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God our helper! – Psalm 121

God our helper! – Psalm 121
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 23, 2017

From the movies and into the language fabric of American culture has been the question: “Who’re you gonna call?” and the answer, “Ghost Busters!” But who do you call when you need help in life? Some call their therapist, psychiatrist, minister, friend, or family member. Calling 911 isn’t going to help you answer the deep spiritual questions one has or some of the day to day problems one faces. So, who do you call to when you need help?

The Bible teaches us over and over that the believer is to be dependent upon the Lord and to go to him when they need answers in life. Sadly, few do unless only as a last resort. I have had thousands of conversations about relationships, finances, family problems, addictions, and fatal attractions and few have heeded the advice I have offered only to later respond that they wished they had. Once I was asked where I went for help and I remarked, “To God our helper.” Let’s discover what the Psalmist sings about this…

READ: Psalm 121

The Israelites were told over and over and over again to depend upon the Lord and not themselves, the pagan gods of the land, nor the worldly wisdom of the age. Yet they often failed to do so and suffered the consequences of their decision. Here we discover that…

I. God helps us to remain surefooted in a slippery world! (Vv. 1-4)

A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

1. The title “song of ascents” identifies Psalms 120-134 as a song to be sung when the Israelites “ascended” or “went up” to Jerusalem for their annual feasts. Four of these 15 psalms are ascribed to David but this one is anonymous. Jerusalem sat on a hill and the temple rose up on the highest point, so when the pilgrim went to worship God in his temple he would sing, “I lift up my eyes to the hills”. Like a scene from a movie of a besieged city looking to the hills for reinforcements against her enemies, we lift our eyes to the Lord! The believer is to look to the heights of the Lord for their help; not just in times of distress but in every situation! So, today, like the pilgrim of God ask yourself, “Where does my help come from?” Your answer should be immediate and direct, “My help comes from the Lord!” But notice why the Psalmist was willing to sing this? He knew that God, like we learned last week from Colossians, is “the Maker of heaven and earth”! The Christian knows and understands that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” and that “by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Colossians 1:15-16 NIV) Therefore he is sure and certain and he keeps us from slipping up in life, as the Psalmist sang, “He will not let your foot slip”! We forget Jesus told us succinctly, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7 NIV) This is not some “name it and claim it” heresy but rather the promise of the Lord God that if we walk daily with him he will walk daily with us! There is so much false advice and ungodly wisdom in the world today that it is good to know God will keep us from slipping up when we remain in him. The Psalmist realized this and reiterated that “he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep!” God helps us to remain surefooted in a slippery world!

EXAMPLE: You can by hiking boots or walking shoes with treads designed to give you better footing in rough places; you can purchase cork or felt-soled waders to help you navigate the moss and algae-covered rocks while fishing; and you can buy simple flip-flops to protect your feet while using public showers in gyms or at the swimming pool. But what can we depend upon to keep us upright in a sin-filled world that offers so much trash for advice? The Psalmist reminds us that God helps us to remain surefooted in a slippery world!

A good parent doesn’t hover over their child but they remain watchful throughout the child’s life. When they are younger they help them to stay safe, look both ways, and to say “please”, “thank-you”, and “you’re welcome”. We discover that like a watchful loving parent…

II. God helps us by watching over our lives! (Vv. 5-8)

The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

1. God is not a nag. He does not scold you, berate you, or remind you of your mess-ups. He is not some angry old grump or judge watching and waiting for you to mess up just so he can discipline you back into line. It was truly liberating for me to learn that rather than an angry God that the God of the Bible was a loving God who loved me even before I was born and knew every step I would take in life! He loved me so much that he provided for my salvation from sin’s judgment! Rather than a judgmental narrow-minded bigoted deity, he is my helper, redeemer, and friend. The Psalmist reminded his readers that “The Lord watches over you”; not as a nag but to be your “shade at your right hand”! He is the one we can depend upon to shield us and lead us in a corrupt world and to keep us safe and secure. Shade was an important part of life during the Psalmist’s time. The Israelites looked for it as they traveled to Jerusalem to worship; shepherds sought it out to rest in during the heat of the day; and all wanted the protection of the snug roof over them at night — so he sings to those who are seeking shade and shelter, “the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night”. It does not matter the time of day, the season of the year, or what phase of life you are in, God is with you; right beside you, shading you and protecting you, “The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” I truly like that. It is refreshing to know that a loving God cares enough for me to remind me that he is with me always, through every stage or up and down of life. The Apostle Paul asked and age-old question when he queried, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Like the Psalmist even Paul was “convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 38-39 NIV)  God helps us by watching over our lives!

