It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming

Jesus has Risen, He has Risen Indeed

This past Sunday was a celebration.

It was a celebration because more people are continuing to gather together. We had a large turn out for the Sunrise Service and the largest group at the regular morning service in a while.

It was celebrating Christ’s resurrection from death.

That first Easter started with a lot of sadness. Jesus’s followers had had a rough few days with all that they had gone through. They were feeling lost and alone with no hope…BUT SUNDAY’S COMING.

When in a meeting last Friday, a friend said something that I hadn’t heard for a while, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” It reminded me of a message I had heard from Tony Compolo in which he referred to a sermon by Baptist pastor S. M. Lockridge.

This message reminds us of the crying at the tomb, the giving up of Jesus’ followers. We can’t appreciate the Easter message if we can’t see the risen Jesus.

Easter was not born in the light of the day, it was born in the darkness of the night, we all have periods of darkness, the light comes again in the rising of the Son, our greatest strength is in hope

It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming!

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.”

It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.

Now it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday.

And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb.

Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.

It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

It’s Friiidaaaay! But Sunday’s coming!

As Long as We’re Alive Our Picture is Still Being Painted

And It Will Be a Beautiful Picture When It’s Finished

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday. This is the Sunday before Easter and commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Mark 11:1-11

As Jesus rode into town people spread coats and palm branches on the road in front of Him. This is the way the people would celebrate the arrival of kings and victorious leaders. His followers expected Him to take over the Roman government and begin ruling like David.

Looking back, we know this did not turn out as Jesus’ followers expected.

They had a picture in their minds of how they thought things would go and couldn’t see past that.

We do the same thing. We get a picture of what we think our lives are going to be…and we know how that turns out.

A man was scrolling through programs on TV when he stopped to watch a man doing a painting. He thought the painting has finished. It looked amazing and he didn’t think it could look any better. As he watched, the artist took a brush with black paint and smeared it right through the middle. It looked like it was ruined. As he continued watching, the artist used the black paint to make the painting better than it had been.

Leave the painting of your life to the Master Craftsman and it will turn out beautiful.

This is similar to our lives. Sometimes there is black paint smeared through the middle. If we will just leave the painting to the Master Artist, our lives will be better than we thought they ever could be.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t have a part to play in the painting of our life picture…it just means that we need to know who the Master Craftsman is. Keep painting as long as you live.

How Will You Ever Get Where You Want by Walking in One Spot?

The Only Way to Get There is to Step Off the Treadmill

Did you know that treadmills were designed for punishment? This explains a lot.

In 1818 an English engineer named Sir William Cubitt, who was the son of a miller. Noting idle prisoners at Bury St Edmunds, he proposed using their muscle power to both cure their idleness and produce useful work.

Cubitt’s treadmills for punishment usually rotated around a horizontal axis, requiring the user to step upwards, like walking up an endless staircase. Those punished walked around the outside of the wheel holding a horizontal handrail for stability.

Punishment treadmills remained in use until the second half of the 19th century; they were typically paddle wheels with twenty-four steps around a six-foot cylinder. Several prisoners stood side-by-side on a wheel, and had to work six or more hours a day, effectively climbing 5,000 to 14,000 vertical feet. While the purpose was mainly punitive, the most infamous mill at Brixton Prison was installed in 1821 and used to grind grain to supplement an existing windmill which Cubitt had previously installed nearby.

This continuous repetitive act of walking and walking and never getting anywhere does sound like a little torturous.

Many people feel like their lives are a treadmill.

We’ve all felt this feeling of being tired of the routine of life. There is a German word for this. Lebensmüde is a compound noun made up of the words Leben (life) and müde (tired). It therefore translates to ‘life tired’. This is not how we are to be living our lives.

We all have a purpose and when we live life ignoring it we find ourselves slugging along unaware or ignoring our surroundings. The longer we walk back and forth without a destination the deeper the rut gets. When it gets deep enough, we can’t see out. It’s been said that “A rut is a grave with both ends kicked out.” It’s up to us to not get stuck in a rut.

Something is wrong when ‘life-tired’ becomes the norm.

We all have a purpose. Something that we were meant to do. If you don’t know what it is, you need to check with God. Find out what He wants you to do and then stop walking around in circles and move toward it.

Knowing our purpose is not some form of magic. It’s a direction to a destination. It’s up to us to find it and start walking.

