Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

4 Works of God’s Grace

In Gospel Living on April 13, 2015 at 12:18 pm

gate4

In 1936-37 The Golden Gate Bridge was being built.  Lives were being lost due to the nature of the bridge.  As with any bridge building project, it was assumed 1 death per $1 Million spent.  The Bridge should have lost 35 workers.  However, when it came time to build the roadway the engineers installed a net.  This saved the lives of 19 men.

When God sent Jesus He provided us a net of grace that we did not deserve.  God’s grace works in 4 ways.

God’s grace forgives at the cross of Jesus.  The death of Jesus was the requirement.  The sacrificial law required a perfect lamb be killed.  The blood that was spilled would cover the sins of many.  When Jesus died he represented the lamb whose blood covered the sins for all humanity for all time.

God’s grace furnishes life at the empty tomb.  Had Jesus died without resurrection He would be no different than any other god man or prophet.  When God breathed life back into Jesus His grace gave us life again.  We are not only forgiven but we have a new life and a life to come!

God’s grace fashions hope out of despair.  When you think life is over, God’s grace ushers in hope!  When you have nothing left but despair, God’s grace floods your moment with hope.  This hope is not just about Heaven to come someday in the future.  This grace-filled hope is for your right now!  Hope for your depression, breakups, breakdowns, fights, families, and jobs.  God’s grace give hope today!

God’s grace fixes the sting of death.  We, who have placed faith in the completed work of Jesus as sufficient for our needs, no longer have to fear death.  We have assurance of Heaven.  We have assurance of healing in the life to come.  No one likes the process of dying.  We fear it.  But we can hold our head high because of God’s grace that fixes the sting of death itself.

This grace is for you.  Enjoy!

Sitting in Ashes May Save Your Life

In Gospel Living, Life and Culture on February 18, 2015 at 7:11 am

ashwednesday

The annual service on Ash Wednesday usually concludes with one receiving an ash cross on the forehead or hand, depending on the faith tradition you follow.  Ash Wednesday is not in the Bible, but the use of ashes is common.  In Biblical times people would sit in ashes as a sign of humility, sorrow, and repentance of sin.  The act of doing this did not remove their sin, but it was an outward symbol of the contrition of their heart and desire to receive God’s mercy.  While you see this in a national sense, such as Nineveh, you also see it personally in the life of Job.  In His rebuke of a few towns, Jesus mentions that others towns in history would have responded with sackcloth and ashes instead of disrespect.

Ash Wednesday is 40 days, not counting Sundays, before Easter.  The number 40 has a long history in scripture.

40 days of the flood
40 days spying the Promised Land
40 years in wilderness for lack of faith
40 days of temptation for Jesus

What do we do on Ash Wednesday?  Isn’t this just some Catholic thing?  I have been asked that on several occasions.  Actually many denominations that follow a litany will have an Ash Wednesday service.  So why would anyone else?  Let’s look at the process of this type of service and how it can benefit our lives.  During the service you would hear from scripture, such as Psalm 106 to remind us of our sin and need to confess and be purified by God.  This particular Psalm recounts the mighty acts of God and the forgetfulness of humanity about those mighty acts.  After recounting Israel’s history, the Psalm closes like this:

47 Save us, Yahweh our God,
and gather us from the nations,
so that we may give thanks to Your holy name
and rejoice in Your praise.

48 May Yahweh, the God of Israel, be praised
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Hallelujah!

Psalm 106

Now, what if we were to recount our personal history of how God provided and protected?  What if we were to annually remember the mightiness of God and the forgetfulness of ourselves?  In those moments, we would confess to God how we have sinned, repent of that sin, and turn back to God.  As a reminder, we would be encouraged to “give up” something until Easter as a sign of sincerity.  This sign would also serve as a reminder to us of our decision to repent and walk with God.  Obviously we are not to proclaim publicly what our decision would be.  Jesus clearly teaches on this as Matthew 6 records for us.

Ash Wednesday can be very helpful in our relationship with God because it encourages a spiritual catharsis.  Whatever we continue to harbor in our lives raises the spiritual toxin level.  Empty yourself before God and allow His Spirit to fill you.

