“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:1-10 (NASB)
I don’t know if there’s a better way to walk through Holy Week than by following along with a devotional written by one of the greatest men of God of my life time Evangelist Billy Graham. I’m using my own titles, but this is all coming from Billy Graham’s Easter Countdown Devotional “Victory – Preparing For Resurrection Sunday”. I have been looking forward to this series, and after taking some time to relax and recover the last week or so from surgery this is the perfect way, time, and series to…well…resurrect my writing.
So, let’s open this message and series by taking a moment to ask God to help me write it, and help the readers of these messages to receive what the God is going to be speaking to us throughout Holy Week and this series.
Father, Thank You for this new day and the privilege of beginning it with You. As today unfolds Lord, I ask that You would give me wisdom to handle each and every situation that I encounter today. I ask, Lord, that my speech would be seasoned with grace, and that the love of God that’s shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost be felt by those around me. I am grateful to know that no matter where this day takes me You will be right there with me. Let my tongue, Lord God, be that as a pen of a ready writer speaking only of the oracles of You. Let those within the sound of my voice have ears to hear and hearts that will be receptive and respond to what You are about to speak to us this day. In Jesus name…Amen and Amen.
Praise And Worship:
I can’t think of a better song to kick off Holy Week then “Lord, I Lift Your Name On High”, and I found a version by Donnie McClurkin. Some times, it’s okay to go back to the simple songs, and allow them to minister to us, and worship God. So, let’s remember what Jesus came to do, and take a moment to worship Him for that, Amen!?!\
The Fact of Christ’s Resurrection–Palm Sunday
I have always held a lot of respect for Evangelist Billy Graham because he always seemed to be the one guy that even Washington D.C would listen to, but it also seems that as he gets older and closer to the day the Lord calls him home that his voice gets about as soft as the Holy Ghost’s voice is becoming to the church. Hey, I know that last point may seem a little harsh, but when we have preachers and preachers wives saying foolish things like “God just wants us all to be happy.” my first thought is what spirit told you that? But, anyways…I’m not going to spend an Easter message on this…I just making a general observation that I’m not so certain that some people who are preaching within the church are really hearing the voice of our Shepherd.
So, let’s get into this message and give Evangelist Billy Graham the opening word:
When I picture Jesus Christ dying on the cross, I see the free gift of God’s grace in Christ reconciling to Himself all those who believe and repent. Grace occurs when something we don’t deserve is given to us freely. It is the free gift of God to needy men and women. Paul said, “God made him [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). When Christ bore our sin on the cross, He created a value of grace and righteousness that changes the lives of men and women, and it still works today!
When I picture the Cross it’s hard for me to be joyful for a moment because I realize that Jesus was on the Cross in my place, but I find joy in the fact that Jesus loved me so much that He didn’t want me to experience the wrath of God…so He did it for me. What a God! I don’t know if that resonates with you at all, but God took His own wrath out on Himself so that He wouldn’t have to take it our on me. We just finished that “Growing In Grace” Series, and the over-riding theme of the entire series was God’s Grace being His “unmerited favor”…and that’s exactly what I just described. God took out His own wrath upon Himself so that He wouldn’t have to take it out on us. That’s what the Gospel is all about. He punished Jesus for our sin so that we could have His righteousness. That’s the Great Exchange. He took our place so that we could have His. That’s the whole “He became sin who knew no sin that we might become His righteousness.”!
The truth “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3), and that truth alone, has relevance to mankind today. That is because there is saving power in Christ’s cross to transform any life and to change the world.
“Christ died for our sins.” take some time to meditate upon that for a minute. Just as Jesus is the same today, yesterday, and forever so is the Cross. There’s no other name where by men and women can be saved…and the only place we find Him is at the foot of the Cross. For anyone that wonders if God is still in the business of transforming and changing lives you are reading the results of a life that God changed for good just a couple of years ago. I had always known that He was there, but it wasn’t until November of 2010 that I really made that decision we all have to make. That was my “chose this day whom you’ll serve” moment, and I chose Jesus. Since that day there’s been no looking back, and here I am the pastor of Christlike Ministries NWA.
I often talk about that day being the day when I found the end of myself, and that was when I found myself at the foot of the Cross. However, I also talk about the fact that at the end of myself is where I really began to become the new creation that God had already been working in me to become. So, as I always say…because God is no respecter of person He can and will do the same thing in your life that He did in mine…but it all ends and begins at the same place. It ends with us getting out of His way, it ends with us on our knees in some way with the recognition that we have lived our lives our way for the longest time, and we finally came to understand that our way was not only no longer working…but we made a mess…and we realized that the only One that could fix it was Jesus.
Okay…that’s where I was at when I found myself at the foot of the Cross. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I met Jesus…there was no more pride, there was no more maybe I can continue on the way I was…there was just the clear understanding that unless Jesus took control of my life I wasn’t going to have much of a life left. Jesus take the wheel wasn’t a song on the radio it was the cry of my heart because I had finally been fully persuaded that I needed to get out of the driver’s seat of my life…and hand it over to Jesus. That was the day I put the pen down, and allowed God to write the rest of my story because the story I was writing could fit in a Johnny Cash song. However, I have come to really find that there are two words in the English language and the Bible that I’ve really come to love.
Those two words…BUT GOD!
So, as we give Evangelist Billy Graham the final word of this message with a few questions for us to think about, but that’s the whole point of what I do. I am so thrilled to be doing this series, and I hope that it is able to accomplish that which it has been sent out to do.
How has the gift of God’s grace changed your life? Will you share your story this week so that someone you know can be made alive in Christ?
Father God, first of all thank You for the life of Evangelist Billy Graham, and for giving him this fantastic series to walk down Holy Week with You. Lord, I thank You for taking Your wrath out on Yourself so that You wouldn’t have to take it out on us. Your Word says, Father God, that You are faithful and just to forgive us of ALL unrighteousness…and so we come to You asking You to wash and cleanse us with the precious Blood of Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
As we walk through this series a day at a time I hope that we all encounter Jesus in some way. I pray that if you’ve never known Jesus that you find yourself at the foot of the Cross, and I pray that if you knew Him but walked away (like I did) that you find yourself back at the place where life in Christ began. If you’ve known Him and are walking with Him…I hope this series and these messages inspire and encourage you to seek Him about where you place in being an Ambassador for Christ is…and how He wants to use you within the Body of Christ and to fulfill the Great Commission which is to go into all the world preaching the gospel. I’m excited yet humbled to be able to say that Christlike Ministries NWA has been seen at least once in 190 nations, and that when (or if) you choose to sow into this ministry you are helping to keep us online so that we can reach 190 more.
So, let’s take this journey to the Cross, and of course Resurrection Sunday one day, one step, one message at a time…and just see what happens. I’m excited to see if anyone’s life is resurrected. I’m excited to see if some dreams that died have new life breathed into them. I’m excited to see dry bones live again, and for prodigal sons and daughters come home to take their place in the Body of Christ.
What a glorious time to return and…well…resurrect my ministry which was sort of forced to take a break by the surgery I had a couple of weeks ago. I am so thankful because I’ve generally felt better than I expected to the entire time I’ve been recovering. I’m about two and a half weeks removed from it and I don’t even feel like I’ve had surgery. I also wanted to take a moment to give you a praise report on my dad too. I had a chance to talk with my mom today, and his recovery is going along smoother than expected as well…glory to God.
Thank you ALL so very, very much for your words of encouragement, prayers, and support of my ministry and my family. Thank you ALL for being a part of the Christlike Ministries NWA Family. You’re all amazing and a blessing to me.
Good Night Everyone & God Bless!
Blessings & Grace;