How is everyone doing today? … Awesome! I’m so glad you are joining with us this morning for our Easter service. I want you to know that I am praying for you, and I pray you are well this morning. Let’s pray together — Father, even though we are not gathered together in person today, we are gathered together in spirit. Father, You are with all of us right now and so we unite our hearts and spirits together right now to worship You as one body, as one church, as one family. Father I ask that you prepare our hearts to worship You not just in this hour, but throughout the week and throughout the years to come. We love You Father, and we lift our hearts and voices up to You from the love that we have in our hearts for You. We love You, and we thank You for your love for us, In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. — I want to encourage you to join us this morning in song as we worship our Amazing Risen Savior, and our King, King Jesus. He deserves our worship and our lives and so let’s sing to Him from a sincere heart of love this morning.
Amen, Let’s pray together.
— Father, I thank You for Your unfailing love for us. You are an amazing God, and an amazing Father. Father it is by Your wounds that we are healed. We see how You planned from the foundation of the world to come and take our place and die for us so that we could be forgiven, and we could never thank You enough for that Father. Father, You deserve our praise and our lives, and so we lay them down at Your feet, and give them to You to do with as You please. We ask You to use us Father. Send us out, go with us, do what we could never dream of through Your Holy Spirit. We love You Father. We ask that you prepare our hearts and our minds to understand Your word, to remember Your word, and to live out Your word. We love Your word Father, and we thank You for giving it to us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
What is Easter all about?
What is Easter all about?
Easter is the celebration of the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Easter is about resurrection! Easter is about life springing forth where there was only death. Easter is about Jesus conquering death, conquering sin, conquering condemnation, conquering hopelessness. Easter is about getting a clean slate, being reborn, moving from death to life. Easter is about the Gospel. Easter is about Jesus. And if you don’t know Him, if you haven’t been recreated by Him, if you haven’t been adopted by Him, if you haven’t been forgiven by Him, if you haven’t been accepted into His kingdom, then today is the day of salvation. Today is the day for you to listen closely to the gospel, to the good news that God has given me and all of us to share with you. I love you, but I don’t hold a candle to how much God loves you.
You see, we have all sinned, and because God is a just and holy God, he can’t just sweep sin under the rug and pretend it never happened. And He desperately wants to forgive us, but there’s nothing we can do to make ourselves not guilty. When a man murders another person, it doesn’t matter how much good he does. He can’t say to the judge, I know I murder that person, but look at all the good I’ve done in my life, surely you can let me go. All the good in the world won’t make him not guilty of murder. And all that good doesn’t bring the person he murdered back. You see, no amount of good can wipe away your guilt. When you break the law you are guilty. And we are all guilty, because we have all broken the law. And I’m not talking about civil law, I’m talking about God’s law. We all have broken God’s laws and we are guilty, and no amount of good that we do can wipe away that guilt. And we can’t pay the fine, because we have nothing to pay God with. Everything belongs to Him. The whole earth is His, even we belong to Him. Everything we have, our wealth, our talents, our intellect, our strength, it all belongs to Him, He gave it to us to steward for Him, so we can’t use it to pay Him to make up for any wrong we have done.
So if we can’t be good enough, and we can’t wipe away our guilt, what can we do? What hope is there? That’s where Easter comes in. You see, God wants to forgive us, but He knows that we can’t make things right. We can’t restore things to the way they should be. We can’t save ourselves, so He decided to save us. He can make things right. He can restore what we broke. He can forgive us without sweeping our sin under the rug and pretending like it never happened. How? By taking the punishment that we deserved for us. By stepping into our place, He doesn’t pretend like sin never happened, He doesn’t sweep sin under the rug and do nothing about it. He as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, took our place. He as the Son, came to earth, lived a perfect life, that we could not live, and then willingly took the wrath of the Father upon Himself on the cross and died in our place so that we could be forgiven without God having to compromise His justice or holiness. And at the same time, proving to us, just how great His love is for you and for me. Romans 5:8 says:
8 But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And then on the third day, He rose from the dead, proving that He has complete authority and victory over death. He is still alive today, and will be forever more. And He offers that life to you and me right now. He has always loved us, and he always will, and He wants to adopt us as His own children to be with Him forever. Every where we look in the Scriptures, from beginning to end we see two things about God. Of the thousands of pages in your bible, you can open it to almost any page and you are likely to see these two things. One that God is Holy and demands that we be holy just like Him, and two, that God loves us, He always has, and He always will.
It was because of His love for us that He came to earth and went to the cross for us. And as He went to the cross, those who were the closest to Him, his disciples, abandoned Him. They left Him when He needed them most, but even then, this is what He said about them.
31 “Simon, Simon, look out. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 “Lord,” he told him, “I’m ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 “I tell you, Peter,” he said, “the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know me.”
