Easter Sunday-2018-04/01/18

Message: ‘God’s power to change your life’             Text: Various

(Adapted from a sermon in the series Come Alive: A Journey Through Holy Week)

Introduction: I want to take a moment to thank everyone for choosing to spend your Easter Sunday with us here at Calvary Baptist Church.

  • I realize that you had a lot of options for how to spend your morning and we’re glad you’re here.
  • And we want you to know that we’re open every Sunday @10am.

You might be surprised to hear that I admit that Easter isn’t just about what goes on in a church building. If you’ve been on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve seen a lot of people celebrating the Easter season in a lot of way. Here are a few examples:

PP: Chocolate Bunny     PP: Butter Bunny

PP: My personal favorite      PP: Peeps

PP: Easter Bunny     PP: Linda Lopez

PP: Easter Flowers    PP: Egg Decorating

PP: Easter Egg Hunts   PP: Easter egg hunt

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 All of that’s good and fun and is generally associated with Easter. But, there is more.

You see, the idea of Easter didn’t originate 2000 years ago when Jesus rose from the grave. It was God’s plan from before the creation of the world.

PP: God, wrote the script for Easter and our lives

As a result of God’s plan, the events that took place that first Easter morning, changed everything.

  • You see, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was not just about Jesus and the miraculous thing that happened to Him.
  • It’s also about us, and God’s plan for the miraculous to happen in our lives as well…
  • Through Jesus’ resurrection.

And what is that miraculous work in us that God intended that first Easter? Life…

  • Your life, your spouse’s life, your children’s lives, can forever be changed
  • because Jesus rose from the dead.

And that goes well beyond chocolate Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, even Peeps.

Perhaps some of you sitting here are thinking, my life is pretty good, why should I change? Honestly, you’d be in the minority.

Most people want their lives to be different…

  • That’s one reason many are obsessed with almost anything that’s advertised as ‘new and improved.’

From my counseling background, I’ve found that many people have a deep-seated discontentment that rules their lives. It manifests itself in many ways, but perhaps we see it most clearly in our buying habits.

  • We buy a new car, truck or SUV but we often trade it in, sometimes even before it’s paid off, to get a newer, improved model.
  • We just HAVE to get that new and improved phone, even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with the one we have.

So, you tell me. What happens when we get the new car, the new phone, the new purse (oh, perhaps I should have left that one out) the new… whatever?

  • All too soon after the purchase, we’re on the lookout for another that’s ‘new and improved.’

But, no thing, no person even, has the power to truly change us; to change our situation, so that we’re completely content.

  • It was God’s plan that only Jesus could do that, through His resurrection from the dead.

Now, there may be others here who may be thinking; I know that, I know I don’t have the power to change. ‘As God is my witness’ I’ve tried.

  • I’ve tried to break my addiction.
  • I’ve tried to get over my constant depression and live some sense of normalcy.
  • I’ve tried to forgive the people in my life who’ve hurt me.
  • I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I just can’t do it.

I understand, and so does God. You see, the good news is… you don’t have the power to change, to transform your life.  Why is that good news?

  • Because it forces you to place your trust, in Jesus.

You see, change, transformation, is what Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, what Easter, is all about.

  • Every person, who calls upon the name of the Lord.
  • Every person who places their faith in Jesus.
  • Every person who asks Jesus to be their Savior.

Is changed, is transformed. And as a result, they have the power within them, to live differently, to have a new life.

  • All as a result of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Let’s take a closer look.

  1. The resurrection of Jesus

PP: Read: Luke 24:1-12

  • But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
  • While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
  • And they remembered His words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
  • But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Folks, we’re not here this morning, for a memorial service for someone who died 2000 years ago.

  • Jesus is risen!

And over 2000 years later, we still have reason to marvel at the empty tomb!

  • Jesus is alive!
  • And He’s here with us, as we honor Him with our worship.

Now, one of the truths that make Easter, and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, so important is that it’s the clearest demonstration of God’s grace.

The apostle Paul, a man who was dramatically transformed by the power and grace of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead wrote this:

PP: Read: Titus 2:11

  • For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people

You see,

  • without the salvation that comes from Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead, we can’t even talk about the kind of change in our life that brings contentment and peace.
  • And without God’s amazing grace, salvation is not a reality for anyone.

Easter, Jesus resurrection from the dead, is first and foremost, about God’s provision of salvation

  • to those who are lost,
  • to those who are heading to an eternity separated from God.

 PP: Read: Titus 2:11

  • For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people

God’s grace… changes everything! And that change, that transformation, starts with your relationship with God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Then, grace is showered upon the children of God, to radically and forever alter their lives… by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Let’s look at that power for a few moments.

  1. The power of Jesus’ resurrection

PP: Read: Philippians 3:10a

  • that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection

The goal of the Apostle Paul’s life, the thing that got him up and out of bed every morning, was to know Jesus and to know, to experience, the power of His resurrection, in his own life.

  • In other words, Paul realized that to get through each day, and if you’ve ever read the NT, you know Paul’s life was a struggle.
  • If Paul was to get through each day, he had to depend completely upon Jesus and His resurrection power.

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead…

Paul was a wonderful pastor with a kind and loving heart. He wanted his friends to have that same experience, to have that same power in their lives.

