The elders are still amazed and feel so much gratitude to God for what occurred at CityLights Church two days ago on Easter Sunday. The countless hours by our volunteers and hard work was tested to meet the anticipated excessive demands of this day – neighborhood flyers passed out, more cars to park, more people to greet, welcome, and sit in the auditorium, more children to care for and teach, more sound equipment, more volunteers, more planning, more prayer and BAPTISMS! It was an all-hands-on-deck kind of day. We are so thankful to our faithful volunteers and ministry teams and their leaders for their hard work and we pray you were blessed to see the hands and feet of Jesus touch people’s lives that day. Simply put, we could not have done all that we did without your gifts of service.
It was a special day for the pastors as God added numbers to his church and as we baptized 45 believers – 15 of those decisions made on the spot! The house was packed with extra chairs needed to sit people! What an incredible, joyous and rewarding privilege it was for us to see these saints publicly declaring their allegiance to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Jesus was worshiped and made much of. The gospel was presented and souls were saved. This is what happens when a sovereign God decrees that salvation would come to people after having heard the word being preached (Romans 10:17). After the gospel proclamation, forty-five men and women and children lined up to publicly declare that they were buried with Christ by baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead, they too might walk in newness of life. I am sure that after the service was over and we went home to gather with our loved ones around the dinner table, we were all still walking with our heads held high, with confidence, with gratitude, with praise on our lips…that is, until Monday.
The Monday after Easter may not have been glorious for us because it is our tendency to focus on the celebration of our Risen Lord on one day, rather than consistently throughout the year. It’s easy to focus our worship when you plan for weeks for one Sunday, and your heart begins to grow with affections toward Christ and anticipation for the BIG day. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not beating up Easter. What I am saying is this great celebratory event can backfire on the human emotions and mind when the next day you wake up before 6:00 a.m., God blessed us with a 70 degree clear skies kind of day and we still had to rush out of the house in a frenzy and drop off our children at school and head to work to begin our weekly routine. The problem however is not Easter Sunday. The problem is us! Many of us had life hit us like we were punching bags on Monday and were glad as we headed to our beds that night because we forgot to bank our lives on God’s promises.
Important days of our lives can backfire on us. We celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas but are overwhelmed with getting gifts for the family. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at Easter but are overwhelmed with Easter dinner preparations and outfits to wear. We celebrate the birth of our children but are groggy when they wake us up for 3 a.m. feedings. We celebrate our birthdays, only to be reminded the next day that an entire decade has passed us by. We celebrate a wedding day but the marriage struggles soon makes us forgetful of that glorious day. We bring in the New Year on the 31st but feel depressed before January is over because we have not kept our resolutions. We are creatures that are driven by events, dates and anniversaries and we crumble after the events are long and gone and that’s because we are not constant beings. Our emotions, thoughts, actions and worship are easily influenced by outside factors. They are driven by outside forces that are inconsistent. And so as inconsistent as the exterior factors are, so are we inside.
Now that Easter is gone what are you to do now – you, who celebrated among the hundreds gathered at CityLights Church this past Sunday? You who played an instrument or held a microphone on stage? You who told a guest where to park and greeted them? You who became born again? You who got baptized? We celebrated the fact that there is an empty tomb on Sunday but lived on Monday like there is still a rotting body in it. We celebrated Christ’s triumph over death but lived on Monday like death triumphed over Christ. We celebrated freedom in Christ on Sunday but felt like slaves to a habitual sin on Monday. We celebrated the power of God in resurrecting the Son but on Monday we felt like we needed a resurrection of our own. On Sunday we were reminded of God’s power and Jesus’ sinless life and victory over death but on Monday, we were reminded of our weakness, our sin and our imminent death. If this does not describe you, congratulations, but don’t get too prideful, Tuesday is coming.
How do we live Monday through Saturday, or the other 364 days for that matter, in light of the resurrection? How can we live with our hearts banking on the resurrection of Christ daily? I think John Piper’s summarized words below will help believers. I have summarized his words and am adding my own as well. I believe remembering the following three things will help us live in light of the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ every day this year.
GOD LOVES ME
God loves me! God loved me so much that he sent his only Son to dwell in a body and be crushed under the weight of my sin on a cross, declaring me just and holy. I am no longer a sinner but a saint! The cross of Christ is where God expressed his loved for me. No matter how I feel, nothing changes the burning love of God for me.
Scriptures: John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10; Roman 8:35-39; John 15:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21
GOD IS WITH ME
God is with me at all times! Jesus promised he would be with us until the end. He said this after resurrecting and crushing death square between the eyes (see Matthew 28). If God is for me who can be against me? I will not fear because God is with me. No matter what I face, nothing changes God’s presence in my life. Even though my circumstances are overwhelmingly against me, God is still for me.
Scriptures: Matthew 28:20; Psalm 118:6; Isaiah 43:2; Psalm 23:4; Hebrews 13:5
GOD IS COMING BACK
Jesus is coming back! We will groan on this side of eternity (Romans 8:19-22). We will face trials, suffering, pain and tribulation…this is a matter of when, not if. But one day, Jesus will come back and all of these things will fade away and only love will remain. No matter the trials and tribulations I face in this life for the sake of Christ, they do not compare with our reward in heaven. Jesus will wipe away every tear from our eyes!
Scriptures: Romans 5:3-5; 1 Peter 5:10; James 1:2-4; Romans 8:18; John 16:33; Revelation 21:4
The resurrection power is with us today and every day. Philippians 3:10 says, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his suffering, becoming like him in his death.” This verse tells me that because I face sin, adversity, struggle, suffering and pain, that does not mean I don’t know the power of the resurrection. It does not mean God does not love me, is not with me, and is not coming back. In fact, it says the exact opposite. The fact that believers face these negative aspects of life is a result of knowing the power of his resurrection and by doing that we are becoming more like Christ. Christ died and resurrected so that you could face everything in this life through his power and not your own. Every moment of despair on this side of eternity can be met with the sustaining, empowering, equipping, comforting, Christ-molding grace that God gives his children. He loves you, He is with you, and He is surely coming back. Hallelujah!