Sunday, April 25, 2010

The 7 Points of Valour: #6 - Obedience



John 14:16-27 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."
Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?"
Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

OBEDIENCE: A man who knows how to obey will be better able to lead others. John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” Obedience has a couple elements. You have the voice or command. Then you need to hear the command, and we need to hear God's voice. We need to know it intimately. We need to let it sink deep into our soul so that His desires become ours. We need to put our faith into action.

I have a bad habit. I tend to change what my children say as if I heard them wrong. They repeat what they said, so I change it to something else. Why I find that funny, I have no idea. “Can we go outside to play?” turns into “You want to eat mice and clay?’ After they repeat it turns into “You want to tan hides today?” This kind of thing doesn’t help my case when Bonnie says I am half deaf. I went for a check-up at a doctors some 15 years ago and they did a hearing test. They found my upper and lower ranges of hearing were fine, but my middle  range was poor for some reason. The problem I have is if there are a lot of other noises going on it can be hard to focus on someone specific. When I was young my dad lost part of his hearing at a large fire when he was a fire fighter. A gas main had blown and the roar of the burning gas was quite loud until they got the main gas valve turned off. Like father like son, we both struggle to hear the quiet sounds.

Hearing is so important. You don’t realize how much you rely on it until you lose some of it. Hearing is important to obedience. How often have you told a child to clean up or do something and when it doesn’t get done the excuse is “I never heard you.” Maybe, once in a blue moon, a spouse has tried this one. One of the reasons you see and hear drill sergeants yelling at the new recruits is so that there are no mistakes – everyone hears the sergeant! Can you imagine the rookie using ear plugs so he doesn’t have to listen? A couple years ago there was a ladies night out in our backyard. It was a lovely time until the plane went over - all conversation stopped because hearing was impossible. We are called to obedience to God, to Jesus, but that is impossible if we can’t hear Him.

There is that picture Jesus shares with us - the one of the Shepherd and His sheep. The sheep hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow, and are safe. They know his voice. So how can we here Jesus? How can we get to know His voice?

Be Quiet: Where was the Lord; in the powerful display of nature? No; God spoke in the gentle blowing.
Elijah 1 KIngs 19:4-15 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers."
He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, "Arise, eat." Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, "Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you." So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.
Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
So He said, "Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD " And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave And behold, a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
Then he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
The LORD said to him...

Know the Bible: Life, people, work, the pursuit of pleasure or leisure - all kinds of noise, physical, emotional or spiritual can plug our ears.
Jesus Luke 4:1-14 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.'"
And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours."
Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'"
And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,' and, 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'"
And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is said, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit...
Psalm 119:9-11 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.

Don't give up: How long will you wait? What is more important in your schedule than hearing from your Creator?
James 5:16  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Hebrews 11:39-12:2 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Matthew 26:36-45 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinner."

Surrender: You will not hear if you don’t turn your ear towards the One speaking.
Matthew 26:39 My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.
Romans 12:1  Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Romans 6:22-23 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Colossians 3:1-5 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
Ephesians 4:17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind

Be Rea:l God wants authenticity above all else. Bring who you are and He will speak.
Not like the Pharisees, more like the disciples - ordinary men and women
Peter - fisherman, quick tempered, impulsive, emotional, loyal
John - fisherman, ambition, temper, intolerant
Andrew - fisherman, brings others to Jesus, 2nd banana
Thomas - courage, bewildered, doubter, devotion
Matthew - tax collector,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The 7 Points of Valor: #5 - Loyalty


1 Corinthians 15:50-58 “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

I was reading a blog a couple weeks ago. The topic was holiness, and all the comments from people were how hard it was to not sin. They said they were lucky if they went 10 minutes without sinning. The kids were home, life was busy… but how ridiculous is that? They either had a great misunderstanding of sin, or they were embracing it with their whole heart. Their sense of loyalty to their Savior seemed somewhat missing. They moaned how hard it was, but gave no credence to any effort they put forward.

Team Hoyt is a video about loyalty. The father did whatever he could over the almost 5 decades of his sons life to give him a life, to allow Rick to experience as much as he could. Dick wasn’t just loyal in racing with his son, but from the beginning sought to provide everything possible that other kids of his age had. Loyalty is a mark of character that takes a lot of time, but it is also recognized quite easily when it exists.

