Easter - 2018

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The invitation is issued... how will you come?

The determination of people will define how they come to Jesus. Our text records:When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof…”

For some people reading this blog, if you had been one of those carrying a paralyzed friend to Jesus, and when you got there and saw the place was too crowded, would have just shrugged and said, “Oh, well … maybe another time.” Some people have no problem taking “no” for an answer.

But not these guys. These friends would not take "no" for an answer. They hit a traffic jam … and they simply shifted into four-wheel drive.

They climbed up on the roof, ripped up the sticks, straw, and mud between the beams and lowered their paralyzed friend into the room where Jesus was teaching. I want you to notice that … it didn’t … bother … Jesus.

Jesus didn’t say, “Whoa, whoa, I’m in the middle of something!” He didn’t call for security.
He apparently stopped what He was doing and gave the paralyzed man His attention.

Don’t miss that. Jesus, the Son of Man, is infinitely approachable.

What made those men think they could do this?  What made them go to such trouble?
What made them keep going? I believe that’s in verse 20: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

They had faith. They believed Jesus would see them. They believed He would notice their friend. They believed He could do something no one else could do. And Jesus hasn’t changed. In all these years, Jesus hasn’t changed. The Son of Man is infinitely approachable.

He will not turn you away. He will not laugh in your face. He will not turn up His nose at you. But He also won’t force Himself on you. He will wait for you to come.

So come. Whatever your past, whatever your issues, whatever your excuses or obstacles or objections may be, just come to Jesus in faith. Let nothing stand in your way. Let nothing keep you away. Come to Jesus….

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, April 28, 2014

Jesus the Son of Man... infinitely approachable!

The sick, hurting, and dying need the SON of MAN…

You have probably heard it before. There is a saying commonly attributed to Marie Antoinette,  the Austrian princess who became queen of France after marrying Louis the Sixteenth.  Legend says that when she was informed that her subjects, the French peasants, were starving because they had no bread, she naively answered, “Let them eat cake!” While there is no evidence she ever said those words, she was nonetheless beheaded in the early days of the French Revolution.

But the legend lives on, and has come to symbolize a person who is spoiled and privileged, and out of touch with common people and everyday life—like a queen who would assume that someone who has run out of bread could eat cake instead.

It is a common failing of the rich and powerful. Someone who has been raised in a wealthy family may have trouble understanding what it is like to work hard and still not be able to make ends meet.  …a person that cannot relate to the people they lead.

Politicians and presidents are sometimes lampooned because they don’t know how to use a grocery store scanner, or because they’re caught without cash in a sandwich shop or don’t have to pay their own insurance premiums.

And then there’s the rest of us. We get an overdraft notice or a shutoff notice, and we wonder if there’s anyone who really knows how bad that feels. Someone treats us like dirt, and we sense there’s no one else who truly understands how that feels.

We doubt ourselves, disappoint ourselves, and think that no one could possibly identify with us. This past week, I played keyboard in the Orchestra Pit for the BEA Production of Shrek…that music is fast, detailed and HARD…I had to take it to the woodshed a few times. My fingers have not done that type of playing for a long time…I started to doubt…be disappointed…alone. With a little hard work…and a lot of prayer…it was a good show and a memory that many will never forget…my fingers finally caught up.

If any of that is close to what it feels like to be you, you are not alone today.
In fact, you couldn’t be less alone because of what God has to say to you through His Word today. Today we begin a series of sermons and worship experiences examining the questions concerning “Who is Jesus?”

Jesus called himself the Son of Man. In fact, He is called “Son of Man” eighty-eight times in the New Testament. He said: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” —Matthew 8:20, NIV He also said: “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” —Matthew 12:8, NIV

And so on. Many would have recognized it as a reference to the prophecy of Daniel, from hundreds of years earlier, who wrote:

I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. —Daniel 7:13–14, NIV

When Jesus called himself “Son of Man,” He was making a clear reference to His identity as the promised Messiah. But the phrase “Son of Man” also refers to the fact that Jesus shares in our humanity. Jesus could relate to our human-ness.

Of course, the Jews of Jesus’ day expected the Messiah to be fully human. Jesus did not surprise anyone by being human; He surprised them by being much more than fully human.

And so the title, “Son of Man,” means that Jesus is not out of touch…more in touch!

