Faithlife Sermons

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Two weeks ago, we were the recipients of fish.
Elizabeth asked if we would take over the care of this fish, Shelly said sure, and sis brought it home and Wally became a member of our little troupe.
Now Shelly from the get go kind of braced Rebecca for the fact that we weren’t sure how long Wally would be with us.
To the point where Rebecca was happy to point out each morning when she got up that Wally was still here.
Well this week Shelly and Rebecca went with me as I had to give some training in another part of the state.
They left for home on Tuesday afternoon and I was a couple of hours behind them.
I talked to Shelly on the way home and she tells me basically that Wally is belly up.
I’m like ugghh, how did Rebecca take it, what did she say?
Shelly said, well she just thinks that Wally can’t swim.
And I’m like oh no, we need to tell her he’s dead.
She’s like are you sure?
I say yeah I think we really need to tell her and Shelly says great then you can do it as soon as you get home.
Suddenly it didn’t seem like such a great idea.
So we are setting around at home later that day and Wally is on the table in the bowl, belly up.
And I ask Rebecca, “what’s wrong with Wally?”
She says, “he can’t swim.”
I said, “well I don’t think that’s whats wrong with Wally”, and she stops and looks at me and says “what?”.
I said, “well I think maybe Wally is dead.”
And that was it.
I instantly qualified myself for the sluggo of the year award.
The tears came and she started crying and “saying no, no, he’s not dead”.
I tried to hold her, but she wanted nothing to do with me, only mom could take care of her and I felt like I did the wrong thing.
It was a sad scene and I was taken back with her ability to understand the finality of this situation.
I didn’t expect that, I thought maybe this would be an opportunity to introduce the concept and help her begin to understand it.
But she sat there with Shelly looking at the bowl, crying and poking her finger in it saying, “he’s not real anymore, he’s not real anymore.”
What a way to put it, in the eyes of a child to her he wasn’t real anymore.
Well this is more than just a sad little story and it ties in with the message this morning as we continue to look at the resurrection of our Lord from the dead.
It just continues to show how death is an inescapable reality of life.
Whether it involves bugs, animals or people…..death is a part of this world and like little Wally, someday we are all going to die.
Every year in this country 3.3 million people die, which works out to be about 6,400 people a day and if you want to average that out per state it works out to be 128 people dieing in  every state die each day.
But it is precisely at this point, this sad fact of death that the resurrection makes such a difference in the lives of believers.
And so this morning I want us to look at the hope that we as believers have in the resurrection of our Lord from the dead.
In looking at this, I want us to come away with a better understanding and sense of thankfulness for what He did for us.
What hope as Christians that we have been blessed with.
And remember what hope means, --- not wishful thinking as we commonly think of it, but a confident expectation of what is to come.
Not a hope based on a wish, but a hope based on what Christ has already done.
Never will anyone stand over your casket and have to try to find the living among the dead, for like Jesus you won’t be there.
Never will they have to wonder where we are or what has happened to us.
It is so sad to attend a funeral void of hope.
Some of you heard Shelly share last weekend about the funeral she went to where hope was missing.
I remember going to the funeral of one of my best friends who died when he was 28 years old.
It was a sad funeral for many reasons; his life was cut short, he left two kids behind, but it was even sadder because it was void of true hope.
The only hope that existed was the hope of wishful thinking, not a confident expectation.
Nobody could say for sure where he was, because not many there knew where they would be.
So the minister had the task before him of comforting people who had no hope.
I am confident that pastor prayed fervently for those who were there and that he kept on praying.
For it was that funeral for my friend that ultimately revealed to me that I was a lost young man trying to lead my family and I had no idea where I was going.
I always thought I had the answers, but as hard as I tried I couldn’t find them.
And so in a way you can say that the reality of death brought me into life.
God took this young man who at 29 years old had no hope- only wishful thinking at best, and he set my feet on solid ground and gave me hope, true hope.
And I have been fascinated with this hope ever since.
And so this morning we will share together more about this hope as we talk about three of the reasons why Jesus came to die.
Keep in mind that this is not /the /three reasons Jesus suffered and died, but only three of the reasons centered around our own death and the hope His death gives us.
Father- bless our time together this morning and bless the reading of your word.
Help us to put aside our distractions and ask that you speak to us.
May we not set here this morning and apply this message to our neighbors or people we know, but apply it to ourselves.
Help us to take this precious truth of the death and resurrection of our Lord and to appreciate it even more and apply it to our lives.
I pray our minds will be sharp and our hearts open as you reveal you truth to us here this morning.
*First of all, Jesus suffered and died to free us from the bondage of the fear of death*.
Turn if you would to Hebrews chapter 2 verses 14-15.
This has since the time I first read it been a favorite passage of mine.
Have you ever come across a passage that just seems to unlock some of the very secrets to who you are?  It’s when the truth of God just seems to pierce your heart and truth just comes flooding in and it cleanses you?
It may be through conviction, it may through forgiveness, it may be through insight, but that encounter with the word of God happens and you are forever changed.
This is one of those passages for me.
And the truth is, I think it is for a lot of people, they just haven’t faced it.
/“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death---that is, the devil--- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death/.”
The message- a paraphrase of the Bible puts it this way, “/Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death.
By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.
/ /
Since we are human, Jesus took on humanity in order to rescue us from our sin.
The fall came through mankind and so the penalty had to be paid by man, but not just a man a perfect man, of which none exist.
So Jesus said, “I will take on humanity to rescue them, I will become like one of them.”
He came to earth as the God man, the sinless sacrifice and rescued us by His death and through this, we are freed from the bondage of the fear of death.
Shelly and I were talking last Sunday after church about how we as a culture have pushed death about as far away from us as we can.
Whereas in previous centuries people were well acquainted with death, because many people died at home and funerals were held in homes, in modern times we are rarely confronted with it.
I thought she had a good point that of course those who aren’t saved push it as far away as they possibly can, why wouldn’t they?
Certainly the unsaved are in bondage to the fear of death.
But,  is it /only/ those who aren’t saved that are held in slavery by their fear of death?
I think for the most part yes, but this fear does affect us in the church ,,,,,,,, to the extent that we understand the hope we have as Christians.
If we have little understanding, we have little hope.
The greater your understanding the greater your hope.
But this verse tells us that for the believer, just like the bondage of sin, bondage to the fear of death has been broken for us.
It is critical to understand what is being said here.
It does not say “to free them from the fear of death.”
It says, “and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Death was never part of the original plan of God.
Death is an unwelcome visitor; 1 Cor.
15:26 tells us that the last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Death is part of the curse upon mankind;  a result of the fall.
So what does slavery to the fear of death look like?
I think we can understand this better if we look at childbirth as an example.
Just like pain in childbirth is a result of the fall and an unwelcome visitor in this world, so is death.
If a woman was to live in slavery to the fear of pain in childbirth, her fear would drive her to have no children.
But instead, women look past the pain to the confident expectation of what comes afterward and goes forward in spite of the part she does not look forward to.
One is in bondage to the fear the other is not, and it makes a huge difference in the outcome of their lives, and so it is with us.
This passage tells us that for the believer, just like the bondage of sin, */bondage/* to the fear of death has been broken for us.
Satan uses this fear of death to enslave people to his will;;;;;;he uses this fear of death as a weapon to gain control over the lives of people.
We must understand that living in slavery to the fear of death stands opposed to living with an eternal perspective, we can’t do both.
It was C.S Lewis who said,  “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in.
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