Walking with Him to Victory (2012 Easter Sunday)

Title: Walking with Him to Victory
Series: Walking the Roads of Easter (Easter Sunday)
Scripture: Luke 24:13-34
Theme(s): Victory, Success, Easter

Unifying Message: We should return and walk in victory because He has risen like He said He would.
Unifying Need: We as a people should return to our Easter experience each day.

Outline
Issue from the text
Issue in our world
God’s action in the text
God’s action in our world

INTRODUCTION
The path to victory is not always a straight path. Sometimes there are setbacks and u-turns. By daily renewing our Easter experience and experiencing the power of the living, risen Lord can we truly “stay the course” and walk with Him in victory.

ISSUE FROM THE TEXT
In Luke 24:13-34, we find two men identified as followers of Jesus. They were traveling to Emmaus–roughly 7 miles away from Jerusalem. We do not know if they were returning home after Passover or they were fleeing from the loss of their leader and the possible persecution of His followers that may have ensued. They were discussing what had happened over the last week. They were passionately discussing what had occurred and what it might mean. They knew that Jesus had come back again. What is curious about these two men was that instead of being there with Jesus they were walking to another place, away from Jerusalem! Why would these men not be where their leader was? If they knew that He had returned, why were they not sitting at His feet?

ISSUE IN OUR WORLD
As Christians, we are people who all have experienced the incredible work of salvation in our lives. We all know the moment of happiness we feel the love of God flowing through us. After time, things can change. After a while, life continues and situations arise. We lose that Easter experience. We lose that feeling of joy. We, like the two men on the road to Emmaus, are walking away from the Good News and have taken a different path in life. We skirt around the issue. We play at the edges of God’s love. We gather together and try to recreate these experiences, but we still do not know that feeling. Are we still “Standing on the Promises?” Are we still resting in His “Blessed Assurance?” Do we remember “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” of Jesus?

GOD’S ACTION IN THE TEXT
Jesus travels along with the two men on the road. He travels with them and questions them. He even challenges them on what they were talking about. In verse 25, He calls them foolish. He reminds them that the Messiah would have had to endure a period of suffering before He could enter His glory. He then leads them through the teachings of Moses and the prophets. He reminds them about their history and legacy. He reminds them about where they had come from and how it applied to Him. Jesus could have been alluding to the prophecies of His coming and how He fulfilled hundreds of prophecies. When they stopped, Jesus was intending to continue one, but the men urged Him to stay. We get the impression here that the men wanted Him to continue teaching them, to continue sharing with them. Later, in verse 32, they remembered how their “hearts burned within” them as they walked together with Jesus.

He opened their eyes as they broke bread together. He later disappears and they are left with questions. Scripture says that within the hour they packed up and returned home. They made a u-turn. Having “seen” Jesus again for who He was, they had renewed faith and strength, renewed joy and excitement. They had received an Easter blessing! The power of Christ is undeniable and life-changing! When faced with the amazing grace, they returned with a new purpose. They head to the disciples and begin to tell them about what has happened. And, there is Jesus again! He knows the power of continual reinforcement—for continual contact.

GOD’S ACTION IN OUR WORLD
We like the two men on the road to Emmaus are blinded sometimes from the reality and the power of Jesus. We must also be given sight and see Jesus in our everyday lives. By renewing that Easter experience each and every day, we can walk with Him in victory. As Jesus spent time with His followers, so too has God provided for us continual reinforcement and support. He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit’s power, we can be reminded of our Easter experience on a daily basis.

A Surprise Along the Way (2012 Easter SONrise Service)

Title: A Surprise Along the Way
Series: Walking the Road of Easter (SONrise Service)
Scripture: Luke 24:1-12
Theme(s): Surprise, God’s provision, Purpose, Importance

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
Let’s catch up in our story! Jesus, our Lord and leader of our group, has just been killed and buried. According to tradition some of the women have prepared the requisite spices and ointments to anoint His body. They cannot anoint His body right away because of the Sabbath. There can be no work on the Sabbath! So far, everything was continuing on as usual.

At first light, the women gather up all of their materials and make their way to the tomb. There is something very striking here about the women’s behavior. Normally the body would have been anointed right away to complete the burial process, but this time it was interrupted by the Sabbath. These women knew the responsibility and its purpose. But, they did not know how they were going to move the covering from the tomb. They did not know how they were going to complete their task, but they knew their duty. They knew how much Jesus had meant to them and this was one way for them to show Him and others that they loved Him. They could have sat at home and wished that they could have completed it. They could have waited a few days and called a committee of the elders together to work on the problem. They could have petitioned to the Romans to have the stone moved away. They could have hired the Jerusalem Rock and Digging Company, Inc. But, they didn’t. They started out. They only knew that it had to be done.

