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Dr. Ed Young - The Easter Parade

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    Dr. Ed Young - The Easter Parade
TOPICS: Easter

We have a wonderful member of our church, Ron Still, he gave his testimony here to a group of men, deacons, last Sunday night. And Ron stood up, he just opened up his life to all of those guys in a very candid way. Remember, when somebody shares their life with you, they let you walk on holy ground. Never forget that. And that's exactly what Ron did. He said he was brought up just another guy, had no ambition. His family had nothing to do with the church. He just wen along with everybody and everything, just another guy. And he said he and his twin brother were admitted to college. He said that first year both of them flunked out. He said, "My brother joined the Marines, the military, was sent to Vietnam". He said, "I just hung around and bummed around, not having any direction". But he said, "I got admitted to a second college the second year," and he said, "I had no goals". He said, "The same thing happened. I flunked out the second time".

Then Ron said, "Would you believe it? I decided to go back to school the third time, and there was a college that didn't check on my past academic records, and they admitted me". So now he'd flunked out twice. He's in his third college, and he's just sort of getting along and going along until he says, "I see this beautiful girl," said, "she was radiant, not only outside, but inside," and said, "I was just attracted to her". But he said, "I knew immediately she was out of my league". Guys, y'all understand that?

I see many of you are seated by someone who's out of your league, if you were to be honest with it. And Ron said, "I didn't have enough courage to ask her out for a date. I knew she'd turned down all kinda guys, and she wouldn't come anywhere around somebody like me". But he said, "I got to know her, and we would speak". And he said, "Finally, I decided that after Christmas, when I come back to school, I'm gonna get up my courage. I'm gonna ask her to go out," expecting a negative answer. But he said, "The opportunity presented itself". He asked her to go out on a date, and he said, "To my amazement, she said, 'Yes, under one condition. We go to my church for the date.'" And he said, "Piece of cake. What can happen in church"? I thought about this Easter service, and I said, "A lot of us have come here with that attitude".

Easter Sunday, going to church, "Piece of cake". I mean, what can happen in church? But I know something that's very apparent, that in the subterranean area of this service of worship, way down underneath, a lot of people here, thinking perhaps that when we express our faith, Christ is risen, that somehow we'll have some assurance or some entrée that we will be an answer to the prayer that my mother prayed every day of my life when I was at home. She would pray and she would always say, "When thou art through with us on this earth, take us to our home which is in heaven".

Now, as a little kid, I didn't like that prayer because I knew that had to do something with death. But she prayed it every single time. And I have a feeling that though you do not know this consciously, you may not have rationally thought about it, that is something of what's the spirit of this service of worship. Lord, when you are through with us on this earth, when breath leaves our bodies, you will graduate us and take us to our home which is in heaven. And that's sorta the desire that we be a part of that Easter parade. We love parades, and there's been an Easter parade since the 1st century. When the Marys went to the tomb and the tomb was empty, they said, "Where is our Lord?" Peter and John went there and the tomb was empty.

And then finally, Jesus made that bodily appearance there to those apostles, and then he made an appearance to his brother James, who didn't buy into any of that stuff. Then he made an appearance to two on the road to Emmaus, remember? And then he made an appearance again there in the upper room. And suddenly, Jesus is popping up everywhere by the Sea of Galilee, where he ate fish. And finally, he gathered there with over 500 men, which meant there were over a thousand people there because they counted only the men in that day, they didn't count the women and the children. So, here is he who was crucified and was dead. Now he appears to more than 1,000 people.

Now, what's going on in Jerusalem? Remember, this is the Passover. Remember, this is when thousands of people came from all over the world, Jews speaking various languages to celebrate the day of days in the Jewish calendar, the Passover. And suddenly, there was noised about, noised about in the temple area, from people who had witnessed the Resurrection of Jesus. They had witnessed that he was indeed dead and now he's alive again, and that news is spreading. And we know the 120 who had witnessed that, they had been praying for 40 days. And now they're dispersed among the crowd and they are sharing with those Jews from all over the world that this one whom you crucified, Jesus of Nazareth, was the Messiah, the Son of God, that every pious Jew had been praying to come since they were born.

