March 31, 2024 - How to Transform an Ever-Diminishing Life to an Eternal One - Pastor Paul Vallee

March 31, 2024 - How to Transform an Ever-Diminishing Life to an Eternal One - Pastor Paul Vallee
Living Stones Church, Red Deer, Alberta
March 31, 2024 - How to Transform an Ever-Diminishing Life to an Eternal One - Pastor Paul Vallee

Apr 01 2024 | 00:44:41

Episode 13 April 01, 2024 00:44:41

Show Notes

Easter Sunday

On February 27th, 1991, Ruth Dillow was at her home in Kansas when the phone rang. It was terrible news from the Pentagon. Her son, Private First-Class Clayton Carpenter, had stepped on a landmine in the Persian Gulf War and was dead.

It was an awful, sickening reality to learn that her son would never come home again. Three days later, Ruth received another phone call. The voice on the other end said, ‘Mom, I’m alive!’

Ruth said that at first, she could not believe it was the voice of her twenty-three-year-old son, over whom she had mourned for nearly three days. She said, ‘I jumped up and down. I was overjoyed! You just don’t know how much.’

Imagine the joy! The thrill of having gone from the depths of despair to overwhelming elation, from grief and loss to news of great joy! That’s the scene we find in the Scriptures. The early followers of Jesus had witnessed His betrayal, the hastily assembled verdict that was a sham to justice, and watched as He was crucified. During the next two days, they grieved, struggling with shame for not standing with Him in His last hours. Their dreams and hopes were crushed. But like Ruth Dillow, the moment came when they heard incredible, seemingly unbelievable news. Women from their company came breathlessly into the upper room, declaring He was alive! Jesus is alive! Jesus continued to appear to them for forty days until they finally watched as He ascended into heaven.

That’s the message of Easter! It is a message of hope in a world of despair. It is the message that our society desperately needs. It was the message that the first disciples preached. It was the message that Peter preached to a crowd of people in Jerusalem fifty days after the death of Jesus.

It was during the feast of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit, true to His nature, empowered the disciples to be witnesses to the person and work of Jesus Christ.  After explaining the miracle of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from the book of Joel, Peter begins to explain the essence of Christianity. It is the message of the resurrection. The resurrection is the most significant event of the church. Today, we celebrate the reason why death is defeated for those who put their trust in Christ. Sin no longer has authority and dominion over our lives. Easter Sunday is our declaration of freedom.  Jesus is alive, currently interceding for us, and lives in us. Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, states four life-changing truths: when we embrace them, an ever-diminishing life transforms into an eternal one.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Why don't we stand this morning as we go to the Lord in prayer? [00:00:04] Amen. So, Father, we do thank you this morning for all that you have done for us. Thank you for the country we live in. We thank you for the measure of grace that we're experiencing. We thank you for your many, many blessings in our lives. Lord, we have so much to be grateful for. Father, I pray today that you would open the eyes of our understanding, open our hearts, help us to hear your word, Father. Help us not to just hear words. But, Lord, may they speak into our innermost being. May they be life giving words. We read in scripture that it says, we don't live by bread alone. We can't just live by that which sustains us physically. But we live by every word that proceeds from your mouth, Lord, we live by that which is nourishing our spirit, our inner being. It brings meaning, purpose, significance in our lives. And, Father, I pray today that you would grip us, that we would hear your voice today personally and collectively, Father, that you would speak a word in season to us right now, Lord, and as we leave this place, may we be able to say that you spoke into our souls, strengthened us, encouraged us, challenged us, convicted us. And we thank you for that. In Jesus name and God's people said, amen. Amen. You may be seated. [00:01:25] On February 27, 1991, Ruth Dillo was at her home in Kansas when the phone rang. It was the Pentagon, and she was informed that her son, first class Clayton Carpenter, had stepped on a landmine in the Persian Gulf war, unfortunately had passed away. [00:01:45] It was an awful, sickening reality to learn that her son would never return home again. [00:01:52] Three days later, Ruth received another phone call. The voice on the other end said, mom, I'm alive. [00:02:02] Ruth said at first she could not believe it was the voice of her 23 year old son, who she had been mourning deeply for the past three days. She said, I jumped up and down screaming, overjoyed. You just have no idea how excited I was. Well, you can imagine how many say that would be a very unusual experience. [00:02:29] It would literally rock your world. And to go from that depths of despair to the heights of