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Easter Sermons LMPC 3/27/16- “Raze or Raise” & “Instead of Fear- Andrew”

For a Video of this service, click here
For the Baptism of Ashton Baldwin and a view of the congregation on Easter, click here

RAZE OR RAISE? Easter 3/27/16   1 Peter 1:18-21

‘Through Him [Jesus] you believe in God who raised Him from the dead.  And so your hope and faith are in God. (1:21) The other day I was listening to a man who had a very large house on Lake Katherine that had been completely flooded out.  He talked about how the floods made a tremendous change in the life of his wife and him.  He said that now it was time to make a decision.  He could raze the house- that is tear it down, destroy it; or he could raise the house- lift it up- build it up.  I thought there is an Easter sermon there.  This is it.  God has given you a life.  He has given you a chance- He has given you time.  What do you want to do with it?  You can raze it- destroy it as if it is yours and means nothing; or you can raise it- make it last and meaningful.  RAZE IT- You can destroy your life.  You can be in constant rebellion- actively or passively against God.  Passive rebellion- This is a slow burn.  passive razing of your life- is to forget your maker, ignoring Him.  This is the most common way.  You can let pride get you where your pride is so big and God’s role in your life shrinks smaller and smaller and smaller;  Then one day you get up and God’s role is almost gone- and you have hardened your heart so much- a little at a time- that you just don’t care that God is not really your Lord.  Let me tell you at the end of your life- it doesn’t matter what excuse you gave- someone made you mad; you liked sleeping in; you would rather go to sports events; you would rather hang out with friends; Sundays was your day to do with as you want-  Look- No Excuses!  If you have burned your relationship with God down to almost nothing- then stop before it is too late.  Turn away from burning it down and start building it up- and let God build it for you.  Active rebellion- you can search everywhere but refuse to look for God. You can try drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality; You can try other religions, other things to give meaning to your life.  You can actively pour yourself into many things trying to ignore God’s tug upon your heart.  You can reject the teaching of God and make up your own.       Franklin Graham was a young man in rebellion against religion and his famous father, Billy Graham.  His mother Ruth wrote a book that focused on her prayers for him called, “Prayers for Prodigals.”  Franklin told CBS, “I wanted to be a hell raiser that lived my own life,” he said. “And if it made people mad, tough. If it disappointed people, tough. It’s my life, I’m going to live it the way I want to live it, and if you don’t like it, get out of my way. That was kind of my attitude…”Well, it was just my attitude – and it was rebellion against God,” he said. “I wanted to be free and I wanted to have fun.”  He travelled around the world and admitted he loved guns, cigarettes, alcohol, dabbled in drugs, but did not love God.  Finally his father and mother confronted him.  They told him that there was no middle ground.  He either had to reject Christ or follow Him- but He couldn’t do both.  So in his 20s he accepted Christ.  He has been known to not articulate his faith well, but he has executed his faith well founding Samaritan’s Purse that helps people with food, disaster relief, shelter help, and medical relief around the world.  He wrote a book called, “Rebel with a Cause.”  Maybe you are like Franklin, and you must choose whom you will serve- the gods of this world or the God of the Bible- Jesus Christ.  Christians understand sacrifice.  That is what Christ did ,and every Christian is called to deny self and take up their cross of sacrifice for others.  Your life is not simply yours.  It is a gift.  RAISE IT-  There is a way to raise your life- through Jesus the risen Lord.  The good news is you don’t pull yourself up by the bootstraps.  When people die they cannot pull themselves up.  The Bible says we are dead in our sins.  I hear someone say, “God helps those who help themselves.” That is not in the Bible.  People who are dead to God- blind to God- deaf to God cannot raise themselves up.   God does the raising.  He gives us life.  If you are here today hearing this message- and He has enabled you to be here and to respond- then do it!  If God says come to me and live- don’t ignore the call (passively) and don’t turn a deaf ear to the call.  Let God raise you.      The good news is if God can raise Jesus- He can raise you too.  If you feel you are too far gone- and that you are too much a sinner to really come to God now.  If you have made too many decisions away from God- let me tell you do not ignore the power of God.  The power of God to raise the dead- is the power of God to overcome the evil, the sin, the pride, the failures in your life.  He turned around Peter who denied Him.  He turned around Paul who helped stone Stephen.  He turned around the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well who had been married multiple times, Mary Magdalene who was called a sinner.  They had a choice- they could have wallowed in their sin and destroyed their lives- but they made something of life by giving their lives to the One who gave His life for them.       There is a way of destruction- that seeks to continually tear down life and tear down the God who gives life. But there is this huge tug on us to not live that way.  It is called love.  We know love is more than hormones and self- preservation.  Love means giving, denying self, sacrifice.  It means giving up selfishness out of love.  There is also a way of eternal life.  You can raze your life to the ground, or you let God raise you up- lift you up- strengthen you and give you a fresh start.        Not too long ago, on a radio station two DJs were talking about an old stadium.  One said that he thought the city should raze Roberts stadium.  He was talking about destroying it.  The other DJ said, “That’s right, we should raise Roberts stadium- and make it live again.”  Raze with a “Z” means a big no.  Raise with an “aise” means a yes.         Let no one here believe that God can’t do anything with your life.  God can.  You may tell God “No” but He will keep asking you to say “Yes” the rest of your life.  Don’t wait until you have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel to say “Yes.”  If God is calling you to say “Yes” then do it.  What is the harm in it?  Quit putting it off.  My job is to let you know- that God wants you to say yes to Him.  God wants to raise your life up.  He wants to help you. He wants to save you from whatever is pulling you down.  Christ’s resurrection shows us our eternal life is possible if we hold onto Him.

