Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Chris Hodges » Chris Hodges - Between the Pain and the Promise

Chris Hodges - Between the Pain and the Promise

Chris Hodges - Between the Pain and the Promise
TOPICS: Seven Days

Well, good morning, everybody! How's everybody today? Oh, it's so good to see you. I love you, I miss you. It's so good to be in church with you today. A big hello to all of our campuses that are now joining us. We are one church. Everybody say, "One church". One church that just has rooms all across Alabama and in Columbus, Georgia, and in 20 of Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities. So, we're so glad you guys are along for the ride, as well. And, of course, there will always be a watching online somewhere around the world. We're so glad that you're a part of the journey today. Grants Mill, you want to help me say a big hello? Come on, put your hands together. Good to see you.

All right. And we're in week number six of a seven-part series that's called seven days, and we've given you a little journal. I hope you have one, if you maybe have it with you today, you can take notes find the page that correlates to today's message, and take some notes, and it's designed also to help you do some study between Sundays, as well. We give you all the verses on the seven days that led up to Easter, from Palm Sunday to Easter. And the reason why we're doing that, why we have an entire message series, seven-week series on each of the seven days, the last seven days of Jesus's life on earth, the reason why we're focusing on it is because the Bible does, because the Bible gives a lot of attention in this 33-year life of Jesus, gives a whole lot of attention just on one single week.

In fact, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it's about a third of the gospel. It's just the final week of Jesus's life. And John's gospel, it's nearly half of it, covers just the final week of Jesus's life. And so, in it we not only find what happened on the particular day, but we also have the lessons, life lessons. It was the final things that Jesus was saying. And so we're going to jump right into that in a second. But before we do, let me give you a few thoughts about next week. Hey, I don't know if you know this or not, but next Sunday is Resurrection Sunday, everybody. All right? Yeah, it's gonna be pretty awesome. And for us, it'll take place over three days, and I want you to know we have about 99 services in our 23 locations over three days.

So, there's a lot of opportunities, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Friday, one service, Saturday. There are some locations, two services. Sunday, four opportunities to attend an Easter service, and they're all identical, by the way. So, same music, same message with the exception that on Good Friday, on Friday night, we're going to receive Communion together and have a little bit more of a focus on the cross, as I give you the same Easter message, as well. So, I just want to let you know that, and it's a great opportunity, honestly, in fact. So, I'm going to ask you to do three things, if you would, please. I'm going to ask all of us to pray this week, and I know you already prayed, but I'm inviting you to specifically pray for every one of these services.

Would you pray for me? I'm going to spend quite a bit of time this week in preparation. I already have my message. I think I could preach it right now, but I'm going to study some more to get ready. And honestly, this year, I have a message that is tailor-made for people that are far from God. So, if you know someone who's far from God, I want you to pray for them. Last year, we had 3,883 people give their life to Jesus at Easter. Praise God for that, yeah, come on. I'm believing God this year for more than 4,000 people to give their life to Jesus. And so just believe God with us. If you want to fast, I'll be fasting on Friday, if you'd like to join me. I'm not calling the whole church to fast, but it's the Holy Week. It'd be a great time to really maybe spend a little bit more time with the Lord. Pray for our services. Pray for me and all of our teams, all of our campus teams.

The second thing I want to encourage you to do is invite someone. This is your best chance to invite someone. And honestly, the last two years, because there was, that everyone focused on the disease, and I'm not saying we've stopped focusing on it, but it's obviously a lot different now than it was the last two years. For the first time, I've really felt comfortable to say, hey, have someone sit next to you in church who's far from God. And think about someone who maybe not, doesn't, isn't close to the Lord or doesn't have a place to go to church on Easter. And the best way to do it is then ask them, "Sit with me". You pick a service, and you tell them all the service opportunities at your campus, and then say, "You pick the service, and that's the one I'll attend".

And so invite someone, invite someone to church. And by the way, if you're not, if you don't have a guest with you, someone that you've invited to church, I would like to encourage you to attend a service in your, at your campus, that you know is not quite as full as some of the others. So, obviously, we have some services that are just jam-packed already before Easter, and that's usually the ones that you like them. That's why you attend them, but it's also the ones that, those that are coming for the first time are going to choose. So, maybe even pick a service that's not quite so full, unless you have a guest that wants to be at that service, okay?