elation, all within a few days. And yet that's the story we're going to look at today from the scriptures. The early followers of Jesus had witnessed his betrayal, the hastily assembled verdict that was a sham to justice. And they watched as Jesus was crucified. [00:02:55] During the next two days, they grieved, struggling with shame for not standing with him in his last hour. [00:03:01] And their dreams, their personal dreams and hopes had been crushed. [00:03:07] Like Ruth Dillo, the moment came when they heard the incredible, seemingly unbelievable news. Women from their company came breathlessly into the upper room declaring that Jesus was alive. [00:03:21] You can imagine how shocking that report was. And then to continue on, Jesus appearing to them on more than one occasion. Actually, the scripture said as many as 40 days, Jesus kept coming, appearing, teaching, training. So Jesus is alive. That's the message of Easter. It's a message of hope in a world of despair. It's a message that our society desperately needs to hear today. It's a message that the first disciples were preaching. It's the message that Peter preached on the day of Pentecost to the people in Jerusalem, 50 days after the death of Jesus, in the very place where Jesus had been crucified. It was during the feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit, true to the promise that Jesus had communicated to them, had now filled them and empowered them so that they could become dynamic witnesses in their generation. And after explaining the miracle of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and they heard them speaking in tongues, the languages that they themselves knew from many parts of the mediterranean basis, Peter began to explain that this was what was prophesied by Joel in the Old Testament, that in the last days, God said, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy. But then Peter doesn't stop there. He continues on, after an explanation, to give an exhortation, a message, a challenge to them regarding what had just transpired in the last 50 days. G. Campbell Morgan says, at the heart of the mission of Jesus is the resurrection. It is the most significant event not only in the life of the church, but I believe it's the most significant event in human history. It's literally defined before Christ and after Christmas. Understanding of history is moving from creation till the culmination where Jesus returns back to this world in which he and the Father and the spirit created. [00:05:38] Today we're going to celebrate the reason for his for death's defeat. [00:05:45] Sin no longer has authority and dominion in our lives. Why? Because Jesus himself conquered the greatest enemy of humanity, and that's death itself itself. [00:05:56] And Easter Sunday is really our declaration of freedom. It's our declaration of freedom from the brokenness in our lives. It's the declaration of freedom from addictions. It's the declaration of freedom from living a life of shame and guilt. When we come to know Jesus and when we yield our life and surrender to him, something dynamic begins to transpire in our lives. And as we continue that journey and continue to grow in our understanding, more of this brokenness falls off in our lives, and more hope and joy and peace becomes our portion. [00:06:36] Do you know Jesus is alive right now? [00:06:39] He's ruling and reigning, and currently I love this. He's praying. [00:06:46] He's praying for you. He's praying for me. Isn't that a beautiful thought? You know, sometimes we might feel alone. Sometimes we are. Humanly, we may be alone, but I want you to know that you are never alone. Because in the moment you give your life to Jesus, Jesus makes this incredible promise. I will never leave you, nor will I forsake you. Isn't that precious? How can he say that? Because he dwells within us. He lives within our lives. [00:07:13] You know, most of the persecution that fell to the church came over the preaching on the resurrection. I don't know if you realize that. You know, this is what Paul said. He's standing before the roman governor, Felix. He said, it is concerning the resurrection of the dead. That I am on trial before you today. I don't know if you realize that many of the jewish people didn't believe in the resurrection. They believed that once you died, that was the end of it. The Sadducees certainly believed that. Now, there were Pharisees that believed that there was life after death, but a lot of the jewish people believed that was the end of it, that all you had was what this life had to offer. How many go that? That would be kind of a sad thing for many people in the world. What this life has to offer isn't the greatest. There's a lot of sorrow, a lot of poverty, a lot of difficulty in our human story. But we have a hope that transcends this world. This is only a small part of the life that you and I are going to enjoy, because this is our earthly journey. But we have an eternal one coming, a forever one, and it's gonna be a lot different than this one. You know, Paul was preaching to those at Athens, and they were actually struggling with this idea of the resurrection. Paul says it this way in acts, chapter 17. When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, we wanna hear you again on this very subject. Paul says to us when he's writing to the Corinthians, how critical this idea of trusting and believing and understanding this part of the story that you and I need to be committed to, this truth, that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. And this is found in one corinthians, chapter 15. Probably the greatest chapter on the resurrection. He said, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. In other words, if that's not a reality, nobody's alive after this life. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. [00:09:15] 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 and you're still in your sins, then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. In other words, he's talking to the believers there about those who had died before Christ returned. In other words, they were physically dead. He's basically saying that's euphemism. Falling asleep speaks of a believer's death. He says, then they're lost. If only for this life. We have hope in Christ. We are to be pitied more than all men. [00:10:05] But then he goes on, but Christ, I like that word. But he goes, if that's true, then these things happen. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. The first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. That is so powerful. So today we're going to travel back in time to that first message that God inspired Peter to preach the preaching of the resurrection, which is the key to understanding even the birth of the church. Do you know, without the resurrection there would be no church? As a matter of fact, it is the only explanation for the church. 50 days after the death of Jesus, Peter's preaching and 3000 people become followers of Christ. This is an amazing, you know, here's a church of 120. I've always thought about this. Could you imagine preaching one sermon and 3000 people get saved and the next day your church grew from 120 to 3120? How many go? That's a little overwhelming. You get an idea that when you're reading the New Testament there's some overwhelming things that are occurring in these stories. Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit states four life changing truths, that when we embrace them we're transformed from an ever diminishing life because that's what's happening physically. The outer man is perishing. Every one of us is moving towards the end result, which is death. It says we move from an ever diminishing life to an eternal one. And the moment we give our life to Jesus, the Bible says we now have eternal life and eternal life is not just a forever life. Eternal life is a different kind of life. It's a quality of life that God brings because God now comes and dwells and lives within us. So let me take a look briefly at these four life changing truths. Number one, the resurrection was planned by God. This is not, oh, just kind of happened, right? You know. No, this was orchestrated. God had planned this before the foundation of the world. [00:12:13] Jesus incredible life, his awful death, this incredible miracle called the resurrection was planned from eternity. The whole thing, the birth, the death was planned even in the very foundations of the world. God knew, because God is omniscient, he knows everything. He knew that when he created us and gave us a heart, like in a sense created us after his own image and gave us a will. The moment he did that, the opportunity for us to choose wrongly became in effect. And God, because he knew we did, we chose poorly. And you know, before you blame Adam and Eve for all the mess they got us into, you know, which is easy to do, we always want to blame our ancestors for all the problems we're having today. [00:13:01] Just look at your own life. [00:13:04] I think a lot of us have made some pretty poor decisions and I think we have to take ownership of that. [00:13:11] Given the choice. We would have done the same crazy thing. If it wasn't that situation, it would have been another situation. We would have failed. And God made a plan to rescue us and to show his amazing love toward us. And so let's pick it up in acts chapter two, in verse 22 it says, fellow Israelites, listen to this. He's preaching the sermon. Now. Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you, by miracles, wonders and signs which God did among you through him. As you yourselves know, this man was handed over to you by. I want you to see this next phrase, God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge. Isn't that beautiful? [00:13:53] And you with the help of wicked men. [00:13:57] Just because God said I knew this was going to happen, it doesn't get us off the hook. We still did it right with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. So Peter begins by pointing out the unique nature of Jesus Christ. [00:14:23] Miracles, signs, wonders. I mentioned one calming the raging water, walking on the water, raising the dead himself. He raised others back to life, healing the sick. You talk about the many things Jesus did. Jesus is the anointed one. That's the word messiah or Christ means anointed was to come and save his people from their sins. Peter's speaking to an audience that's well aware of all of these facts. There's no disputing