- Come Alive This Easter
- John 14:19 (The Message)
- Lyndol Loyd April 12, 2020
Good morning Church! Happy Easter! Something tells me this is going to be an Easter that we will never forget, but not just because many of you are worshipping in your pajamas from your homes. I hope this is an Easter that we never forget because this is a day in which we come alive.
Jesus Christ made a strange statement the night before His crucifixion. It was so strange that no one who heard it understood the meaning. In John 14:19 (MSG), Jesus said, “In a little while the world will no longer see Me. But you’re going to see Me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive.”
What in the world did He mean? They’re thinking, “We’re already alive. What does He mean when He says, ‘You’re about to come alive.’?”
Easter is about coming alive. Jesus Christ proved He was who He said He was. He said, “I’m God. I’m going to let them kill Me on a cross. I’m going to bring Myself back to life to prove I am who I say I am after three days of being buried in the ground.”
When He came into the world, He split history into AD and BC. Every time you say, “2020” you’re referring to 2020 years since Jesus Christ. Almost everybody knows that part of the Easter story. What most people don’t know is the second part of the story. That involves you. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”
What if God intended a better life for you? Wouldn’t you want to know about it? Of course you would and so would I. The problem is that all too often we settle for less because we don’t know that there’s anything better.
When I was a baby, my parents fed me Gerber’s Strained Peas. It was yummy!!! Because I didn’t know any better. Of course today, without even having to taste it, I would equate it with turtle-spit.
In fact, I think that strained peas are a form of mild child abuse. I think parents should be tortured for giving that to their kids. It should be banned. But at that point, I didn’t know any better than strained peas.
When I came to grade school, I learned about McDonald’s. That was a definite step up from strained peas. When I became a teenager, I learned about Pizza Hut. Now we’re talking! There is definitely something better in life.
Last month to celebrate our wedding anniversary, Joni and I had dinner at Las Brisas Steak House. That night I had a delicious filet that was out of this world.
Of course, today I’ve tasted lots of great foods. I look like I’ve tasted a lot! But I would never go back to strained peas. No way! I have tasted something better.
I believe that God brought you to the LakeRidge live-stream on Easter Sunday so He could grab your attention for a few moments. Yes, we find ourselves in a time of adversity and challenge as our world deals with the impact of COVID-19, but even in the uniqueness of this moment, I believe that God wants all of us to know that he has something better for us, especially during this moment.
Jesus Christ is offering us three things.
- Jesus offers a life full of meaning.
The greatest tragedy in life is not death. It’s to go through your entire life without knowing your purpose, living without meaning. Without knowing what on earth am I here for. Unfortunately, most people go through life never knowing their purpose, never knowing why God put them on earth.
I’ll be blunt, looking good, feeling good, and having the goods are not enough to make you happy.
A lot of people confuse a full life with a meaningful life. They are not the same. The practice of social distancing and sheltering in place has stripped us of many of the things we used to fill our lives with. Having a full schedule is not the same thing as having a fulfilled life. You need meaning.
So we search for meaning in different ways. We think, “If I just get more possessions, then that will add meaning to my life.” But there’s always more to get.
Or, “If I accomplish certain things, then my life will have meaning.” But there’s always more to accomplish. So we search for meaning through all kinds of things – through hobbies or sports or travel, through relationships, through sex, through food.
These are all good things. There’s nothing wrong with these things. It’s just they don’t last. When the experience is over, where do you get your meaning in those downtimes? You need something that gives you constant meaning, eternal meaning.
Where do you find meaning? There’s only one place, from the God who created you. The Bible says this. “Christ gives meaning to your life.” You were made by God. You didn’t make yourself. God made you. If God didn’t want to make you, you wouldn’t even be alive. He made you for a purpose.
The Bible says this in 1 Peter 1:3-4 “…because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” That future starts now. This is a very, very important verse in the Bible.
Some of you might know that I don’t consider myself much of a golfer. I don’t play very often, and when I do, I tend to hit twice as many shots as those I play with. But one great thing I have learned from the game of golf is a little term called a “Mulligan.”
I love this! If you don’t know anything about golf, it means when you take your first shot, and it’s such a stinking shot – it hits the tree and bounces off your partner’s head – you get a second shot. This shot is free, and the first one is not counted against you. I love these Mulligans. I get one on every hole. It’s great. Incredible.
Jesus Christ wants to give you a Mulligan for your life. He says, “You know all those stupid things you’ve done in the past, and you regret and wish you had done differently? Dumb decisions, bad mistakes, sins, faults, failures, whatever you want to call them. Let’s just erase those and start over. Let’s begin a brand new life. Step up from what you have settled for so far to the better life. We’ll wipe out all that other stuff, and you can just begin again.” What a deal! No more guilt. No more guilty conscience. Wiped out. Begin again. Start over.
You say, “That sounds pretty good. How do I get it?” You don’t earn it. You can’t work for the better life. In fact, it says in that verse, “We’ve been given a brand new life.” It’s a gift. You don’t earn it.
Then God says, “Let me tell you why, I have a purpose for your life.” Then you start enjoying life. God says, “You weren’t made to live for you. You were made to live for Me.” When you live for God, you’re plugged into God, and that gives you meaning. That gives you significance, purpose, real wealth. That’s priceless.
