change the will of God but to apprehend it so we can pray it and do it. We don’t pray “My kingdom come, My will be done on earth and in heaven.” Our prayer is that His Kingdom come and His will be done and that our will be lost in His.
  2. Wisdom–not just any kind of wisdom but spiritual wisdom. This is the appreciation of truth and light. We need Wisdom to process our Knowledge.
  3. Understanding–The application of truth. Knowledge allows us to apprehend truth, Wisdom enables us to assimilate truth but understanding allows us to put it into practice, to make it work for us in everyday life.

The best illustration I can think of is a fire arm. I know an assault rifle when I see one, so that is knowledge. I know that an assault should not be used to kill humans unless it was to protect your family or community from invasion. So I have wisdom and knowledge of an assault rifle but what I don’t have is understanding. I don’t know where the safety is located, how to load or unload, how to clean or discharge the weapon. What good would an assault rifle be to me since I do not understand how to use it? You are not going to do the will of God until you understand what His will is for your life.

II. PAUL PRAYED THAT THE COLOSSIANS WOULD WALK IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE LORD [v.10]

  1. Paul prayed that the Colossians might live to please Him in all aspects…We pray to know the will of God so we can do the will of God: knowledge without application leads to pride. We already know more than we are doing.
  2. Paul prayed that the Colossians might bear fruit in every good work [John 15:8]
  3. Paul prayed that the Colossians might  grow in their knowledge of Christ [Philippians 3:10]

III. PAUL PRAYED THAT THE COLOSSIANS MIGHT BE STRENGTHENED WITH ALL POWER ACCORDING TO HIS GLORIOUS MIGHT. [v.11]

  1. “Strengthened” is the present participle denoting continuous action. We don’t get one giant impetus that catapults us through our Christians experience, we get new mercy and grace daily.
  2. The word ‘might’ or ‘power’ in NLT is the Greek word ‘kratos’ and it is used only in reference to God. So we are talking about God’s mighty power that emanates from His glory.  His glorious might is absorbed into the life of believers like plants absorb the sun light.
  3. His might produces Steadfastness, patience and joy.
  4. Steadfastness in a compound word which means to ‘bear up under’. It speaks of the ability to stay under a burden or load. Jesus stayed under the cross. He could have pushed it aside but He was steadfast. Barclay takes the two words translated patience in AV and associated endurance or steadfastness [hupo-mone, to bear up under] as dealing with circumstances and makro-thumia [slow to get hot] with patience with people.
  5. When you learn to steadfastly bear up under any burden of unpleasant circumstances and then you develop the patience to work with people, even those who are hard to get along with, then you will have joy [chara].

IV. PAUL PRAYED THAT THE COLOSSIANS MIGHT BE THANKFUL

  1. Thankful for the inheritance of the saints.
  2. Thankful to be rescued from the domain of darkness.
  3. Thankful to be transferred to Kingdom of light.
  4. Thankful for redemption.
  5. Thankful for forgiveness.

 

The Cross

Scripture: Colossians 2:11-15, NLT

When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. 13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

INTRODUCTION

When studying a passage and trying to organize your thoughts into a sermon, you look for connections and I see a vital connection in this passage. Paul begins this passage talking about Circumcision and he concludes by mentioning the cross twice and there in lies the connection.

I. THE CROSS IS THE INSTRUMENT OF CIRCUMCISION

  1. Old Testament circumcision was a rite or act of removing, clipping away, the flesh [skin] from that part of the male anatomy that the Jews considered the most impure or unclean. The act of circumcision became a symbol of the covenant.
  2. Circumcision, like Baptism is an outward ceremony symbolizing inward change. It symbolizes the cutting of away of our fleshly [selfish] nature. All the prophets understood that circumcision had no value within itself and that true circumcision was a matter of the heart. Even Moses said, “Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.” Jeremiah said the same thing,Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts.”
  3. A part of our great SALVATION is called Sanctification and it is the process of God via grace and the Holy Spirit clipping away at our flesh life or our self-centeredness.
  4. You cannot have circumcision without and instrument: for the physician, it is a scalpel but for God, it is the cross. God uses the cross as the tool of circumcision. [Nicodemus and Joseph or good examples]

II. THE CROSS IS THE MEANS OF OUR REDEMPTION

  1. Paul said,  He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” The AV reads “Hand writing or ordinances”, NASB reads “Certificate of Debt,” and here you have “Record of the Charges”. In ancient time, edicts, laws, or certificate of debt were posted on trees, walls, what have you for all to see.
  2. We are talking about our sin debt. We are talking about every act of rebellion from the day we became accountable and that would be quite a list of charges. I am prone to wonder and wander. The other day I was wondering about some sins of others and how God would let them do such things without immediate punishment and then the LORD reminded me that I was wandering from the straight and narrow myself by focusing on someone else’s sin and not my own. As the LORD began convicting me of my sins, I felt ashamed. Then I begin to wonder just how long that list would be if He revealed all my sins. So the bottom line is: over the years, I have amassed a huge sin debt, a far greater debt than I can imagine. How can this debt be paid? Anytime we have a debt, we must have means of payment or in the old days, you were condemned to a debtor’s prison.
  3. Not only have the charges against us been recorded: our signature is at the bottom of the list. The Greek word for “Hand Writing” is the word from which we get autographs or signatures. Our sins are recorded and our name is assigned to the list. They will be no alibiing in judgment because our names are affixed to our sins.
  4. The word “Canceled” literally means erased. How did Jesus erase our sin? He did it with His blood. The cross is a bloody instrument but the blood of Christ has cleansing power. Ancient ink had no acid in it so it did not have biting power and was easily erased. Jesus erased our sins with His blood. Wiped the slate clean.
  5. Hallelujah, the CROSS IS THE MEANS OF OUR REDEMPTION!

III. THE CROSS IS THE GROUND OF OUR VICTORY

  1. There is victory is Jesus but there would be not victory for us had there not been a cross.
  2. Jesus did not become God’s Son when He died on the Cross but He did become our Savior. He was God’s Son before a cross and would be without a cross but you and I would have no hope if not for the cross.
  3. As Christian Soldiers, we fight with the Cross to our backs. Our victory was secured at Calvary. We stand on conquered land when we stand beneath the cross.
  4. The cross is our spiritual barometer. We never operate from feelings. Our assurance of God’s love is based on Jesus death on the cross. The cross is our strength.
  5. Paul makes it clear that the victory has been won…In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. Satan is officially defeated: He cannot win but he will not accept this truth because he hates truth. He continues to fight, thinking that he can win but if you believe God’s word, you know that he cannot win.
  6. I sure that many would respond, “Well, it sure looks like he is winning.” Yes, it does appear that he is winning but it also appeared that way at Calvary. Are things any worse now than they were that day, appearance wise?