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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Kerry Shook » Kerry Shook - Breakthrough of Easter

Kerry Shook - Breakthrough of Easter

Kerry Shook - Breakthrough of Easter
TOPICS: Easter

Chris Shook: Happy Easter, Woodlands Church. Are you ready to celebrate? Yeah, Jesus Christ is alive. You can be seated. Without Easter, there would be no reason to celebrate, but Easter turns our sadness and mourning into celebration because Jesus Christ is alive.

Kerry Shook: Look at Matthew chapter 28: "After the Sabbath, at dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and His clothes were as white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you're looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.'"

At dawn, on that first Easter Sunday, the earth began to shake, the rock shattered, and the stone rolled away and Jesus broke through the grave and he rose again. And because Jesus broke through on that first Easter, we can experience a breakthrough on this Easter. So let me ask you, do you need a major breakthrough in some area of your life? Is there something in your life that you desperately need change and you've tried everything and nothing changes? Do you need a breakthrough in your marriage? Do you need a breakthrough in your business or in your finances? Do you need a breakthrough to break out of anxiety or depression? Do you need a breakthrough to break free from a destructive habit or an addiction?

I've got good news for you today. Easter is all about breakthrough. On Palm Sunday, the disciples walked with Jesus into Jerusalem. The crowds waved palms and they cheered him. The disciples thought Jesus was getting ready to break through and set up his kingdom on this Earth and they're gonna be right there with him to experience all the glory. But one week later, Jesus had been crucified and the disciples were stunned. They just never saw it coming, totally blindsided by it. This wasn't the way it was supposed to go. This couldn't have been the plan. Instead of breakthrough, it was complete breakdown.

Chris Shook: But our God is a God of surprises and the story wasn't over because 3 days later, Jesus broke out of the tomb, breaking the power of sin and death forever. The tomb had held a glorious surprise that only God could have conceived. And our God is still a God of surprises. His surprises surround us, even though a lot of times we miss him completely. We forget he's constantly reminding us that he is close and he is with us, that he is for us. Take this rock. My whole family knows that I love rocks. I don't know why. I just like them. And when we go on vacation, my luggage is always overweight on the way home because it's filled with 10 or 20 pounds of rocks, and they're just used to it now. They just know I'm always out looking for rocks.

Now, rocks are one of the most common objects on the planet. We usually don't pay any attention to them. This rock is even uglier than the average rock and that's saying something. So if you're outside and you're looking out and appreciating the beauty, you might say, "Wow, look at those flowers, they're beautiful," or "Look at those leaves blowing in the wind and the way they're changing color on the trees," or "Look at the sky. Look at that sunset". Very rarely will you look down and see something ugly like this and say, "Oh man, that's amazing. Look at that rock". No, it's the kind of thing that we just walk right past. We ignore, we just think it's nothing special. It's ugly. It's even in our way. But we would really miss out if we walked past this rock because this is a stone with a secret.

And I'm going to show you, I hope. I'm going to try to crack this open and I will tell you that bigger rocks are harder to crack open than small rocks. Yay, okay. So inside the rock, I don't know if you can see this, but there are crystals. It's filled with crystals. It's a geode. And at first glance, geodes look like ugly rocks. They give no clue about the treasure inside. It's full of crystals. Let me show you since it's a little hard for you to see this one. Take a look at this. It's a bigger one.

This is what a geode looks like when it's cracked open. This is amethyst. They look like ugly bumpy rocks on the outside, but they're really tiny caves filled with some of the world's most beautiful crystals. Geodes come in all sizes and all over the world. There's one in Spain that's over 26 feet wide, so you can walk inside of it like a boulder that contains this massive treasure. So here's the thing. That big ugly obstacle in your life, the one that you just think is ugly and in the way, the one that seems immovable, that agonizing situation, that painful relationship, that big mistake that you wish just you wouldn't have made it. That thing that you feel is breaking you in two, that right there, that is where there's treasure to be found.

Kerry Shook: There is an insurmountable barrier that we could never break through. It's the great barrier of our sins. Look at Colossians 2:13, "You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross". I have up here a spike that's kind of like the spikes the Romans used to crucify Christ, and they nailed spikes into his hands and into his feet. But here's the amazing thing: When Christ took the spikes into his hand and into his feet, he also took all of my debt and all of my sins. I mean, I can just see the, you know, page after page of all my sins and he took it, the nail through his hands, and then the page after page of all my sins was nailed to the cross as well and done away with. So all my guilt is canceled and guilt is unnecessary. You don't have to have guilt because of Easter.