We have talked about Honour, Courage, Chivalry and Purity. We have also just finished the Easter season and now fittingly talk about Loyalty. Were Jesus’ disciples loyal to their Rabbi? Did they live lives of Valour before their fellow men? I have been talking to my dad a bit about death lately. His cousin died last year and his sister this past January. When you talk of death your thoughts tend to run to, “What am I leaving behind? What is my legacy? Will I be known as a man who stood for something, for loyalty?”

True Loyalty precludes a clear understanding of the truth. We have all heard stories of soldier just following their superiors’ orders without a thought. Some people call that loyalty when in reality it is just blind obedience. True loyalty knows the truth. There are a lot of scams and people selling stuff out there. Most recently on Facebook is gift card for IKEA worth $1,000. When you read the fine print, you have to sign up for 13 other programs you pay for, and IKEA is not even involved in the promotion. This is the third time they have distanced themselves from a hard sell company that has done this. If something is too good to be true, it invariably is. In our materialistic society, it takes money to live, money to make things happen. People try so many ways to take advantage of others. Dig down deep. Seek the truth about things. Do your homework, especially about the things and people you get involved with.

What about your spirituality? How much have you investigated it? Take the time to read the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 sometime this week. When you see the context you get what Paul is saying. People were saying the resurrection of Jesus wasn’t real - it didn’t happen. Paul responds, “…if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” We would have no hope. We would have wasted our time. So who goes to church but doesn’t really believe? Does it make any sense? You cannot really be loyal to Jesus if you don’t believe the history involved: the incarnation, the birth, the miracles, the crucifixion and the resurrection, and the ascension. You have to understand the truth that we are in a spiritual battle, that Satan and his minions try to disrupt our lives individually and communally. You have to believe that prayer is effective, that God hears and answers. You have to believe that holiness is possible, that God is powerful enough to do a work in us leading to Christ-likeness. Know what you believe in. It will see you through good times and dark times.
True Loyalty starts each day with a choice. Even when you know the truth you have to commit to it. Life doesn’t just happen. You want to be loyal? You have to live intentionally. Many in Saskatchewan love their CFL football team. They call us the Rider Nation. There’s this guy who is part of that. He has never seen a Roughrider game, on TV or in real life. He doesn’t know any of the players’ names because he never bothered to look it up. He knows enough to wear green, but even though he considers himself part of the fan base, he is not loyal in any real sense of the word. He thinks it will just happen, that he doesn’t  have to put any effort or work into it. Consider the 3rd generation business owner. His grandfather started the business and his dad consolidated it. His turn comes up and he assumes almost everything. He has no history of the struggles in the past, but because he has the same last name, he feels it is his right to do as he pleases. The third generation leader has one of the highest incidences of company failure, simply because that loyalty to the guiding principles of the company is assumed.

Each day, each morning you and I should wake up and pray, “God, I surrender this day to you. Help me to go through it with you at my side. Help my decisions and actions reflect the fact that I am your disciple. Help to me to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow you.” Again and again we see that any change that happens in a Christians’ life is based upon that concept of commitment, that point of dedication, that choice, that decision. Do you think you could pray that prayer, and then go chasing after the things that distract us from Jesus and not be affected by it? In that prayer you are giving God permission to speak to you when you are veering off course. You are giving the Spirit permission to speak into your soul conviction and correction. As you pray that prayer, you are looking at each new day as a blank slate upon which you can write your testimony, so that at the end of the day as you fall asleep you can say, “God, thank-you for using me. Thank-you for giving me the opportunities I had to day to share my faith. Thank-you for helping me to grow, and staying by my side.”

A habit that you have a hard time breaking doesn’t make you any less a true disciple than without it if you continually turn to God for help. You have a choice to listen to the voices that say you are not good enough, or you can listen to the voice of Jesus that says, “You don’t have to be good enough, because I am.” True loyalty means you are committed to being committed. You will do the hard work of making the right choices.