He knows what it’s like to work hard; He knows what a blister feels like.
He knows what it’s like to have bills to pay; He helped support his family.
He knows what it’s like to face disappointment, rejection, betrayal, and grief.

He knows what it’s like to be you. He is able to identify with you in your sorrows and sufferings, as well as in your pleasures and successes. Who is Jesus? He is the Son of Man. As the Son of Man, Jesus understands our human nature. Because the proof overwhelming shows God’s desire to know us and our human nature, we are able to embrace Him.

He knows us better than you we know ourselves...you know I love ya, Don 


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's all about a relationship!

John 3:16, “For God so love that He gave His one and only son.” Relationship is the goal of the resurrection. Relationship is the connection between God and His creation. God was so moved to be involved in your life that he was willing to step out of eternity and into history to be with you. This desire is especially in regards the way he was willing to die for you.
The what of the resurrection is that we have a relationship with Jehovah God.
There's an old story of the boy who sat, waiting for a bus. A man walking by spotted the boy, and gave him some gentle instruction. "Son," he said, "if you're waiting on the bus, you need to move to the bus stop. That's where the bus stops for passengers."

"It's OK," said the boy. "I'll just wait right here, and the bus will stop for me."

The man repeated his argument, but the boy never moved. Just then, the bus appeared. Amazingly, the bus pulled over to where the boy stood, and the child hopped on. The man on the sidewalk stood speechless. The boy turned around in the doorway and said, "Mister, I knew the bus would stop here, because the bus driver is my dad!"
When you've got a family relationship with the bus driver, you don't need a bus stop. If you father is a busy CEO, you don’t have to wait to get a hearing. If your dad is a US Senator, you won't need an appointment to slip into his office. If you've given your heart to the King of Kings, you're in his royal family of unspeakable proportions. God is waiting to hear and have a relationship with you. The what of the resurrection is the why of a relationship.  2 Corinthians 5:15: “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”  He has a deep love for us and he desires a relationship with us.
Glad for my relationship with you the reader...You know I love ya, Don

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter is the Greatest Day EVER!

          Easter is the day we celebrate the events that changed all of ETERNITY! Easter the Greatest day that ever dawn, from the greatest story every told of the great life ever lived…Jesus has risen and he is alive working among his people.
           The what of Easter is very important, but the WHY of Easter is Amazing. We know the details of his death and resurrection, but do we know “why” this is the greatest day that ever dawn?

Easter is a great day of celebration. Yes, Jesus suffered greatly under the passion of his purpose in going to Jerusalem. Yes, he struggled under the weight of doubt and fear of his disciples. Yes, Jesus pleaded with his friends to be with him as he experienced great sorrow and grief. Yes, Jesus was flogged and beaten to the point that his intestines were exposed and his flesh was torn from his body. Yes, he was exhausted from the lake of sleep for 48 hours and a illegal trial in the middle of the night. Yes, Jesus was forced to carry a wooden cross over the bleeding flesh through dirty, dusty, and crowded streets of jeers and curses. Yes, they took nail spikes and drove them through his flesh and feet in order to pin him to the cross. Yes, Jesus was naked, humiliated, and lifted up for all to see and treated as a criminal. Yes, Jesus was rejected and insulted. AND YES, because of our sin…Jesus was forced to be separated from His father God which was the hardest part of all…all these facts are important and devastating.
BUT, the most amazing thing is why he willing offered himself as a sacrifice. This was not another execution…but that Jesus was willing to take the blame. Jesus was willing to be our Sacrificial Lamb. Jesus takes everyone one a journey to the Cross… He did all this because He LOVES US….HE LOVES ME…HE LOVES YOU!
             You see the “what” of the tomb is that it is there that Jesus put all death, destruction, and sin to rest…the “why” of the tomb is because “God so loved!”  John 3:16, “For God So Loved!” God didn’t just love us…He SO loved us. God’s love is agape love. Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the types of love. 1 John 4:11 states: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
          Max Lucado tries to capture the depth of Jesus’ love in with these words: “He’d rather go to hell for you than go to heaven without you.” The hardship of life is transformed by the "why" of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The "what" of Death…the "why" is Deep Love. 
You Know I Love ya...and Easter is the greatest day ever! Don 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

John, the Beloved Disciple - A Journey of Responsibility - Easter

For John, to be at the cross was to stand at a place of responsibility. What we need to first understand is that John stood at the cross restored. He, along with the other disciples, had forsaken Jesus and fled for their lives at the garden of Gethsemane. But, John came back to the cross.  Christians may stray and deny our Lord, but we can still come back to the cross. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. The cross is the place to go for forgiveness, deliverance and restoration.

