Pastor’s Update 4/10/2020

Good Friday, Grace Family!

      Though we, on this side of Calvary, know the JOY this weekend brings to our hearts each year, may we also reflect on what our sin cost our Savior, our Passover Lamb, the afternoon He paid the price for our sins on the cross. In that reflection we will remember

               the “big” sins of our past

               the sins that so easily beset us even to this day

               the sins we thought we would never commit and

               the fermenting sins of years spent wasting the time we were given in carnality, complacency, bitterness, unforgiveness, and the satisfaction of our own righteousness.

To this poisonous cocktail we plop in the olive of regret before we chug it down. This is the final victory of sin over us—paralyzing, faith-killing defeat in shame and guilt. It has been concocted by almost every Christian and drunk by the majority.

     It is an abominable cup. It is the cup from which our Savior dreaded Himself to drink.

“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible,

let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” (Matt. 26:39)

And, yet, because He drank it and paid the penalty for every one of our sins, we no longer have to drink from it.  We are not doing Christ any favors or pleasing Him more by adding OUR OWN punishment for our sins onto ourselves. To the contrary; we are disgracing all He accomplished and FINISHED for us that day on the cross.

     And so the reflection on our sins that we share today as our minds’ eye looks at Jesus Christ writhing in agony on the cross, should not result in defeat; to the contrary, it should thrill us with victory! Christ’s victory cry, “It is finished,” should seal our assurance that no sin can separate us from our new birth. We are accepted by Him and loved by Him unconditionally forever. Yes, the remembrance of our sin should serve to keep us very humble, but we must fight the Slanderer Satan shoving our face back into it. If we would just turn, Christ is there, holding out His Hand to lift us up, placing His arm around us, and walking with us in the newness of life His resurrection gave us.

     Cathy thought this favorite poem of hers by George Herbert exquisitely speaks the same sentiment:

 

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back

     Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

     From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

     If I lacked any thing.

 

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:

     Love said, You shall be he.

I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,

     I cannot look on Thee.

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

     Who made the eyes but I?

 

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame

     Go where it doth deserve.

And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?

     My dear, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:

     So I did sit and eat.

                                                            —George Herbert

 

     The disciples and followers of Jesus lost hope on Good Friday. We have no excuse to do so. We have but, like them later on, to marvel at such grace and love that would do everything needed to redeem and save us and make us His children! Even now, as in the poem, we want to serve Him for all He’s done; instead, He becomes our Server again and invites us to sit down at a feast He has prepared for us as He enjoys watching us eat. How can we consider such sacrificial love with complacency? How can we push it aside to continue on living life on our own terms? How can pleasure, power, money, things, or the acceptance of other people be the sparkling gem in our lust-filled eyes that fades out all visions of Him?

     If that’s where you are today in your relationship with Christ, then that’s the sin you need to confess today, knowing He knows all about it because He remembers paying for it. Confess it, and then take the quiet “in the tomb” moments of this weekend to humble yourself before Him, acknowledging that “without Him you can do nothing.” Then rise with Him on Resurrection morn with the heart of a Mary who loved Him because of His great love for her which the world could never give her.

Resurrection Day Celebration Sermon

     I will be on Facebook Live late Saturday afternoon with my Resurrection Day Sermon, which you can still watch on our webpage Sunday morning. It’s grieving all of us that we can’t be together; yet, we cannot let that grief for “things the way they used to be” cloud our day. We have Christ’s resurrection to fill our hearts with joy and thanksgiving, no matter where we are! I’m sure Corrie ten Boom and her sister didn’t let some lice and a hungry belly in a concentration camp keep them from singing some Alleluias on Easter morn! Let’s join all our brothers and sisters around the globe in celebration!

 

Resurrection Story Recommendation

     Brandon Talley, who grew up in our church and is the grandson of Janie Jones, sends a message to our members about a special event available this week of which he is a part. Please check it out at

Jesusevent.com.

     When you go to that webpage, you will find the information to watch it FREE this weekend, April 10-12, starting today. This is a production of Sight and Sound in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and was taped before a live audience there. Cathy and I are going to watch it this evening as part of our Good Friday observance. Hope you’ll join us. Your kids and grandkids will love it.

Prayer Requests

           Pray we will be able to join each other in worship in our building by the first of May.

           Pray for revival in our Nation as well as the world and our President and all his staff. As you pray, remember that revival must begin with God’s people. In these uncertain times, God is miraculously moving among people who are open to Him now in ways that they’ve never been before. Nevertheless, at the same time, Satan is working overtime in thwarting the Gospel, tempting Christians to sin, and sowing fear and doubt. Cathy and I have seen both. Pray, pray, pray!

Pastor John


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