And they were hearing in their own languages, and the Bible says they were pierced in their hearts, pierced in their hearts. And this brings us back to the one requirement that is necessary, ladies and gentlemen, to get to heaven to be a part of that Easter parade. One thing and one thing only, that is to be a Christian, to be a Christian. So we ask, "What does it mean to be a Christian"? It's interesting to observe. We could take a survey of everybody here, and you would get a lot of different answers. Isn't that somethin'? But that's true of all the major religions of the world. You ask a Buddhist, "How can I become a Buddhist"?

Hold on, you'll get a lot of answers. You ask some of 'em who are of the Islamic faith, "Well, how can I become a worshiper of Mohammed"? You'll get a lot of different answers. You ask someone who is a Hindu, "Well, I wanna become a Hindu," you'll get a multiplicity of answers. You ask somebody, "Well, you're a Jew. How can I become a Jew, or what is a Jew"? By the way, perhaps the most debated thing today in Israel is, "Give me a definition for a Jew". You get a lot of different definitions. And we come to Christianity, this is the same thing of our faith, of those who are here worshiping Jesus, the resurrected Lord. You know, "What is a Christian"? A Christian is someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. How does that happen?

Go back to the setting in the book of Acts I talked about, Acts chapter 2, and now all of those felt guilty in the crowd when Peter stood up on that day of Pentecost and said, "You have killed the Messiah". And they felt guilty. They recognized their sin, and that passage says, "They were pierced in their heart". And then they asked a question that I hope, though you've not formulated the question, that may be the question a lot of us are asking right now in this celebration service: "What must I do? What must I do"? And Jesus says clearly, "You are to repent". You're to change. You're to turn around and go in the other direction. And the Latin word is "convertare," meaning "con," "with," "vertare" means "to turn". You turn away from sin. You've been convicted. You've confessed it. Your heart is pierced. And you turn away from sin, and then it says, "You are to be baptized".

The figure is we are bared with Christ unto death. See all these were baptized? We say, "You are buried with Christ unto death. You rise again to walk in newness of life". That's the old life, the death, and the resurrection to the new life. And then he says, "You're forgiven". "Piece of cake. What can happen in church"? I'll tell ya what can happen. You can come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and you can leave this place forgiven. You can leave this place clean, clear, transparent, with a brand-new life, with a brand-new beginning. I don't care what you've done. I don't care what you haven't done. I don't care how dirty, how empty, how shameful it is. You can leave this place a brand-new person. That's what can happen in church, be forgiven, cleansed. Is that a miraculous thing? That's the promise of Christ, our resurrected Lord. And then what's the next thing you do? You receive the Holy Spirit.

Now, stay with me. Stay with me. This is the most important, valuable thing you'll ever hear in any service of worship, any church service, listen carefully. Then, when we receive Jesus Christ into our life, all of us have a human spirit in us. What's that little voice that speaks to you? Well, what is that I am that the Great I Am has placed in you and me that made you an I am and made me an I am? That is the spirit. That is the human spirit that's in all of us. But when we are pierced of heart, when we've turned away from all the garbage, and when we recognize we need to be baptized, we need to die to self and be resurrected by the power of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven, and then the Holy Spirit comes. We receive this. We invite him. He receives this, and your human spirit, and my human spirit is combined with the Holy Spirit.

Now, stay with me. 1 Corinthians says it clearly, chapter 2. Most of us think we are a body that is inside of us a spirit. Wrong, we are a spirit that has around us a body. And therefore, when we invite Jesus Christ to come into our life, Jesus Christ is married to our human spirit, and that is the Holy Spirit. In fact, when we invite Jesus to come, he brings his whole family with us. We see that in John 14. Jesus said, "I am in the Father, and the Father is in me, and I am in you, and you're in me". And therefore, we invite God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit to come into our lives.

