Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Easter Week 2020- Luke 24:1

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

Luke 24:1 

Explanation:

To understand who is being referred to in this passage you must go back to the previous chapter. In Luke 23:50 we learn about a pharisee name Joseph who went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus.  Apparently Pilate gave him permission to take the body.  In verse 53 we learn that he wrapped the body in a linen, and placed him in a brand new stone tomb.  In verses 54-55 we learn that it was the Sabbath, and so the women, his disciples from Galilee who had come with Jesus to Jerusalem, saw the wrapped body in this tomb.  They left to go prepare the spices and ointments traditional to preparing a body for burial.  In verse 56 we see that they couldn’t fully complete this process because of the Sabbath day.

“And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”

Luke 23:56

Then comes the first day of the week.  These women who were now prepared to honor Jesus by finishing putting spices and ointments on his body came to the tomb.  Can you imagine their demeanor as they came?  Funerals and cemeteries are not known as fun, positive places to hang out.  Certainly this was a morbid and difficult task that they were coming to do.

Jesus was dead.  At least that was what they thought.

Certainly, even at this point, they weren’t thankful that He died.  And Jesus did die. He was physically dead and in the grave on Friday and Saturday. The most important act in human history was Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection.  But at this point they did not understand the significance of what had happened.

Jesus was dead.  At least that was what they thought.

Their emotions didn’t match reality.  Their vision of their future at the moment was not complete.  If you were to ask them to guess as to what would happen next they would have been wrong.  Their understanding of who Jesus is and what He could do was about to be expanded, and they had no idea.

Because as far as they knew Jesus was dead.  At least that was what they thought.

Can you imagine their conversation over the past couple of days.  Did their conversations with each other bring them any comfort or hope?  Was their plan to finish this morbid task and then head back to Galilee, defeated, despondent and depressed?

Jesus was dead.  At least that was what they thought.

Application:

Often the way we feel and reality do not match.  As I have heard from a wise person in my life over and over again, feelings make a great caboose, but they make a horrible engine.  

These people were doing all they knew to do to honor the Lord.  Yet, I’m sure their feelings about what had transpired were not in keeping with the truth of what had happened.  

We can be that way, too.  For the child of God, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  As difficult as things may get for us on this earth, our hope is secure, and our home is sure.  God does not promise prosperity for his followers.  In fact, he assured us that we will be hated by the world system.  But He told us, “be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” 

Response:

Are you discouraged?  Hope in God. 

Are you hurting?  Cast your cares on the Lord.

Is your sin forgiven?  If it is not, call on the name of the Lord to be saved.  If it is, rejoice in the Lord!

If you need someone to help pray for you, contact me!

Romans: Week 1- Day 4- Romans 1:16

16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Rom 1:16

Explain:

This is one of the classic, most well known verses in Romans.  Paul proclaims his attitude towards the Gospel.  He was not ashamed.  He rooted his attitude about the Gospel to it’s power and it’s purpose.  The Gospel message, once received, is the message that brings God’s regenerating spiritual power to those that believe. It’s power is to save.  It’s purpose is to save everyone who believes.  It came through the Jews, not because they were more loved, but through revelation of God it came to them first.  But it is not only for the Jew or even primarily for the Jew.  It is for everyone.

Application:

What does it mean to be not ashamed of the Gospel?  I believe it means that there is no hinderance to identifying oneself with Christ’s message, mission, or person.  It is a forgetting of ones self by focusing on the purpose, power and person of the Gospel.  

Purpose– Eternal life for the person we are sharing the Gospel with is possible because of Christ.  If they don’t know Christ they’ll spend eternity separated from all that is good in the lake of fire.  It doesn’t matter who they are.  Their nationality, religious history, sinful habits, nor any other human distinction can make them ineligible from salvation.

Power– God’s power can change them from the inside out no matter how good or bad they may seem.  There is no one too far from God.  