Sometimes, life feels this way. We have a difficult problem or choice before us. We can choose to move or stay. Like the women, we can choose to move in commitment and devotion, knowing that what we are doing is important. Or, we can sit at home and blame people. We can sit around and wait for someone else to take care of it. What is amazing about this story is that if the women had not walked out in faith, then they would have never witness the “surprise along the way.”

Our lives belong to God. He has made us and given us purpose. He has also given us the ability to choose whether we will move out in that purpose or not. How can we know the full measure of God’s care for us if we stay at home? I think this shows us that God delights in surprising His people. He said it was going to happen. He gave them examples along the way that it would happen. He told them over and over. Why wasn’t everyone waiting out in front of the tomb for Jesus to appear? They had seen Him raise Lazarus from the dead. They had seen Him walk on water. He had healed the blind and cured the sick. Why didn’t they believe that Jesus might have one more “trick” up His sleeve?

We feel like that in life. We know all of the great things that Jesus has done for us. He continually tells us of His love and plans for us in His word. Yet, we are not waiting at His feet. Jesus uses these “surprises along the way” to remind us that He is still walking beside us. Whether it was a promotion at work or an unexpected gift from a friend, a kind note from a far away relative or the answer to the secret prayer of our hearts, God still cares for His people. He is not dead. He is not locked up in a tomb. He is waiting right around the next corner with a “surprise along the way.”

Caring for Others Along the Road (Easter Saturday)

Title: Caring for Others Along the Road
Series: Walking the Road of Easter (Misc. Devotional)
Scripture: Luke 23:50-56
Theme(s): Repentance, Compassion, Caring, Stepping Out

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
After the darkest moment in human history, we find a short telling of a man who was faced with an opportunity to act. Joseph of Arimathea is described by scripture as a secret follower of Jesus (John 19:38) and a member of the Jewish high council (most likely the Sanhedrin). These two descriptors of Joseph would definitely have caused him some tension, especially as they related to the treatment and death of Christ. We are also told in Luke 23:50 that Joseph was a good and righteous man, but John 19:38 tells us that he feared the Jewish leaders. We see a division in the person of Joseph. He knew what to do and how to do it, but something was holding him back. His fear of the Jewish leaders was holding back his full commitment to the cause of Jesus. And maybe we can let him slide for fearing the Jewish leaders. Even though the Jewish leaders did not have the authority to put Jesus to death (John 18:31), they still managed to manipulate Pilate and Herod into doing it. If they could do that to Jesus, imagine what they could do to Joseph. At the very least, he would become a social outcast and lose his status in the community. These sorts of fears were holding him back from becoming the person that God intended him to be.

We have all seen it. There is a homeless man or woman on the street making their request for money or food. How many times have we walked around or driven past them? Have many times have we not stopped and talked with them? Let’s make it even more personal. How many times have we known that someone is going through something but we just don’t want to get involved? We rationalize it. “It’s none of my business.” “I have my own problems.” “They got themselves in this mess, they can get themselves out of it.” “What would people say if they saw me sitting with that person at lunch?” From physical to social issues, we are surrounded by people who just need a touch, a comforting reminder—some care along the road.

The power of God and the witness of Jesus Christ changed the heart and mind of Joseph of Arimathea. It is one thing to say that you are a follower of Christ. It is yet another to actually be a follower of Christ. Joseph risked everything he had and everything that he would ever be when he stepped up to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. You can almost imagine the stares of the other leaders, Roman and Jewish, as one of their own steps forward. He steps out of secrecy and into reality. He is stepping out of the shallow end of the pool into where it is deep. He is stepping out of being an acquaintance and into a relationship with Jesus.

Caring for others along the way will mean that you have to take risks. Like Joseph, you may have to risk your social standing, your popularity, some friendships, a new position, or possibly even your job. It will cost you something. Joseph of Arimathea put Jesus in his own tomb—a tomb meant for himself or one of his family members. This was a personal expense to him with no chance of reimbursement. Jesus taught us in Luke 9:24 that “if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” We must be like Joseph of Arimathea. We need to throw caution to the wind and show compassion to other travelers along the way, especially the ones that no one else will help. When faced with a crisis of faith, we must continue “doing the most good” for everyone around us.