Ladies and gentlemen, you cannot invite him who created the world into your life and not make a radical difference in everything we do and say. So then, when we realize this body, 100 years, let me check on that physical body you have, see how it's gettin' along. It's gonna be here, is it? But what will be here is that spirit, that Holy Spirit, that divinity that Christ has placed in us, and we will receive because of that a resurrection body. You couldn't go to the moon with this body. We have to have a spacesuit on and go on a spaceship. If you try to go like this, you're not gonna make it. Do you think anybody here could go to heaven and live with God in paradise permanently with this shabby body that we have here? Not a chance. We had better know that because we have the God the Father, God the Holy Spirit in us, that this body will go away, and we'll receive a new body.

We read about it in 1 Corinthians 15. The perishable will put on the imperishable. The mortal will put on immortality. And we know that death has been defeated. Easter killed death. Death is out of business. And therefore, we'll have our resurrected body in heaven with him. You see, Christ is risen. And because he lives, we too shall live. And Jesus was the firstfruits, the prototype, if you would, of the body we're gonna have in heaven, and be there forever and ever, not floating and playing harps, though I'd like to learn how. We will have all of our joys and all of our creativity put together forever and forever and forever. So, you see, we will have a new body because we are spirit and we have been born again in the spirit.

This is what Jesus was telling Nicodemus. He said, "Nic, man, you gotta be born of the water," that's physical birth. The water breaks, physical birth. "And you've gotta be born of the spirit". And that's what happened to us. You see that all the way through the Bible. And we say, "Oh, this spiritual stuff". Oh, no, the spiritual stuff is reality as our spirit are married with his Spirit and there is a permanency there with a promise we'll have that resurrection body. Let me tell you something. That's a powerful thing. How much power do you think it took for Jesus, who was stone-cold crucified and dead, to be brought back to life by the Father? That's resurrection power, and that's the power that's available to us now and forever with that personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

So, when we have that personal relationship with Jesus Christ, guess what? Just guess what? We have a different relationship with our heavenly Father. What is that relationship? You're family, you're son. Hey, you're a daughter. You're in the family of the Almighty. Listen, folks, in the world in we live in, we can't afford the luxury of not knowing the truth about God, and this is the truth. A new relationship with the Father, new relationship with his Son, and you say, "Well, that relationship, it's old. It's a long time ago". It will come back to life. It's like someone you've known but they've been away and now you come back. I hope that'll happen to many here. It's others who've never known to have a new birth, a new experience. We're twice born. We're born physically, then we're born again spiritually.

Not only we have a new relationship with the Father, we'll have a new relationship to people. You know, people that don't know Christ, they're generally in the world to get all the pleasure they can, to get all the recognition they can, and they try to build up all the worldly stuff that they can muster up in their lives, but we know a day will come when that will be, poof. And those who are not Christians, they have no real motivation to be compassionate genuinely, or to try to help others genuinely. But we as Christians, what's our assignment? You see, as we have the image of our heavenly Father physically, as we grow this relationship with Jesus Christ his Son, we begin to have the image of our spiritual heavenly Father, even God himself, what he tells us to do about those that we don't like.

We learn how to love 'em. What do we do about those who hate us? We're to try to do something for them. How is that workin' out for you? That's quite an assignment, isn't it, to love the unlovely, those that slander you, that persecute you? But that's what we're to do. Non-Christians don't have that mandate. A lady was bitten by a dog. They examined the dog and discovered the dog was rabid. So the lady sat down when the doctor gave her the news, she began to write. The doctor said, "Oh, you don't have to write out your will. You know, you're gonna be all right. We're gonna give you some shots". She said, "I'm not writing out my will. I'm makin' a list of those people I wanna bite".

