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The Origin of Death

Last week we began a new Easter sermon series entitled “No Pain – No Gain: Why Easter Matters”. And we started off illustrating the principle of no pain – no gain as we talked about how our muscles grow. We had Jake & Micah up here straining their muscles as we talked about how it takes the pain of tearing those muscle fibers in our bodies order for our bodies to repair the damage and make the muscles stronger than they were before. That’s how muscles grow.

But our purpose wasn’t to talk about body-building. There is a spiritual truth that we wanted to discover. Somehow all this talk of straining our muscles in order to grow strong, somehow that ties in with the meaning of Easter – believe it or not. And though we haven’t fully laid that all out yet, last Sunday we tried to define the gain that we’re talking about in this catch phrase “no pain, no gain”.

Of course, we’re not trying to gain muscles in this instance, but rather the gain that we’re after is something that every person on the planet wants – it’s that sense of deep, inner satisfaction in life that seems so elusive for so many of us.

We talked about how Solomon tried to find satisfaction in all kinds of ways. He looked for satisfaction in wealth, power, hard work, women, pleasure – but he found it all to be meaningless. Nothing gave him true, lasting satisfaction.

The Rolling Stones echoed that sentiment. They couldn’t get no satisfaction either – even though they tried and they tried and they tried and they tried. They just couldn’t get no satisfaction.

And I think most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves – would have to agree that money, fame, pleasure, power and all those things we chase after – while they may be pretty exciting for awhile – none of them give us deep, lasting satisfaction.

And we got a hint of why that is in Ecclesiastes 3:11 – which says..

[God] has planted eternity in the human heart. Ecclesiastes 3:11

In other words, there is this built-in awareness that there is more to life than the here and now. We exist for a much more significant purpose than to just gather wealth, power, and prestige for the 80 years we live on this planet.

God has created within each of us with a deep inner longing to fulfill out our eternal purpose. And until we discover and live out that purpose, every person on earth has this inner feeling that something is missing in their life. And all of us try to find that missing thing just like Solomon did. We chase wealth, power, pleasure, control, or whatever else that we think will fill that need… But something is always lacking. Like the Rolling Stones lament, we can’t get no satisfaction in those things. Because true satisfaction is only found when fulfill our eternal purpose.

And the Bible tells us that we are created and designed to be connected with our Creator – to have a genuine, loving relationship with Him. That’s what we’re created for. That’s our eternal purpose – to be unconditionally loved, to be accepted and embraced by our Creator, and to live in loving community with Him. That’s our purpose. That’s when we find real, lasting satisfaction.

This is the only thing worth gaining. Because everything else is temporary. We compared our life to the game of monopoly – when the game is over, it all goes back in the box. When our life here on earth is over, none of our wealth, the pleasure we’ve enjoyed, or our great achievements – none of that matters. All that matters then, is our relationship with our Creator.

And we closed last Sunday with a good news/bad news. The good news of course, is that God wants us to find satisfaction. He’s not out out trying to make your life miserable or difficult – but He wants you to find ultimate satisfaction in Him. He wants you to have true joy and delight – not just temporary pleasure. It pains God to see us settle for just a few fleeting moments of fun and pleasure here on earth – while missing out on an eternity of joy and delight with Him.

And that leads us into the bad news. And we didn’t have the time to talk about this last week, but talk about it we must.

Even though life with God is what we are created for and we simply cannot find satisfaction in any other way – most people will never know that satisfaction. By default, there is a barrier that keeps us from that satisfaction. It’s not an impassible barrier, (as we’re going to find out next week) – but it is the one thing that keeps us from fully realizing the satisfaction and joy and delight that God created us for.

So to understand this barrier that keeps us from the satisfaction that we were created to enjoy, I want to take us right back to the beginning of time – back before this barrier existed.

The Bible opens with a brief account of Creation. We certainly don’t get all the details, but it includes enough to give us a vivid picture of what life on earth was like for the very first humans – who were of course, Adam & Eve.

Table of contents for No Pain, No Gain - Why Easter Matters

  1. Finding Satisfaction
  2. The Origin of Death
  3. The Substitute
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A True Taste of God

Taste & SeeDoes it matter what you believe? Does what you believe actually impact your life?