Walking the Darkened Path (2012 Good Friday)

Title: Walking the Darkened Path
Series: Walking the Roads of Easter (Good Friday)
Scripture: Luke 23: 1-49
Theme(s): Walking the right path even in the face of adversity

OUTLINE
Jesus walked without company
Jesus walked without blame
Jesus walked without complaint
Jesus walked without support
Jesus walked for you and me

INTRODUCTION
On Good Friday, Jesus chose to walk a darkened path. He walked a path through hatred, selfishness, politics, deception, and jealousy.

HE WALKED WITHOUT COMPANY
• Greeted like a champion on Palm Sunday and days later ignored.
• Shunned and condemned by the religious leaders of the day, the very people who were the supposed followers of the Father.
• Betrayed by Judas, a close confidant.
• Abandoned by the disciples, His closest followers.
• Denied by Peter, one of the “inner circle”
• Passed over by the crowds when they shouted for His life in exchange for Barabbas’ pardon.

We have all known the shock of betrayal, the wounds of denial, the stigma of being shunned, the pain of abandonment, and the utter loss of being passed over for another.

Jesus walked the darkened path without company.

HE WALKED WITHOUT BLAME
• Accused falsely of instructing other to not pay their taxes. The religious leaders knew that Rome did not care about their petty religious squabbles, but taxes, money, that was a different matter.
• Pilate did not find any fault with Him and passed Him on to Herod.
• Herod could not find any blame, but used Him to gain favor with Pilate (v. 12). He was used for political gain.
• He was released by Rome, but condemned by Israel
• Sold for one criminal, and hung between two others.

Jesus walked the darkened path without blame.

HE WALKED WITHOUT COMPLAINT
• He never boasted or bragged about who He was or what He had done.
• He answered the questions simply and directly, and later gave up answering at all.
• They mocked Him and mistreated Him.
• They sold Him in exchange for the life of a known terrorist and murderer (v. 18).
• He asked for their forgiveness, not their punishment (v. 34).
• They stole His possessions and gambled them away (v. 34b).
• He was insulted and ridiculed (v. 35).
• He showed compassion to others when He was receiving none Himself (v. 43).
• He was innocent and everyone from Pilate (v. 14) to the common soldier (v. 47) knew it.

Jesus walked the darkened path without complaint.

HE WALKED WITHOUT SUPPORT
• No one defended Him, even when He defended others.
• No one supported Him, even as He lifted others up.
• No one protected Him, while He was protecting all of us.
• Pilate had a chance and gave in to social pressure (v. 22).
• Herod could have stopped it but chose the easier and more acceptable way (v. 11).
• The crowds followed after Him but did not lift a finger (v. 27). They wept for Him, but never argued for Him.

Jesus walked the darkened path without support.

CONCLUSION-HE WALKED FOR YOU AND ME
He walked where we could not, would not, and did not want to go.
We stand on this side of Calvary and condemn the religious leaders for their choices and their lies, and we are not very different.
• Do we not still mock His name?
• Do we not still take Him for granted?
• Do we not still gamble our lives, His possessions, away?
• Do we not still betray Him?
• Do we not still falsely accuse Him, blame Him, lie to Him, try to deceive Him?
• Do we not still take the easier path to avoid accepting responsibility?
While we were still consumed by our sin, Jesus died for us. Despite what we’ve done, God still chooses to love us and sent His son so He could be with us. That’s what one can call incredible grace.

Walking to Renewal (Easter Wednesday)

Title: Walking to Renewal
Series: Walking the Roads of Easter (Easter Wednesday)
Scripture: Luke 19:45-48
Theme(s): Renewal, Loss of purpose, Second chance

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
Have you ever gone for a walk in the woods? As you push your way through trees and bushes, you occasionally come across paths that have been created in the woods. You can sometimes see paths that have not been created on purpose, but because man or animals have walked that way time and time again. It might be the quickest way to a source of water. It might avoid some natural predators in the area. It might simply be the easiest way from one point to the other. These paths have been created because of frequent travel. After someone started going that way and broke through the bushes, pressed down the grass, and parted the trees, others that came along the way started following that path. Why? It is simple. It is often easier to follow an existing path than to make a new one. The person or animal who started the path probably never expected to create it or for others to follow it, but it happens. We find comfort in following the easy, comfortable way everyone else is going. It is not easy to take a different path, a new way. It is not always easy to begin “walking to renewal.”

In Luke 19:45-48, we find Jesus entering into the temple and not liking what He finds. We find Christ confused about what He is seeing but sure about He needs to do about it. In defense of the people who were selling animals for sacrifices, they were providing a necessary service. People would travel from all over the nation of Israel to come to the Temple to sacrifice. Families who traveled from these distant places could not always transport the required sacrifices with them from home. They needed a place to purchase these sacrifices for their families—sacrifices that were an important part of the Jewish tradition and culture.

