We know it’s a good morning, because the Son has Risen! Amen?
Do you believe the Son has Risen? I pray that you do, because we celebrate this very morning the Son’s rising!
And we should ask ourselves…are we people who live in that truth?
On Friday night, for those who were here, we spoke of the darkest hours….those afternoon hours with Jesus hanging on the cross, bleeding, and dying. We spoke of his suffering, and his anguish, and how things never got and never will get darker, no matter what happens, then that singular moment.
It was the darkest of dark times, brought forth by God for a purpose. And we should NEVER EVER EVER forget. We should always mark that moment in our hearts. Never did God love us more than in those lonely, forsaken hours on the cross.
We should NEVER EVER EVER forget.
But we must also remember that we do not live in the those hours. It was a painful, passion filled journey that took Jesus to that cross. But the new light of day, that following Sunday morning, was filled with life, and hope, and resurrection.
Jesus died in the afternoon and the evening…but the Son (s-o-n) rose in the morning!
And as Christ followers we are to be morning people. We were saved from death in the evening, but we are given life in the morning.
I didn’t think I was a true morning person until I was reminded that morning goes all the way up till noon. At 11:59 AM it is still morning. So I feel better about that now.
For my whole life, I have certainly woke up in the morning – before 11:59….sometimes by several minutes…so I am a morning person.
But I am not one of those ….it’s still dark outside – why would human beings even think of getting up now – this is crazy…I’m so tired I could sleep standing up tired….somebody slap me…I’m going back to bed…kind of morning person.
Morning starts with the sun rise…to me. And evening starts…when the sun goes down. It’s very clear to my body…when it’s dark you are to be sleeping and I do very poorly in the dark. I go to bed every night between 8pm and 10 pm, almost without fail, and even earlier sometimes in winter. Darkness is for sleeping.
But when the sun rises, it is time to start the day.
And I like to start my day with some quiet. To get up and be alone with God. And the early morning seem to be the only real time for it. I drop the kids off at the bus stop, and then take some moments, in my office, or in the sanctuary alone. But it’s tough to get those kinds of moments.
A. W. Tozer said, “Modern civilization is so complex as to make the devotional life all but impossible” and he wrote that a long time before e-mail, the Internet, 500-channel TV, cell phones, and all the other so called “time-saving” technologies that now, ironically, rob us of so much of our time.
But we must find that time. We must make that time. And not just on Sunday morning, and especially not just at Christmas and Easter. We must find the time every day to visit and celebrate the empty tomb.
We like to blame the modern world and it’s complexities. But more often than not, the biggest hindrance to establishing an intimate time with God is not something outside of ourselves.
God wants more from us, more than just a little time. But we have a hard time with even that.
As we spoke of Friday night, there were only a few at the cross with Jesus….and that’s not unexpected. No one really want to face the realities of the cross. It’s why there are always fewer people who come to Good Friday service than Easter Morning service. Easter service is a more of a “feel good” experience.
But that first Sunday morning, it was only Mary, the other Mary, and Salome, who came to find Jesus has risen.
The others were all afraid, and were in hiding.
But what were they afraid of, really? Jesus was risen….the Son had risen in the morning….the angel even told the women…there is no reason to be afraid.
But only these three found the time to tend to Jesus.
Now back on Palm Sunday, the crowds all got it right. But where were they the rest of the week. They weren’t with Him in the garden of Gethsemane, and those few who came there couldn’t even stay awake. They weren’t there at his trial, defending him. They weren’t at the courtyard with Peter, to give him courage. They weren’t there when he was nailed to the cross. They weren’t there when he was quickly and quietly stuck in a lonely tomb.
We sing the song…We’re you there, when they crucified our Lord? But one answers is yes, we were there. We were the ones who did this to him. We, the humans race. But then again, were we there for Jesus?..no, we were not. We were not there for Jesus when he died.
It’s surprising how few were there, at the foot of the cross as he died, and also how few there were to find the empty tomb. Why weren’t we there for Jesus, in the morning, when he rose.
Maybe it’s the same answer to the question- why aren’t we there for Him now?
A reading of Psalm 5 [from the NLT – New Living Translation]
1 O L ord , hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning.
2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you.
3 Listen to my voice in the morning, L ord .
Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
4 O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness;
you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.