EXAMPLE: One of my favorite hymns is “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”. It speaks of how God loves us and watches over us just as he does each tiny sparrow like Jesus reminded his disciples, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26 NIV) The Psalmist reminds us that God helps us by watching over our lives!

Conclusion:
God helps us to remain surefooted in a slippery world! God helps us by watching over our lives!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Hebrews 5:1-10 – Jesus our Melchizedek!

Hebrews 5:1-10 – Jesus our Melchizedek!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 12, 2012 AM

There is a horrendous misunderstanding which borders on heresy in Christianity today. It is self-centeredness where worship is wrapped around the individual, commitment is based on our contentment, and our Savior and Lord is reduced to effeminate individual. Much of the church today fails to teach or comprehend just who Jesus is and what he has done for sinful man. Instead, we try to make the gospel relevant to the day and thereby Jesus into a means of living life for the moment. Ungodly sin is excused and Jesus made into our immoral image. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The author of Hebrews set forth two key truths: 1) the exalted position of Jesus who is uniquely God’s King-Son and 2) the salvation-inheritance of those who trust him by faith. Included in these themes are solemn warnings not to neglect the inheritance that Jesus’ relationship makes possible. The Son’s kingship has been at the center of all this discussion. Hebrews has made it clear that the King-Son is also a High Priest. The importance of this reality has already been briefly pointed out. Now, however, we discover what it means for Jesus our Melchizedek!

READ: Hebrews 5:1-10

We like things simple and fast. We listen to books rather then read them, we text or tweet rather than phone or speak, and we want it our way or no way. Sadly this has infected our theology as well. We would rather have someone teach us how to be spiritual than to actually be spiritual. We want to experience Jesus rather than know Jesus. However here in Hebrews we discover that Jesus is not only the King-Son he is also the High Priest. What’s the big deal? Well…

I. Jesus, our Melchizedek, is far better than any human priest is! (Vv. 1-4)

“Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.” (Hebrews 5:1-4 NIV)

1. To be the high priest of Israel was a tremendous honor. Out of all your peers, you were selected because of your devotion, righteousness, and knowledge of God. How sad therefore that by the time of Christ, the high priest was selected by nepotism, meaning through family relationship. Still, all were “selected from among men” by men. However, these men represented their fellow man before God and they were to empathize with their fellow humans when they offered “gifts and sacrifices for sins.” They were to “deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray” from their relationship with God. Each one was to do this remembering that “he himself is subject to weakness.” I find it interesting that Peter reminds believers to “live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17 NIV) and that we “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV) Christians are to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than [ourselves].” (Philippians 2:3 NIV) In fact, as the priest walked into the holiest of holies he was to remember in all humility why he was there and that he was no better than those he represented. Hebrews relates that, “This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.” The priest was never to forget, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NIV) Hebrews remarks that, “No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.” The high priest was divinely appointed and could not simply be one because he desired that honor. Just as Aaron was, this High Priest must also be called by God. What the writer is tacitly telling us is the fact that as humble and gentle as a man-picked priest was, Jesus, our Melchizedek, is far better than any human priest is!

EXAMPLE: The nation was shocked when there were accusations concerning priests who had sexually abused children in their congregations. Recently the first conviction of a high-level Roman Catholic official in the nationwide priest sexual abuse scandal, a monsignor in the Philadelphia Archdiocese was recently found guilty of child endangerment for covering up allegations of abuse of children. Evangelical pastors have not been free from the taint of ungodly behavior either. Each year we sadly read of those who get involved in extramarital affairs or who abuse others as well. As horrible as this is we must never forget that while these men hold their positions as pastors or priests, they are sinful men! Therefore, how truly wonderful for us to realize that our salvation is not dependent upon any mere man but rather on Jesus, our Melchizedek, who is far better than any human priest is!