Catch what Jesus says at the end of verse 46: “You have turned it (the Temple) into a den of thieves.” What Jesus alludes to here is that these people were taking advantage of the people coming to the Temple to sacrifice. They could have been charging too much for the sacrifices or treating them unfairly. They could be selling them substandard animals. Part of the sacrifice tradition was that the sacrifices were to be pure and without blemish. They were stealing from God’s people. They were stealing from Him. They were utilizing their advantage of location and ability to take advantage of others.

Our thought today comes in right here. While they may not have started out being “thieves”, this is where Jesus found them now. It became comfortable. It became easy. It might have started to become acceptable—to become their right. They lived here and these foreigners should pay to come here. Somebody had to get them the right animal. Is there anything wrong with making a little profit? “I have bills. I have a family to feed. I have needs.” You see how easy it is—how quick it is to slide down to that place. How easy it is for Jesus to find us there.

Jesus knew He had to do something radical. This was not a time to call together the Temple Better Business Bureau to discuss suspension options. It was not time to form a committee to discuss possible repercussions of dishonest trade franchises. It was time to clean house! I don’t know where God has found you, but there are times in my life where God has cleaned house within me. He has removed all of the stuff that I thought was so important and that I had made important. Like a dentist removing a cavity before putting in a filling, if you build on decay and sin, you will not have a sure foundation. Jesus started them down a “walk to renewal.”

Like starting any exercise program, it is never easy at first. You will get tired and frustrated. You will wonder if there are any results. You will constantly question your motivation and commitment. Renewal is a lot like that. It is not easy to start something new—to make a positive change. Ask someone who is losing weight! One of the most frustrating experiences in weight loss is that healthier foods are more expensive and harder to find than unhealthy foods. Forging a new path through the forest can sometimes come with consequences. You may have to change who you associate with and where you like to go. You may have to try new things and make greater sacrifices. Your family may not understand, and your friends probably will not.

“Walking to renewal” must be your choice. You must initiate it. God has promised us support and help. He has sent His Spirit to convict, comfort, and guide us through this and the rest of our lives. Will you make a covenant with Him today?

Walking in Triumph (Palm Sunday)

Title: Walking In Triumph
Series: Walking the Roads of Easter (Palm Sunday)
Scripture: Luke 19:28-40
Theme(s): Palm Sunday, Easter, Victory, Celebration

Image
OUTLINE

  • Preparing for worship (19:28-34)
  • Worship with all that you are (19:35-38)
  • Not letting others steal your joy (19:39-40)

INTRODUCTION
To “walk in triumph”, there is a path to follow and pitfalls along the way. One must prepare for walk. They must put themselves completely into the process. And, you cannot allow others to stop you. This morning, we will learn to “walk in triumph” together!

PREPARING FOR WORSHIP (19:28-34)

We find at the beginning of this part of our journey Jesus and his followers approaching Jerusalem. As they reach the outlying area, Jesus sends two disciples ahead of the group to gather what was needed for their entry. He is very specific about His instructions. He tells them that as they enter the village they will find a colt. And, not just any colt, but a colt that no one has ever ridden! He also instructs the two disciples in what they are to say if they are questioned about why they are taking the colt.

Jesus seems very specific about his instructions in preparation for His entry into Jerusalem. Jesus did not need an animal to ride into the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. In fact, this is the only recorded moment in the life of Jesus where he is riding an animal. He rode in on the colt to fulfill a prophecy of scripture. Jesus spent much time in preparation.

For us to truly walk in triumph, we must prepare ourselves to worship and praise God. Too often do rush into the house of God without preparing ourselves. How many times have you left worship with the thought that you had not received anything? Is it perhaps because you were not prepared for worship yourself? How do we prepare for worship?

We can prepare our hearts for worship through prayer and meditation. This is developing and maintaining a focus. We prepare for worship by involving ourselves with scripture. This is a form of inspiration. What good is focus without something to focus on? Some programs include a “call to worship.” This is an attempt to focus our minds and attention on God—to prepare us for worship.

WORSHIP WITH ALL THAT YOU ARE (19:35-38)

As Jesus entered into Jerusalem, the city of David, his followers began to “praise God in loud voices.” They were sharing “all the miracles they had seen.” They were bearing witness to the worthiness of Christ. They were demonstrating His worth by worshipping Him.