the miraculous nature of Jesus ministry. And I like what John Meyer, who wrote in the New York Times, he wrote an article and he says, you know, many treatments of Jesus gets bogged down in the discussion of the possibility of miracles. [00:15:11] Properly speaking, that's a philosophical rather than a historical or even a theological problem. He goes on to say, all that need be noted is that the ancient Christians, jewish and pagan sources all agreed that Jesus did extraordinary things not easily explained by human means. [00:15:36] As a matter of fact, while Jesus disciples pointed to the spirit of God as the source of his power, jewish and pagan adversaries spoke of demonic or magical forces. It had never occurred to any to claim that nothing happened. [00:15:51] So now you remove us like 20 centuries later. We act as if miracles are. We just have a hard time believing that stuff. You know, people that was happening to in the first century, they didn't dispute what was happening. The argument was, what's the source of it? You know, today we try to live in denial. We pretend these things cannot happen. But, you know, some of us have experienced miracles in our lives, and we know that God is a miracle working. God. [00:16:23] This is God's. Well, what this tells us is that the early opponents of Christianity never doubted the fact that Jesus did incredible supernatural miracles and signs. Even though people today may struggle with miracles happening now. Well, this is God's deliberate plan. [00:16:45] Notice the expression handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge, even though they were personally responsible for committing this great injustice by handing over Jesus to the Romans to be crucified. Peter points out that God even incorporates man's sinful behavior to fulfill his ultimate purposes. How many go, this is amazing. You can take the worst things that have ever happened, turn them around and use them for good. And God does that. This is the greatest evil. You know, God himself. Sinless comes the perfect person, and as human beings, we kill them. Isn't that amazing? And yet God uses that very act of evil as a means to bring about eternal salvation for humanity. I think that's incredible. Who would have come up with that game plan, right? Only God thinks of these things. [00:17:37] The Old Testament foretold through the scripture. That's what prophesying said. The Messiah's birth, his miracles, his betrayal by a close associate, the abandonment by the disciples being given over to gentiles crucified and ultimately spoke of his resurrection. None of these things happened by accident. [00:17:56] Over and over again we read in the Old Testament, and it's pointed out by the apostles who wrote the New Testament, quoting the Old Testament, that God planned all of this. Jesus was a willing participant in the entire plan of salvation. This was not something that Jesus had no control over. It was an act that he willingly chose. He did so to express his love towards us. You know, I remember reading the story during World War one where a young french soldier who was seriously wounded, his arm was so badly smashed that the surgeon had to amputate and take his arm off. And he felt really terrible about it. And so he waited till this young man, you know, came out of, you know, his surgery and came back from his anesthetic, recovered consciousness. And when his eyes opened, the surgeon said to him, I'm so sorry to tell you that you've lost your arm, sir. The young man said, I did not lose it. I gave it in the same way. Jesus was not helplessly caught up in a mesh of circumstances that he could not break free. He could have called legions of angels to rescue him. Apart from any divine power he might have called on, it is quite clear that to the end, he could have turned back and saved his life. But he chose not to save his life. He knew he had to lose it in order for us to save ours. It was a choice he willingly made. He accepted it for us. Let me move to the second truth simply. It was promised by God what God says he'll do. Now, you and I can make all kinds of promises and, you know, maybe have every intention of fulfilling that promise, but, you know, sometimes things beyond our control can keep us from fulfilling exactly what we said we're going to do. That's true. How many know if God doesn't have that problem, when he promises, he makes sure it happens. He has that ability. He can control things. We can. [00:19:56] And so he can take our willful refusal to do his will and still work out his purposes. That's what I love about God. How many of you know God even uses a person like Pharaoh? And that's a classic example. You know, I don't know if you've ever read it. In the book of Exodus it says, and, you know, God hardened Pharaoh's heart. And then you read, and Pharaoh hardened his heart. Sometimes people are a little confused when you read those two expressions because you go, wait a minute. Did God harden his heart or did Pharaoh harden his heart? And the answer is both you see, God knew the nature of this man. And God allowed the judgments and plagues to come upon the nation and knew that his response would be to actually harden his heart and defy what Moses was asking him to do. And