If you find an unmarked bottle of liquid in your cupboard – there are many possibilities of what it could be. It could be water. It could be bleach. It could be vinegar. They all look pretty much the same. You could believe that it could be any of those.

But does it matter what you believe? Will your belief about the contents of that container effect how you choose to use it? And will those choices, based on those beliefs, impact the course of your life? It certainly could!

“If you drink bleach, it oxidizes or burns tissues in your mouth, esophagus, and stomach. According to the National Institutes of Health, it can cause nausea, chest pain, lowered blood pressure, delirium, coma, and potentially death.” ~ somewhere on the internet…

Does it matter what you believe?

Of course it does! And all day every day, we make choices based on our beliefs.

If we believe that it’s going to be -40º outside today, you’re going to wear a warm coat and mitts and boots and all that stuff. If you believe that it’s going to be +40º today, you’re going to wear shorts and a t-shirt.

We are continually making choices based on our beliefs – and those choices, based on our beliefs are setting the course for our lives.

So what happens if your beliefs are wrong? What happens if you believe that you have a bottle of water – and it turns out that it’s a bottle of bleach? What happens if you believe that it’s going to be +40º but it turns out to be -40º?

It’s a serious problem to have incorrect beliefs. The course of your life can take a serious turn for the worse in a quick hurry!

I think it’s pretty obvious how important it is to have true beliefs.

And if it’s that important to know the truth about the weather or the truth about the contents of this container – how much more important is it that we have true beliefs about God?

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The Substitute

Listen to this Sermon!Last week we began a new Easter sermon series entitled “No Pain – No Gain: Why Easter Matters”. And we started off illustrating the principle of no pain – no gain as we talked about how our muscles grow. We had Morgan up here straining his muscles as we talked about how it takes the pain of tearing the muscle fibers in our bodies order for our bodies to repair the damage and make the even muscles stronger than they were before.

In fact I was reading last week that when you are born, you already have all the muscles that you will ever have. The big bulging biceps you have now are a result of that little baby’s muscle being damaged and repaired, damaged and repaired, time and time again. Without the pain of damaging those muscles, you would have no gain in strength. You’d still be as weak as you were when you were a baby. No pain – no gain.

But our purpose wasn’t to talk about body-building. There is a spiritual truth that we wanted to discover. The gain that we are after is not muscles, but rather that inner satisfaction in life that seems so elusive for so many of us.

We talked about how Solomon tried to find satisfaction in all kinds of ways. He looked for satisfaction in wealth, power, hard work, women, pleasure – but it found it all to be meaningless. Nothing gave him true satisfaction.

And we discovered that the reason for this is that God has created each of us with a deep inner longing to be connected with our Creator. Every person on earth has this inner feeling that something is missing in their life. And all of us try to find that missing thing just like Solomon did. But, like the Rolling Stones lament, we can’t get no satisfaction. Because true satisfaction is only found when we are connected with our Creator – when we have a genuine relationship with Him. That’s when we find satisfaction.

Unfortunately, this one thing that is worth gaining is effectively keep from us by sin. We talked about how Adam & Eve – though they were once fully satisfied in their connection with each other and with God – they sinned. And the immediate consequences of their sin was separation. Separation from God and and from each other. Because that’s the nature of sin. It separates. It creates distance between. It severs our relationships.

And because all of us have sin in our life – we are all missing the one thing that we were created for – we’re missing that connection, that relationship, with our Creator. We’re missing the one thing that can bring us true satisfaction.

So what do we do? Is there any way to gain that connection, that relationship, that satisfaction that we so desperately long for? There is, and that’s what we’re going to look at today.

Table of contents for No Pain, No Gain

  1. Chasing Satisfaction
  2. The Substitute
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A Future of Hope

Over the last three weeks we’ve been looking at background of the Christmas story. And we’ve discovered that this history of hope goes all the way back to the beginning of time when God created the heavens and the earth.