There were those during Jesus’ day and immediately following who actually thought that the coming Messiah would be two people, an earthly king and a high priest, who would serve God. The writer of Hebrews is putting this final teaching to rest in showing that Jesus completely fulfills both positions simultaneously. The reason is simple…

II. Jesus, our Melchizedek, is chosen by God! (Vv. 5-10)

“So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ And he says in another place, ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’ During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:5-10 NIV)

1. Immediately the author tells us, “So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest.” Just as a human picked priest should never decide on his own to be high priest, Jesus did not either. Hebrews is speaking of Jesus’ earthly existence. In fact there is a huge difference in that God chose Jesus! Jesus is not only the Son of God and his heir, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”, but Jesus is also the perfect priest! He is “a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” In quoting both Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:4 Hebrews is tying together both Messianic concepts of priest and king! This is how Jesus “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (v. 1:3) Jesus made greater offerings during his life on earth than any man-picked priest could ever do because “he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Never forget that Jesus-God willingly became human and thereby submitted himself. Jesus’ death on the cross became the cry that God heard for mankind’s sins! Here is the mystery, here is the wonder of it all, here is the one thing that should make all human beings catch their collective breath, namely that “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him!” Jesus’ obedience was his death and resurrection and he has become our ultimate sacrifice, something no earthly manmade high priest could ever do! It is not simply empathy we receive from Jesus, we receive mercy! This is because Jesus “was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” The writer of Hebrews is not teaching Jesus is subordinate to God the Father as some heresies teach, rather Jesus as God chose to come and minister the way he did for a reason. He did it to be our Messiah. To be both our heavenly king and our high priest forever! Jesus, our Melchizedek, is chosen by God!

EXAMPLE: The film Miracle tells the true story of the 1980 US Olympic ice hockey team as it marches to an improbable gold medal. At the outset of the story, coach Herb Brooks is shown selecting the players for his team. When he gives assistant coach Craig Patrick a list of names he has chosen, Craig says in surprise, “You’re missing some of the best players.” Brooks responds, “I’m not looking for the best players, Craig—just the right ones.” Brooks knew that individual talent would take the team only so far. A willingness to fit into his style of selfless play would be far more important than talent. Clearly, team success, not individual glory, was the priority. The biblical call to service as a high priest has a similar emphasis. God chose before the creation of the world to come in the form of a man to become our perfect High Priest. Jesus, our Melchizedek, is chosen by God!

Conclusion:
Jesus, our Melchizedek, is far better than any human priest is! Jesus, our Melchizedek, is chosen by God!

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Hebrews 3:1-6 Moses vs. Jesus: Smack Down!

Hebrews 3:1-6 Moses vs. Jesus: Smack Down!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 15, 2012 AM

There are some things in life that are better than other things. Peanut butter and jelly is better than plain bread and butter; homemade cookies are better than cheap store-bought ones and college football is better than pro football any day of the week! Of course some may disagree with my assessments, but there is one arena where we cannot disagree as to what is better and that is in the spiritual assessment between God’s Messiah and God’s Messenger. That is between Moses the messenger and Jesus the Messiah.

The writer of Hebrews continues in his evaluation of just how much grandeur Jesus is than people’s old views of spirituality. The old contract was finished and the new one has come into service. In his assessment between Moses and Jesus the author of Hebrews makes it very plain that there simply is no contest between the two individuals. It is almost like watching a boxing match or smack down wrestling. Let’s discover for ourselves just why Jesus is better than Moses is as we look at “Moses vs. Jesus: Smack Down!”

READ: Hebrews 3:1-6

My father and I used to sit and watch the old professional wrestling shows on TV when I was a kid. Guys like Gorgeous George and the Masked Marvel were the stars of the era. The author of Hebrews gives us a blow-by-blow assessment between Moses and Jesus. It almost is like a Smack Down wrestling match. It’s “Moses vs. Jesus: Smack Down!” The bell rings and we discover that…

I. Jesus Is the Builder! (Vv. 1-3)

“Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.” (Hebrews 3:1-3 NIV)