Notice what He said. He knew that Peter would deny Him and abandon Him, but what did He pray for? He prayed that when he turned back that he would strengthen his brothers. This is the very night that he would be betrayed by Him. In other words, that wound is still fresh. When have you found it most difficult to forgive someone who has betrayed you? When the wound is still fresh. But Jesus is praying for his restoration. He is already praying from a mindset of forgiveness and second chances. I don’t know about you, but I need those kinds of second chances from God. I need them. We all need them.
And what about after He was betrayed by all of them. What about when He was actually being nailed to the cross. If you want to talk about fresh wounds, this is as fresh as it gets. Not only has He been betrayed by those closest to Him, which is enormous emotional pain, He’s literally been beaten, flogged beyond recognition, and nailed to a tree through his hands and feet. He’s under excruciating emotional and physical pain, and what does He pray? Luke 23:32-34
32 Two others—criminals—were also led away to be executed with him. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots.
We talked about fresh wounds a second ago, imagine how difficult it would have been to pray for God to forgive the very people who put you in so much pain, and could care less about you, because they were dividing your clothes amongst themselves. They don’t care about you, they just want to take advantage of your death by profiting off of your clothes. But still Jesus prayed for their forgiveness, in other words, their restoration with God. Why would he do that, and how could he do that while in the moment, under so much pain, and while they didn’t care about him at all, but were taking advantage of him? Because He loved them so much, and don’t think for a second that He doesn’t love you just as much.
And look at one of the criminals that was crucified with Him. Luke 23:42-43
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
One of the very last things Jesus did was to forgive a criminal in his last moments on earth. This was not a pretty good guy, this was a pretty awful guy, he was being crucified. The Romans didn’t just crucify anyone, they crucified the worst criminals. Crucifixion was so awful that it was a law that no Roman citizen could be crucified, so only foreigners were crucified. And here is a criminal that had done something so bad that he was being crucified, with no opportunity to come down off of the cross and then do more good than he had done bad, and Jesus forgave him of everything he had ever done. Don’t miss that. Most religions tell you that you must do more good than you’ve done bad in order to be forgiven and enter paradise, but not Jesus. Jesus said just come to me as your King, and I will forgive you, I will give you rest, I will make you new.
And then after He died, was buried and then three days later rose from the dead, He didn’t go find all of those people that abandoned Him and get even, He went and found all of those people that abandoned Him, and he forgave them. He wants to forgive us, He wants to forgive us because He loves us so much. But his forgiveness is not automatic. Everyone who has ever lived doesn’t get automatically forgiven of all the wrong they’ve done just because God loves them. As a matter of fact, Jesus said that more people will not be forgiven than those that will be forgiven. But everyone can be forgiven because God loves them. God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but instead He want’s all to come to repentance. 2Pe 3:9
9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
God doesn’t want you to die in your sins, unforgiven, He wants you to repent of your sins and He will forgive you.
We were reading in Luke 23 earlier about Jesus being crucified. Well in the next chapter, after Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared again to his disciples and this is what he told them. Lk 24:45-47
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
He told them to go out into all the world and proclaim for people to repent of their sins and that their sins would be forgiven. God knows that we can’t be perfect, that’s why He came to be perfect for us, and he knows that we will still sin, and He will forgive us when we do, and so He will honor our faith. And so what was the first thing the disciples did after Jesus told them this and then ascended back to heaven. 10 days later, on the day of Pentecost, the first time they went out and preached publicly and shared the gospel with people so that they could be saved, the people were convicted of their sins, and this is what they said. Acts 2:37-38
37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Peter told them to repent, which means to turn from sin. Jesus died on a cross for our sins, He didn’t die on a cross for our hairstyles, or for our skin color, or for our social status, he died on a cross for our sins. Our sins are the only thing that separates us from the perfect relationship with God that He wants with us. Our sins are the only thing that causes us to be guilty before Him. And it’s our sins that cost Him His life. So it’s our sins that He commands us to turn from. To decided today that I will turn from sinning against You God, and I will instead love You. I will stop sinning against You, and I will instead live for You. You have proven Your love for me. Now I want to pour out my love for You. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and you confess that He is your Lord, which lord is a 17th century word for master. So if you confess that He is now your master, meaning you obey Him, or simply put, that you have turned from sinning, and are now going to live a holy life, you will be saved. Rom 10:9-10
9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.
And the same Jesus who rose from death to life, will raise us from death to life. Jn 5:24
24 “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.
Jesus poured Himself out for us, to save us, to welcome us into His family, to spend eternity with us, It’s the only reason He died, It’s the only reason we have Easter. He took our sins and nailed them to a tree. Colossians 2:13-14 says this:
13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.
So in light of all He’s done for us, our only proper response is to do the same for Him. He poured out His life for our benefit, so we must pour out our lives for His benefit. We must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ. We must live as though we were not living for ourselves, but for Him. We must live focused not on our kingdoms, but on His kingdom.
And it is through surrender, that we will find freedom.