8:30 AM Easter Service at LMPC “Instead of Fear- Andrews Perspective on the Resurrection”
For a video of this service, click here

“Instead of Fear- The Resurrection from Andrew’s Perspective”  Luke 22:36-38, 45-49

I was afraid.  I did not want to be afraid- I was one of the leaders of the believers.  The Prince of Peace had been crucified.  He had just told us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  Now there is no peace.  We are all scattered.  We are all scared.  Few of us dared to venture out.  Most of us huddled in the upper room.  We sheltered in place- in fear.       The Romans, the Jewish government, the Jewish priests had all conspired together.  It looked like the whole world was against Jesus and against us who followed Him.  There was nowhere to turn for shelter.  There was no real safe place.  The only safety we had was in God Himself.  We were talking about all these things.  But it was hard to trust in God when Jesus had been crucified.        The women had come back from the tomb and told us they had seen the risen Jesus.  This was a shock.  This was hard to believe.  We thought maybe they were having an illusion or had seen a ghost or something.  But just then Jesus came.  He walked through our locked door- just as he had walked on water before.  Nothing could hold him down or hold him back- not locks, not water, not a tombstone, not the grave.         Thomas had been out checking on some other believers and getting supplies.  He was not in the room when Jesus was there, and he didn’t believe us.  But a week later Thomas was in the house and Jesus appeared to him and he believed too and worshiped Him.  Seeing Jesus both die and live changed our lives.  We all were changed- not just one or two of us.  We all went from doubting and sheltering in place to going out into all the world.  Thomas went to India where he gave his life on a cross.  Peter was crucified upside down.  I died on a cross in the shape of an X- and that kind of cross always bears my name- the St. Andrew’s cross.  But really it is Jesus’ cross I died on.  I followed his example of death, and I follow Him in life too.  My brother Simon Peter and I were from the little country town of Bethsaida- about the size of Chapin.  Who would have thought I would travels hundreds of miles away in several different countries as a missionary for our Lord?  I was a changed man.         I remember years before bringing Jesus the five barley loaves and two small fish to Jesus when 5,000 of us were hungry.  I doubted then.  I said, “But how far will they go among so many.”  Jesus told me to have the people sit down.  I had since then seen my role as one who would bring what we had to Jesus and then sit down and watch him work.         Jesus broke bread another time- and said “This is my body broken for you.  This is my blood shed for you- remember me- proclaim my death until I come again.”   This made us all nervous- his body broken, his blood shed?  He talked of being betrayed.  All this came to be.  But we do not commune with a dead Jesus.  We commune with a living Lord.   Jesus was reminding us that even though his body and blood are given for us- We not only remember Him we commune with Him.       Today, I want to remind you to have courage in the face of terrorism.  Your safety Is never ultimately found in any leader, any military, any shield. It is found in Christ.  He is the One who shields us from eternal death.   He is the One who helps us.   When Jesus came to us in that upper room- do you remember the first words he said to us?  He said, “Fear not!”  He still says that today.  I want you to remember Andrew’s Cross.  I just imitate Christ, but this cross is a reminder to you all to not have fear.