Person– The creator of the universe became a man and lived a perfect life in our actual history!  This is incredible and worth sharing.  There are evidentiary realities that make it possible for us to believe because of the evidence and not in spite of the evidence.

If we focus on the potential cost to us by identifying ourselves with Christ we will be tempted to be ashamed, or even silent.  When our focus is right then our attitude will be right.

Response:

  • Are you ashamed of the Gospel?  What is your focus?  What is your attitude toward the Gospel?  
  • Who is someone you need to share the Gospel with this week?

Romans: Week 1- Day 3- Romans 1:13-15

13  Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14  I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15  So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

Rom 1:13-15

Explanation:

I purposed to come to you…

Paul wanted the Romans to know how much he desired to come to Rome.  Paul desired to get to them and meet them face to face.

But was let hitherto

Why was he prevented from coming?  Was it a move of the Holy Spirit in his life preventing him from coming?  Was it some circumstancial problem that kept him away?  Was it the demands of ministry that he had been performing that made it difficult to leave?  He did not want the Romans to think that His absence had anything to do with his desire to come.  He had purposed and planned to come to Rome but had been prevented.

That I have some fruit among you

Why did he want to go?  So that he would have some kind of fruit among them.  What did he mean by fruit?  The Bible sometimes refers to fruit as good works, growth in character or at times evangelistic impact.  Because he speaks of preaching the gospel in Rome I believe He is referring primarily to the fruit of evangelistic impact.  He wants to see people in Rome trust in Christ, just as he had seen “among other gentiles”.

I am a debtor…

Paul felt obligated to the Greeks and barbarians, to the wise and the unwise.  The Greeks were as a society more formally educated.  They were sophisticated in comparison to the barbarians.  The barbarians were those gentiles not part of the educated, upper class.  Why did he feel a debt to them?  Because He had been give both grace (salvation) and apostleship.  He was saved and called to them by the Lord.

So..ready to preach…at Rome also.

Paul had purposed to preach to them.  He had a message to preach to them.  He had an obligation to preach to them.  He was ready!

Application:

Those of us who know Christ as Savior have been given God’s grace through salvation.  Because we know Christ and are living on this earth we have an obligation as well.  A call to follow Jesus is a call to discipleship and disciplemaking.  Jesus called his disciples by saying follow me and I will make you fishers of men.  We ought to be ready to proclaim the gospel to those who don’t know.

Response:

  • Are you ready to share the gospel?
  • Are you actually sharing the gospel?
  • Do you feel a debt to those who don’t know?
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Sticky church?

How do we know if people are sticking?

One of the first struggles many of us have in ministry is trying to figure out how to get people to stick.  How do we get people to get connected and stay connected to the church?  This is a question of assimilation. 

Assimilation is an important idea for any church.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of assimilation is “the process of becoming similar to something”, and “the absorption and integration of people, ideas, or culture into a wider society or culture.” 

In the context of our churches it refers to making people a part of the life of your church.  Assimilation refers to a process that happens with the people who attend your church.

To achieve the goal of fully assimilating people into the church, you have to be able to identify when it happens.  So, how do you know if someone is assimilating into your church?  Here are some questions that we can ask about those we are trying to assimilate to see where they are in the process.

  1. Worship Service– How often do they attend?  Is there a pattern?
  2. Sunday School/Groups– How often do they attend?  Is there a pattern?
  3. Relationships– Are they becoming friends with people in the church or group?  Do they spend time with people before, after, or outside of the services and programs?
  4. Participation– Do they participate during class or group time?  Are they engaged when they come?
  5. Service– Do they serve in a ministry of the church? 
  6. Invitation– Do they invite others to your group or church?
  7. Spiritual Growth– Do they exhibit life change resulting from the ministry they receive?  Have they made decisions regarding salvation, baptism, discipleship, serving and forsaking sin in their lives?

What are some of the ways you measure assimilation at your church that I may not have named?  What are some ways that you help to encourage new people in each of these categories?