Many people believe that in order to be free, you must throw off every form of authority, where only you call the shots, only you decided what you will do and what you won’t do, where you will go, and where you won’t go. That in order to really be free means to do anything your heart desires, to engage in any act that you think will bring you pleasure, to do away with schedules, and organizations, and rules, and authority, and to live out your inner desires and do anything your heart wants and ignore religious rules and societal rules. Many people believe that is what true freedom is, but it’s not.
It’s a trap. It’s a seductive, attractive trap, that 100 percent of the time leads you down a road to bondage, not freedom. It leaves you in despair, and depression, and addiction, and regret, not real satisfaction, and hope, and peace. And if we are all honest, we know that it’s true, because we have many regrets in this life. Things that pop up into our minds and haunt us, and most of those regrets were the result of us, following our heart and chasing pleasure, or giving into greed, or losing our temper, or lying to someone, or stealing something that didn’t belong to us, or betraying someone, or abusing someone, or allowing someone to do these things to us because we want love or acceptance or attention from them, and the list goes on and on.
But there is a way to be free from these things. There is a way to be free from regret and a constant cycle of pain and heartache that’s our own doing. And it’s not by following the world’s advice of following your heart wherever it leads you and throwing off all forms of authority, including religious rules. That’s not how you find freedom. It’s the opposite.
You find freedom, not by refusing to enslave yourself to a king, you find freedom in choosing to enslave yourself to a king, to the king, Jesus. You see it’s in complete surrender of yourself to Jesus as your Lord, or as your master, and His authority over you that you will finally find true freedom. It’s by doing exactly what He tells you to do, and by not doing what He tells you not to do, and by going where he tells you to go, when he tells you to go, and saying what he tells you to say. That’s when you find true freedom. The more you give your freedom away to him, the freer you become. The more you submit to him as your master and the more faithfully you obey him, the more freedom you will experience. Freedom from regret, Freedom from guilt, Freedom from fear.
And when you understand what the cross truly means, that all of your sin was nailed to that cross, that all of your sin was laid upon Jesus and that He suffered in your place, and took the wrath of God upon Himself that you deserved because of your sin, and that it’s over, and that you are forgiven, and that there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, the more you will be able to walk in that freedom. You will have a new strength to get you through the hard times in life. You will wake up in the morning, and no matter how hard this life gets, you know that you have a perfect life waiting for you with your Father forever, one that you look forward to, but also one that you desperately want to spend with your loved ones, with those you work with, and with those you live near. You want everyone to live in perfection with you forever, and you know that that’s exactly what God wants as well. You know because of the great lengths He’s gone through to make it happen. You know because He told you so. John 3:16
16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
And You know that He does not desire that any should perish but that all should be saved and come to repentance.
9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
He loves you so much that He literally would rather die than to spend eternity without you, because that’s exactly what He did. He’s done everything for you, and He doesn’t require you to do more good in life than you’ve done bad, He just asks that you surrender yourself to Him as Your Father. That you come to Him as Your king, and He will adopt you as His child. That you love Him not just with words, but from your heart. And He has a purpose for you while you are here on this earth. He wants you to grow as His disciple, and He wants you to make more disciples. What that means is, He wants you to grow closer to Him through His word, and He wants you to offer that same invitation of forgiveness to others, and then help them grow closer to God the rest of their lives through His word. He wants you to gather together with other brothers and sisters in Christ and worship Him on a regular basis. He wants you to storm the gates of hell, and release those held captive by the devil so that they can be free and forgiven, and have eternal life in the kingdom of God. And I want to help you do that.
If You want eternal life, if you want to be right with God and know that you are forgiven, and if you want to be adopted as his son or daughter and spend eternity with Him, then be reconciled to God right now. Repent of your sins, and be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Ask God to forgive you of your sins against Him and commit your life to Him as your master, and king, and Father from now on. And let us know. Click on the request prayer button and tell us your name and email address so that we can follow up with you and let us know that you decided to turn from sin and turn to God, and we will help you take your next step. And if you are not watching this on our live website, then just send me an email to YatesvilleBaptistChurch@gmail.com. I love you, but I don’t love you anywhere near as much as God loves you. He wants to forgive you, and He wants to spend eternity with you, but He won’t make you love Him, You have to CHOOSE to love Him. Let’s pray together.
Father, we love You. Father, we are overwhelmed by Your love for us. We don’t deserve Your love. We don’t deserve all that You’ve done for us, but we are so thankful for Your love and for everything You have done so that we could be forgiven and spend eternity with You. Father, pull us close to You as we go through the hard days ahead of us. Remind us of Your love for us, and remind us of the beautiful future You have for us. Walk with us through the hard days, and carry us when we can’t walk anymore. Father we look forward to seeing you face to face, but Father, don’t let us get distracted while we are here. Help us to stay focused on the mission You have for us, and use us as your body Father. Use us as Your hands and as Your feet, and as Your mouth, to go and do and speak the gospel to the world. We love You Father, and we thank You for Your love for us, in Jesus’ holy and precious and eternal name we pray, Amen.
Would you please join me in this last song, and I pray that you will have an amazing Easter Sunday and I look forward to seeing you next week. Let’s sing together.