Easter. A holiday that is celebrated by many for a variety of reasons. Some see it as another opportunity to get together with family for a meal and fellowship. Some eagerly await the Easter Bunny and chocolate found in hidden eggs. Others just appreciate a day off of work or school. And others might pass the weekend away without much thought concerning Easter at all.
For believers in Christ, however, Easter carries much more weight and significance for us… at least it should. I am sure that many people who grew up going to church can remember the story being read in their Sunday School classes with flannel graphs, bright-colored storybooks, and the vivid imagery of Jesus’ victory over death on our behalf. They may remember the sanctuary being bright and full of light, flowers, and triumphant organ music. It is a story and a scene that is familiar to many, but how often is this familiarity, had by so many especially in the church, the cause for the significance and impact to be downplayed to some degree? The fact is that for many of us, when we hear the account of Easter, we can tend to tune out a bit and say, “Yeah, I have heard that all before. Great story.” But do we realize the true magnitude of Christ being raised from the dead?
His victory over the grave, death, the devil, and our sins leaves us with a new reality. We are no longer alienated from God the Father because of our wrongdoing and life of rebellion against him. Instead, in accordance with God’s plan from the beginning of time, we have been reconciled to be members of his family because of the once-for-all sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. Because of this sacrifice, those who believe, can eagerly await, with expectant hope, the day when we, like Jesus, will be raised to life to live with our Heavenly Father. It is this reality that can be the cause of much joy and excitement. This age-old story should still leave us with a mark. It is my prayer that I would constantly be reminded of the grace shown to me on that very first Easter morning and the continued grace given to me by God. This story should never be one that gets tucked away as just some familiar tale. It is the story of our redemption and our present reality. Though we are far from deserving his goodness to us, may we desire to live in a way that reflects who he is and what he has done for us. Amen.
Ben Bigaouette will be our guest speaker this Sunday, August 30th
I have always wanted to know and because of that I ask a lot of questions. I need to admit that I haven’t always had the greatest of motivations as I asked all of those questions. Sometimes I have used those questions to challenge my parents. Other times I have used questions to communicate my disapproval about someone’s plans or thoughts. The unifying troublesome theme when I am asking inappropriate questions is a lack of humility.
I believe good questions were created by God. They were intended for our enjoyment and growth. One of my favorite hobbies is to ask questions to people in coffee shops, while waiting in lines, when I’m sitting on park benches or any other setting where someone smiles at me. I have learned so much from all of these little endeavors into other people’s lives. I have encountered many cultures, worldviews, jokes and wildly off base thoughts. All of it has helped me to understand humanity a little more,
In my pursuit of knowledge, insight and wisdom I have come to realize that the world is a very big place. Along with that understanding is the truth that the Creator of this world is far grander than the creation. Those two simple truths have set me on a journey to ask questions that will always find their ultimate answer in God Almighty. Our God has invited us in the 8th Psalm to consider the amazing truth that even though we are so limited He still cares for us and wants us to live our lives as a quest to know Him more and more.
Do you ever feel that you are just flat out better than others?
Do you ever feel that you are worthless?
Why? What makes you feel either superior or inferior? What are the standards you are using to come to this conclusion?
The truth of the matter is that feeling inferior or superior has its problem at the same source – taking God’s view out of mix. Without God’s perspective we will chase approval and diminish others to lift ourselves up. We will be on a continual treadmill of fear and pride that never gives us what we think we need.
In the past two weeks I have met with two of the most disillusioned people I have ever encountered in my life. The first one owns two companies, lives in a very nice house and seems to have everything going his way. That is everything except one thing; he lives in continual disappointment of everyone else. After asking him a number of pointed questions he literally told me, “I am better than virtually everyone I encounter and it gets old.” He was miserable as he believed a lie.
The second person was a woman that had recently retired as CFO from a midsize company. She had more money than she needed and appeared to have the world by the tail. She graduated 3rd in her class from business school and was told by her parents that she really disappointed them. She told me she was the least attractive and least successful of the five kids in the family. Tears rolled from her eyes as she described that for her 40 adult years there was not one day that she felt adequate. She was miserable as she believed a lie.
Both of these individuals believed the same lie. One landed on one side of the lie and the second one lived out the lie from the other side. The lie is that life is a competition where we create our own importance and value. From this perspective we will either be a “winner” or a “loser.” The winners notice how others are inferior and the losers notice how others are superior. The winners look down on others and the losers look down on themselves.
This dichotomy is interesting in that it is possible to actually live this lie out from both sides at the same time. We feel important one moment and even superior to the others in the room; then the next moment something happens; we are pathetic and don’t measure up. There is only one answer to this lie and it is the truth that comes in trusting God’s perspective on our lives.
It is simply this, we have our immense value because we are created in the Image of God and so is every-one else around you. As we live out that Image of God in us we are free to lift up others, knowing that in no way does that diminish our value. In fact, it will do the exact opposite as our souls rejoice in their connection to the heart of God.
Live in the freedom that your value has been set by God. You are worth dying for so you clearly matter. Help others to also know their immense value. This is the truth that defeats the lie!
I have a lot of stuff. When I say that I mean not only material things; I also mean friends and hope and resources of many different types. I have a loving family and I have the ability to read. I have a job with an income and I know that I have a loving God. I have a car, a bike, a portable ice house, two backpacks and a place in God’s family. I really have a lot of stuff.
At this point in my life I have come to realize that all of that stuff takes time if it is going to be a part of my life. Most of the stuff will need to be maintained and “used” in one way or another if it is actually going to be a part of my life. For instance, if I chose not to put gas in my car I would not be able to actually drive it or if I never actually put the backpacks on and hiked they would just be occupying space but not truly be a part of my life.
When contemplating all this stuff it begs the question – what do I really need or want? Whether it is time or money or space or energy, we only have so much to allocate or seek after. What will it be for me? What do I need so that I can invest my life in a way that matters? What do I want that will bring me peace and joy?
All of us need to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes we are pursuing things that are fully in line with our God and other times we are chasing after things that are actually leading us away from our God. For instance, we can seek a job that will allow us to serve God in new and exciting ways or we can pursue that same job so that we look better than others. I can prepare a message for this upcoming Sunday to make people think I am really smart or I can prepare a message so that people are hopefully strengthened in their faith. God always knows the difference even when I am slow to catch on. What do I want and what am I seeking?
Jesus invites us in Matthew 6 to have the proper perspective on what we seek after and what we want for our lives. If our desires line up with Jesus’ words we will find freedom and joy as we live out our days.
Lord Jesus, May I want what you want for me,
Pastor Nick Mundis