A Journey of Faith Takes Time and is Scary

It’s Much Better When We Have the Support of Others

We had another faith Sunday at church the past week. It is amazing and wonderful to hear about people’s faith journeys. Each one of us in our own unique place in our journey through life.

It’s easy to be consumed by all the things going on in our own busy lives and forget those around us. We often feel that we are going on this journey alone. We forget that there is help when we need it.

Isolation is one of the most difficult things we will ever experience.

We need to remember that everyone deals with the same struggles we do. Being willing to support those around us, even in small seemingly insignificant ways, can be live changing. The simple act of noticing people can be one of the biggest.

Being noticed validates our worth.

Both the needing and helping sides of the journey were evident in the stories shared. There were stories of the church as a whole or individuals giving support in difficult times when there was struggling. We’ve all needed this type of support in our own lives.

As I was reading The Traveler’s Gift there was an example of what a faith journey is like. In this book David Ponders traveling through time meeting with various people who give him wisdom and insight into the seven decisions for determining personal success.

David meets Christopher Columbus on the Santa Marie as he’s crossing the ocean. As the two men are talking, Columbus’s First Officer confronts the Captain, explaining that the men have had enough, and they are going to turn around and go back.

Columbus explains that they have been at sea for 64 days and only have 10 days of food and water left. Turning back would be futile. These men did not have the vision or faith that Columbus did.

It would take a lot of faith to get on a boat and set sail for an unknown destination at an unknown distance…but Columbus had a vision and faith. He believed and trusted God.

We need to believe and trust in God as we go on our journey.

It took years for Columbus to get the expedition organized. It took support from other people. It wasn’t instantaneous and he didn’t do it by himself. And neither will we.

Get support when you need it. Give support when you can. Believe in God and yourself and continue your journey.

Be Careful About Giving Over Control of Your Actions to Your Emotions

Think Before You Act

We’ve all been angry at someone and done things in the heat of the moment that we regretted later.

You’ve probably heard the hunting story told by Mickey Mantle. There are several different versions, here’s one.

Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin decided to go hunting on a farm owned by a doctor friend of Mantle’s. It was a long four-hour drive and when they got there, Mantle went to the door to get permission. When the friend came to the door Mantle asked if they could go hunting. The doctor said sure, anytime Mick!

As Mickey turned to walk away, the doctor asked, could you do a me a favor? Mickey said, what’s that? The doctor said he had this old horse that needed to be put down and he just hadn’t been able to bring himself to do it. Could you do it for me? Mickey said, I don’t want to shoot your horse. The farmer said, Please Mick. It would really help me. Mickey agreed, then thought of a joke to play on Billy.

He went back to the car and said, we just drove four hours and he said we couldn’t hunt. Mickey’s voice grew angry and loud. I’ll show him, I’m going to shoot his horse. Billy said, No Mickey. Don’t do that, we’ll get in trouble…maybe end up in jail. Mickey said, NO I’ll show him he can’t do this to us. Mickey took his rifle and headed to the barn and shot the horse. Just then Mickey heard three more shots and turned around to see Billy standing there with his gun. What are you doing asked Mikey? I shot three of his cows, said Billy.

Even though Mickey’s actions weren’t out of anger, they lead his friend to act. The friend’s anger at MIckey being mistreated lead to actions that weren’t productive or helpful.

We have to be careful. Our actions might lead others to do bad things.

Another example of letting our emotions have control of our actions is the farmer who found a mouse eating an ear of his corn. When he saw this, he began chasing the mouse. He found a stick and began swinging. The mouse jumped and ran from stalk to stalk. The farmer swung and stomped and chased. When it was all over the farmer looked up and there was a half-acre of broken and flatten corn stalks.

The mouse eating the corn was not a good thing for the farmer but…

Letting his emotions control his actions did not turn out so well either!

As are all emotions, anger is from God. We are after all made in His image. The Bible is full of examples of God being angry with people that were doing things that they weren’t supposed to. One such example is in John 2:13-21, when Jesus ran the moneychangers from the Temple.

Anger can be a driving force for good, if the way we handle it aligns with God’s plans. It’s good when we get angry about someone doing something wrong. We need to have the courage to stand up against evil.

Pastor Lee told a story about a man who saw a report on the news about a plane crash caused by ice on the wings. This man was angry and being an engineer, invented a system for deicing planes.

This is the kind of angry we should be. The kind that pushes us to do something beneficial and purposeful.

Anger is a gift from God…use it wisely!

