On Good Friday (probably actually Thursday) Jesus was crucified, died, and sealed in a guarded tomb. Early Sunday morning the tomb was open and His body was gone. No one could provide an explanation. How did the stone get moved if it was guarded by soldiers? Did an angel move it; did Jesus move it? No one knows. But it was moved.
What did Jesus do those three days in the grave? Did He have a nice nap? One of the things He did was descend into the depths of hell to retrieve the keys of death and hell from Satan. Then He ascended into heaven where He, as the High Priest, presented the blood sacrifice required to pay the price for sin. Only then could He come back and raise from the dead. He was busy those three days. Busy setting you and I up for deliverance by redeeming us from the curse of sin. He went from one end of creation to the other, just because He loves us.
This was no sunny Easter Egg hunt, this was warfare. Now that it is finished, we have an opportunity to walk in that deliverance. Make every step you make count.
Our church will partner with four other Waterloo churches (United Methodist, Agape Assembly, Freewill Baptist, and New Life Lutheran) for a Good Friday Community service from 7-8 PM tonight. It will be held at New Hope. Although each of these other pastors comes from a different background that has different distinctives, I love working with these guys. We all understand that we must focus on what we have in common and not on our differences. And we all have a firm conviction that Jesus is the Son of God, died on the cross to pay for our sins, three days later rose from the dead, and is soon coming again. And we believe in working together to get the word out.
I hope that you’ll take time out of your busy Easter weekend schedule to attend this Good Friday event with brothers and sisters from area churches. We will all set aside our worship style preferences to focus on unity. This night we will be one church.
And remember, before Jesus could come out of the tomb, He had been to placed into it first.
When Anita and I went to Florida for our vacation, we chose to drive instead of fly. That’s a lot of time on the road. We left when it was still dark and pulled into the motel at dusk. Two days sitting in the car each way. And dealing with crazy Spring Break drivers was a nightmare.
To keep our sanity, we borrowed an audio book from the Library entitled ‘The Help’. We’d seen the movie, but we wanted the extras a book includes. And we thoroughly enjoyed the story line and creativity of the author. ‘The Help’ is set in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. Its about the friction between black house maids and their uppity white socialite employers prior to Civil Rights. And it weaves enough of the Civil Rights leading characters into the story that we wondered if this was a true story (which it wasn’t).
As a student of Sociology, I could see a whole lot of life lessons in the book that relate to everyday life in the 2010s in our own world. Have you ever felt inferior to others? Have you ever looked down on others? These are mind games the devil tries to throw up in our face. The truth is not one of us is any better than anyone else…or less. We’ve all been created by God in His image. The Fall has distorted God’s image in us, however. That’s why Jesus came into this world, so that God’s glory could be restored in us.
Last week Anita and I were vacationing on Sanibel Island, Florida. The first day we arrived it was 85° and sunny. Sanibel is known for its shells and, this being our first time there, we were fascinated by the variety of sea shells. The next day a storm came through and it rained all day. The next morning the sun was back out and we walked back to the beach. What a surprise to find the entire beach cluttered with a 6′-8′ band of huge oyster shells that had washed up on the beach, along with a bunch of other unidentifiable marine life, tin cans, and seaweed.
Storms dredge up stuff that has settled on the bottom. And its like that in life, as well. When a storm comes through our lives, it dredges up the things we thought were buried: old feelings, past offenses, and emotional scars all begin to get churned up and rise to mess up the nice clean life we thought we had. Jesus Christ did not come to cover up our sins, but to remove them. He came so we could live a real life and learn to trust in Him, not ourselves.
So, the next time hurts dredge up the old stuff in your life, take it to Jesus and let Him remake you. You have been created to put on the New Man, not mask the Old.
God told the Prophet Samuel to anoint Saul King over Israel. When he informed Saul, “Saul answered, ‘But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me’?” (1 Samuel 9:21).
Does that sound familiar? It sounds just like Moses or Gideon when God called them to serve. God appears to enjoy calling humble men and women to do great things. That way He gets the glory.
But what happened to Saul? He started out humble, but ended up acting like he was God. Humility is something that God has to remind us to be. He has to humble us…repeatedly.
If you humble yourself, God will lift you up. If you lift yourself up, He will humble you.
Is the Old Testament for Christians today? Are there parts of the Old Testament that can speak into our lives? Is the Mosaic Law for us today? Or not? Are the Psalms and Proverbs for the church today? What Prophetic messages are relevant for the church and what are not? Who decides what applies and what does not?
Because we Protestant Christians tend to pick and choose what Old Testament scriptures we want and which we don’t want, which speak to us and which don’t, we have confused the next generation of believers. Many of our children are now picking and choosing what they want to accept or reject from the New Testament, as well.
We are under a new covenant. The New Testament outlines this covenant, like it or not. But there is life in the old covenant as well. Let’s get serious with our understanding of God’s word.
How do you view the Old Testament?
Years ago I was changing spark plugs in my old work car (1963 Plymouth) and my 3-year old daughter, Jenny, was “helping” me. I went inside for something, and when I came back out there were three tiny squirts of water spewing out of the radiator. I looked underneath and there were three sockets laying on the ground. She had thrown three sockets into the engine opening and each one was a direct hit.
How could I get mad at her for trying to help? And I don’t think God gets mad at us when we try to help, either. And sometimes I think I’m about as much help as my daughter was. But there is such a gift as ‘Helps’ (1 Corinthians 12:28 KJV). These are people who want to work behind the scenes to help others succeed.
I’m so thankful for the people at New Hope with a Gift of Helps. You make ministry enjoyable. Don’t stop helping.