What’s Next? – April 3, 2016

Judas is dead. Pilate wishes he was. The Cross has been taken down… The empty tomb is. Still empty. Now what? As a third-century man was anticipating death, he wrote these last words to a friend: “It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy, which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians—and I am one of them.”

There is joy beyond comparison in being a Christian. Henry Ward Beecher once said, “The strength and the happiness of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going in that way too.” If you are a real follower of Jesus, then you know the joy that I am speaking of, if you have no joy, then maybe you haven’t truly surrendered your life and your will to him. Let the Holy Spirit tell you what you have become because of him.

Because of Him…
1. We Have Peace With God
Revelation 1:5-6
“and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

It says to “Him who loves us” Jesus loved us so much that He came to earth, walked where we have walked, died on the cross and this morning we need really understand why. Jesus died because he loved us and because He desires to give us peace. The world can not offer you peace. The idols of our life can not offer us peace. All the politicians of the world can not offer us peace. All the money of the world can not offer us peace.

Being in an ongoing relationship with Jesus, walking in the will of God, participating in the will of God, advancing the kingdom, being like Jesus, making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, brings us peace. Peace is an offspring of His love.

Col 1:21 says “ once you were alienated from God and were enemies because of your evil behavior., but now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death.” Phillipians goes on to say that Christians have a peace that surpasses all understanding”

The songs says:
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Because of Him we have peace and secondly because of Him
2.) We have Pardon From God
“To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood” Forgiveness. Our computers have a feature called system restore, you’ve probably never used this. If your computer crashes, you can go to system restore and put a date in and as of that date you have your data back, your computer is reset. Problem solved. All the things you somehow messed up are put back in their configuration as of that day.

Wouldn’t you like to market that feature for human lives? Do you think you could supply it fast enough to keep up with the demand? Bob would “system restore” to the day before he began to fall out of love with his wife, or when he said the big lie to her. Alice would go back to the day before she offended and lost a close friend. Fred would choose the day before the big fight that caused his son to turn against him. Maybe you can remember the day when things crashed for you, and you’d give anything you own to restore things to the way they were.

Pardon from God. God won’t erase all the consequences of our actions, but he promises things far better: to forgive us, to work for the highest good even through what is bad, and one day to make all things new. What Windows Me calls “system restore” God calls redemption.

Isaiah 55:6-7
“Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

Jesus takes the guilty verdict away and we walk out of the courtroom free.

Finally Because of Him
3.) We have A Purpose In God – That’s what’s next.
“and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father,”
The verse says he made us to be priests. Since Jesus died there should be no difference between pastors and laypersons, me and you. We are all priests. I am not just meant to be the pastor while you are all just members of the church or church attendees, we are meant to all be priests serving God.

Peter said you all are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. So what’s next? We were saved to serve. Not saved by works, but saved to work! My gifts are not for me, they are for you, and your God given gifts are not for you, they are for me, for others, for the world. If I am not using my gifts I deprive you, if you do not use your gifts you rob the church, you rob the world.

2 Timothy says that some people are used for noble purposes some not so noble. If a man cleanses himself from being not so noble, which is what Jesus did, he will be an instrument for nobles purposes, made holy, useful to the master and prepared to do any good work.

Consider wood pallets, they are used to carry many things, often they carry heavy loads and sooner or later they are discarded, seemingly useless. They become cracked, smashed, or floppy and they are discarded. Some companies have to pay people to take them, my old company did.
Companies take old pallets and either burn the pallets, chew them into wood chips, or dump them in landfills. One nonprofit company in New York had a better idea. Big City Forest in South Bronx takes other companies’ junk pallets and turns it into treasure. The raw material of some pallets are made of valuable hardwoods and some aren’t.

But Big City Forest workers dismantle the pallets, salvage the usable wood, and recycle it into furniture and flooring. Recycled wood chips are worth only $30 a ton. But when used as flooring the value of the recycled wood is $1,200 a ton, and as furniture $6,000 a ton.

If that is what can be done with lifeless wood, how much more can people be restored to lives of value for God’s kingdom. Like Big City Forest, God is in the business of restoration. He takes people that seem worthless, people broken by the weight of sin, and transforms them into works of beauty and usefulness.

That story brings home these two points: once we are forgiven and have peace and pardon from God, we now can have a brand new purpose in life.

Are you experiencing all that God has for you? The Christian life is a marvelous adventure, an exciting journey. Yet, many people-including Christians-seem to be content to float in a sea of mediocrity, settling for just existing. Yes, many people simply stop and believe they are followers of Jesus, they spend most Sunday’s or some of their Sunday mornings in church and maybe even Sunday school, then on Monday they act like a pallet, just existing carrying the heavy load of their life lived.

Many know they are called by Jesus to live like Jesus, but they haven’t really recycled their life so they can be used for the kingdom of God. Many are just stale, letting the voice of God speak to them, yet not doing what God desires. Many are content with just being fed while ignoring the feeding of other as Jesus calls them to do. For many life is spiritually empty, so they fill their emptiness with the things they want, the desires they want, a God as they want, and they know deep in their heart something is missing, there is still an emptiness that can not be filled with abundance. I pray that isn’t you.

Do you want the abundant life that Jesus promised? Do you want to live life to its fullest? Then aim higher and aim outward. Don’t set your sights too low or too inward. Don’t expect different results from God by doing the same things you have always done, or not doing the things you know God is calling you to do. Determine to become all that God created you to be. Give yourself to Christ, follow Him completely, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you and through you. Then you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Because of Him!

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