Our Small Actions Can Have Big Impacts

It’s Important to Remember This, Always

As we’re busily trying to navigate through our own lives, we rarely think about the impact we have in other people’s. Most of the time we never even know what effect we have on those around us. These small seemingly insignificant influences can be life altering.

This past Sunday Pastor Lee had some people share their faith journey with the congregation. Some grew up in this church, others became a part of our church family more recently. Some got to know Christ later in life, some have had a long-term relationship with Him.

One thing that was consistent in all these stories was the importance of outside influences, both good and bad.

We never know what word said or action taken will impact those around us. What we do know is that we have control of what we say and do. When our focus is inward, we’re more likely to have a negative influence on others.

Another thing that was consistent in these stories was the small actions that had big results. There were no huge dramatic life altering situations, just small acts of caring.

Small actions can have big impacts!

Most of us see the things we do as unworthy or unimportant. All we need to do is open our eyes to see that this is not true. What we see as small and irrelevant can be the thing that changes someone’s life, for good or bad.

We see our stories as nothing special, but after hearing these people share their stories it’s clear that this isn’t true.

Think about the effects on those around you before you act.

Every Action or Lack of One Affects Your Reputation

…and you have complete control over your actions

Your reputation is the overall quality or character as seen or judged by others. It can be either good or bad. One’s character can be misperceived by false statements and hearsay. It is important to be careful about what you believe when it comes to other people’s reputation.

How we perceive ourselves is different than how outsiders see us.

In Genesis 6 God decides to clean the world with a flood, because people had become so evil and corrupt. The people living at that time had a completely different perception of their reputation than God did.

God told Noah to build the Ark to save the animals and his family. You can imagine what Noah’s reputation was like to his neighbors.

God asked Noah to build the Ark and he did.

Noah was less concerned about what other people thought than what God thought. This one man was clear about his purpose. He knew what he was supposed to do, and he did it.

Too often we let other people’s opinions keep us from doing the thing we’re meant to do.

God used this one man to change the world…literally. He will do the same thing with you if you’ll let Him.

If you take the actions God wants you to…you’ll have the reputation you need where it matters most.

Why It’s Important to Have Our Focus in the Right Place

The Beauty of a Mountain Top Experience is Outside of Ourselves

I don’t know about you, but I find mountains to be some of the most beautiful things there is. What is it about these big rocks that make them so appealing? Maybe it is inherently part of who we are?

I think being on top of a mountain gets us closer to God.

Mountains are mentioned more than 500 times in the Bible. Mountains were a significant part in God’s dealings with people.

Mark 9:2-9 used in Pastor Lee’s message this week is one of these. This story of Jesus and three of His disciples is often referred to at the Mount of Transfiguration.

While on the mountain the disciples experienced the changing of Jesus’ appearance as well as the unexpected showing up of Moses and Elijah. In the midst of these miraculous events, Peter misses the point and offers to build three shelters. Really…did he think they needed someplace to stay?

Too often we don’t think about things before we open our mouths.

We need to step back and get a clear picture so we know what’s really going on. We need to be quiet, look and listen. If our focus is on the mountain rather than what’s happening on it, we can miss the point.

A man once testified in one of D. L. Moody’s meetings that he had lived “on the Mount of Transfiguration” for five years. “How many souls did you lead to Christ last year?” Moody bluntly asked him. “Well,” the man hesitated, “I don’t know.” “Have you saved any?” Moody persisted. “I don’t know that I have,” the man admitted. “Well,” said Moody, “we don’t want that kind of mountaintop experience. When a man gets up so high that he cannot reach down and save poor sinners, there is something wrong.”

Mountaintop Experience

A “mountain-top experience” is a moment of transcendence or epiphany.

A true mountain-top experience requires our focus to be outward not inward. It needs to be about what we can do for others, not what we get out of it for ourselves.

When the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria became tired of his life and the pressures of being a monarch, he asked the local monastery if he could spend the rest of his life there.

The prior of the monastery told the king, “Your Majesty, the pledge here is one of obedience. This will be hard for you because you have been a king.

“I understand,” said Henry. “The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.”

“Then I will tell you what to do,” said the prior. “Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.”

When King Henry died, a statement was written: “The King learned to rule by being obedient.”

We need to be obedient and…

Focus on the place where God has put us and serve faithfully from there.