So, invite someone. And then lastly, I want you to participate. And what I mean by that is I want you to know that you're as important as a part of the Easter experience for someone who's there for the first time as what I'm going to be doing, and that's a fact. I don't know if you guys know this part of my testimony or not, but I gave my life to Jesus as a sophomore in high school, not because of the message or the music that was happening in that service. I couldn't believe all the people were so on fire for God. I'd never seen teachers in love with God before. It was the worship service, not the songs, the way the people were acting. I had never seen people in love with God before. And it was the people that drew me to Jesus, not just the message. Are y'all listening to me, everybody?

So, let's have a celebration fit for a risen King, and let's all participate. And I don't want you to act. I'm not asking you to put on a show, but just know that people are watching you, and they'll be, the new people are saying, "What in the world? What's going on"? And let's just let people see our love for God and know that we are Christians that stand victorious because our God's victorious. And so, yeah, so let me just encourage you guys in that. And then finally, I want you to participate. I will do, as we do only one time a year, I'm gonna do a survey at the beginning of the message and at the end of the message, and I want you to participate in that.

So, even though, "PC, you know who I am, I've been here forever. You know, you know I'm a Christian". Do it anyway, all right? Just participate. Because every time you do, it gets those that are new, it makes them a little bit more comfortable to participate in that, as well. You got it? Say, "I got it," everyone. All right, so let's jump into the message today. And I'm very excited about today's message that I want to share with you, because we're gonna talk about the Saturday, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Today, our focus is on the Saturday. And there are a few verses, but there are not that many, in fact, a lot of people think that there was nothing going on, but there was. There was something going on that Saturday, and that's what I want to talk about today.

In fact, I'll begin with, we have a few verses, and here's one of them in Luke chapter 23. This is Luke's account, basically, of what took place after the cross, before Easter, before Resurrection Sunday. "There was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action". And he's talking about their decision to crucify Jesus. "He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God". Everybody say the word waiting. Yeah, he was waiting. "Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus's body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb". And that's what we're talking about today, what happened while Jesus's body was laying in the tomb, "cut in the rock, one from which no one had yet been laid". And it was, I want you to see these two words. "It was Preparation Day, and it was also the Sabbath".

The Sabbath is that Saturday. It's Saturday. Sabbath is a day where people, the Jewish people rest. It actually, literally means, Sabbath means cease from labors. So, I'm gonna stop working. I'm not gonna give it my best effort. And for most of us, we're constantly struggling and working and trying to make things work out. But this was a Sabbath Day where no work could take place. So, they were basically in a suspended, waiting, preparation, nothing going on, they thought kind of a day. And really, we're stuck between two days. Friday, I'll call it the day of pain. Sunday I'll call the day of promise. But as you all know, who've ever had pain and never had God come through in a situation, there's a gap. And some of you are living in the gap right now. There's a gap.

Like a lot of you guys are in the Saturday of life right now. I mean, you've experienced something difficult. You know God's gonna come through, but I'm stuck right here in the middle. How many of y'all know he's not on the Alpha and the Omega, but he's also the God of the middle. And I'm gonna help you a little bit with the middle, the waiting, the Sabbath when you don't think anything's going on, but there is. There's always the gap between the pain and the promise. And what today's lesson teaches us, and it's not one that's actually fun, but it's just true.

So, there's a lot of things with Christianity that I'm going to share with you that are not fun, but they're true. So, I still have to teach them to you. I'd rather teach you all the fun stuff, right? But one of those is waiting. Waiting is a part of the spiritual journey, and that's very hard for those of us who live in this instant society. My goodness, we don't even have to go to the store anymore. We go to our computer, click, click. I don't know how Amazon does it, but it's at my house before I finish clicking. I mean, there it is, right? There it is. And a lot of us begin to think, and some of you who came today, I'm gonna encourage the fire out of you today, because you don't think anything's going on. All you know is that body is laying in the tomb, lifeless. Nothing's happening. And the truth is something is happening. His body was there, but God is always at work in ways that we cannot see.

So, there's a lot of theology actually around this, and I have chosen not to dive into the theology, because there's a lot of actual debate around the theology of what happened on that Saturday. In fact, I spent more than five hours probably reading all the differing views from different traditions about what happened to Jesus between the cross and the resurrection. And there are different beliefs. There is the belief by most traditions that Jesus literally on that Saturday went into hell and confronted hell. Some actually believe he actually needed to go to hell to suffer, to experience hell, because he had taken on the sins of the world. My personal belief is he had already paid for sins. And when he said it was finished, that went for the sin that he had taken on himself, that he actually died as a victor. He wasn't dying as a sinner. He took on sin; but the moment he gave his life, sin was paid for.