1. Notice we are called “Holy brothers” and all people are considered such “who share in the heavenly calling” of Jesus Christ! In fact, we are admonished to “fix your thoughts on Jesus.” Why would the author tell us that? Because Jesus is the main messenger “apostle” of God’s gospel to mankind and he is the “high priest whom we confess!” Both Moses and Jesus were faithful to God, but only one was both “the apostle and high priest whom we confess!” We can never confess Moses only Jesus! But also notice that verse 3 says that Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses in relation to God’s house. And the answer is obvious: Jesus is the builder of the house and Moses is only a part of the house! Look at what he writes in verse 3: “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.” In other words he is saying: Jesus is to the people of God as a builder is to a house. Moses is simply one of members of God’s household. Therefore Jesus built everything Moses based his life’s purpose on! Jesus built the Law of Moses in the first place! Now think about that for a moment. Certainly “Moses was faithful in all God’s house” but Jesus was the Heavenly high priest and apostle who made the house! Before Moses was born Jesus was with God in the beginning and when Moses hiked up the hill to receive the Law of God, Jesus had already written it! But more than this: Jesus is the one who brought us a heavenly calling from God and made us a way to God that is far better than the temple or the law! On him hangs all our hope of heaven. If we have any confidence this morning that our sins are forgiven and that we will persevere in faith and attain heaven, this confidence depends on Jesus who is the builder of the house of God!

EXAMPLE: As the Olympics are about to begin, we don’t have any difficulty realizing that only one person is worthy of more glory than all the others in their perspective competitions. There’s more glory in gold than in silver, and more honor in silver than in bronze. Jesus is worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house is worthy of more glory than the house. Jesus is worthy of as much more glory than every gold medal winner of the Olympics as the builder of a house is worthy of more glory than the house. Jesus as God’s apostle and high priest made the gold, the competitors, and the house! Jesus is the builder of the house! Round one goes to Jesus!

But more than that, like a wrestler pinned to the mat and as the hand of the referee comes smacking down in the final count we quickly learn that…

II. Jesus Made Moses! (Vv. 3-4)

“Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” (Hebrews 3:3-4 NIV)

1. We learned above that “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses” because “just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.” The inference here is also to be a transition into the next point the author is making, namely that Jesus made Moses! In fact, as we resume we discover that verse 4 continues this notion by stating, “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” And since Jesus is God, he made everything including Moses! Make no mistake about this theological fact, Jesus is God and not some other god in embryo or little created god-man. Jesus related, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 NIV) “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58 NIV) “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9 NIV) And both Paul and John referred to Jesus as “God and Savior” and “true God and eternal life”! (Titus 2:13 & 1 John 5:20) Jesus is the builder of the house because he is God! Now stand back and again consider the ramifications for our lives. If Jesus made Moses, the temple, and the Law of God, that means he made you and he made me! If this is true, then Jesus wins this bout with Moses simply because he made it all possible in the first place!

EXAMPLE: It would be as if the Olympic decathlon athletes were all gathered together in the locker room bragging about which one was the greatest, and Jesus comes in and quietly listens. One brags, “I threw the javelin farther than anyone else. I’m the greatest!” Another says, “I put the shot farther than anyone else. I’m the greatest!” Still another boasts, “I jumped higher than anyone else. I’m the greatest!” And then Jesus standing in the corner calmly states, “I made wood for the javelin, the minerals for the shot put, and the field you practiced on. In fact, and I made all of you. I made your arms, your legs, and your hearts and therefore I am the greatest.” Just as the author of Hebrews writes that Jesus made Moses and therefore Jesus is greater than Moses. Round two goes to Jesus!

The match is almost over. The crowd is in anticipation of who will win the bout. And as if hurdled to the ropes of the ring, the opponent learns…

III. Jesus Is the Son; Moses Is Only A Servant! (Vv. 5-6)

“Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:5-6 NIV)

1. There is a difference if you are an employee of the boss or the boss’ son! Here we learn this truth anew. Moses was a servant in the house of God and Jesus is the Son over the house of God. The difference between a servant and a son is that the son, by inheritance, owns the house, and is Lord over the house, and provides for those in the house out of his wealth. But a servant doesn’t own anything in the house, and the servant obeys the word of the owner! The servant receives his provision from the owner. So again, Jesus, as a son, is superior to Moses in these three ways: 1) he owns the house of God; 2) he rules the house of God and 3) he provides for the house of God! By contrast Moses is just hired help in the house of God! He doesn’t own it; he doesn’t rule it; and he doesn’t provide for it from his wealth. He only sweeps the floor if asked to do so! So consider Jesus in relation to Moses. The writer of Hebrews wants us to apply this superiority of Jesus to ourselves! He relates, “And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” The church is the house of God today! The redeemed members are the church and Jesus is the owner, the ruler, and the provider of his church, his household! He’s the son; we are the servants. He is our title-holder, our Master, and our source for all things! We are his house, his people, and partakers of a heavenly calling “if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” Jesus is the son and Moses was only a servant, round three goes to Jesus!

