Does Easter Really Matter?

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Everyone loves a good party, a celebration that includes gifts, delicious food, joyful music, good friends and family. Add to that a baby. Everyone’s heart softens when a baby is part of the conversation. They are cuddly, cute, and generally smell wonderful. Add a small stable, a mystical star, angels, wise men and a few shepherds and you have one of the greatest and well-known stories in all of history.

Many people celebrate but most miss the point. Although the birth of Christ is a defining moment in history, it took another 33 years before it became meaningful. It took a death and a resurrection to make a birth a momentous occasion.

Without Easter, specifically without the resurrection of Christ, there would be nothing. No Christmas celebration, no New Testament, no early believers, no coming of the Holy Spirit. Basically there would be no Christianity as we have known it to be throughout history. This is a uncomfortable thought.

The  more penetrating thought however is that there would have been no Savior. The curtain would not have been torn, death would not have been overcome, and we would not have the unconditional forgiveness, grace and eternal life now extended to us through Jesus.

This could have been the outcome of that quiet night in Bethlehem. Jesus had options, he could have chosen to end the story in the garden with a plea to his Father. Instead Jesus prays to be obedient, he prays for his disciples, and finally he prays for all believers.

Jesus’s death isn’t the end of his ministry, it was the finale that moved to new beginnings.

It was his glory.

The reason for his birth.

The death turned resurrection is the key to God’s saving grace and an outcome of his love for us.

Paul, writing to the people of the church of Corinth, in I Corinthians 15:3-4, said, “For what I received I passed on you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Paul makes it clear that the resurrection isn’t just important, it is of first importance.

From there Paul goes on to say in verses 13-14, “If 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.”

It is the resurrection of Easter we remember and celebrate as the key to Christianity. Christ died and was resurrected giving us life. This is the only way life could have been given to us. It was through the love of God we are given what we don’t deserve.

John 3:16 sums it up for us: “For God so loved the world (us), that he gave his one and only son (Jesus) that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 

Believe, celebrate, and accept the love gift of eternal life God made available through Jesus to all on that Easter morning so many years ago.

Prayer Is The Window Through "Impossible!"

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Too often we confuse magic with prayer. Magic is instant. Magic is showy, we just kind of wave a wand and it happens -but that's not supernatural!

Prayer is for THROUGH and not around!

Prayer is the window through, but we want around! So many of us, on our journey, have been stopped by Satan because we prayed about something and God didn't lead us around. I gotta tell you, God rarely does around!

God does through, and this is what we see in all of the life of Jesus!

Have we missed the heart of how God works? God is not an around God, He's a through God! Go back and read Luke 22:39-46, and look how Jesus had to go through every moment of the crucifixion.

You can't get to the resurrection without going through the cross!

You can't get to heaven without going through the hardship of a broken world!

And the truth is, we need to come back to through and understand that Daniel had to go through being dropped into rocks in a stinking cave in Daniel verse 6:16. And I know that because in the end, it tells us they had to lift him up out of the cave!

Daniel prays: and God's salvation and deliverance is not to have the king change his mind or to have Daniel avoid being dropped in a hole! Daniel's prayer didn't resolve impossible before he faced it, but as the clock ticked, moment by moment, through, through, through -Daniel prayed!

Then after all of this comes the question of the ages: “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20

Guys, at some point and 100 times over, you're going to have to decide in your life -Is God able? Is my God able? Will I trust him and will I pray "through?"

Will I believe that the impossible isn't?
No matter how things look to my eyes?
No matter how things sound to my ears?
No matter how things feel to my senses?

No matter how huge the storm is on my emotions, I will open the window of prayer and see through it all and see my Savior, Jesus Christ, who showed that the way through impossible is to a resurrection! -Dr. Drew Shofner

If You Want Christ's Life, You Get Christ's Death

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1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "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." 

It's like Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

To us who believe in Jesus, this message is life -it is the power of God! It's the way we live forward and the truth is that the centerpiece, the whole meaning of Jesus' life, is in a cross and a resurrection --a dying and a living!   

The centerpiece to Jesus' whole message is the invitation to a cross so that you may experience your invitation to a resurrection. A whole new life that is impossible apart from the power of God --the dead don't come to life apart from the power God!

"For even the son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." -Mark 10:45

If you want Christ's life, you get Christ's death -you can't have one without the other! The death of Christ has got to be not just something that you and I admire merely from a distance, but that we enter into in a very real and personal way on another level! 

Part of what we suffer is the loss of living self centered and self serving and of looking out for our own interests. We trust that Jesus has our back and that He will serve our interests. Jesus has served your interest in the cross and in the resurrection that he's offering you.

You will be blessed forever and your life on earth will be radically different and better than you imagined! The difference is all in the dying! 

Some of it can be seen, much of it can't, but in the end Jesus will reveal what was true and what was not. What was a fraud and what was authentic. What was a genuine struggle and what was an illusion. And so we die to a dying world that we might live to a new Kingdom that has come!