That's the way the world responds. The world says, "You don't like me? I don't like you". But we are of a different agenda, and we have a different program because of that personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, not only have a different relationship with God because we're in Christ, a different relationship with people, but we have a different relationship to evil. You know, I've had that idea, "Well, you know, I don't wanna make anybody mad. And I have my convictions, but I'm not gonna impose them or I'm not gonna take a stand".

Let me tell you something. If Jesus Christ is in your life and my life, there is light in our lives. And light is always opposed to darkness, and those who are living for the world, the flesh, and the devil, and themselves, we have nothing in common with them. We can 't compromise with them. Ladies and gentlemen, we lament over what all is happening in the world. When we just are quiet, we need to stand up courageously and say, "I want everybody to know whose side I'm on, whose team I am playing for". I see little whining Christians come around and say, "You know, where I work, they're just not treating me fair because I'm a Christian". Well, hello? As last time I checked, Jesus got crucified, did he not?

So we are going to be the salt and the light and the lovin' in this world. We need to stand up boldly, humbly, and courageously, and say, "I march to the beat of a different drummer". We're goin' in the opposite direction. Someone living for the flesh is goin' this way. Someone living and guided by the Spirit is going this way. Guess what? There's gonna be some confrontation. When you sell out to Jesus Christ, you're not put in the maternity ward. You're not put into a new birth area. You're put into the battlefield. And we'd better understand that if we're going to make a difference in this day in which we live because we'll have a different relationship toward evil. We're not afraid of evil.

James says in James 4, chapter 8, he says simply: "We are to resist the devil, and he will flee from us". And we're fortified from evil. We can still be tempted, but I'll tell ya, the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in your life and my life will give us the victory every time we put it into practice. Also, I'll tell you something else. We have this personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which is a requirement to be in that Easter parade. We have a different relationship to the church, the body of Christ.

You say, "Well, you know, I don't like organized religion". Oh, you like disorganized religion? How did that disorganized religion work during Harvey? Were all those disorganized floating Christians, did they band together and say, "Whoa, we're gonna help those people"? No, it was the church that was organized to feed and to clothe and to help and to love and to seek to bring those back. It's the body of Christ. If a tiger fights a lion, the tiger wins every time. Really? Ask the zoologist, every time. A tiger is more tenacious. Tiger has more energy. A tiger is more determined to win. Tiger one on one versus a lion one on one, tiger wins, hands down. Five tigers fighting five lions, the lions win, hands down. Well, that doesn't make sense. Sure it does. The lions fight together. They take three of them will jump on one tiger and they're unified.

This is the body of Christ, ladies and gentlemen. Join together in the body of Christ and seek to not only be nourished and to grow ourselves as this spirit grows within us and within you, but also will unite to make a difference wherever God plants us. Piece of cake. What can happen in church? Well, the rest of Ron's story, he went to church with Kathleen, their first date. And something happened in church that day to him. The pastor began to talk about sin and shame and guilt, and he felt so uncomfortable, uneasy, he didn't know what to do. He said, as far as he knew, he'd never been to church before in his life. Think about it. He said, "I was so undone". And he said that "they sang 49 stanzas of 'Just As I Am.'" And he said, "I never went forward". And he said, "When we left the church, we got in the car, and I drove to Kathleen's house. And seated in the driveway, I told her how I felt, so unclean and so dirty, and I didn't know what to do about it".

And then said, their first date, Kathleen led him to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that changed everything. Piece of cake. What can happen in church? Five days later, he proposed to her. Amazingly, she accepted. Piece of cake, you know, what can happen in church? They've been married 42 years. They have three Christian daughters. All three are married to three Christian men. I think they have nine grandchildren. Piece of cake, what can happen in church? Let me tell you something. What happened to Ron can happen to anybody here wherever you are. Christ can come and change and take a life going in this direction and put it in that direction. Christ can come and forgive and clean up anybody's act, no matter how backward, how foreign it may be, and Christ can come and give the Holy Spirit to that life. And you can leave this place this Easter Sunday today brand new. That's what can happen in church.
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