 PP: Read: Ephesians 1:19-20 (NIV)

  • and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from

Think about that.

  • The same power that raised Jesus from the dead and gives Him the authority to rule over the universe
  • is available to you and me…today!

The good news of Easter is that

  • Jesus not only died for your sins and offers you forgiveness and life,
  • but the same power that raised Jesus from the dead 2000 years ago, is able to change your life… right now! How?

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  1. Power over sin

So many people, even Christians, go through life carrying around the guilt of past failures, past mistakes, past sin. The burden of regret is often  so heavy to bear that it leads many into depression.

  • BUT, in Christ, you have the power over your sin, (past, present and future) and to change from a life of regret and depression to a life of freedom and peace.

PP: Read: Colossians 2:13-14

  • And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.

That’s complete forgiveness. Your record of sin eradicated.

  • God not only has forgiven our sin,
  • not only removed our history of sin ,

PP: Read: Jeremiah 31:34b

  • For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

What that means is; we can be at peace with God, we don’t have to worry He’ll condemn us for some sin, ever!

PP: Read: Romans 8:1

  • There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

That’ s resurrection power, in our lives!

  1. Power for a new life

PP: Read: 2 Corinthians 5:17

  • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Because of God’s complete forgiveness, our life is forever changed.

  • Jesus’ resurrection from the dead gives us the power to have a new life.

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 First, it’s the power to give you a new identity.

An identity is something that defines you.

  • In our culture; it’s race, religion, political affiliation, occupation, education, even our looks.
  • It can also be things that we wish didn’t define us; like being adopted, overweight, poor or divorced.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead changes all of that.

  • Your identity is no longer based on what you’ve done or what’s been done to you.
  • It’s no longer based on your physical or mental characteristics.
  • It’s no longer based on your successes or failures.

Your identity now is based on who you belong to.

 PP: Read: John 1:12

  • But to all who did receive Him, (Jesus) who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.

I’ve used this true story before, but it’s the most vivid I’ve found that describes the power of Jesus resurrection to give us a new identity

  • Augustine, when he was young was a wild guy. After placing his faith in Jesus he ran in to a woman who had shared in his wicked past.
  • She had approached him she said, “Augustine,” but he ran away from her with all speed. She called after him, “Augustine it is I”.
  • He turned around and said “But it is no longer I. The old Augustine is dead, and I am a new creature in Christ Jesus!” (adapted from D. Bell)

 By God’s grace, and the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

  • we’re not who we once were, our identity has changed.
  • Like Augustine we can say ‘It is no longer I.’

Second, we have the power to be filled with strength. This is important, especially for those who struggle with difficult circumstances.

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead means

  • We’re not only saved by Jesus’ death,
  • but also by His life.

Let me explain. The risen Jesus, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, lives in us, in those who have placed their faith in Jesus for forgiveness of sin.

That means you no longer face those difficult circumstances alone, you have the presence and strength of the risen Savior in you.

  • No matter what happens, no matter what difficulties you may face, what curveballs life throws at you,
  • You have the power to face it.

PP: Read: Ephesians 6:10

  • Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. (the word might here can also be translated power)

PP: Read: 2 Corinthians 12:9a

  • But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Third, we have the power to be loved and to belong. This perhaps hits home for many people.

  • Perhaps you’re estranged from family,
  • you’re separated/divorced from a spouse,
  • perhaps you have no real friends,
  • You hang out places but have no sense of belonging.
  • You feel, unloved and unattached.

But because Jesus lives, that has all changed. You have the power to be loved and to belong.

PP: Read: Jeremiah 31:3b

  • I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

PP: Read: Romans 8:38-39

  • For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 Do you long to be loved like that? You can, by the power of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

 PP: Read: Romans 7:4a

  • Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead

PP: Read: 1 Peter 2:9a

  • But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession

Is it your heart’s desire to belong to someone

  • who will always be there for you,
  • always love you,
  • always help and guide you?

You can find a home, a place to belong in God’s family, by the power of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Finally, you have the power to go in a new direction.

Folks, there are only two paths in life;

  • the path that leads to life; eternal life, in the presence of God in heaven
  • and the path… that doesn’t.

PP: Read: Palm 16:11

  • You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

PP: Read: Ephesians 2:4-6

  • But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

Without Christ, we’re already dead. The direction of our entire life is the path of separation from God and eternal death.

But by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus, the direction of our life can change forever:

  • We can now travel on the path that leads to joy.
  • We can be on the path that leads to heaven.
  • The very path that leads to the pleasure of God’s presence.

Is that the path, the direction you want your life to go?

  • That’s the wonderful offer of Easter
  • and is the result of the power of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Conclusion: If you leave here this morning and you only remember one thing I’ve said, let it be this:

  • When you encounter the risen Jesus
  • You are never the same!

This day, 2000 or so years ago, was the defining moment in history.

The world has never been the same since Jesus rose from the dead and the angel declared: Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.

  • Listen though, the changes the power of Jesus’ resurrection offers, don’t come automatically.
  • They come when you place your faith, your hope for the forgiveness of sin and eternity in heaven, in Jesus alone.

Do you want that kind of change in your life?

  • Then give your heart, your life, to Jesus.
  • And experience the power of His resurrection!