that was to release the people. Because you have to understand something. What we fail to understand is that Pharaoh thought he was God. You see, the pharaohs thought they were deities. And so when Moses was telling them to let his people go, and he said, well, who's telling me to do this? They said, our God is. Pharaoh thought he was greater than Yahweh. How many know? He didn't win that match? [00:21:11] He kind of lost out. But I think we need to understand that. And then Peter explains that Jesus's resurrection was actually promised in the scriptures. And he's quoting from psalm 16. Let's take a look. This is found in acts, chapter two. This is just direct quote. He said, david said about him, I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices. My body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of death, nor will you let your holy one see decay. [00:21:53] You have made known to me the paths of life. You will fill me with joy in your presence. Fellow Israelites, I can confidently tell you that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. [00:22:11] But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. So now Peter is explaining how David could say the psalm, but it didn't apply to himself. It applied to one of his descendants. And we know from scripture that Jesus was a descendant of David. He goes on to say, seeing that what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the messiah, that he was, would not be abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor his body seek decay. Well, we know not only was David's body decaying, it was still in his tomb, but Jesus body was missing. It was a known fact. [00:22:54] Rather, David, under the inspiration, is sharing the promise of the resurrection. He knows he's not writing about himself, because Peter could point out, David's tomb is in Jerusalem. In our trips to the holy land, one of the things we always do is go to David's tomb. It's in the city of Jerusalem. And, oh, I thought I had a slide there of it. But that's okay. We'll move on. [00:23:22] It's there. Oh, okay. That's David's tomb. [00:23:27] I'm looking at a blank screen back here and you're looking at David's tomb. [00:23:32] So what is Peter saying is, well, we have David's tomb, but the tomb, the body that we don't have is Jesus. It's missing from the tomb in Matthew's story. And I love there's a little obscure text, I don't know if you've ever picked up on this. And I think this is so amazing. It's found here where Peter and the disciples basically, you know, if there was any doubts about that body being missing, Peter could just drag that crowd down to the tomb and say, hey, it's empty. And so the rumor was circulating that the disciples had stolen his body. [00:24:16] But, you know, Peter could point these kinds of things out. [00:24:20] Okay, so here's an empty tomb. This is one of our trips. That was a few years ago. [00:24:26] Okay, here's that obscure text. So in Matthew 27 it says, and when Jesus, this is talking about his crucifixion, when he had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. And at that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom and the earth shook and the rock split. Now I don't know if you've ever seen a picture of the temple's curtain, but it's like, you know, 10ft high. And no kidding, it was torn right in half from the top. So all of the priests knew something unusual that happened. Now how many know the people standing around the crucifixion knew something was happening because most scientists would say, well, there was an eclipse, it was a total darkening of the sky. They had an earthquake, the ground was shaking. There was natural manifestations happening at his death. But now between verse 51 and 52, two days go by. Sometimes you don't always pick this up, but listen how it's worded. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. [00:25:35] They came out of the tombs and after Jesus resurrection they went into the holy city, which is Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. Now I don't know about you, to have dead relatives showing up at your house probably would get your attention. And so Peter's preaching to a whole bunch of people who had been there during the Passover, had seen the crucifixion of Jesus, and now they're seeing a whole new thing begin to emerge. And some of the people living in town are seeing dead people show up who've been resurrected from the dead. Do you get a little idea that God is amping up the evidence that Jesus is alive. Anybody get a sense of that? So Peter is preaching away here, and like I said, how many of us would be a little bit unnerved if you had a dead relative show up? Anybody get a little excited about that? That'd be a little unnerving. I don't know. I think it would be. Let me move on to the third life changing truth. And it's simply this. It was accomplished through the power of God. This is a miracle of incredible magnitude. To be brought back to life could only be accomplished by God's power. The apostle Paul, in writing to the Romans, this is. He's giving us the compelling sign that Jesus is, you know, is actually the Messiah. He's actually God in the flesh. He says, paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. The gospel he promised, the good news he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures regarding his son as to his human nature, was a descendant of David. [00:27:23] But then he says this, and who, through the spirit of holiness, was declared with power to be the son of God. How? [00:27:30] What's the evidence that he's more than a man? [00:27:33] The resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ, our Lord. So Peter is now stating that it was impossible for death to hold Jesus. The power of his sinless life could not keep him in the tomb. So here's the text. Acts 224. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Now, it's interesting that this language is used. It's actually, it's literally speaking of death and childbirth. How many go, those don't normally go together. Right. But Howard Marshall says we have a remarkable mixed metaphor in which death is regarded as being in labor and unable to hold back its child, the messiah. [00:28:29] If we ask why death could not hold back Jesus, Peter's reply would be that Jesus was the messiah and that the Messiah could not be held by death. It's very powerful. One of the most compelling arguments for a resurrection or a resurrected Christ. And the demonstration of God's power is seen in the change in people's lives. Now, you have to remember these guys. They thought Jesus was the messiah. They invested everything into him. Then they see him crucified. Their understanding of what the messiah was going to come and do was totally wrong. They were totally, you know, they were thrown, you know, their whole world seemed upside down. Now all of a sudden, Jesus is alive. And Jesus is now explaining to them what the Old Testament was actually saying and what he, he came to accomplish, he didn't come to defeat an impressive roman empire. Jesus came to defeat humanity's greatest problem. You say, what is it? It's sin. And when you defeat sin, you defeat its consequences, which is death. And so Jesus came to defeat sin and death. That's why what he came to do was so much greater than anything they could imagine. This is the good news that you and I can have forever. Life that's powerful. [00:29:53] Then you take a look at the transformation in these people's lives, who give their lives with this message. Then you get a guy like Paul, Saul of Tarsus. How do you explain his life? This guy is a pharisee. He's a radical. [00:30:08] He is so upset with the christian church, he's out resting christians. He's out persecuting them. He's out having them killed. Stephen is one of the examples we read in the book of acts, where the garments are laid at his feet as they're stoning Stephen to death. And so what has happened is Paul all of a sudden moves from the number one opponent of Christianity to the number one proponent of Christianity. How do you move somebody from there to. And the answer is, he met Jesus. [00:30:42] Now, most of us don't meet Jesus like Paul did. That's a really radical move. He's traveling along to Damascus, and boom, he sees the resurrected Jesus, and it changes his whole life. He's revolutionized. He's transformed in his life, and now he becomes the apostle Paul. And, I mean, the greatest argument for I believe the resurrection is what happens to people when they meet the risen Jesus. It changes lives. And that's the last one. [00:31:17] That's one of the reasons why I think the enemy battles so strongly in our lives. [00:31:23] I think that slide slipped. It'll come back to that point. But it's the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Not only is the resurrection a fact, but the release of the spirit into our world. [00:31:37] The indwelling presence of God is proof that Jesus is alive from the dead. You know, you and I, you know, something happens inside of us. [00:31:48] We're changed. You know, I don't know. Some of you grew up in a christian home. It became. It's a very imperceptible change. It's kind of a slow transformation. You know what I'm saying? I get the story. I continue to believe it. I'm slowly developing. For some people, though, it's quite radical. You know, some people, they didn't grow up in a christian home, they hear the story. Their life is broken. Many of them are in rebellion. I mean, I don't know if you've ever done the Alpha series, but some of the people that they have testified there, their lives were like they were prisoners. And all of a sudden, there's transformation that brings about incredible change in their lives. I know him for myself in my own life. When Christ became real to me, you know, it felt like the sky was bluer, the grass was greener. I just. All of it. I felt like I was awakening from the dead. It felt like I had been stuck in a huge mansion. I was locked in one room, and now all of a sudden, I was running around finding all these other things that were out there. It was, like, unbelievable. I'm going, really? I just didn't understand any of these things. [00:32:52] And it just keeps going and going. And no matter how long you walk with Christ, it never gets old, and it never gets boring. Yeah, I know the basic story, but there's so much more to it. There's so much more to explore. There's so much more to learn about God. Why is that? Because he's infinite. You