Now, a lot of people say guilt is not real. It's just something made up by religious people to control others, but guilt is real. It's real. Guilt and shame are real and you can deny it, you can repress it. You can say it doesn't exist, but it's real. It'll come out in all kinds of destructive ways in your life because guilt is real. But guilt is unnecessary because of Easter. You see, God made a way for us. He knocked down the wall that separated us so that we can have a relationship with him. He took our place so that we can experience perfect heaven one day, even though we're not perfect. We've all sinned. He took those sins upon himself. Let me illustrate it this way.

You see, every one of us have sinned. You know, we've disobeyed God, we've gone our own way and thought we knew what to do more than God. We all have been selfish and we built this wall. God didn't build it. We built this wall, one brick at a time, with every one of our sins, and all of us have sinned. We've all tried to play God and it leaves us worn out. We've all tried to get our acts together and can't do it because willpower doesn't work. We keep building the wall between us and God and yet we were created to have that relationship totally with him. And because that wall was there, we're separated from Holy God. And here's what we usually try to do because we sense that wall is there. We want to be in heaven with him one day, and so we try to take that wall down ourselves, and basically that's religion.

What is religion? Religion is trying to get to God, and we look pretty good on the outside. It's like, "Wow, I'm a pretty good person. I'm better than most people". And we look like we've got it all together on the outside. We've done a lot of good things. "But yeah, God'll probably let me into heaven because I'm a pretty good guy". But yet, even though we look good on the outside, there's still a barrier between us and God because following rules, rituals, and regulations, trying to work your way up to perfect God, you can never get there because we've all sinned. We compare ourselves to others, but that's the wrong comparison. We have to compare ourselves to perfect, holy God. But he loves us so very much that we couldn't get to him because of our sins. So, what did he do? He went to the cross. And when he, this is kind of a mallet like the ones that they used to nail those nails in. And every time he took the nails, every time that Jesus Christ took the nails, the wall was shattering, until it came down. There's no wall between you and God now, because of what Christ has done, and all you have to do is receive him into your life.

Chris Shook: Because of Jesus, we have endless hope. With Adam, only a hopeless end. But being filled with hope for the future doesn't mean we'll always escape suffering in the present. Now, sometimes, God answers our prayers just exactly as we'd like. And sometimes his answers are even better than we could have even imagined. But sometimes, even though we ask for the hard to be removed, it stays. And we realize that on this earth we may never understand exactly why our prayers aren't being answered the way we wanted. We find ourselves in that waiting space between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Suffering's great power is that it's an interruption of our lives, and if that's where you find yourself today, I want to remind you that this is not how your story ends. It's simply where it takes a turn that you didn't expect.

That's what my dear friend Haley Odlizel has learned. Shortly after graduating from college, right before her wedding to Taylor, she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. And they're part of our church family. This is our family we're talking about, not someone far away, but someone close. And even though doctors informed her that her life expectancy was extremely short, Haley and Taylor got married just as they'd planned. And over the past 8 years, I've gotten to see a real-life miracle with my own eyes. And the surprise is that it hasn't been the miracle that I was asking for, but it's a miracle nonetheless, because we watched a young, hurting couple teach a master class in how to live and how to love and what matters and what doesn't matter. Haley has walked through every devastation that cancer can bring and she still shines with the honesty and zest for life that draws people to her like a magnet. And this Easter, I couldn't think of anyone better to share with us what real life is all about. So, here's Haley.

Chris Shook: This is Haley Odlozil and she is one of the wisest women I've ever known. And so I just wanted to get to talk to you for a few minutes about some of the awesome, awesome things that you've learned and I know that I could learn from and a lot of people could. How would you say your journey has changed you?

Haley Odlozil: So, I was 22 years old. I was planning the wedding of my dreams to the love of my life. I was wrapped up in work. I believed in God. God was present in my life, but it wasn't the focus surrounding my life, when I got diagnosed and when I got sick. And we went to see you and Kerry and I told you how angry I was and I was mad at God. And you were like, "He can take your anger. That's okay. He can take your anger, your pain, your whatever". I realized that the only way through something like this is something more profound than myself. And it brought God into my life because I truly needed that bigger, more profound meaning.

Chris Shook: I love that about your relationship with God, that you don't feel like you have to pretend with him. How do you keep that, and that focus, that intentionality?

Haley Odlozil: Honestly, I see it in my son. I see how he wakes up every morning. "Good morning, Mommy. Good morning, Daddy," and he eats his eggs and he has a great day, every day. I may not have a good day, all day, every day, but I try to find happiness in every single day or a good moment. And then as I've progressed, it's gotten significantly harder. When I got the news that there was no more treatment options, it was like, "Here's hospice care and here you go. Navigate it". It's very hard to figure out. But I look at him and there's just so much happiness and pureness and joy, and I feel like that's what we experience when we get to heaven. So I'm hoping that when you get to heaven, I'm just, everything is just gonna make sense to me. I'll get there, I'll see God, and I'll just understand what my purpose was and why everything happened and everything will just make sense to me. I don't think right now I can understand in my humanly body, my spiritual body will just know.