You see, God had set up the perfect system for the perfect life – He would be the source of everything mankind would ever need. He would give them life, food, meaningful relationships, purpose in their work – everything they needed, He would provide. But He would also be their authority. Of course, He certainly gave them responsibilities and authority as well, but He was to be the ultimate authority. That was God’s setup for the perfect life. As long as mankind looked to God as their source and as their authority, life would be amazing.

And it worked great! With this setup, Adam & Eve enjoyed life to the fullest as God intended it – and it was sweet. They had everything they wanted. Their relationship with God and with each was perfect and beautiful – Never any conflict or never any strife – it was what you might describe as heaven.

But something happened. Sin happened. Adam & Eve rejected God as their source and as their authority and they took that role for themselves and as a result – everything fell apart. Their relationships with God and with each other was broken. The sweetness of life became bitterness and life on earth has been a struggle ever since.

But God had a plan. God knew this would happen even before He created the world, so all along, He had a plan. And this is what we’ve been looking at for the past three weeks – God’s plan to put things back to the way they were when He first created them.

And in case you missed those first three Sundays, let me give you just a quick summary.

On week one, we learned how God promised Adam & Eve that one day, one of Eve’s descendants would crush Satan’s head and defeat sin for all time.

On week two, we learned how God promised Abraham that one day, one of his descendants would be a blessing to every family on earth.

On week three, we learned that God promised King David that one day, one of his descendants would be King for all time.

And as we looked at some of the old testament prophecies and as we looked at the Christmas story as recorded in Luke, we came to realize that all these promises were fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ. He was the one that God had been promising for some 4000 years.

And that’s what makes Christmas such a big deal – its because finally, after years of hoping and waiting for God to fulfill his promises, finally, God’s own Son, Jesus Christ was born as a man and He would make things right again.

But here’s the problem. If you look around at the world today – it doesn’t really seem like everything right again – does it? There’s still pain. There’s still suffering. Satan seems as active as ever. Sin is still around in bountiful supply. Our relationships with God and with each are far from perfect. So… what happened? Was it all a joke? Did God’s plan fail? Or is it just that the story isn’t over yet? Well, that’s what we’re going to look at today.  

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The Beginning of Hope

We are now in December. We’ve got snow on the ground, people have their Christmas lights up, there’s eggnog in the grocery stores, so it must be time for some Christmas related sermons.

Quite often I shy away from a lot of seasonal messages – just because we hear the same things year after year after year. But this Christmas, I want to take the whole month of December to tell you the Christmas story – the whole Christmas story. I think sometimes we get gypped and we only hear part of the story. We hear about the angels, about the shepherds, about having no room at the inn, about the wisemen, but we miss out on all the stuff that happens before that.

So I want to start us off today, not with the wisemen, not with the shepherds, not with Mary & Joseph – not even with the prophets that foretold the birth of Jesus. Instead, I want us to start in the beginning. Literally. In the beginning – Genesis 1:1

That’s truly the beginning of the Christmas story. Because really, the entire Bible is the Christmas story. Everything that happens in the Old Testament is a lead up to the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything that happens in the New Testament is the result of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So this December I want us to take a look at the big picture. I want us to try to see what God was doing right from day one. You see, Jesus’ birth didn’t just happen. In fact, all of history didn’t just happen. God wasn’t just making stuff up as He went along. Before He even created the world, God had a plan. And that plan involved all the stuff that we read about in the Bible – everything from Adam & Eve in Genesis all the way to the end of time in Revelation. God had and still has a plan.

You may have heard the saying that history is HIS STORY. That’s absolutely true – History is God’s story. And believe it or not, you and I are a part of that story.

So over the next few weeks as we try to look at the Bible as one big Christmas story, hopefully we’ll be able to see where we fit into the picture. Hopefully we’ll be able to see how the whole Bible – how all of history – is a History of Hope – a grand story that each one of us is very much a part of.

I don’t know if you’re as excited about this as I am, but I trust that by the end of December, you will be.

Our story begins as I said before, In the beginning.

Table of contents for A History of Hope

  1. The Beginning of Hope
  2. Old Testament Sacrifices – Symbols of Hope
  3. The Fulfillment of Hope
  4. A Future of Hope
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