never tire. You know, a lot of people take on a hobby, and eventually they get bored with it. This is not boring, folks. It never becomes boring when you start walking with God, because it gets more exciting as you walk with him. [00:33:22] Now, it says here, so God raised Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of this fact. [00:33:32] Exalted to the right hand of God, he's received from the father. The promised Holy Spirit has poured out on what you now see and hear. The Holy Spirit brings about change through human lives. [00:33:46] Therefore, this outpouring of the Holy Spirit is one of the most powerful proofs of Christ's resurrection. He's at work today, convicting and convincing people of their need for Christ. And, you know, years ago, I read the story about a trans world radio outreach to Cuba, and there was a young man named McGill. He'd grown up in a large family, received very little attention from his parents. Early in life, he was full of anger, hatred, fighting. At 14, he left home, traveled to Havana for school, went to the coast, became involved in the drug traffic, planting, cultivating marijuana and cocaine. He had several hectares of coca plants with team of about 40 workers. On one occasion, he was called on to examine a plot some distance away, and he had forgotten to take in any reading material. So the older lady that had kind of run the plantation gave him a New Testament, and he began to read the New Testament. I tell you, there's power in God's word. He started reading about Jesus, his life, his death, his resurrection. He was so taken up with the story that he actually began a Bible reading group among his employees. Now he's not even saved. Okay, so now what are they doing, all these cocaine growers? 40 of them, are reading the Bible and discussing it. [00:35:09] Anybody find the humor in this? I just love God. God is amazing. So one day he suffers an accident. And being in pain that night, he turns on the radio to distract his thoughts, and he ends up listening to a gospel program from trans world. And the speaker is talking about how terrible it is to have an empty life, full of guilt, full of shame, full of sin, and have no purpose in life. And he makes a decision at the end to give his life to Christ. And after he recovers from his accident, he cuts down his plant, burns his laboratory, gets rid of everything related to the drug trafficking world. His workers now come back from a vacation because he was sick. They had all left. He shares his experience with them and explains what they were lacking. And every last one of those 40 workers gave their lives to Jesus. [00:35:57] That's amazing. [00:35:59] And then what happens is, he says, from our little band of cocaine farmers have come twelve pastors, and this guy planted ten churches. And for the last six years, we're pastoring a little town in the interior. And he said, oh, by the way, the lady who gave me the New Testament is a leader, one of the groups, and there's other pastors in other parts of the country. So the same Jesus that, the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is able to raise us up from our spiritual death, which is our separation from God. That's what death really is. He's able to change us into the people that God intends for us to become. [00:36:38] So what should our response be? You know, God went through a lot of trouble. He promised it, he planned it, he provided it through Christ, through the power of the spirit. He raised Jesus from the dead through the power of the spirit. Listen to this. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, when you and I come to Christ, he resurrects us from our spiritual state of death, and now we become alive with God. That's a very powerful statement. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in you. If you're a child of God, the same spirit that resurrected Jesus from the dead lives in us. That's pretty powerful. [00:37:21] So what are we to do? What was the response of the people on the day of Pentecost well, verse 36, it says, therefore, let all Israel be assured of this. God has made this Jesus whom you crucified. Whom you crucified. I mean, you talk about pretty direct preaching. You know, you guys killed them. He's your Lord in Christ. Now these guys that we heard this, they were cut to the heart. In other words, they were convicted. They felt bad, they felt terrible, they felt sorrow. And they said, what should we do? And Peter said, repent. Change your mind. Be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you're going to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which you are now asking me about. The same spirit is going to come and live inside of you. This promise is for you and your children and for, for all who are far off. For all whom the Lord our God will call. And with many other words, he warned them and he pleaded for them. Save yourself from this corrupt generation. And those who accepted his message were baptized and about 3000 were added to their number that day. Powerful. They repented which really means they came into agreement with God's understanding of their condition and they turned to him. They were baptized as an outward expression of an inward change in their life. They