Jesus Christ could have saved Himself from the cross, but then He could not have saved you. He gave up everything so you could have everything. He died so you could live forever. He said, “When you plug into Me, I’ll teach you your purpose, and then your life will start to have real meaning.
This better life is not just a life filled with meaning.
- Jesus offers a life freed by grace.
What does that mean? The Bible says in Romans 7:6, “But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.” We’re free to live a new life, freedom by God through grace. What is grace? Grace is when God gives you what you need, not what you deserve. That’s grace.
Everything you have in your life is because of God’s grace. The next breath you take – that’s a gift of grace. If God didn’t want you to take it, your heart would have stopped a long time ago. You owe your whole life to the grace of God. If God hadn’t decided to make you, you would have nothing.
Grace is saying, “I love you. I forgive you even though you can’t earn it. I’m not mad at you. I’m not holding a grudge because Jesus Christ has taken your sin on the cross.”
Grace is God saying, I’m going to give you a second chance and a third and fifth and a twenty-fifth and a hundred and twenty-fifth.” Grace is the road to freedom.
First, God sets you free from guilt. All the things you feel guilty about, He wipes them out. He gives you that mulligan.
God sets you free from the fear of death. I’m not afraid to die. Why? Because I know God personally and I have a relationship with Him, and I know where I’m going.
He sets you free from the hurts that other people cause you. The bitterness and anger you’re holding on to, He’ll help you let it go.
God sets you free from the expectations of other people. He sets you free to be yourself. He sets you free to grow and develop and become all He meant for you to be.
He sets you free from worry, anxiety, fear, boredom, meaninglessness, lack of purpose. Jesus sets you free from trying to earn God’s approval.
Does God like you? You may be unsure about that if you don’t understand grace. Some of you grew up in a religious home. Some of you were raised in a very strict religion. Every religion in the world can be summarized in one of two words – “DO” or “DONE”.
All the religions in the world say, “Here’s what you must do to get God to like you.” Then they have their own different lists. One will say these things, another will say those things, a third will say it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. If you do all these things, then God will smile and say you’re cool!
Jesus Christ came to earth to say, “That’s all wrong. That’s not it. I’m not into religion. I want you to have a relationship with Me. I’ve already done it all for you. You don’t have to do it. You just have to accept what I’ve already done on the cross.” That’s called grace.
The better life is a gift, and it’s a free gift. It’s certainly not cheap. It’s free, but it’s not cheap. Somebody had to pay for it. It was a very expensive gift. Do you know who paid for it? Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ paid for your salvation. He paid so you could live the better life. He paid for your freedom. The Bible says, “He gave His life to purchase freedom for everyone.”
If I accept this better life, if I step up from the good life to the better life, what do I do with the old life – the exhausted, empty, enslaved life?
Look at what the Bible says to do, “The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life.” Bury it. Dump it. Don’t try to hold on to the old life with all the worry, bitterness, guilt, and lack of purpose in it. Why would you want to hold on to that?
If someone gives you a new coat, an expensive coat and you have a moth-eaten coat with holes in it that you’ve had forever, you don’t put the expensive one over the old one. You throw away the old coat and put on the new coat. Jesus says, “That old life, the one that had no meaning or purpose in it and you were frustrated all the time, just bury it. Let it go. Let it die. I’m giving you a brand new life.”
This better life is filled with meaning and is free through grace.
- Jesus offers a life full of power.
You have a choice. You can go through the rest of your life living the good life, disconnected from God’s power, or you can live the better life plugged into God’s power. It’s your choice.
Whichever one you choose, you’re still going to have problems. Life is a series of problems. The difference is with God in your life, with Christ in your life, you have energy that you didn’t have on your own power. He gives it to you on a day-by-day basis.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
You may have logged in to our Easter service today a little tired, a little worn out. You may be on the edge. You may have felt like giving up.
Maybe you’re in a marriage, and you’ve tried hard to make your marriage work, but it’s just not getting any better. In fact, it may be getting worse. You feel like giving up on your marriage.
You may feel like giving up on your job, or on school. Maybe you feel like giving up on your health because you’re just not getting any better. Or you feel like giving up on that kid who is headed in the wrong direction. Or maybe you feel like giving up on your goals, your dreams, your ambitions.
Don’t do it. Don’t give up. Look up. Look up to God. Don’t give up, give in. Give in to Christ and say, “Christ, I’m going to start living for You and not for me.” He’ll give you new power and new energy to do the things that He put you on this earth to do. He’ll give it to you on a daily basis.
Has God been trying to get your attention? I think so. I don’t think God caused the spread of the Coronavirus, but I think He wants to take this moment in our lives to grab our attention while this is going on. I think that’s why He had you join the LakeRidge live-stream on this Easter Sunday, 2020, so He could say to you, “I have something more for you.”
You say, “It sounds good. How do I get it? How do I get this life of meaning, energy, purpose, and freedom?” Again, you can’t earn it. You just accept it. It’s a gift. You have faith, believe and you will receive.
The Bible says, “Everybody comes alive in Christ.” It’s in a relationship to Jesus that you get this better life. You don’t get it through religion or going to church. You get it through a relationship with God.
In fact, Jesus said this in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s why He came. Instead of feeling empty, enslaved, and exhausted, He says I want you to have meaning and freedom and energy. This is what Easter is about. It’s not about crowds. If it was about having a crowd then I guess Easter was canceled. It’s about personally getting to know God and experiencing His resurrection power in your life.