EXAMPLE: Wouldn’t it be surprising for all of us as we watched the Olympics and during the medal ceremony the person who won the gold medal Greco-Roman Wrestling did not show up for the presentation but instead someone else took their place? They dramatically announce, “Ladies and gentlemen, I worked hard, followed all the rules, and I am a nice guy so I deserve the gold medal!” We would demand the medal got to the one who actually won it! This is what the readers of Hebrews were struggling with concerning their faith. They thought they deserved their salvation because they followed Moses and all the laws, but like being placed on the ropes in a wrestling match they discovered Jesus is the son and Moses was only a servant!

Conclusion:
Moses hoped in the law of God. Many in Jesus’ day hoped it was sufficient to save them if they routinely followed it to the letter. Let me ask you, “What are you hoping in this morning?” We discovered Jesus is the builder, Jesus made Moses, and Jesus is the son; Moses was only a servant!

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Luke 24:1-8; 36-48 — We have a risen Lord!

Luke 24:1-8; 36-48 — We have a risen Lord!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 8, 2012 AM

This week’s message focuses on the resurrection of Jesus as an event that means much more than a historical fact. His victory over death brings peace and comfort to all who have trusted in Him as Lord and Savior. Further, Jesus’ resurrection is the basis for the believers’ resurrection and living with Him forever. In eternity, the best thing for me will be that we will be with Jesus. Therefore, this is the beautiful truth of Easter: We have a risen Lord!

After Jesus’ death, Joseph buried His body hastily in a nearby tomb. A large stone rolled in front of the entrance was meant to keep out marauders and wild animals as well as Jesus’ disciples (Matthew 27:62-66). All day Saturday Jesus’ followers grieved, but they could do nothing. The Fourth Commandment prohibited work, including preparations for burial, on the Sabbath. Finally, Sunday morning dawned, the first day of the week and some of the women who had followed Jesus went to visit His grave. They could not have imagined what they were about to experience. Their initial response was fright, but soon they realized that Jesus had risen! Let’s rediscover this truth again…

READ: Luke 24:1-8; 36-48

The inspired writers of the New Testament who declared the resurrection of Jesus never actually described the sequence of events inside the tomb. Nobody saw Jesus’ dead body when God miraculously transformed Him. No human eye observed Jesus coming out of the tomb. What the Gospels and the Epistles record, instead, are two amazing facts: Jesus’ tomb was empty and He appeared alive to His followers. The only possible conclusion was that He had been resurrected. Because of this we know for certain…

I. Jesus is alive! (Luke 24:1-8)
1. This life is the threshold of eternity because of Jesus! — Leeferism
1) First, they found the stone rolled back from the mouth of the tomb. Second, Jesus’ body was gone. Third, the women were confronted with men wearing dazzling clothes. Next, however, they heard unexpected words. The news they received began the process of taking them from despair to hope and faith. And the words they heard were from a very unlikely source. They were asked, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” They did not find the body they were looking for. Instead they saw two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning, an obvious reference to angelic beings. These men reminded them of the words Jesus had spoken about His crucifixion and resurrection (Luke 9:31; Luke 18:31-34). If they could not find what they were looking for, why were they looking for it there? The fact was, “He is not here; he has risen!” They had forgotten what Jesus had told them while still in Galilee, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” It has occurred! We have a risen Lord! Jesus is alive!
EXAMPLE: When a teenager named Poh Fang learned about Jesus’ love for her and received Him as her Savior, her parents weren’t sure about the merits of Christianity. So they sent her older sister with her to church to keep an eye on her. But something happened that they didn’t expect. The powerful Word of God penetrated the heart of the older sister, and she accepted Jesus as her Savior as well. Think back to the time you first realized Jesus is truly alive. If you were a child, what difference did this make in your life? If you were a teenager, what impact did it make? If you were an adult then you can identify more clearly with the women at the tomb. What emotions do you think are suitable for individuals who have for the first time realized that Jesus Christ conquered death and is now the living Lord? How important is it for those feelings to continue to be expressed by Christ’s followers? Consider today, this Easter, that proclaiming the good news to lost people must include the truth that Jesus arose from the dead, for there is no good news without Jesus’ resurrection. How can you help others know that Jesus is alive?