There is an often-overlooked section directly before this worshipful scene. In some of the other gospels, palm branches are mentioned, but here in Luke, they spread their cloaks, their outer garments, along the path. It is ironic that this passage is not more highlighted because it is this section that leads to the name, “Palm Sunday.” People, in an act of worship, laid all that they had at the foot of Jesus. During Jesus’ time, people did not own that many changes of clothing. They laid what they had along the way of Jesus.

Jesus in another passage tells a woman that there will come a time when people will worship in Spirit and in truth. Part of the truth of worship is that we cannot afford to hold anything back. We must be all in! There is no halfway with God. There is no in-between.

NOT LETTING OTHERS STEAL YOUR JOY (19:39-40)
During Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem, the religious leaders of the day came up to Jesus. They instructed Him to quiet His followers. They were making too much noise. They were drawing too much attention. Possibly, they were taking people’s focus off of those “leaders” in exchange for the true Leader that God provided for them.

Often, when others attempt to stifle the expressions of praise and joy in others, it is because they sense their own deficiency, their own weakness, where they fall short. We find an example in today’s culture. Whether you like the Denver Broncos or not, you probably know who Tim Tebow is. Is it possible that those who find fault in his witness are those who do not have a witness themselves?

You can imagine the look on Jesus’ face! He has just been accosted by the leading religious figures. Here He is the very embodiment of the scriptures, and yet they claimed they were the “chosen” teachers. He is the fulfillment of the prophecies that their forefathers and heroes of faith recorded. He was the promise and the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption. And they were only thinking of themselves. They were worried about the power and control they would lose if this new Teacher gained a following. It was fine for Him to teach while He stayed out in the countryside, but now He was coming into downtown Jerusalem—the big leagues—and this would not do!

Jesus looked over at them and told them simply, if someone didn’t say something, the very ground, nature itself, would have something to say about His coming! Our joy comes in the knowledge that Jesus is the finishing line! We “walk in triumph” because we know who waits at the finish line. We are all striving for the moment when we are told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE

This is not meant to be a complete sermon. This is merely a catalyst to help the writing and preaching process.

Easter Blessing

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sunshine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again.
May God hold you, May God hold you
Ever in the palm of his hand.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sunshine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again.
May God hold you, May God hold you
Ever in the palm of his hand.
Ever in the palm of his hand.
The palm of his hand.

Does Easter have to be Happy for Friday to be Good?

A reflection on Good Friday

Yesterday was Good Friday.  I  had a chance to hear some good speaking and music.  I had some good fellowship with friends and family.  I even had a few moments to myself!

As I was browsing through various social media sites, I saw many different posts featuring scripture and various comments.  There was an overwhelming majority in the posts.  Basically, most people said, “Today is Good Friday, but Sunday is coming!”  I even saw an online greeting card with that sentiment.

I get it.  We love Easter Sunday!  We love the idea of Christ being resurrected.  We love the pageantry and the songs.  My personal Lord and Savior is risen from the dead, and “He is Lord!”

But, what about Good Friday?  Does Easter have to be Happy for Friday to be Good?  While the two events are connected, they do not eclipse each other.  They represent two different events that have changed my life.  I understand what people mean.  The very thought that my best friend, my savior, was buried in a tomb for three days by people like me is disgusting and heartbreaking.  I do not want Christ to spend one more minute buried in that tomb.

I may not want it, but I need Him to be there.  My friend, Garrett, said this Friday, it is “an awful tradition in our Christian heritage to skip ahead to Easter.”  What Jesus did on Good Friday is as important as what he did on Easter Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Does Easter have to be Happy for Friday to be Good?

A reflection on Good Friday

Yesterday was Good Friday.  I  had a chance to hear some good speaking and music.  I had some good fellowship with friends and family.  I even had a few moments to myself!

As I was browsing through various social media sites, I saw many different posts featuring scripture and various comments.  There was an overwhelming majority in the posts.  Basically, most people said, “Today is Good Friday, but Sunday is coming!”  I even saw an online greeting card with that sentiment.

I get it.  We love Easter Sunday!  We love the idea of Christ being resurrected.  We love the pageantry and the songs.  My personal Lord and Savior is risen from the dead, and “He is Lord!”

But, what about Good Friday?  Does Easter have to be Happy for Friday to be Good?  While the two events are connected, they do not eclipse each other.  They represent two different events that have changed my life.  I understand what people mean.  The very thought that my best friend, my savior, was buried in a tomb for three days by people like me is disgusting and heartbreaking.  I do not want Christ to spend one more minute buried in that tomb.

I may not want it, but I need Him to be there.  My friend, Garrett, said this Friday, it is “an awful tradition in our Christian heritage to skip ahead to Easter.”  What Jesus did on Good Friday is as important as what he did on Easter Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria!