Replacing Discouragement with Expectancy

The story is told of a man who was walking along the beach, after the tide had gone. Scattered densely on the sand were thousands of starfish that the tide had brought in, but neglected to take out. In a short time, the sun and wind would dry the starfish, leaving them dead. The man, on his daily walk, was bending down, picking them up one at a time, tossing them back into the ocean.

After watching this for a while, a tourist approached him and said, “There are so many starfish on this beach. What difference could what you are doing possibly make? What does it matter?” The man bent down, picked up another starfish, and just before tossing it into the sea said, “It matters to this one.”

If there is one tool of the enemy that is nearly universal in its effectiveness, it is the tool of discouragement. Often, because the task embodied in The Great Commission seems overwhelming, believers just give up. This podcast strives to help us avoid this. It helps us recover our lost expectations.

Easter Sermon — What the Resurrection Means

Easter speaks to us concerning what it means to be a Christian, and how that connects with the Resurrection of Christ.

Jesus isn’t special just because of his teachings. There have been many good teachers in history. Jesus isn’t special because he died. Lots of people died. The thing that makes Jesus special – the thing that makes his teaching, his death, and his life special – is his resurrection. The reality of his resurrection makes it possible for you and me to live exceptional lives. Christians are to live exceptional lives.

Now, I am sure you’ve met people who claim to be Christians, but their life doesn’t look that different from those who make no such claim. And, if you’re like me, that’s a huge turn-off. Pretending to be something you aren’t – that’s hypocrisy. I hate it. You hate it. Jesus hated it. He referred to people who pretended to be good as “white-washed tombs.” They looked good on the outside, but on the inside, they were filled with dead man’s bones. There was no resurrection to their lives. They were still dead in their sins.

A person who fails to demonstrate that Christ has made a difference in his or her life is likely not a Christian at all. Being a Christian is about being changed from the inside out. When Peter references the Resurrection of Christ he speaks of that change.

This sermon addresses the difference the new birth makes in our lives.

Is the Resurrection of Christ Important?

About 100 years ago, a man named Guy Thorne wrote an interesting fictional book. While I never read the book, I understand the plot. He wrote that archaeologists had made a startling discovery. They unearthed a tomb near Jerusalem and found the remains of an ancient man who evidently died of crucifixion. On the walls of that tomb they found a plaque written in ancient Hebrew, which read: “Here lies Jesus of Nazareth, the great and good teacher. We secreted his body away in order to place him beyond the reach and rage of his enemies. He was the best of men. May he rest in peace.”

Neither the tomb nor the plaque was authentic. It seems that a wealthy atheist, a skeptic, an unbeliever, had it planted there in an effort to destroy Christianity. The novelist goes on to describe how the world changes as a result of the destruction of Christianity.  It is as though a new age of darkness has descended upon the earth.  Morale withers up and dies.  Hope goes out like a candle snuffed. Joy is replaced by despair. The motto, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” becomes the anthem of the world. Everyone believes the lie – that Christ is not raised from the dead. Thousands of missionaries return to their homes. Churches are darkened, abandoned for good. The Royal Law of Love is replaced with the law of the jungle. The Sermon on the Mount with savagery in the street. Love your neighbor turns to hatred. The whole world becomes a cauldron of bitterness and hatred, smoldering with ruin.

Why?  Because a few bones were discovered in a tomb near Jerusalem. With that discovery, hope dies.

What Thorne wrote of the worldwide hopelessness that would exist without the resurrection of Jesus, Paul spoke of for us personally in 1 Corinthians 15.

1 Corinthians 15:12-28 (NIV) But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?3If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 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 to be pitied more than all men. 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. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

The Easter Sunday sermon in this post speaks more thoroughly to this important issue.

(story found online at a variety of places)