For John to stand at the cross was probably not the safest place to stand or the easiest place to stand. It would have taken courage and love for John to come back to the cross. But remember what did John write years later in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

Jesus not only restored John but he gave John some responsibility. Once you’ve known the truth of redemption, correction, and completion – there comes a great responsibility. You are to take responsibility for you actions….responsibility for the message…responsibility to care for others.

“John, you are going to take my place. I will no longer be on earth, to watch over my mother, so you are going to take my place. You are going to take my mother, and you are going to be a son to her.” - For John, the cross was a place of responsibility.

A journey to the cross is a journey of responsibility. All believers are taking His place here on earth. John 20:21 tells us that, “As my Father has sent me, even so, send I you.” You and I represent Jesus to others. To
acknowledge the cross, is to acknowledge a place of responsibility. If you and I have come to the cross, we have a huge responsibility to love the Lord Jesus (because he has loved us on the cross), to love others (just like John loved Jesus’ mother), and to love others the same way Jesus loved us. The cross is indeed a place of responsibility.

Have you journeyed to the Cross of Responsibility? You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mary, the Mother of Jesus - A Journey of Completion - Easter

Mary was at the foot of the cross. She was also Jesus’ earthly mother and He did not ignore her on the cross because he completed his journey with her by declaring he care for her, “Dear woman, here is your son”.

Why did Jesus go full circle with his mother? We have just concluded above that redemption and correction come at a high cost. What was the cost for Mary? What suffering did she endure?Top of Form    
Luke 2:35 reveals a prophecy concerning Mary, “A sword shall pierce your own soul also” How did she suffer? She suffered physically when she brought the Savior into the world. She suffered shame and reproach and gossip when found to be with child before the marriage was consummated with Joseph. She fled to Egypt to save her child, but countless innocent children died because of her child. How do you think she felt about that? She would have suffered emotionally. There was a growing separation between her and Jesus when Jesus declared to her one day, “Don’t you know that I must be about my fathers business?” Yes, a sword shall pierce your side. She felt the climax of Simeon’s prophecy at the cross, when her son died, and she suffered because of 1) the way he died (on a cross, numbered with the transgressors) and 2) where he died (openly, publicly, shamefully). And Mary stood there feeling the pain of the sword go through her soul.

But Jesus saw her and had compassion for her and assured her of His love for her. Her journey to the cross had started 33 years early in a manger. Jesus felt her sorrow, he knew her loneliness, and grief…the loss of a child is the hardest stress a parent can endure.

For Mary, to stand at the cross was to stand at a place of completion… In her mind this was the end of her 33 year journey. Ultimately, God is faithful to complete that which he started. Philippians 1:6 states: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Those who suffer or have suffered for his sake can live confidently that he will bring it to completion. Jesus knows our trials and our needs. The Scriptures teach us that, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” Jesus was bringing and end and completion to death.
Have you journeyed to the Cross of Completion? You know I love ya, Don

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Salome - A Journey of Correction - Easter

Who was Salome? She was at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. Most commentators identify “his mother’s sister” as Salome, the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John (Matt.20:20-23). As the mother of James and John she was the one who once asked Jesus a very selfish request, “Can my two sons have places of honor in glory?” In other words she wanted something for her two sons. She wanted one of them to sit at the right hand of Jesus’ throne and the other to sit on the left hand of Jesus’ throne. What she asked of Jesus was a very selfish request. She wanted the best for her two sons.

Jesus responded (Matt.20:20-24) by saying that she didn’t know what she was asking.
“Can they drink the cup that I going to drink?” (i.e. referring to his death). Salome’s request was born out of pride and selfishness.

Did her two sons deserve thrones? Thrones are not given away, you have to earn them. Salome had forgotten the true cost of reward. She did not realize that suffering comes before reward. There is no crown without a cross. There is no wearing of a crown without the drinking of the cup of suffering. Even the Lord Jesus Christ himself did not return to the throne of heaven except by way of the cross.

Sometimes we can be so selfish in our desires. Salome’s request for her two sons was a selfish, earthly, proud request. She did not realize the price that her two sons would have to pay. Remembers James, he was martyred and John was exiled before they went home to glory. Salome was at the place of correction standing at the cross, realizing what it cost Jesus, the Son of God, to give up. Jesus gave up the glory of heaven and became a servant for us by giving his life for us.