received God's indwelling presence and became part of God's community of faith, the church. [00:38:44] What was true for them is true for us today. Let's stand. [00:38:53] I don't know. I always get excited. I know it's Easter. I'm excited, but I'm excited every Sunday. That's just my nature. Why is that? Because the spirit of God is at work and, you know, maybe you're here and you're going. [00:39:07] I was invited to come. You know, it's Easter, I'm here, you know, just trying to be polite. [00:39:13] But I believe that the spirit of God does things in our life. You think, oh, well, I just kind of stumbled here or, you know, I thought I'd just come to church and that would be the end of it. But God has a plan. [00:39:29] God has a plan and you're here for a reason. [00:39:33] And you're hearing this message. This is a life changing message. [00:39:40] It could move you from a state of despair, brokenness, state of confusion. You know, a lot of times you ask the person, you know, what is your life all about? What's your purpose? [00:39:52] Well, I think God designed you for a purpose. And once we get to know the designer, then we get to know the purpose. I love that about God. We're all here for a reason. We all have a purpose and you're not an accident, you say, well, yeah, I think I was. No, you were planned by God, and he has a plan for you. [00:40:16] And so you and I this morning, you know, we can just come into agreement with God. We can say, you know what? I have. You lived my own life. [00:40:24] And I think sometimes as christians, sometimes we get into that pattern where we're doing our thing, and I want to just challenge you. Think about this. It's about doing his will. [00:40:35] Aren't you glad Jesus came to do the father's will? [00:40:39] Because of that, you and I can have salvation. You and I can have eternal life. When you and I do God's will, the christian life becomes dynamic. I'm gonna say that again. The moment I start doing the father's will, the christian life becomes dynamic. Nothing static about it. Nothing's happening randomly or by accident. God now is directing and is gonna use every one of our lives for his honor and for his glory. And so I'm gonna encourage you this morning, you know, to say, hey, you know, you know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna surrender. I'm gonna call out to Jesus. He's alive, folks. The Bible says, if two or three would gather in my name, I will be with you. I will be in your midst. I will be here right now. [00:41:28] God is here right now. And if we call out to him, he will hear our call. He will set us free from our addictions. He will set us free from our brokenness. He will set us free from, you know, our despair, whatever the thing is in our life that's trapping us and embittering us. God wants to free us. You know, Jesus said, whom the son sets free is free indeed. [00:41:58] And, you know, you can live in freedom, spiritual freedom. That's the greatest freedom going. There's no greater freedom. Nobody can take that away from you. [00:42:08] God gives you a gift with every head bowed right now I'm just going to say a prayer. You can join me. You can join me in that prayer and say, you know what? I want to confess to you right now, Father? [00:42:21] That I have been living my own life, but today I realize that you are real. You're alive. [00:42:29] The evidence around me is too great. The way the world is ordered, the way I see people's lives being changed, I see a power greater than what I have in my life. And I desire that. I desire to know the one who created me, the one who framed me, the one who put everything inside of me and has a purpose for my life. And I want to receive the life that you intended for me. I want to walk in this new life, the life you promised, this eternal life, this quality of life. And it begins, Lord. I know it begins right now. If I surrender to you right now, a new life will begin within me. I will become born again. I will become a new creation. I will become a person that is experiencing the life of God living within me. I want that. And I ask you to forgive me. Give me a change in my thinking and in my heart, that I can serve you with all my heart. And I thank you for hearing my prayer. In Jesus name. Amen. So, listen to me carefully. If you've made that commitment, you're going to need help on the journey. I said this a few weeks ago. I got it from. From Nicky Gumball. I love it. Christianity is personal, but it's not private. [00:43:54] It's personal, but it's not private. It's designed to be done in community, and nobody's gonna make it on your own. You isolate, you're done for. [00:44:06] We have an adversary. We have an enemy that's out to destroy us, and we need one another. And when you realize that we get stronger together, we can grow. So if you've made a commitment, you've never done it before. There's a little contact card in the pew. Pull that out, write out your name, and say, I've made this commitment today. I want to grow spiritually, and I know I need help. Let us know, and we'll contact you, and we'll help you in this spiritual journey. And we thank you for coming this morning. God bless you as you leave today.

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