Ash Wednesday

In Cleansing, holiness, Jesus on February 13, 2013 at 7:00 am

Ashcross

…For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”  Genesis 3:19

The annual service on Ash Wednesday usually concludes with one receiving an ash cross on the forehead or hand, depending on the faith tradition you follow.  Ash Wednesday is not in the Bible, but the use of ashes is common.  In Biblical times people would sit in ashes as a sign of humility, sorrow, and repentance of sin.  The act of doing this did not remove their sin, but it was an outward symbol of the contrition of their heart and desire to receive God’s mercy.  While you see this in a national sense, such as Nineveh, you also see it personally in the life of Job.  In His rebuke of a few towns, Jesus mentions that others towns in history would have responded with sackcloth and ashes instead of disrespect.

Ash Wednesday is 40 days, not counting Sundays, before Easter.  The number 40 has a long history in scripture.

40 days of the flood
40 days spying the Promised Land
40 years in wilderness for lack of faith
40 days of temptation for Jesus

What do we do on Ash Wednesday?  Isn’t this just some Catholic thing?  I have been asked that on a number of occasions.  Actually many denominations that follow a litany will have an Ash Wednesday service.  So why would anyone else?  Let’s look at the process of this type of service and how it can benefit our lives.  During the service you would hear from scripture, such as Psalm 106 to remind us of our sin and need to confess and be purified by God.  This particular Psalm recounts the mighty acts of God and the forgetfulness of humanity about those mighty acts.  After recounting Israel’s history, the Psalm closes like this:

47 Save us, Yahweh our God,
and gather us from the nations,
so that we may give thanks to Your holy name
and rejoice in Your praise.

48 May Yahweh, the God of Israel, be praised
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Hallelujah!

Psalm 106

Now, what if we were to recount our personal history of how God provided and protected?  What if we were to annually remember the mightiness of God and the forgetfulness of ourselves?  In those moments, we would confess to God how we have sinned, repent of that sin, and turn back to God.  As a reminder, we would be encouraged to “give up” something until Easter as a sign of sincerity.  This sign would also serve as a reminder to us of our decision to repent and walk with God.  Obviously we are not to proclaim publicly what our decision would be.  Jesus clearly teaches on this as Matthew 6 records for us.

Ash Wednesday can be very helpful in our relationship with God because it encourages a spiritual catharsis.  Whatever we continue to harbor in our lives raises the spiritual toxin level.  Empty yourself before God and allow His Spirit to fill you.

In a BOLD culture is Jesus too pastel?

In Jesus on April 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I helped a guy accept Jesus a while back and to the best of my knowledge he accepted Jesus. To the best of ability I tried to disciple him and help him to grow and develop. We met weekly. He attended church on Sunday mornings. He began to balk at a few things and then other, more important, things. He quit coming to church and became sporadic in our meetings. I asked him what was wrong and he replied that he had looked and longed for something vibrant and bold. Jesus and Christianity all seemed too pastel for him. We never really spoke again. He moved away without a forwarding address.

Is Jesus too pastel?

There were many who believed Jesus to be the Messiah. 12 followed Him wherever He went. He taught them and sent them out on mini-mission trips. Everything was fabulous, until Passover 36AD. On that Thursday the 12 and Jesus gathered together to have the passover meal together.  Jesus didn’t seem Himself.  He seemed to be sullen and somber. It looked like the weight of the world was on His shoulders. The group ate passover together. He spoke of betrayal and beatings.  He spoke of death. Peter tried to talk Him out it and to get Him to snap out of this funk He appeared to have.  He stopped them all and said it was time to go.  He left with 11, for 1 had already left to do his business.  Amid much dismay and discussion, they went to the Mount of Olives.  Jesus wanted to pray.

  • When the guards came, they expected a coup.
  •  When taken before Pilate and Herod, they expected an eloquent speech that would have stemmed the tide and turned the crowd.
  •  When He was being whipped, they expected the chains to break and for Him to turn the whip on the soldiers.
  •  When He was being taken to the mountain, they waited for Jesus to do something.
  •  When He was hanging on the cross, they expected the skies to break and angels to drop down and fix the situation.
  •  When He died, so did their hope.

 Maybe Jesus was just too pastel. Maybe He was just a big old sissy. Maybe He wasn’t the Messiah after all.  With all of their hopes crucified and buried they walked away for a second time.

