As I reflect on the past weekend I come away with the challenge from Pastor Mike that God still speaks today! I also come away with the sad reality that often we don’t listen…we are often like the disciples during those three days after the crucifixion of Christ to abandon Him if we do not hear from Him. It’s funny how we always make it about us, what we want, our timing. “God answer this prayer, heal my loved one, take this cancer away from me…God do something, say something!!!” And when He doesn’t it is so easy to just give up and walk away.
I am reminded of the movie “God Is Not Dead”. If you haven’t seen it you need to! During the last lecture, the professor was asked “Why do you hate God so much?” The emotional answer was that He didn’t answer my prayer, he didn’t heal my mother from cancer”! In essence…HE DIDN’T SAY SOMETHING, DO SOMETHING! This past weekend we wanted to emphasis that He does speak, He is ALIVE and speaks today…the problems is as humans we don’t listen.
The disciples followed Jesus for three years of their lives, they gave up everything because in their minds it was going to play out that Jesus was going to be the Messiah King, the one who would free them from the bondage of Rome. They had their plan. We have the luxury of looking back and saying to ourselves how crazy they were to just give up on Him so quickly when the beginnings of the crucifixion had begun. They hid, they felt abandoned and lied to, lost and even denied Him. In Peter’s case three times as Jesus had said he would.
Weeks went into the planning of our Easter services and Thursday I felt a strong call from the Holy Spirit to set up the scripture Pastor Mike spoke on Easter (John 21:15-19) where Jesus and Peter interact after Jesus had rose again with the popular song “Say Something”. A very raw song about giving on up if we don’t hear something from someone. It was very clear in my mind that as humans that is what we do and we do it a lot! Whether a follower of Christ or not, if we don’t hear we give up. Whether a believer or not, if your marriage is falling apart and someone, God or human, doesn’t say something we give up. If you at the bedside of a loved one who is dying and you don’t hear someone, God or human, we give up!
From the disciple’s perspective when Jesus was crucified, all that they had believed and followed in their minds was lost. And don’t think for one minute that if we were in their shoes we wouldn’t do the same thing.
The words to the song say something poetically apply such as “Anywhere I would have followed you”; “And I am feeling so small it was over my head I know nothing at all”; “SAY SOMETHING I’M GIVING UP ON YOU”. All things that I am pretty sure by the disciples actions were going on in their minds as well. WHEN WE DON’T HEAR GOD, WE GIVE UP! BUT GOD SPEAKS ALL THE TIME AND THAT WAS THE BEAUTIFUL TRANSITION AND CHALLENGE THAT PASTOR MIKE GAVE US BOTH ON GOOD FRIDAY AND EASTER SUNDAY!
I received and email asking “how this song had anything to do with Easter Sunday!” It was used because I believe that the Holy Spirit prompted me, and as I talked with Pastor Mike about the song, we felt that it fit, that strikes a chord within all of us that we are quick to give up on God if He doesn’t respond to us, when we cry out to Him and He says nothing. The real fact of the matter is that He does respond, we either do not listen or don’t like the answer.
I tried several times to respond to this email and it would not allow me to. My assumption is that the person who wrote it did not want a response. My several attempts to reply kept saying this person does not exist. So, if you are out there and are reading this whether you agree or not, it is the response to your email…whether you really wanted it or not.
I would also like to challenge us all that as followers of Christ it is crucial that we practice Mathew 18:15-19 and lovingly confront face to face or in a signed letter or email that can be responded to.
The ultimate goal is that God was glorified and we celebrated that our Lord is alive and YES HE DOES SAY SOMETHING…ALL THE TIME! If you are not listening to HIM, then who are you listening to?
This morning is truly a celebration!!!!! We are entering into a week in which as believers in Jesus Christ we are celebrating the way Christ made for us!!!! The band and the choir have set us up this morning to celebrate this week, and not just this week, but every week!
It boils down to faith though! Where does your faith find itself? Is it in God or in others? We are challenged by the words of Matthew 14:22-33 a picture of faith played out before us!
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear .
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Faith…”You call me upon the waters, The great unknown where feet may fail, And there I find You in the mystery, In oceans deep my faith will stand, And I will call upon Your name, And keep my eyes above the waves, When oceans rise, My soul will rest in Your embrace, For I am Yours and You are mine.” It is our prayer that you are allowing the Spirit to lead into places of incredible faith!!! And then we are challenged by John 14:12
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
“The ground began to shake, The stone was rolled away, His perfect love could not be overcome, Now death where is your sting, Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated” THE LAMB HAS OVERCOME!!!
He has overcome and we need to be awakened!!! There is a world right outside our door literally that needs Jesus. These are days of desperation, we live in a broken generation and more than now our FAITH means more than anthems!!!! Be challenged! It is our prayer you will all be challenged to not be ashamed that our God is not dead and He wants to be involved in our lives and the lives of others that God has put you in contact with
Set our hearts on fire!!!
I am so excited about the “Me to We” series! I believe we are being challenged by God to think bigger and outside of the box as well! I wanted us to start off in the right frame of mind immediately with “Awakening”, praying that God’s word unfolded today would spark within all of us an awakening!
For me this morning having you all sit in different areas was really hard for me, because I am so use to seeing your faces in the “usual” spots that it through me off a little, but it was all good! This morning we were blessed by the choir singing “Will Be Christ To You” which really prompted me to think about the “me” in our congregation that is hurting and struggling and then the massive life changing thought of the “we” out there that has no hope what so over! As followers of Christ we have a responsibility to keep our lives on track with the Lord, we cannot just sit back and think He is going to do all the work! We need to constantly challenge ourselves to open our eyes to His work both in our lives and the world around us! It is a life of complete surrender to Him! Jesus made the most complete sacrifice for us to have eternal life with Him! A foundation on which we place our faith! I absolutely was moved this morning singing “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place” because I am so blessed!!! But how often do we forget? The Holy Spirit really challenged me with the fact of that reality. I felt moved to have people stand who have been struggling lately…struggling to put one foot in front of the other. So I invited us to just listen to the song “Enough” and then at the end asked those who have been struggling to stand so I could pray for them! It was an overwhelming emotion for me, and a privilege to pray for them today and this coming week! You know it is important the we continue to work on the “me” part of our life, keeping God first as we minister to the “we”.
We have a God who rescued us! Are there people in your life…the “we’s” that you need to extend that rescue to? My prayer is that God will set our hearts on fire and that New Castle will never be the same…that the impact we make for the kingdom would transform our community! Just some thoughts!!!!
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”! Looking over 2013 it has been a huge change for my life. I often feel like a 20 year old stuck in a 30…no wait 42 year old body! Watching my family change and going through those transitions have made my journey interesting. My wife has face some pretty crazy health issues, watching my family grow up. A son who is in middle school, a daughter who is now in high school, a nephew who I once held in my arms is now graduating college. Me facing health issues that made planning Christmas more of a challenge! (a result of being 42)
Then right after Christmas we received a phone call that they called hospice in to take care of my Aunt who had been struggle over the past years with many surgeries and health issues! They asked us to come to Cleveland because they are not sure how much longer she will be her with us. So this past Thursday we drove right into the storm called “Hercules” towards Cleveland! “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”. We visited and shared stories, we laughed and we cried and then we said good-bye…maybe for the last time. I am not used to this new phase in life, BUT “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”!
As I reflect on my life and realize the legacy of faith that I had and have the privilege to be a part of is amazing! Jesus is the foundation that I have been challenged with all my life. There were many times that I chose not to allow Him to be my foundation and there were many times I did. Life is difficult without Jesus or with Jesus…it is difficult! But with Jesus I have hope. I have hope and I look around me day after day, face after face, and there are so many who do not have the hope I have in Jesus!
Don’t give up…don’t ever give up, even on your death bed DO NOT GIVE UP!! “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH!”
Unleash Your kingdom’s power
Reaching the near and far
No force of hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts
You made us for much more than this
Awake the kingdom seed in us
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ
We are Your church
We are the hope on earth.