Chris Shook: Is there anything else that you would like to say?

Haley Odlozil: And I always tell my husband this, that if I were ever able to heal myself, without a doubt, I would. If I could take away the entire experience, although it's had a ton of heartache, I wouldn't. I'm not thankful for the cancer. I'm thankful for what it's taught me. When I got sick, we really found our love for each other. To love him every day as if it's my last day with him, and I feel like he does the same thing for me. Having that perspective out of life that I have now versus before, is a true gift. Appreciate every day. Go cuddle your kids longer, go take a picnic, go do the one thing you've been meaning to do that you haven't done because the guarantee when you're on your deathbed and you're losing time and all you want is more time, it's gonna be the small moments that you remember.

Chris Shook: You've impacted way more people than you could imagine. And I don't think you'll know till you get to heaven, have any, any idea just how much of an impact you've made. I think you have a really great surprise.

Chris Shook: It's said that everyone dies, but not everyone lives. And that's so true, isn't it? We stop and we think how much of our lives are we just wasting on stuff that doesn't matter, that doesn't matter at all. After the cameras were turned off, Haley and I were talking about Easter and she said, "You know, when I think of what Jesus did for me on the cross, if he can go through that, I can go through this". And could we say that today that when I look at what Jesus did on the cross, if he went through that for me, I can go through this. And even if I don't understand everything right now, I can keep trusting him.

See, if you know Christ, heaven is in your future. But the key that so many of us miss is that Jesus's Resurrection means that not only will we live in heaven forever when we die, not only does he forgive our sins, but Christ's power is available for today. It's for today. It's not just for some day. It's for now. Now. He wants to redeem you now. He wants us to stop spending so much time looking at the things around us and calling them rocks, when he sees treasure. He wants us to look for those good things. He wants us to recognize when he's reaching out to us, when he's reminding us that he is near, that he is taking care of us, that he's covering us, instead of just kicking everything else aside, all the rocks, all the things, and just complaining and then wasting our days on stuff that doesn't matter.

See, Haley and Taylor have learned a really important truth, which is that hard is not the opposite of good. So they can go together. You can have a really hard, hard situation or a hard day and still there's good in it, because there's nothing that Jesus Christ could not redeem. Henri Nouwen said that "the surprise is not that, unexpectedly, things turn out better than expected. No, the real surprise is that God's light is more real than all the darkness. God's truth is more powerful than all of human lies, and that God's love is stronger than death".

Kerry Shook: And because Christ conquered death, we can have heaven in our future. And Jesus said, "If you believe in me, you'll live forever in the place of perfect fulfillment and happiness," and heaven is this perfect place where we'll have everything we've ever longed for. But right now, we live in a very messed up and broken world. We're not in heaven yet. Some of us wanna make heaven down here on earth and we're not in heaven yet. But because of Easter, we have the promise of heaven one day. And we also have the promise that no matter what we're going through in this life, he will give us the power to rise above it.

Look what Jesus said in John 11:25, "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.'" He's the resurrection and the life. One day, your heart will stop beating, but you will live on because you were made for eternity. And he wants you to be in eternity with him so much he came and died on that cross and rose again on that Easter so he can fill your life. The tomb is empty so he can come into your life and change you here, and give you a free ticket to heaven one day. Toward the end of Billy Graham's life, he was invited to speak at a local seminar right next to his house. And because he was frail and wasn't accepting invitations, he said, "Maybe I can do this one," and he did.

And Dr. Graham stepped to the podium and he looked out at the crowd and he said, "I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. And when he came to Einstein, Einstein reached into his vest pocket, he couldn't find his ticket. So he reached into his pants pocket and he couldn't find his ticket. It wasn't there. And so he looked in his briefcase but he couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him, but he still couldn't find it. And the conductor said, 'Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it.'

Einstein nodded appreciatively. And then the conductor continued down the aisle, punching tickets. And as he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and he saw the great physicist down on his hands and his knees, looking under his seat for his ticket. And the conductor rushed back and he said, 'Dr. Einstein, don't worry. I know who you are. It's no problem. You don't need a ticket.' And Einstein looked at him and said, 'Young man, I too know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going.'" And having said that, Billy Graham continued. He said, "See the suit that I'm wearing? It's a brand-new suit. I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and for one more occasion. You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I'll be buried. But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want you to immediately remember the suit that I'm wearing. I want you to remember this. I not only know who I am, but I know where I'm going. I'm going to heaven".
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