Sunday, April 11, 2004

The End Of The Beginning

Intro: This week I heard a song on Family Life Radio. 1. It began with an encounter between a believer and a bystander on a plane 2. The believer was reading his Bible and the bystander asked what he was reading. When told that it was a Bible, the bystander becomes cynical and reminds him that is an old story that he no longer believes. 3. As the song progresses, the gospel story is shared - with a final reminder that it was the "End of the beginning." 4. On Good Friday it appears to be the end of this new religion that came to be called Christianity. 5. But the following Sunday we see that the initial conclusions were wrong. The one they thought was dead, was alive. He was seen not by one or two lone individuals that might spread rumors - but large groups of people, perhaps as many as 120 at one time. 6. Over the next few years we see the changed lives of men who ran when Jesus' life was on the line. 7. A scenario that has repeated itself over and over again these past 2000 years. Lives changed and transformed as men and women place their faith in Jesus Christ

Read Luke 23:44-49


Tran. We are at the end of our journey. 1.Jesus started with a prayer, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." 2.We end with a prayer, "Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit." 3.He begins by praying for those around him, he ends by praying for himself.

T.S.: Jesus' prayer is a model for each of us - regardless of where we are in our spiritual lives.

I. Jesus committed his life into the God's hands A. This past month, when I first read this passage, I had to take a mental step back. After all, this is the Son of god, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, that we are talking about. B. Do you notice the wording there - Jesus is making a decision, in the midst of the most painful time of his life, in the midst of terrible suffering, he decides that it is time to give it all to God.

(Appl.) There are two responses to hard times. * One is to run from God. When things get tough we bubble over with anger for God. This does not really solve any problems * But there is another response with which we are all familiar. We call them fox hole Christians - they run to God only when things get touch. This may not be so bad - if it is the beginning of ones spiritual life; yet for too many, it is a momentary realization that life is not in their control.

C. BUT Jesus did not run. And He was not a fox hole Christian. Jesus, you will remember from last week, was being obedient to all that God asked - both in that he accomplished the task and the way in which he accomplished it. D. Here was Jesus, being obedient to the max, and he takes time to pray, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." It does not represent a change in Jesus' character. It does represent a strengthening of his faith. Rather is doing exactly what we might expect. He is showing each of us what we are to do in the most difficult of times. E. And that leads to my second point -

II. We are expected to commit our lives into God's hands

(Ill.) Have you ever realized how helpless a baby is. Whether it was food, changing diapers, taking care of colic - a baby needs to be cared for. A baby even seems to know that it is true.

A. But too often we forget that it is also true in our spiritual lives. B. We forget to listen to God, we forget to get into his word. C. Interestingly, even a baby knows to ask for help - but we forget to ask God for help. D. This is true whether you a Christian or not. I expect that most of you would understand that if someone has not yet said "Yes" to Jesus, then they certainly must take a step of faith that follow Jesus' example - "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." E. But it might be a bit more of a stretch for those of us who are believers to claim the same prayer. But that is exact ly what Jesus did.

(Ill.) Let this chair represent the thrown of your heart. It represents who is in control. Now I can sit in it and make all my own decision; but if I do, then I go nowhere. On the otherhand, if I let God sit here and take control of my life, then my life is in God's hands. And even those times when things seem our of control, I can still sit back and know that He is there. It may not feel like it - but that is where faith comes in.

F. Each one of us has a control center. There is a natural tendency to want to run our lives. Yet the example we have in Christ suggests that we must place Christ in control. G. It is not something that happens immediately. The AA groups have a slogan that describes it exactly - one day at a time. H. Are you willing to start each day giving it to God. But it will not end there. It is a recognition that He is control throughout the day. It is a recognition that you are willing to serve him whatever may come your way during the day. I. But it won't be easy. Let me suggest three difficulties that could make living with God in control difficult: 1. You will want to be in control - by placing God in control you are going against much that you have learned (Flesh) 2. There is a spiritual battle going on - there will be those who will fight to get you back to where you were, regardless of you are going (Devil) 3. At the same time that those around you are trying to get you off the thrown, Jesus wants to be in control - You may find yourself in a tug-of-war over who will be in control. (World) J. Easy - no. Will you always be successful, no. But Christians through the centuries have live the Christian life.

Conclusion: In my pocket I keep two reminders of spiritual journey.

1.The first is a small coin that was given to me after spending six weeks in a class on codependency as part of a chaplaincy program at a hospital in Sioux City Iowa. 2.The second is a small metal cross that was given to me by a United Methodist pastor as reminder of Christ's presence in my life. 3.This morning I want to do the same for you. 4.As we sing the final hymn this morning, I will be handing each of your a small pocket cross - 5.Men - keep it in your pocket. Women - in your purse. As a reminder of Christ's death and resurrection.

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