In Vain?

You know the feeling. Someone asks you do something. So out of the kindness of your heart, you spend hours on it. And then you get “the call.” They don’t need your help after all! You feel as if all your work has been IN VAIN! Now, let’s consider the amazing words and deeds of Jesus. Did His death render “null and void” all His accomplishments? After all, He died on a cross as a crucified criminal. But, here’s what changes everything: He didn’t stay dead! The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s stamp of approval that He was, indeed, God in the flesh! Without the Resurrection, Jesus of Nazareth would be considered merely a blip on the radar of history, an odd character shrouded in mystery. Although accomplishing many miracles and acts of kindness, if He does not rise from the dead (as He promised), His life is just a passing breeze. No Resurrection also completely changes our lives. Without the risen Son of God, our lives are also in vain. Let the Apostle Paul explain: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Cor. 15:17, 19). Without the Resurrection of Jesus, our desires to be good, our acts of love, and our deeds of service all add up to zero! Our faith is futile…empty and meaningless. Worst of all, without the Resurrection we have no future or hope. If Christ did not rise from the dead, we do not rise either. As a pastor, I have preached at about 100 funerals. All my words of comfort and promises of heaven for Christians have been a cruel hoax…if Jesus is still in the grave.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…” 1 Cor. 15:20a

The grave could not keep Him and death could not hold Him! As a follower of Jesus, you do not live in vain. Every day has purpose. You are serving the Lord. As a follower of Jesus, you do not die in vain. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). His Resurrection assures your resurrection, and His future assures your future. Let us worship God and stand in awe before the greatest act in human history…the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Pastor Mark Boucher

It’s Not a Burden!

So, you ask someone to do you a favor. They say yes, but all the time they are helping you they complain and act irritated about the favor. How does that make you feel? Now, let’s apply this to serving God. How do you think God feels when we act like our service to Him is such a burden? This morning, the Lord reminded me of the importance of my attitude toward sacrifice. In Matthew 13:44, Jesus gives us the parable of the hidden treasure. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” We see here that for the man to experience the full ownership of the treasure, he needed to sell what he owned. To gain the greatest thing, he had to be willing to sacrifice the lesser things. Did he resent having to do this? Did he say, “I don’t see why I need to take the time to sell all my stuff! It seems unreasonable to have to let go of these things I like.” No, there was none of that. The Bible says, “in his joy went and sold all he had.” Why complain about the small stuff when he had the treasure waiting for him! Everything in this life is a “trade off.” We spend our time, talent, and energy on what we feel is important to us. If serving Jesus is important to us, we should not complain about the time and effort it takes. For example, if I am starting to pray, and wish in my heart that I didn’t have to pray, but would rather be watching TV, then it would be better to get my attitude right or just stop praying and watch TV. God is after our heart. He doesn’t want “reluctant obedience.” We need to see that it’s our highest privilege to give to the Lord. When it comes to prayer, reading the Word, attending services…it’s not that I have to do these things, but that I get to do these things. When my attitude is right, the sacrifices of life fill me with the joy of Jesus. Nothing is better than that! The Lord can help us develop an attitude that pleases Him. Psalm 100:2 tells us, “Serve the Lord with gladness”!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Determined

Who said it would be easy? The person who receives Christ and expects a smooth, carefree cruise into the Kingdom will be sadly disappointed. Growth, advancement, and progress in the ways of God in the midst of this world take great focus and determination. Consider our Lord Jesus. Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah saying, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7). To accomplish the mission of God, Jesus needed tremendous focus and determination. Although tempted many times toward lesser things, He succeeded in finishing the “main thing” God called him to do. Luke 9:51 declares, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” His face was set and His determination was firm. No other priorities or responsibilities would sidetrack Him from His mission to die for the sins of the world. Aren’t you glad He stayed on mission? If Jesus is in you, He has called you to do something…to trust Him and obey His will. In the midst of this unpredictable and rapidly changing world, our biggest temptation will be to “crowd out the call.” Too many believers have drifted away from Jesus. They don’t hate Jesus or curse Him; they just don’t pay much attention to Him. The superficial has replaced the eternal. Don’t let it happen to you! Pay attention. Stay determined. Pray often for the heart of a true disciple, steadfast and focused. The rewards for obedience are worth it! Isaiah says, “I will not be disgraced” (50:7).

“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, or back away. I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, spoken up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till he stops me. And when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed!”

Anonymous

What is the “main thing” God wants you to do?

Pastor Mark Boucher

Love Beats Hate!

Is there someone you know who seems to delight in making your life miserable? You’ve tried being nice, and other times you’ve lost your temper…but still the problem persists. Well, you’re in good company. For years David had to deal with Saul. For about ten years (while David was in his 20s), he fled from King Saul and lived like a refugee in his own country. As those reading the story, we have pity on David and wish life could be easier for him. But, we need to remember, our trials are often for the benefit of others. God’s Word records this difficult trial of David to help us. Through Saul’s antagonism, God taught David how to handle conflict through the power of God’s Spirit and not rely on his own ability. In 2 Samuel 1 we read of David (at the age of 30) finally getting the news of Saul’s death at the hands of the Philistines. Did David rejoice at this news and call for a party? Just the opposite…David and his men mourned. He also composed a “lament” for Saul and Saul’s son Jonathan (who was also killed that day). As I read David’s lament this morning, I was amazed at David’s kindness and love toward Saul. This is the same man who twice tried to kill David with a spear. This is the man who hunted David obsessively for years. Here is a portion of what David wrote after hearing of Saul’s death: “Saul and Jonathan-in life they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted” (1 Sam. 1:22). How could David call Saul “gracious”?! The only possible answer is because of God’s love inside his heart. David responds like Jesus even in an age when the normal procedure was to hate and eliminate your enemies. By demonstrating the love of Jesus toward his enemies, David was way ahead of his time. His actions demonstrate a powerful example of Paul’s teaching from Romans 12:19, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.’” So, if you find yourself the target of someone’s anger or hatred, take heart. God will work His love in your heart and deal with the antagonist in His way. Don’t take revenge. Pray for the love of Jesus to flow from your heart toward your enemies. He is able!

Pastor Mark Boucher