That's my personal belief. But there are a lot of verses that talk about what happened in that gap. Like, for instance, one of those in Ephesians 4, that he descended into the lower earthly regions. Another verse in 1 Peter says, "For Christ suffered for sins", that's the cross, "the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God". That was what he did. He broke the barrier, the sin barrier, so you and I could have fellowship with God. "He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. And after being made alive, he went and made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits". Some say that he actually went into hell and preached.

Now, again, there's a lot of different theological beliefs, because there's not enough conclusive verses to really say this is exactly what happened. But this verse is telling us that he actually went to that lower region, Sheol, the place of the dead, and preached, some say to bring out those that needed to be saved from the Old Testament. There's a lot of varying beliefs, but the bottom line is, the truth is, is that he actually, in that gap, was not just lying in the tomb. He was confronting hell is what you need to know. And that is why, for years, believers recited, as part of their liturgy, they recited creeds like the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed. And in most of those, they actually include this detail.

In fact, I'll read you a portion of the Apostle Creed. "I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, was buried..." And look at this last line. "...and descended into hell. Then on the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead". So, again, this was a part of tradition for more than 1,500 years, to acknowledge the fact that there was something going on, on that Saturday. When it looked like nothing was going on, he's confronting hell.

In fact, Colossians says it this way, "And having disarmed powers and authorities..." In other words, he went to that place. And they were armed, but he disarmed them. They had weapons, but he removed those weapons from them, and he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the power that took place on that Friday. You might say, "Well, PC, what did he disarm them from"? Well, actually, Jesus himself says what he disarmed them from. When John the disciple, 70, 80 years later, it was on the isle of Patmos, he was exiled there to die on this island. John the disciple has a revelation of the end times. That is what the book of Revelation is, what he saw while he was on that isle. But the whole journey began with what theologians call a Christophany, which means an appearance of Jesus after his ascension into heaven.

So, like, Jesus appeared to the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. Well, here's another Christophany, an appearance, just like an appearance of Jesus after his ascension. And John, who actually spent three years with Jesus, when he saw him, fell at his feet as dead, why? 'Cause Jesus is now in his glorified body. In fact, John describes it there, if you want to go read it. His eyes like fire, his hair like wool, and a sword coming out of his mouth. Of course, John is like oh, my goodness. And he passes out. "But he laid his right hand on me, saying to me..." I want you to notice these words carefully, 'cause this is really my message for somebody here today.

Now, while you think your God is laying in the grave doing nothing, he's actually working on your behalf. "And do not be afraid. I am the First, and I'm the Last". This is the words of Jesus. "And I am he who lives, and was dead..." By the way, all other gods are dead. Our God was dead. "And behold, I am alive forevermore". And he amens himself. Come on, somebody. Y'all say, "Well, why does PC always just say, 'Come on, say amen.'"? Because I'll give myself an amen 'cause Jesus did. So, I'm just letting y'all know. But then he says here, "And I have the keys of Hell, Hades, and Death". Don't you love it that the devil doesn't even have keys to his own house? Come on, somebody. I have the keys.

Now many people believe it was in that Saturday exchange, the moment he paid for sins on the cross, that he disarmed principalities and took the keys of hell. And by the way, that hell and that death, not only imply, in fact, I've studied it deeply. I wish I had time to give it to you. But it's not just the eternal hell or death, but it's also the earthly hell or death. He has the keys for everything that's going on in your life in that kind of a way. Do not be afraid. It reminds me of a story in the Old Testament that I deeply love, because I wrote a book on the life of Daniel. And if you remember the life of Daniel, Daniel fasted. That's why we have a 21-day fast at the beginning of the year is because Daniel fasted 21 days. And one of my favorite verses to explain what happens on fasting, people say, "Why do you fast in 21 days? I thought God heard you on the first day". Watch this.

So, after Daniel had fasted, he fasted, he's on the 21st day now of the 21-day fast. And an angel appears to him at the end of the 21-day fast, and watch what he says. And same words as Jesus. "Do not be afraid". Isn't that interesting? "Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard". On what day, everybody? The first day. "I'm here on the 21st day, but I was listening to you and actually heard you on the first day". I'm here to tell somebody, who's wondering if your God is just laying in a tomb, unanswered. Said no, no, no. He heard you on the first day, even though you now find yourself on the 21st day. He says, "And I have come in response to," what? The first day prayer. "Why are you here on the 21st then"? "Because the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me".

