Monday, March 21, 2016

The greatest sermon ever preached!

If you go on the internet and do a search based on the word “greatest,” you can find all sorts of things. One site had the greatest quotes ever made. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” “You are what you eat.” were near the top of the list. Greatest quarterback? It listed Terry Bradshaw as the greatest. That’s when I knew that these lists were very subjective. Everyone knows that Roger Staubach was the best.
I did a search for the greatest sermons ever preached. Google took me to a book being offered for sale by Amazon. (Surprise!) On the cover they listed a few of the names. I was not surprised to see Billy Graham at the top of the list. Old time preachers like Billy Sunday and John Wesley made the list. So did Mother Teresa and Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. My name wasn’t there. While disappointed I thought I might be included under the phrase at the end of the list. It said, “and many others.”
This week I told several people that if they wanted to hear the “greatest sermon ever preached” they should come to our church Sunday. If they come, that is what they will hear,- “The greatest sermon every preached.” But it was not preached by me. I am not that good, far from it. It was preached by someone long ago. I will just read it to the congregation.
The sermon I am referring to was the one given by the angel to the women outside Jesus’ grave on Easter morn. It is found in Matthew 28 verse 6. It reads, “He is not here. He has risen, just as he said.”
The women had come to the sepulcher of Jesus early Easter morning to finish the job they had started on Good Friday afternoon, the burial of their good friend and Lord, Jesus.
A lot had taken place the last few days. All of it set the stage for the angel’s powerful sermon. Jesus had been arrested on Thursday evening. He was shuttled back and forth early Friday morning between Caiphas, Pilate, and Herod. Pilate found him guilty of nothing yet sentenced him to death by crucifixion.
Friday afternoon, the women had seen Jesus hang on the cross,, suffering a cruel death while innocent of any crimes. What was not seen was that Jesus was being held responsible for the sins of the whole world. God’s wrath, his need for justice was being poured out on his Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished” and gave up his life, our salvation was complete.
The resurrection of the Lord was God’s announcement to the world, to us, and to the women who had come to the grave that the victory had been won. The power of sin, death and the devil had been broken, our salvation secure.
That’s the sermon that was preached to the women. The tomb was empty. The angel proclaimed,, “He is not here. He has risen just as he said.” It truly was the greatest ever preached.”

Monday, March 14, 2016

Christ Promises Success

No one can argue with success. Success breeds success. Proverbs and quotable quotes about success keep multiplying all the time. A pessimist can complain about virtually anything -- except success.We all want to be successful. We all want to be recognized as a success by our friends. But what is success? Is it wealth, power or self-fulfillment? Is it happiness or status? Is it recognition or simply the reaching of one’s goal? Is it all of the above or none of it at all?
Everyone wants to be successful, even Christians. There is nothing wrong with that. As a church we pray for the success of a new mission congregation. We pray for success when someone enters surgery or for a safe delivery of a child when a woman goes into labor.
For one person success might be making the honor roll and for another it might be making it through school. For others it might be making it through the day. Success for the child of God, though it may involve money, power, and happiness can never be judged only in those terms. For Christians, success is not to be found in the eyes of our neighbors who look at us and our lives. It is not to be measured by the number of initials and degrees behind our name nor by the amount of money one has in the bank. It must rather be judged at how God looks at our lives.
Remember when the people stood and scoffed at the dying Jesus. That day was a crowning success to Jesus' 30 year life. But only God knew it at the time. To everyone else he seemed to be a failure. And remember King David's success in gaining his neighbor's wife, Bathsheba. God made it clear through his prophet Nathan that David had suddenly became a miserable failure.
Let's never be fooled into thinking that momentary gains are what success is about. Psalm 1 reminds us that success begins with our attitude toward God. Success involves our attitude toward the way of life that God has mapped out for us in his Word, the Bible.
Psalm one also makes a promise. It says that those who find their joy in studying and obeying the Lord's Word will "succeed in everything they do."
Do you want to be successful? Why not try God's way; after all he offers you an unconditional guarantee of success. Turn to God and his Word. Pick up your Bible and read it. Learn of God's will for your lives. Learn of what he has done for you in Christ. Go to his house for worship. Bend your knee in prayer at his altar. Do this and you can find what so many others are striving so hard to get - success! It is available to everyone who turns to the Lord. In fact, it is guaranteed!