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Easter

Easter


1. Today is such an exciting day. It’s Easter. It’s the event that changed history. It’s the most important event in history.

2. The Bible says in John 3:16 – we all know it. Quote it with me.

  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)

  • Easter defines that verse. The famous verse does not say, “God so hated the world He killed His Son,” but “God so loved the world He gave His Son.”

  • So Easter isn’t for the religious folks. If you’re not particularly religious or have little religious or church background, then this holiday – this special day – is for you.

  • Jesus Christ didn’t come here for religious people. He was only interested in people having a relationship with God, not a bunch of rules, regulations and rituals.

  • So Easter was God’s way to open the door to a changed life – changed inside out. Easter is God’s invitation to you. What’s the invitation? To have a changed life.

3. Now all of us here resist change at times. So you’re probably thinking, why do I need to change?

  • I’m a pretty good person.
  • I’m getting along fine as I am.
  • I don’t really see a big need to change.

4. What if I told you that you could be better? What I promised you that you can move from pretty good to fulfilled? Or from successful to significance? Because that is what God desires for you and me and why Easter is such a big deal.

  • You can’t do it by trying harder. You can’t do it by working harder. You don’t do it by making a few changes.
  • You can’t change by an image update or transformation, by making a few adjustments here or there.

That’s not the way you do it. To become a better person, you do three things:

1. Open your mind to God’s power.

  • I read the other day about a guy who scheduled an appointment to see a psychiatrist, telling the receptionist he was having “serious problems.” When he finally took a seat on the psychiatrist’s cozy couch, he looked at the doctor and said, “Doc.” The doctor nodded. “Doc, something’s wrong,” the man blurted out.“What’s the problem, sir?” the doctor asked, trying to get more information.“Well, every time I go to the grocery store, I’m drawn to the dog food. I just love being around the dog food. In fact, I love to eat dog food.”The doctor kind of shifted around in his chair and decided to pry a little deeper.“How long have you been struggling with this problem?” he asked.“Ever since I was a puppy,” the man answered. You’ve got to change the way you think first.

    A. You don’t change by trying real hard or turning over a new leaf. You and I change when we open our minds to the possibility that God is real and that He loves you. Open your mind to the possibility that He knows everything about you and still loves you.

    • He knows your problems, your struggles, your issues. And open to the possibility that He has the power that you don’t have to change you and help you make the changes you need to make and haven’t been able to do on your 
    • It starts by opening your mind to the possibility that God is real, He really does love you, and cares about you and wants to help you.

B. You know, the Bible says that

“Many are away from the life of God because they have shut their minds against Him, so they can’t understand His ways.” (Ephesians 4:18 LB)

I’ve tried to figure out and understand why – what causes us to close our minds to God? I think:

1. Hurt can cause you to close your mind to God.

Hurt by a Christian – a church, or a religious person. You know, “If that’s what God’s people do, forget you, God!” So we blame God for what someone else does.

2. Pride can cause you to close your mind to God. “I don’t want to open up to God, I kind of want to run my own life. I’m going to make my own choices.”

3. Another is fear. “I’m afraid if I open up to God, He’ll turn me into a religious nut. I’ll become a fanatic like some of those people on television who look a little – or a lot - silly and superficial.”

But if you really want to change, give God a chance. Give God an opportunity. Just open your mind to His desire to help you.

What is it that seems impossible to change in your life? Have you got a bad habit? Do you say, “I just can’t get control of my anger!... I wish I were more patient but I’m not... I wish I didn’t exaggerate so much but I do... I wish I were more self-disciplined but I just can’t stop this!” Do you have a relationship that you see falling apart? You’ve worked and worked on it but it doesn’t make any difference. Fill in this blank: “I don’t think I'll ever be able to __________.” I don’t think I'll ever... get married. I don’t think I'll ever… get remarried. I don’t think I'll ever… be able to forget that person who hurt me and forgive them. I don’t think I'll ever… get over that hurt. I don’t think I'll ever… have a fresh start. I don’t think I'll ever… be able to fulfill the dream I’ve always had.” You think like that because you’re looking at your situation from your point of view instead of looking at it from God's point of view. From a human perspective there are a lot of things in your life that are impossible. If you could change, you would have already done it but you can’t. You try and you go back. But if you look at it from God's perspective, God has power that you don’t have. When you open your mind to the power of God, God can do incredible changes in your life that you never thought possible. He can make you better than you were before. Yeah, you’re good. But you could be better. You were made for more than this.

“I pray that you’ll begin to understand how incredibly great God's power is to help those who believe Him. It’s the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.” Get this! The same power that raised Jesus Christ back to life two thousand years ago is the power that’s available to you to make changes in your life. If God has the power to raise the dead, raise a dead person, He can raise a dead marriage. He can raise a dead career. He can raise a dead dream. God can do anything. But there’s a key. One word in that verse – understand. It says, “I pray you’ll understand how great His power is.” If you really want to change your life for the better, it starts with a new understanding. It starts with a new perspective. It starts with opening your mind to the power of God. It starts with changing your mind.