Luke writes that the women told their experiences to the disciples, who thought they were spouting nonsense. Later that day, two of Jesus’ followers were walking home to Emmaus from Jerusalem. Jesus appears beside them with His identity concealed and engages them in conversation. When at last they realized He was Jesus, they rush back to Jerusalem. They discover that rumors about the resurrection were spreading like wildfire. In the turmoil that follows we find that…

II. Jesus provides peace! (Luke 24:36-48)
1. Peace is not the absence of strife but rather the presence of Christ! — Leeferism
1) We now find the disciples still discussing what occurred when without warning Jesus Himself stands among them! That they were “startled and frightened” was because they still hadn’t grasped the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. That night, Jesus helps them understand this new reality. Jesus immediately tells them, “Peace to you!” The first gift of the Lord Jesus was peace. The Jewish greeting now had a much fuller significance. Christ’s followers had been in terrible turmoil, seeing their Lord tortured and crucified. But now even in the midst of this they could have “peace”. He asks, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” And then reassures them, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” He provides proof by showing “them his hands and feet” and asking for something to eat and then eating with them. Jesus showed His followers all the facts written… in the Old Testament about the Messiah in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. In doing this, He “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” Namely, that “The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” They could find peace in this because they were “witnesses of these things!” They experienced every bit of the prophecies being fulfilled! In His presence, in His fulfillment, and in His resurrection Jesus provides peace!
EXAMPLE: Today around the world millions of Christians will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. They will meet in cathedrals, storefronts, and homes. Some will meet openly with thousands of other believers. Others will meet secretly with a handful of fellow Christians for fear of persecution. All will be there affirming the good news that Jesus offers His followers peace in troubling circumstances, just as on that first Easter. One challenge we face, especially at Easter, is to help others find peace and encouragement. We are to be alert that the same Jesus, who calmed the fears of His first followers, longs for the good news of His resurrection to bring peace and joy to new disciples. Consider again what the risen Lord provided that day: His peace, confirmation of His resurrection, confirmation of bodily life in the resurrection, and His presence. Which of these has been the most important for you personally? Which of these will be the most important for you to emphasize to others as you celebrate Easter? Remember, we have a risen Lord and because of this Jesus provides us peace!

Conclusion:
We have a risen Lord! Jesus’ resurrection is established by the empty tomb and by His appearances. The risen Christ provides peace in the midst of troubling circumstances. Jesus’ death and resurrection fulfilled the prophecies of the Scriptures.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Today’s Thoughts, Psalm 33:21

by Pastor Lee Hemen
July 2, 2008

In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. (Psalms 33:21)

What does your heart rejoice over? Love of country? The flag snapping in the breeze? An old soldier’s love of country? The return of a loved one? A good game of football or baseball? The love of your children, spouse, or others? Laughter of children, the cry of birds, the singing of a choir? Wind in the leaves? The smell of the ocean? A crisp clear autumn day? The smell of evergreens during Christmas? What does your heart rejoice over?

When I look into the word of the Lord, my heart rejoices. It rejoices over the fact that His Son knew He would face a horrible death, yet sat at a table calmly teaching His disciples spiritual truths to hold them and the heart together after He was killed. My heart rejoices over reading about Him standing in a synagogue and telling His hometown, “Today in your sight this passage has been fulfilled.” My heart rejoices over knowing that He loved me before the creation of the world, of the universe, before anything was made! My heart sings over the fact that my selfishness, my rebellion, my ungodliness was not enough to keep my Lord from loving me and going to the cross. I rejoice over Him, my Savior and my God.

Dear child of the Lord, what does your heart rejoice over today? Do you trust in His holy name? Oh, I pray that you know what that means and that you truly do.

NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

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