True loyalty is lived out in the long term. The CFL is a passing game for the most part, but consider the running game. Have you ever thought what it must be like to be an offensive linesman? Each play you crouch, and when the ball is moved you bump into the guy in front of you, pushing him one way or another. You have made maybe three steps in the play, and the ball was moved a couple or 3 yards. The next play you crouch, and when the ball is lifted you ram your body again into the guy in front of you. Again and again you do that. Sometimes you move down the field, sometimes you don’t. 60 minutes of playing time runs out and then it is over. You look ahead to the next game where you get to do it all over again: crouch, wait, bump; crouch, wait, bump. What makes a man do that? There is a loyalty to the long term goal. There is the hope of the playoffs, and a Grey Cup ring at the end. The men on the line have to do their part if the team is going to get there. He has to be loyal play by play. The one play he decides to go easy and not bump, is the play the quarterback gets sacked. He understands that the other team is made up of guys just as determined as he is, except they want to get to the quarterback, the ball. Sometimes an injury sidelines you for a spell. Sometimes you take a spell on the bench for a rest, but loyalty demands that you are in it for the long haul.

We talked about the parable of the Sower in our men’s study a couple weeks ago. Remember the story where some seed fell on the path and in the rocks, and it died out quickly. Then there was the seed that grew up but got choked out by thorns. None of those seeds produced any fruit. It was only the seed in the soil that stayed for the long term that produced a hundred fold.  One of the hardest things is to get up after you have made a mistake, and continue on. We want to wallow in our self-pity. We struggle with self-esteem. God comes in and wants to heal and teach, but shame and guilt can often push Him away.

Understand this: Loyalty is not perfection; it is getting up each time you are knocked down and starting again. Loyalty is the hard work of the 7 points of valour. LOYALTY is a man of faithfulness, devotion, and allegiance. Life is not a series of quick fixes. It is largely the task of 3 steps forward, two steps back. It is the rushing game on the gridiron. We need to plug in for the long term, but be open to the vision, not just the method. Loyalty for the Christian is not to the institution, but to Jesus and His people, the body. Sometimes we confuse our loyalty. God is doing some neat things in Saskatoon. He is doing some different things, and the challenge will always be to be loyal in following Jesus.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How Powerful is Your God



Acts 2:22-36 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know-- this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
For David says of Him, 'I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.'
Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.
Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET."
Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified."

When you look at Christianity, at who we are and where we have come from, there is a startling fact. Most of our theology and our understanding of God comes from stories, from experience. It is not some angel or extraterrestrial being that stands and gives us definitive statements about deity. It is not some celestial book found under a rock. Who we are as children of God is defined by stories - stories written by people like you and I who encountered God in some manner, in person or in dreams. We read the story of that encounter, and out of that story we come to understand the truth of God, he truth of who we are before that God.

Right out of the gate there are many that make the claim that all those stories are just fabrications, myths and legends. I find it amazing that in practically every culture, whether touched by modern man or not, that stories of both the flood and of a spiritual environment. People don’t have to be told there is a God. They know deep down because it is in His image we were created. People can deny the reality of God’s but that doesn’t change the Truth of His existence. An atheist is not really interested in this conversation, so let us accept the truth of God. The question then becomes, “How powerful, or how big is your God?”

In the Jewish Torah we see the story of Creation. We see the eternal God creating not just matter, but time itself. Out of eternity there is an action causing a clock to start. At some point time will end and eternity will continue on, but for that part of existence there is a measurement applied. David Felter, the editor of Holiness Today blogged about this aspect of God. Does God exist outside of time, or is He limited within time while it exists? I have no doubt that God is beyond time; that it is from God’s “eternalness” that He reaches down and interacts with Creation. Scripture and prophecy make no sense, otherwise. We have talked about the wastefulness of creation, of the grand expanse of our universe that contains billions of galaxies of which they themselves each contain billions of stars… and we look around at the seemingly easy beauty of the world around us. That is a pretty powerful God! Sometimes we try to start with a definition of God and assume truth by definition. God is omnipotent - all powerful, so how could He not be Creator? In the story of Creation we extrapolate what we consider facts out of the story’s text. We see the Spirit’s brooding, we understand the power of Christ in Creation. It is only later in the Jewish writings that we understand there was a creation possibly before Genesis, a creation of heavenly beings who maintain ranks and powers and principalities. There is a whole spiritual realm that we can’t see out there. In that place God is absolute. There is no denying truth, for truth is known. All is laid bare in ways we cannot imagine. It is a place of holiness, a holiness that examines and finds sin - all that is against God’s character. This is a mighty God who created and lives in this realm.