If you want to be a better person, step one, open your mind to the power of God, God's power. Here’s the second step.


Open your heart to God’s grace.

  • First, your mind to God’s power, second, your heart to God’s grace.
  • What is grace? Grace is so big it’s hard to explain.
  • Grace is when God gives you what you need instead of what you deserve. That’s grace.
  • Grace is when God forgives you even before you ask. That’s grace.
  • Grace is when God says, “Come on home! I’m not mad at you.” That’s grace.
  • Grace is when God forgives you and then gives you a second chance and a third chance and a fourth chance and a hundredth and a thousandth chance to start over. That’s grace.
  • Grace is the power God gives you to do the changes in your life that you can’t do on your own. We all need God’s amazing grace.
  • We don’t always get grace from others. But God shows grace 24 hours a day, every day. Our very breath is because of God’s grace. You have nothing without God’s grace. If it weren’t for God, we wouldn’t be!

You say, “Wait a minute now. I’ve worked hard for what I have and who I’ve become.”

But where do you think you got the power to earn it? Where do you think you got your brains, your health, your mind, your body? Everything you have has been given you by God’s grace and love for you.

Every good thing in our lives has come from the gracious Hand of a good God. That is grace.

  • God loves you and me so much. He wants to shower us with His grace.

Ephesians 1:8 says, “God has showered upon us the richness of His grace for He understands us and knows what is best for us at all times.”

Wow! He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows every thought. Every intention. Every deed. What makes me tick and ticked off. He knows the good – the bad – the ugly. And He still gives me grace.

  • And here’s a problem with a lot of us. We think we have to help out God’s grace. We try to clean up our stuff before coming to God.
  • When we’ve had someone help with cleaning the house, my wife always felt like she and I had to clean up everything before they came. We had to clean up before the clean-up.
  • And a lot of us do that with God. You think before I come to God I need to clean up my act. But God says, “No, no, no. Come to me just as you are. Bring me the good, the bad, the ugly, the embarrassing, the stuff you’re ashamed of, the stuff you’re addicted to, the stuff nobody else knows about.” “Bring it all to me,” God says, “and I’ll forgive you and we’ll start there.”
  • That’s grace.

A thousand years ago - two thousand years ago – God knew you would be here today on Easter, sitting still long enough for Him to say to you, “You matter to Me. I love you. I’ve seen everything that’s gone on in your life and now you get to start over and this time I’ll help you. That will be the difference this time. I’ll help you.”

Listen, it’s never too late. Some of you have gone a lifetime without Him. It’s never too late.

That, my friend, is grace.

The Bible says, “Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s grace – God’s gift from start to finish!” (Ephesians 2:8 MSG)

3. Open your life to God’s love.

Remember, open your mind to God’s power, your heart to God’s grace, and your life to God’s love.

  • No one will ever love you more than God does. He loves you unconditionally. It’s not based on anything you do. He loves you because He made you. He created you to love you. He made you so you could be His friend.
  • My prayer for you today has been that you would know His love for you today.
  • Jenny grew up on a cherry orchard near Traverse City, Michigan. Her parents, a little old fashioned, tended to over react to her nose ring, her music and the way she dressed. One night in an argument with her father, she screamed, “I hate you! I never want to see you again!” And that night she ran away, catching a bus to Detroit. The second day in Detroit she met a man with the biggest car she’d ever seen. He offered her a ride, bought her lunch and gave her a place to stay. He even gave her some pills that made her feel better than she’d ever felt in her life. The good life continued for about a year. That man who she now called “boss” taught her a few things that men like and since she was under age, men would pay a premium for her. She lived in a penthouse and ordered room service whenever she wanted. But after a year, she became ill and her boss became mean. Soon, she was out on the streets without a penny to her name. The little bit of money she made turning tricks all went to support her habit. One freezing night on the street, sleepless and hungry, Jenny was overwhelmed with a longing to go back home, to the cherry orchards, the warm home and her golden retriever. Sobbing, she called home three times only to get an answering machine. The third time she said, “Mom, Dad, it’s me. I want to come home! I’m catching the bus and I’ll get there about midnight tomorrow night at the station. If you’re not there, I guess I'll just stay on the bus to Canada.” On the seven-hour bus trip home, Jenny began to have doubts. “What will I say? What will they think? Will they even show up? Will they even be there at the station?” When the bus finally rolled into the small station, the driver announced, “Fifteen minutes, folks! That’s all the time we have here. Fifteen minutes!” Fifteen minutes to decide her life. She nervously checked how she looked in a little compact mirror. As she walked into the terminal, nothing could have prepared her for what she saw. Forty people at midnight standing there. Uncles and aunts and cousins and brothers and sisters and mom and dad and grandparents. All of them in silly party hats and blowing silly noisemakers and holding banners and a big banner that stretched the entire terminal that said, “Welcome home!” As her eyes filled with tears, her dad lunged forward out of the crowd and grabbed her. She said, “Oh, Dad! I am so sorry! I…” Her dad said, “Shhhh. We don’t have any time for apologies. You’re going to be late for the party. We planned a banquet for you at home.”

