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Easter Is Life-Changing!
Text: John 20: 19
Bart Starr was a great quarterback of the champion, Green Bay Packers.
Starr was a perfectionist.
He had to get everything right.
Starr raised his son with those same values.
When his son was in elementary school, Bart Starr would come home from practice and would have
his son bring his school work for him to check.
And, if there were mistakes on them -- even one -- Bart Starr would shake his head, and hand it back to his son.
When the school work was perfect, Bart Starr would break into a smile, take a quarter out of his pocket,
tape it on a piece of paper and give it to the son.
And he would write the words, "Well done."
One particular Sunday, the Packers were playing the St. Louis Cardinals.
It was a team that they should have easily beaten.
That day, the Packers played pitifully.
Bart Starr threw more interceptions, fumbled more times, and was sacked more times than he had all year.
He was beaten and bruised and humilitiated.
When Starr got home that night, his wife met him.
He said, "We were horrible, I was horrible."
And she said, "Yes, we saw the game on TV"
Bart went upstairs, and noticed that the light was on by his bed.
And on the bed was a note from his son.
It said, "Dear Daddy, Even when you lose I think you're the greatest.
I love you."
And on the top of the page was taped a quarter.
That experience changed Bart Starr.
But he had learned something.
He had learned that no matter what the rules are and no matter how well we apply them;
there is a greater way.
Paul would describe it as the more excellent way.
It is the way of love and it is the way of acceptance, even when we lose.
Our message today is about people who were radically changed by their experience.
John 20:19 and following:
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together,
with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!'
After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.
The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you!'
As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.'
And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.' "
It was evening.
But, for these disciples, they were in an upper room with the doors locked.
- The resurrection was that morning.
- There were reports from the women.
- There were reports from two men who had returned from the road to Emmaus.
- There were several reports that the Lord had risen.
At this moment, the resurrection was more of a report than a reality.
They had not experienced the risen Lord.
They had locked the doors and fear had gripped their lives.
And then, it happened!
The experience with the risen Lord occurred.
Jesus, the living Lord, comes into their midst.
And because of their fear, Jesus said, "Peace - peace be with you."
And then, He shows them the scars from His death.
"See my hands, see my side."
And then, He says, "We're not going to stay in here.
We're not going to stay behind locked doors.
As I have been sent out, I am sending you sent out."
And then, He breathes on them the Holy Spirit.
Now, the resurrection is a reality.
The experience with the risen Lord has changed everything.
- It is no longer second- hand report.
- It is no longer a report --- it is a reality.
Now they can be what Jesus has called them to be.
- No longer will fear control their lives.
- No longer will they hide.
They had seen Him crucified, but now the power of the risen Lord is theirs.
- They had sat at His feet.
- They had seen Him perform miracles.
- They had heard His teachings.
Now they are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
It brings us to the One who died for us.
- An experience with the risen Lord changes everything.
- An experience with the risen Lord brings peace!
- An experience with the risen Lord turns our fear into joy.
- An experience with the risen Lord bestows power.
And it frees us from the locked doors and the small lives that we live and we are sent out to be his witnesses.
And we are sent out with the power of the Holy Spirit.
That is what changed those first disciples.
From fear to peace, from isolation to going out, from no power, to having the power of the Holy Spirit.
That was why those disciples went out and founded that first church in the Book of Acts.
That church was powerful!
That church grew!
It was contagious as it shared the gospel of the living Lord.
That's the way it has been throughout history.
- Its power was not grounded in its facilities or in its programs.
- Its power was not driven by high finances.
- Its power was not driven by government support.
- Its power was derived from their experience with the risen Lord who empowered them with the Holy Spirit.
It was that way for Augustine toward the close of the 4th Century, after wasting his life for many years,
comes to the Lord in a powerful experience.
Augustine said: "Our hearts are restless, Oh Lord, until we find our rest in Thee."
Martin Luther said of the change in his life,
"Oh, no! It doesn't have anything to do with tradition."
It doesn't have anything to do with structures.
It doesn't have anything to do with hopes.