That's a demonic principality, 21 days. "While you thought I was doing nothing, I've been up there fighting the prince of Persia for 21 days". Are y'all following this, everybody? I'm about to preach myself happy today. This is, and then Michael, which is one of the three named angels in the Bible, there are three named angels: Lucifer, Gabriel, and Michael. Lucifer was over worship. Gabriel over, he was always delivering a message, like he delivered to Mary and Elizabeth. And then Michael was always the warring, by the way, those are the three things that take place in church: worship, the Word, and prayer, same three. "Then Michael, the warring angel of the chief princes, came to help me. So, while you thought on day two, and then on day three, and then on day ten, and then on day twelve, as you were fasting and sending up to heaven the same prayer, like, I wasn't answering. No, no, no. I answered on the first day".

And I'm just here to remind you today that Saturday represents, it reminds us that while we are waiting, Jesus is warring. That's my message, everybody. While you're in the wait, he's not inactive. Come on, somebody, put your hands together and give God praise, if you believe it's true. So, this is what Saturday's all about. You're Sabbathing. You've stopped. You've ceased from your labors, but God is at work. Two words, two words: waiting, warring. What's going on this Saturday? Waiting and warring. So, let me teach you how to wait and how to war. I'm gonna give you two thoughts on each word. Let me just help you. So now I'm getting practical. I preached to you.

Now let's make it work. There are two things, two things that you need to know about waiting, and there are two things you need to know about spiritual warfare and warring. And the first is, whether you like it or not, we wait patiently. Now, I have to teach you this. And this is, I have the least moral authority to teach you this right now. I am the least patient person you know. I've got a lot of qualities, y'all, but this ain't one of them. Come on, somebody. Where y'all at? Don't look so holy out there. I'm always in a hurry. I mean, even if I ain't late, I'm speed. Come on, somebody. Where y'all at out there? Don't look so holy. Y'all know you do it, too. And it's, y'all heard the story about the guy who asked God, he said, "God, what's a million, what's a million years like to you"? And God says, "Man, just like a second". He said, "Oh, wow, wow". He says, "God, what's a million dollars like to you"? And God said, "Man, like a penny". The guy said, "Can I have one of those pennies"? God said, "Sure, just a second".

Some of y'all got that, some of y'all didn't. It's funny. I don't care what y'all say. That's funny, all right. But there's truth in it, too, that a God who's outside of time sees the beginning from the end, knows he has you in the palm of his hand, knows you're gonna be all right, when we don't think we are. It just behooves us to be a little bit more patient because that's just how your God works. He's not in a hurry. I'm so sorry. And this works for most of the world, but it doesn't work for Americans very well 'cause we live in a drive-thru Amazon society. We can get what we want when we want it, and God is just not gonna operate that way. And I'm just trying to help you be patient that God is not lying in a tomb uninvolved. No, no, he's working on your behalf.

And you see it through every story. I don't have to remind you, but the very first, one of the very first ones in the Bible, how God had promised Abraham, "You're going to be the father of many nations," and he didn't even have a single child. And, of course, takes matters into his own hands. And boy, that created all kind of issues that we're still living with today, but then waited. And at 100 years old, watch this, when his body had lost its reproductive ability, God says, "Okay now". And the Bible says in Hebrews, "After," say the next two words. "After waiting patiently..."

Now ain't nobody gonna write this verse down and put it on your refrigerator. I know you're not. But after waiting patiently, that's when Abraham received. Now, the question is why? Why does God do that? How mean is that, God? For heaven's sakes. If you can do it now, do it now. Why does God do that? Watch this. Because he's more interested, he's as interested in working in your life, developing things, as he is answering the prayer. I call it a two-fer. Come on, you Alabamans, y'all know what a two-fer is. I got two for one. God has this ability to work on our character and answer the prayer at the same time. And actually, whether you like it or not, he's as interested in your character as he is answering that prayer. I'll show it to you in James.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds because you know..." I'm trying to make you know, I'm trying to help you know. "...that the testing of your faith is developing perseverance". It's working something on the inside of us, a character, to which somebody would say, "Well, I would rather God just answer the prayer". And God, no, no, no, God is trying to do something in you. In fact, the way I say it is, when something's happening to you, you can be assured that God is trying to do something in you, too. So, when somebody has upset you, and you're completely in the right, and they're wrong, God is still working on your character in the middle of that situation.