That is a picture of the unconditional love that God has for you. When you come home to God and say, “God, You made me but I’ve been disconnected from You, maybe all my life. But I’m coming home,” God throws a party for you. He says, “Welcome home! Welcome into My arms of love.”

The Bible says that God throws a party for you when you come home to Him. “We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us!” If you don’t get anything else I say today, I want you to get this next sentence. It is key. You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life does not make sense. You were made by God and you were made for God for a relationship with Him. And until you understand that, life does not make sense. You were not put on this earth just to go to school, get a job, make a bunch of money, spend it, retire and die, to take up space, use resources, breathe the air, and die. No. You were made for an eternal relationship with God, one that goes on long past this life.

I hope you will do what this verse says, “Throw open the doors of your life to God and say, ‘Yes God, I’m coming home.’” It may have been a long, long time. It may have been all your life. Maybe you’re up in years. But if you do this, God's response is the next verse: “Jesus has His arms wide open for you.” Has God been trying to get your attention? I think so. I think that’s why He brought you here today. Because you were made for more than you’re living. Far, far more. He wants to help you. Your heavenly Father wants to say, “You can start over. This time I'll help you.”

Easter gives us the power to start over. Jesus gives us the power to keep going. He gives us the power to change, to be different. The bottom line is, Easter is not about big musical productions. Big numbers, big crowds. Easter is really about personal, intimate, internal change in me and in you. If you miss that, you miss the whole purpose. It’s about change in you and me.

Sinner’s Prayer:

Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I need your forgiveness. Please forgive me today and be the Lord of my life. Today, I come home to You and thank You for the welcome home. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.




Worship Set

Only King Forever

- Mack Brock, Chris Brown, Steven Furtick

Verse 1

Our God and firm foundation
Our Rock the only solid ground
The nations rise and fall
Kingdoms once strong now shaken
We trust forever in Your name
The name of Jesus
We trust in the name of Jesus

Chorus 1

You are the only King forever
Almighty God we lift You higher
You are the only King forever
Forevermore You are victorious
(REPEAT)

Verse 2

Unmatched in all Your wisdom
In love and justice You will reign
And ev'ry knee will bow
We bring our expectations
Our hope is anchored in Your name
The name of Jesus
Oh we trust the name of Jesus

Misc 1(Bridge)

We lift our banner high
We lift the name of Jesus
From age to age You reign
Your kingdom has no end
(REPEAT)


Resurrecting 

- Christopher Brown, Mack Brock, Matt Ntele, Steven Furtick

Verse 1

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at his feet we bow

Verse 2

The one who wore our sin and shame
Now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love
Now shines for all to see

Chorus 1

Your nameYour name
Is victory
All praise
Will riseTo Christ our king

Verse 3

The fear that held us now gives way
To him who is our peace
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me

Misc 1(Bridge)

By your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me

Verse 4

The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave


Worth 

- Anthony Brown (Arr. Doug Sherbert)

Chorus1

You thought I was worth saving
So You came and changed my life
You thought I was worth keeping
So You cleaned me up inside
You thought I was to die for
So You sacrificed Your life
So I could be free so I could be whole
So I can tell ev'ryone I know

Misc1(Bridge)

Hallelujah Glory to the God who changed my life
(AndI will praise You) forever
(I'll worship You) forever
(I'll give You glory) forever
(BecauseI am) Because I am free
because I am whole
And I will tell ev'ryone I know

Misc2(Bridge)

Hallelujah Glory to the God who changed my life
(AndI will praise You) forever
(I'll worship You) forever
(I'll give You glory) forever
(I'll give you honor) forever
('Cause You deserve it Lord) forever
(You deserve it Lord) forever
(I'll praise You) forever
(Forever) because I am free
Because I am whole
AndI will tell ev'ryone I know

Chorus2

You thought I was worth saving
So You came and changed my life
You thought I was worth keeping
So You cleaned me up inside
You thought I was to die forThought
I was to die for (oo)
Oh You thought I (ah) was to die for
You thought I You thought IYou thought I was to die for
You sacrificed Your life
So I could be free

Misc 3(Bridge)

Love lifted me
Love lifted me
When nothing else could could help
It was Your love that lifted me
Oh love lifted me
Love lifted me
When nothing else could help
It was Your love that lifted
It was Your love that lifted
It was Your love that lifted

Chorus 3

You thought I was worth saving
So You came and changed my life
You thought I was worth keeping
So You cleaned me up inside
You thought I was to die for
So You sacrificed Your life
So I could be free


Just As I Am (Travis Cottrell)

- Travis Alan Cottrell, David Moffitt, and Sue C. Smith

Verse 1

Just as I am without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee
O Lamb of God I come I come

Verse 2

Just as I am and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot
O Lamb of God I come I come

Chorus 1

I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I'm welcomed with open arms praise God
Just as I am

Verse 3

Just as I am I would be lost
But mercy and grace my freedom bought
And now to glory in Your cross
O Lamb of God I come I come

Misc 1(Ending)

Praise God just as I am
Just as I am