As we contemplate the cross I wonder if we are corrected because of our selfish desires. Jesus says to us, “Are you willing to drink this cup?” We say, “Oh no, Lord, we just want the answer to our prayers!” Jesus continues, “Are you willing to suffer for me?” We respond, “Oh no, Lord, I just want the blessing, not the suffering!” Salome says to each one of us this morning, “The cross is a place of correction.” When we contemplate what Jesus did for us and gave up for us, what he endured for us and what suffered for us, the cross is a journey of correction in the light of our own selfish desires and ambitions.
Have you journeyed to the Cross of Correction? You know I love ya, Don

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mary Magdalene – A Journey of Redemption - Easter


Luke 8:2 tells us that Mary Magdalene was a woman whom Jesus had cast out seven demons. She had been in bondage to Satan for a long time. These seven demons made her do terrible things. Satan was at work in her life to destroy, cause havoc, wreck her physically, emotionally and spiritually. Mary was in a hopeless and helpless situation.

Then Jesus came along and cast out these seven demons. Jesus delivered Mary from her bondage and set her free. Mary Magdalene was miraculously saved from her dilemma. Mary Magdalene was redeemed and bought back from the bondage she was in. She was ultimately delivered through a miraculous encounter with Jesus.

When we talk about the deliverance that Jesus can provided for Mary Magdalene I often think of a verse in Acts 26:18, which reads, “To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to the power of God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins…” A Journey to the cross is a journey of redemption.

When a person trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ for deliverance from the bondage of sin, these same marvelous changes take place in their life. They go from darkness to light (mental, moral, spiritual). They go from the power of Satan to the power of God (God begins to take control). They go from being guilty to experiencing forgiveness. They go from being spiritually impoverished to becoming spiritually wealthy (becoming heirs of the Kingdom).

This is what Jesus did for Mary Magdalene. He redeemed her and bought her out of her miserable condition.

But, redemption is a costly thing. When Jesus delivered Mary Magdalene it cost Him something. Standing there at the cross Mary saw the price being paid. Jesus had to die that we might be redeemed and bought back from bondage. Yes, redemption is a costly thing. It is no wonder Mary Magdalene was standing there at the cross. It is no wonder that Mary Magdalene was there at His burial. It is no wonder that Mary Magdalene was there at His resurrection. Mary Magdalene had experienced redemption and she stood near the cross because it was a place of redemption.
Have you journeyed to the Cross of Redemption? You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Devoted is not new...

God’s favor does not stop at the close of Acts. God would continue to work in the lives of believers who are devoted. Jonathan Edwards, John of the Cross, Henri Nouwen, John Calvin, Thomas Kelly, and E. Stanley Jones commonly attest to the devoted nature it takes to be a follower of Jesus in their writings. “God, in his word, greatly insists that we be in good earnest, fervent in spirit, and that our hearts be engaged vigorously in our religion.” [1] “God perceives the imperfections within us, and because of his love for us, urges us to grow up.”[2] “Through the practice of a spiritual discipline we become attentive to that small voice and willing to respond when we hear it.”[3] “It is a very important consideration that we are consecrated and dedicated to God. It means that we will think, speak, meditate, and do all things with a view to God’s glory.”[4] “How, then, shall we lay hold of that life and power and live the life of prayer without ceasing? By quiet, persistent practice in turning all of our being, day and night, in prayer and inward surrender, toward him who calls in the deeps of our souls.” [5] “You cannot attain salvation by disciplines – it is a gift of God. But you cannot retain it without disciplines.”[6] Passionately devoted to growing in the image of Christ while demonstrating the humble attitude of Christ is commonly shared throughout the ages of the church

As  we celebrate Easter, it is a great time to renew our resolve to be followers of Jesus. We are to continue to be devoted... You know I love ya, Don


[1] Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, eds., Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. (New York: Harper One, 2005), Jonathan Edwards, 19.

[2] Foster and Smith, Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. John of the Cross. 37.

[3] Foster and Smith, Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. Henri J. M Nouwen 81.

[4] Foster and Smith, Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. John Calvin. 130.

[5] Foster & Smith, Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. Thomas Kelly. 176.

[6] Foster & Smith, Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. E. Stanley Jones. 281.