Now let's think about this. If that, if we are in a school of character, through the things that we face, then what speeds up school? Like, how can you speed up the school process? Pass the test. Let me say it this way. Fail the test, you retake the grade. Pass the test, you go onto the next one. So, really, the question we should be asking God is, "Lord, I'm going through hell on earth. Doesn't look like you're involved at all, but I know you're trying to teach me something. Lord, what are you trying to teach me"? And the Bible goes on to say in James that when perseverance has its finished work, you're going to be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Well, there you are. We'd love to have that.

If I ask you the end of that verse, how many of you would like to lack nothing? You'd like to have it all. Yeah! Okay. Well, this is the journey to that, and it's all throughout the Bible. Not only said, but we rejoice in our sufferings, no one does, but I'm trying to help you to. Because that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. So, we wait patiently, but we also wait hopefully. And this is the encouraging part today. In fact, I'm gonna pray in just a couple of minutes for those that have been in a long wait over something. I don't normally end a service this way.

So, get ready, that if you want me to believe God with you for the waiting, that whatever you're waiting for, for God to move in a mighty way in that situation, we're gonna today lift our faith and believe that God is, where he is disarming principalities and powers on our behalf. And that's why Hebrews says, "You need to persevere so that when you've done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised". Do you guys believe this? You will receive what God has promised. "For, 'In a little while...'" And that's, by the way, that's God's little while, not ours. That's the whole million years, second thing, right? Okay. "'...he who is coming will come and will not delay.' But my righteous one will live by faith.'" Say it out loud, live by faith. "'And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.' 'Cause we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but we are those who have faith and are saved".

So, I've got a simple message. I apologize for how simple it is. I'm telling you I heard the Spirit of God tell me to tell somebody, don't give up on your kids, don't give up on your marriage, don't give up on your dream. Look at me, look at me. Don't give up, don't give up. I know some of you are so tired. Don't give up. I know you're tired, but "let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest if we..." That's the waiting. I know some of you are in the waiting. We're gonna wait. Listen to me. While you're in the waiting, let's do what Jesus did. In the waiting, there's no wait. What are you doing? Waiting. No, what did Jesus do? He was warring.

Let me give you two, that we war consistently. What do you mean by that? On the first day I'm gonna pray, the second day I'm gonna pray, the third day I'm gonna pray, the fourth day I'm gonna pray, the fifth day I'm gonna pray. I thought God already knows. God forgot. No. Just reminding myself. Sixth day I'm gonna pray, seventh day I'm gonna pray. I'm gonna pray the next day. Twenty-one days. He answered on the 21st day. I'm gonna keep on praying beyond 21 days. And I'm not just gonna kumbaya. Lord I love you. I know. Whatever be thy will. No, it's not whatever be thy will. He said, "Ask, ask me". 'Cause prayer is not just communion with God. It's also confronting the enemy, everybody. I had 20 Scriptures I was gonna share here, but I knew I didn't have enough time. But take your stand, Ephesians 6 says, against the enemy. Don't be a passive Christian. Be a warring Christian. Confront your enemy.

2 Corinthians says, "For though we live in the world, we don't wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with..." Are you fighting? I mean this is making the assumption that you are. "...are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, our weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds". Ochuróma. Strongholds. Do you know what a stronghold is? It's literally defined something the devil's convinced you of that's just not true. That's what a stronghold is. And for some of you, the devil's convinced you this marriage is never gonna change. This is never gonna be healed. This is never gonna be fixed. I'll never achieve that dream. And it's a lie. It's a lie. So, we demolish those lies, those arguments, and everything that's pretending to be greater than our God that's actually not greater than our God. We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. We do that every day. Every day, I pray for my son, Joseph. I bind autism, in the name of Jesus.

God, I thank you you're healing him. God, I pray for my kids, their marriages. Lord, every one of them. Lord, I'm praying for this church. I pray for, and I go through. We get sent, all the pastors get sent prayer needs from the congregations. I grab that. I just pray this. Father, I'm believing God for cancer to dry up and die, in the name of Jesus.

Fighting every day, fighting every day. Everybody say every day! So, we war consistently, but I also want you to war confidently. Why? Because we have the name of Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus, "being found in appearance as man, humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross! And God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee", that includes the devil's, "every knee should bow," watch this, "in heaven, on earth, and under the earth". That's why we sang today, "What a powerful name it is, what a powerful name it is, the name of Jesus Christ my King".
Are you Human?:*