 How easy is it for us to walk that path? We want to believe. We might have even placed our faith in Jesus, but nothing is going like you feel it should.

  • Cancer still happens.
  • Babies still die.
  • Bones still break, hips and knees are replaced.
  • We still get sick.
  • We struggle with finances. We struggle with time.
  • Our marriages crumble and our kids are doing things we thought we taught them differently.
  • Divorce. Death. Depression. Guilt.

 Maybe Jesus is too pastel. Maybe Jesus just can’t get it done. Maybe this whole faith thing is just another scam like Phil and Oprah.

 Peter had betrayed Jesus. He had denied Jesus. He had walked away but when he heard the story of the women from the tomb, he could not believe it! If Jesus was alive, this changed everything. If Jesus was back, this changed everything. He ran out of the room, down the steps. He rushed through town wishing his legs moved faster and the people would get out of the way. He got to the tomb and found it to be just like the women said…EMPTY.

 22 Moreover, some women from our group astounded us. They arrived early at the tomb, 23 and when they didn’t find His body, they came and reported that they had seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see Him.” (Emphasis is mine)

Luke 24

How depressing! Have you ever gotten so worked up over something only to discover it to be less?  My wife and I had heard wonderful things about a certain restaurant. I mean, it had been worked up to be just shy of Heaven. We go. It is not so good. Depressing. If what you expect and what really happens are far apart, anger and depression settle in.

 Peter did not see Him. Where was Jesus?

Peter must have thought, “Wait. I betrayed Him. I denied Him. He doesn’t want to see me. Even if He was alive, it would never be the same.” Isn’t this just how WE think? We burn our trust with pornography, sexting, or an affair and it is over. We explode at a business because something was wrong, we can’t go back. We spill the stress out onto our children with mean words and hate speech….can’t get that back. We waste our years overworked, under paid, stressed, and sleep deprived only to sit at our child’s graduation, or wedding, and wonder where the years went. We can’t get those back.

The group meets again because there seems to be news. The group gathers to here Cleopas and Simon’s report of having walked with Jesus! Right in the middle of the story, in the upper secluded room, Jesus walks in!

He’s Alive!

 That’s BOLD! That’s VIBRANT!

 He steps in and speaks to them. He eats with them. He proves his bodily resurrection.

 That’s BOLD! That’s VIBRANT!

 He explains the scriptures. He challenges them to take the message they have heard and seen and spread it to all the nations. He promised the Holy Spirit. He left the message in their hands.

 That’s BOLD! That’s VIBRANT!

 Then he ascended!

That’s BOLD! That’s VIBRANT!

 He died. He lives. All of those who ran, who denied, who betrayed, He forgave. This means you. Jesus offers forgiveness to all those who will take it. Your life will change. Depending on how much you embrace this reality in your life will be a measure of whether Jesus is pastel or bold in your life.

 Be BOLD.

  • Begin a relationship with Jesus that is honest and intimate.
  • Obstacles to trust are the tools of the Devil. Put them in the shed.
  • Live your life according to the scriptures. Make every decision based on scripture.
  • Decide now that your priority system is God, Mate, Family, Work, Ministry

One overflows to the next. If your life is not working out like you expected, if you are starting to thinking this Jesus thing is just too pastel, then double-check your flowchart. One overflows to another. God fills your life, so your marriage works, so your family is healthy, so your work has less stress, and you have time to minister.

  1. If your marriage isn’t working check your time with God.
  2. If your family isn’t working, check your marriage, check your time with God.
  3. If your job is stressing you out and you hate life, check your family, check your mate, check God.
  4. If you just have no time to minister, you get the picture.

The reason your life seems to be colored with pastels is because that’s the crayon you chose.

 BE BOLD!!

Does God Even Care?

In Grief, Suffering on April 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm

There is a question everybody asks.  It is a question that comes from the heart and the mind.  It is a question that is sounded off through tears and through gritted teeth.  It is a question we don’t want to ask nor to be asked.  It does not have an easy answer.

Susie asked the question when her position was terminated she had held for several years.

Joe asked the question when his teenage daughter went missing.

Jill asked the question when her husband came home drunk again and beat her…again.

A young couple asked the question when the pregnancy just ended for no reason.