It doesn't have anything to do with the outward things of life.
What it has to do with is the experience of Christ as revealed in the scriptures and faith in that scripture,
faith in that living Lord."
The presence and the power of the risen Lord will change us completely
Recently, my wife said that we were to go to our granddaughter's preschool and help her fly a kite.
Wow! My favorite thing to do! (Do you believe that?)
Have you ever been told to "go fly a kite"?.
Kites have changed since I was a boy -- in fact, a lot of things have changed, since I was a boy.
I wasn't too sure I could get my granddaughter's kite in the air.
My granddaughter thinks that granddaddy can do almost anything, so I didn't want to disappoint her.
Believe it or not, our kite flew high in the sky.
It soared high in the sky.
It was beautiful!
That's what a kite should do.
It was made to fly.
My granddaughter held it and guided it.
It flew in the wind.
And then there was one kite caught in a tree.
It couldn't be fly because it was caught.
It couldn't do what it was supposed to do
There was one kite that dived to the ground, and was broken.
It couldn't be fly any more.
When the wind died down, the kites on ground level couldn't fly.
One little boy continued to run -- trying to get his kite to fly.
But there was no wind.
Several people tried to tell him that his kite would not fly without the wind.
But he thinks he can.
But he keeps trying, as if to say,
"I don't need the wind.
I can do it myself!
I can do it myself!
He continued to run with it, but it never did fly!
The kite of my granddaughters represents the life that we can have when we experience the risen Christ.
That kite was doing what it was intended to do.
It was flying!
It was flying because it was powered by the wind.
The Greek term for wind means, "spirit."
When we have experienced the living Christ, we are directed and empowered by the Spirit of God.
That is the change that Easter makes in our lives.
We are empowered to be what God wants us to be.
The kite caught in the tree is like the life that is caught by the world and the things of the world.
Whatever has caught that life, it is not what Jesus wants it to be.
- That life is not what it should be.
- That life may be caught by fear as the the disciples were.
- That life may be caught by secret sins.
There is the broken kite.
Then there is the boy who believes that he doesn't need the wind.
- That person has probably suffered a loss -- the loss of a parent, the loss of a spouse, the loss of a child, etc.
That life has crashed and it is broken.
- It could be that bad habits have caused the crash in that life -- such as drink, drugs,
a bad temper, infidelity, immorality, etc.
That life is not what Jesus wants it to be.
- He believes himself to be self- sufficient.
- He is determined to do it himself.
- He doesn't need anyone -- not even God!
That life is not what God intended it to be.
For the kite that is flying high -- that kite represents the life that Jesus wants.
That life will be empowered by the Holy Spirit and the risen Lord says, "Well done.
To that life caught by loss or sin, the risen Lord says, "Let it go. "
Let anything that stands between you and God and between you and your neighbor go -- let it go!
- Let those bad habits go.
- Let your anger go.
- Let your secret sin go.
- Let your bitterness go.
- Let your fear go.
- Let your doubt go.
Let it go, and God will empower you with His Holy Spirit and you will be what God intended you to be.
To the broken life, the Lord says,
"I know what it means to be broken.
See my hands, see my side.
I too cried out in agony.
I know what it means to be broken."
God wants to replace that brokenness with a whole new life.
Jesus is the living Lord!
He can change your life totally and completely!
For that person who is self-sufficient, and believes that you can do it yourself,
I have a question for you.
There is nothing that you can do in your own ability.
- What can you do to escape certain death?
- What can you do to escape a horrible eternity in hell?
- What can you do to get yourself into heaven?
But there is something that you can do.
It is the only thing that you can do.
The Lord is here!
- You can give your heart to the Lord Jesus who died and rose again that you can be changed.
- You can receive a life that is eternal, and you will never die!
- You will receive the power of God's Holy Spirit which will enable you to live the life that God intended for you to live.
- You will receive a power and peace that you didn't even know existed.
He is ready to give you the greatest gift in time or eternity.
He will give you a life that will never end!
He calls to you -- now!
Come and experience the Lord Jesus who died and rose again that you might live forever.
Sermon By Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org