We Have a Responsibility to Be Who We’re Made to Be

Why It’s Important to Do “Whatever it Takes”

We’ve all heard people respond to a request with… “whatever” and a roll of the eyes. This is especially popular with kids when they don’t understand why the request has any significance in their life. It was such a common response by one of my daughters that one year for Christmas we got her a throw pillow with the word “Whatever” stitched on it.

The alternative response is… “whatever it takes”

This is a mission-oriented perspective. It gives us the drive to accomplish our specific purpose. In 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, Paul explains his laser focus on doing whatever it takes to share the Message with everyone.

Getting this clarity of focus can be difficult. Too much of the time we go through life saying “whatever”. If we will take the time and effort to determine who we are and what we are here for, it becomes clear.

It’s easy to get sidetracked and off course. We can convince ourselves that we aren’t capable of doing that…look at all our weaknesses and flaws.   

We’re looking for perfect and it doesn’t exist this side of Heaven

Here is a Dear Abby letter that speaks to our unrealistic expectations:

Dear Abby: One of the toughest tasks a church faces is choosing a good minister. A member of an official board undergoing this painful process finally lost patience. He’d watched the pastoral relations committee reject applicant after applicant for some fault, alleged or otherwise. It was time for a bit of soul-searching on the part of the committee. So he stood up and read a letter purporting to be from another applicant.

“Gentlemen: Understanding your pulpit is vacant, I should like to apply for the position. I have many qualifications. I’ve been a preacher with much success and also have had some success as a writer. Some say I’m a good organizer. I’ve been a leader most places I’ve been.

“I’m over 50 years of age. I have never preached in one place for more than three years. In some places, I have left town after my work caused riots and disturbances. I must admit I have been in jail three or four times, but not because of any real wrongdoing.

“My health is not too good, though I still get a great deal done.

“I’ve not gotten along well with religious leaders in towns where I have preached. I am not too good at keeping records. I have been known to forget whom I baptized.

“However, if you can use me, I shall do my best for you.”

The board member looked over the committee. “Well, what do you think? Shall we call him?”

The good church folks were aghast. Call an unhealthy, trouble-making, absentminded ex-jailbird? Was the board member crazy? Who signed the application? Who has such colossal nerve?

The board member eyed them all keenly before he answered, “It’s signed, ‘the Apostle Paul.”‘

Persistence is the key to accomplishment.

Focus on the positive…not the negative and do whatever it takes to fulfill your mission. Paul was clear about his mission and pushed forward doing whatever it took. People with a mission that act on that mission, change the world.

Find your mission…DO WHATEVER IT TAKES…change the world!

Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Being Successful

It’s One of Satan’s Most Powerful Tools

Life can be overwhelming if we let it. Most of us are trying to do more than there’s time for. Trying to get control of this runaway train can be discouraging.

There is a story about Satan having a yard sale. He spread out all his favorite tools on tables and placed prices on each. One buyer purchased a sparkling well-kept tool labeled anger for a reasonable price. Another bought a slightly worn jealousy tool for a little more. All day long people came and went, near the end of the day a man saw an old tool laying on a table in the back. It was rusted and worn, the hinges squeaked, and the handle was partly broken, but the price tag was exuberant! It cost a lot more than any of the other tools. Even lust has gone cheaper. “Why is this so high?” the perspective buyer asked. “Ahhh” replied Satan, “That is my most effective and often used piece of equipment and I hesitate to let it go. Christians can eventually get over almost all of my other weapons. They can recover from lust, greed, and envy. But this tool works quietly without them even being aware I am using it. I can slip it in and keep them defeated for a lifetime. That tool is ‘discouragement’” he hissed. “I remind them of their sins and failures. Of how weak they truly are and they never even know what I am doing.”

Satan Having a Yard Sale

Don’t let Satan use this ‘tool’ in your life!

We are so easily convinced we don’t have what it takes. I can’t do that…who am I kidding. The more time we spend thinking these thoughts the bigger they seem.

A boy was walking through the woods and came upon a house that belonged to a witch. As he approached the witch turned in to a black cat and started chasing him. The boy ran and every time he turned to look the cat was bigger. Then he stumbled and fell and when got up he was looking the cat in the eye. The cat just stood there looking back. Then the boy took a step toward the cat and the cat got smaller. Another step and it got smaller again. Then the boy started chasing the cat. The whole time the cat continued to shrink until it got back to the house when it turned into a mouse and was never seen again.

Our fears aren’t as big when we face them head on.

Don’t let your fears or doubts discourage you and keep you from doing the great things God has planned for you.