In Matthew 16:26 Jesus said, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the son of man is going to come in His Father's glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done."

This life is not all there is --it is quickly passing. The Jesus who came as the bookend of one part of human history is going to come again as the second bookend in human history...and to gain an eternal life, we have to give up a world! 

What part of your world are you struggling to give up? What part of your world is fighting to stay alive and be in charge? I think we would all agree that Jesus' willingness to die made all the difference in the world, but do you understand --so will yours? -Dr. Drew Shofner

Entering The New Means Leaving The Old

 

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Jesus came to lead us out of a dead and dying world into an everlasting Kingdom! The bridge to this new world is the cross and the simple reality is that entering the new means leaving the old! We're called to give up our own "world building" and the portrait of how we think life should be --we can't live in two worlds! 

To gain a life that is eternal, you have to give up a world. You have to give up the world you imagined and the broken world that you desire. There are two portraits of a broken world. One is the view that you really don't see as a broken world. It's the idea that if I could only have...then I'd really be happy and you think that getting enough of it is going to satisfy you. This is the lie of hell that says you can actually be happy in a dying world. This is the side where you don't even know that the ship is sinking. 

The other side is where you know the ship is sinking. You know that the world is broken. The question is, will you give it up? 

It's realizing that there's nothing there. It's kind of like that experience in getting what you want and then realizing you didn't want what you got! This is a place of laying down the old that is broken and trading it for a new world! It's walking through the illusion that this world can satisfy and realizing that it can't and that I have to lay it down.

The bridge to the new world is the cross. Entering the new means leaving the old and if we won't reject the old, it's because we've rejected the cross. There are far too few of us who are living lives that are cross carrying. And there are far too many of us who are trying to live with one foot in both worlds --and it doesn't work!

1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "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." 

Guys, the difference is dying! The difference between the life you're looking for and the life of dissatisfaction that you may have is dying to yourself! The difference between getting over your procrastination and accomplishing the things you know God has called you to is dying to yourself! The difference between a life of fear and self hatred is dying to the fear and self hatred! 

The difference is dying and I want to call you today to joyfully trade a world --for a life!

Trade this world and all of its ideas of it satisfying you for the eternal life that Jesus can give. Let Jesus Christ be your life builder. Let Him be your world giver. It's going to be hard, it's going to be incredibly hard! It's going to go soul deep, but this is the call of the Christian life because the centerpiece of Jesus' life is a cross and a resurrection!

Everyone wants a resurrection without a crucifixion but where there is no cross, there is no Jesus! -Dr. Drew Shofner

Resurrection: Why It Matters

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Our redemption began with the Incarnation - the story of an infinite God who became a man and lived among us in a broken world full of decay.

Then it was the Atonement – the story of an infinite God who wrote a personal check that paid our huge debt, and sacrificed himself for our sins. Jesus’ death then became the most meaningful murder in all of human history.

If you entered into relationship with Jesus in incarnation, connected with his death in faith to live Jesus, then where is your victory without the risen king?

This is the Resurrection.

Everything about Jesus is unique: The prophecies of his coming, his birth, his incarnation, atonement, teachings, miracles, and his death and resurrection. It is especially his resurrection that gave us the full validity of Jesus. He did not stay in the grave, but he rose from the dead just as he said he would.

Some skeptics and unbelievers say that to believe in a risen Christ is nothing more than a blind leap of faith with little or no basis in truth.

But we have the answer from Paul in no uncertain terms: “…if Christ has not been raised then we, out of all people, are to be “pitied,” for our hope in Christ fails to extend beyond this present life.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)

He continues: “But since Christ has been raised, we are those who can look death in the face knowing that it has no final victory, no lasting sting.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

Without the resurrection of Jesus, we have no hope of a future. But because Christ is risen, we, as those who are in Christ, have every assurance that our labor in sharing this gospel of the risen Christ to a broken generation is not pointless or without purpose, but will matter for all eternity. Therefore, we must not forget that the resurrection of Christ changes everything. Without it, we have no gospel, no salvation and certainly no saving message.

Jesus’ Resurrection sets Christianity apart by breaking the power of death and sin with a final confirmation to live free and believe big!

For 40 days after his death and resurrection, Jesus appeared many times to his disciples and followers. On one occasion, he gathered his remaining eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee and gave them his great commission.

He said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always" (Matthew 28:19-20)

Later, he asked his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with the Holy Spirit and then to take his message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world (Acts 1:4,5,8).

The ascension of Jesus was the final act in the journey of our redemption. His mission was completed and he was exalted to his former glory.

But Jesus still sees us, stays with us, has a personal relationship with us, and still lives amongst us through the Spirit.

If Jesus’ Incarnation was the most humbling event, and his Atonement was the most meaningful murder in the whole of human history, indeed his Resurrection was the most revolutionary event in the whole of human history.

Listen to why the resurrection matters here!

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