So God, in His power, is Creator. That is The God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, the ends of the universe. God not just created me but He also knows me intimately. As the Psalmist says He knows me from my beginning, for it is He who knit me together in my mother’s womb. He knows the number of hairs on my head, and keeps my tears in a bottle. In fact, there is no place I can go where He is not. So God is not only the Creator, He is also the one that draws near. He knows us intimately not as an art critic examines a vase, but as the potter who created that vase. He knows where the clay came from and molded it in His time in His place. As we walk this earth, He walks with us and talks with us. How many encounters in the Jewish Scriptures do we see God speaking and interacting with man either directly or through an intermediary? Time and time again we see the power of God not just in His awesomeness and grandness, in His eminence, but in His closeness, His presence, His imminence. The Creator of the ends of the earth has drawn near to man. In the Garden He walked with Adam and Eve. He spoke to prophets in dreams. Theophanies and christophanies, God and Jesus becoming flesh, show up in the stories of Israel. Moses saw the hand of God.

And then was revealed the ultimate power of God, revealed in the story of Jesus, the Son of God. It is the story of the incarnation, the miracles, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus. Peter told this story in his first sermon which we heard earlier. How many of the God’s out there take the initiative and do the finished work so that all humankind needs to do is accept in faith the free gift of eternal life. How many of the God’s of this world demand service and sacrifice, pain and suffering so that we can make ourselves worthy. My God was so powerful that He not only came near, but He redeemed me. He so loved me that He gave His only Son to die on a cross so that if I would believe with my heart and confess with my mouth, I would be saved. And that salvation is outside of time, for it shall last for eternity. It is outside the physical limitations of this world and resides in that other realm, that spiritual realm of which we know so little.

So how powerful is your God? Is He your Creator? Do the miracles in the Gospels excite you and cause you to surrender all you are to Him? Do you experience miracles in your own life? Sometimes we don’t receive because we don’t ask, and sometimes we don’t ask because we don’t really believe God can or will. Understand there is a power that resides in you if indeed you are a follower of Jesus. It is not your power. It is not an outside power at your disposal to command. It is the power of God, the power of the Holy Spirit that enlivens dead and dying things. Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, so he has raised our spirits from the dead. We are made alive in Him, to Him. The power of my God heals and raises. The power of my God knows no limits within the natural or the spiritual worlds. Do you know this God in your life? Do you experience the death defying power of God?
Does your God you follow draw near to you? Do you have a sense of His presence? He who visited man in the Garden has drawn near through the gift of the Holy Spirit which He has shed abroad in our hearts. Do you commune with this God? Does He speak to you in your quietness; do you know Him in the inner workings of your life?
That redemption that Jesus did in the finished work of the cross is alive in you and I today. While the work of the cross was the finished work of Jesus, He is not finished with us today. What a wonder that the power of God can transform a lowly man, a girl without hope, into a man and women who are leaders in His Kingdom. He lifts us up out of the miry pits and puts our feet on solid ground, the rock of our salvation. He takes our garments soiled with sin and replaces them with garments of holiness, washed in the blood of the lamb. The power of this God who is Creator, who has drawn near in Love, is at work in your life today. Do you know Him?

I don’t mean do you know of this God, but do you know Him by experience, by relationship? Easter is about restoration, about the power of God restoring relationships. The question we ended up last week was in essence, “Why do you come to church?” Is it the Palm Sunday syndrome of following the crowd, or is it the Easter Sunrise looking for your risen Lord?

God has yet to reveal His final power - that of ending time. He created it and someday He is coming back. In that return we will see Him face to face and will be changed into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. Time will wind down and end, and we will be ushered into eternity. What a wonderful hope we hang our faith on. It is not just this life we are citizens of; we have a heavenly citizen ship and someday we will be in the presence of God Almighty forever and a day. Know Him today. Grow deep in your relationship with Him. Make Him the focus of your life.