Mary asked the question when she was told she wasn’t loved any longer and he wanted a divorce.

Here’s the question so many ask:

If God is in control, why did this happen?

If God is all-powerful, why did He not stop this from happening?

Why?

It is the $64,000 question.  It is the one question church leaders don’t want to be asked.  Yet, it happens all of the time.  Having nothing to say, we should say nothing, but we usually mutter something about “It will all work out for good”, or “God will never put more on you than you can handle.”  The first is an incomplete scriptural thought.  The second is just not scriptural.  What should we say?  What is the truth?

Whatever your pain, God has felt it.  Whatever your problem, God has been through it. He identifies with what you’re going through now.

As we approach Easter I have been reviewing Jesus’ final days and hours.  The review is annual.  The events have not changed.  In a cold review, Jesus was betrayed, tried, beaten, crucified, buried, and risen.  Let’s dive a little deeper.  12 men were chosen to walk with him for 3 years.  These were his closest friends.

Have you ever been betrayed?  Jesus has.  One of twelve betrayed him.  He did not just tell the soldiers where to find Him.  He led them to Jesus.  He did not just point Him out.  He walked up and greeted Him with a customary kiss.  Can you feel the emotional pain?  Maybe you have felt this type of pain.  You might feel betrayed right now.  Jesus knows how that feels.  He can walk with you through this time.

Have you ever been abandoned?  Once the soldiers took Jesus, they ran.  Judas simply went away and hanged himself.  The others ran away in the moment of Jesus’ greatest need for a friend.  Peter, one of the closest, even publicly denied having known Jesus.  Maybe your parents, or friend, or loved one just walked away.  Maybe you feel abandoned.  Jesus knows how that feels.  He can walk with you through this time.

Have you ever felt misunderstood?  Have you felt wrongfully judged?  Jesus, the Son of God, was brought before the religious council and Roman judicial representative.  Trumped up charges were brought.  The religious council had been waiting for this moment for over two years.  Anything which smacked of misconduct was enough for them: Guilty!  Pilate was not so easily convinced.  He couldn’t afford an uprising, but he would not convict either.   Maybe you have been misunderstood.  Maybe you have been too quickly judged.  Jesus knows how that feels.  He can walk with you through this time.

Have you ever been bullied? After the scourging, Jesus was absolutely exhausted.  That was not enough for the soldiers, though.  If He was a King, then He needed a crown.  So they fashioned one out of thorns and squeezed it onto his head.  Because He would not perform for them, he was slapped, spat on, and kicked around.  Maybe you, or your child, is being pressured or bullied.  Jesus knows how that feels.  He can walk with you through this time.

Have you ever grieved?  Have you ever felt loss?  The moment Jesus went up on the cross our sin fell on Him.  Jesus was dying physically.  Jesus was separating from God spiritually.  He carried our sins upon his heart.  Maybe someone close to you died.  Maybe you had to change homes or schools at a difficult moment.  Maybe divorce entered your life.  The Father knows how you feel.  He can walk with you through this time

9 But we do see Jesus-made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone-crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.
10 For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God-all things exist for Him and through Him-should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Hebrews 2

God allowed Jesus to suffer what seems to be needlessly.  Or was it?  The suffering of Jesus was for a purpose.  His suffering allowed for our sins to be forgiven.  His suffering allows for a chance to be in a relationship with God and be in Heaven after death.  His suffering provides experience and knowledge so that He not only sympathizes with you, but He empathizes.  He doesn’t just cry for you.  He hurts with you because He knows your pain.  He has been there.  God, in His majesty and glory, will not often remove the pain or us from the experience.  What He will do is comfort you.  He will walk with you.  In fact, when you can’t walk, He will carry you.

The next time you find yourself in an experience that is beyond your capacity to endure or comprehend think of Jesus.  God allowed his suffering because it was a part of a larger purpose.  His suffering was allowed to help you.  God is allowing suffering for a purpose.  We want it to stop, but the one you will help in the future would sure appreciate your experience and empathy.  Jesus went willingly to the cross.  He welcomed the suffering and had you in His mind.  Take the suffering head on.  Pray for strength.  Pray for comfort.  Pray for those who will be the recipients of your experience and empathy.

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