5 Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence,
for you hate all who do evil.
6 You will destroy those who tell lies.
The L ord detests murderers and deceivers.
7 Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
8 Lead me in the right path, O L ord ,
or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.
9 My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with flattery.
10 O God, declare them guilty.
Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O L ord ;
you surround them with your shield of love.
Psalm 5 is a morning prayer. It follows Psalm 4, which is an evening prayer.
David is hurting…he’s upset, and he’s telling God all about it because right or wrong, he knows God can take it…God cares.
And if you haven’t noticed before, the Psalms are not assembled in some random order. They are placed in a sequence. Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s lectures on this matter do a fine job showing how the Psalms relate to the books of Moses, the Prophets, and later New Testament fulfillment in clear detail and I recommend them.
For example, all the first psalms seem to relate to the different emotions and prayers David had while having troubles with Saul.
In Psalm 1, He states the need to pray and meditate upon the Lord and His word constantly. Psalm 2, his acceptance that nothing is possible without God. Psalm 3, he considers his problems, and concludes that he will sleep soundly only by giving his problems to God. Psalm 4, the evening comes, he’s afraid, but He is assured of God’s protection. Then morning comes….In Psalm 5.
He prays again. God has gotten him through the night…and though another set of trials. But life is still hard. It still seems unfair. The good guys are coming out on the short end of things, and the bad guys seem to be winning.
He’s not so pleased by that. He knows God has a plan, but the plan kind of stinks, in David’s mind. Maybe he can turn the tables by convincing God to change his mind.
And why not, God has been convinced to change his short term plans with prayer before. You can read many places in the bible where God decided to alter his course after hearing the pleas of his children.
Even Jesus himself called out to his Father to see if there could be another way than the cross. He wouldn’t have done that if he knew it would be completely in vain.
In Psalm 4, in the evening time, we found David, hurting. And God knows, God cares.
But David also knew that it was only in God’s mercy and grace that he or anyone did not receive what was coming to him. He knew that God doesn’t forget. The sins of God’s enemies are never forgotten.
He knew that we are all at the receiving end of God’s wrath. We’re all on the long list of God’s enemies.
None of us are perfect, not even him.
A couple took a trip for a couple of days and left their little girl with the neighbors who had four boys. When they returned the little girl said to her daddy, “There are four boys in that house where I have been staying. They have family worship there every night. Each night their father prays for his four little boys.”
Her father replied, “That certainly is good to hear.”
“Daddy, he prays that God will make them good boys, and he prays that they won’t do anything wrong.”
Her father said, “Well, that’s very fine.”
The little girl was silent for a moment, and then she added, “But Daddy, I guess God hasn’t done that one yet.”
None of us are perfect, except Jesus. We all deserved the cross instead of Jesus. And sin runs really deep.
We have “original sin” found within us, that came at the fall, corrupts our nature, renders us guilty, and makes us all deserving of God’s wrath. And God is also angry with the sin we actually commit, the sins of commission. The stuff we do and say that we know is wrong and do anyway.
But then God is also angry with our sins of omission.
A Sunday School teacher once asked her class: “What are sins of omission?” After some thought one little boy said: “They’re the sins we haven’t gotten around to yet.”
But actually, sins of omission are the things that please God we haven’t gotten around to yet. When we don’t do or say something that we know we should. When we have this new life, but we don’t live it.
When the Son has risen, but we don’t live in his life as we should.
When we fail to live in the truth of the empty tomb.
That is called pervasive and deep rooted sin. We all have it. David had it.
David knew he needed God. God could do anything, and David was lost without Him.
Our need for God’s saving grace is what Friday afternoon and evening was all about. And we must NEVER EVER EVER forget that. All is lost without Christ’s out-poured blood. Our sins and our lowly condition is so bad, that this is the extreme of what God did and what was required to save us. We certainly couldn’t save ourselves.
We must never forget these things. But these things have happened. It is something that is over and done with. Christ was crucified and died on a cross. That happened long ago, and as Jesus said, “It is finished.”
We remember these dark hours, but we do not live there. Jesus doesn’t live there.
On the third day, he rose again.
In the morning, the tomb was empty.
The women came early, and there was just a few of them, but they found no Jesus. They learned the truth.
But again, we wonder “Were was everyone else?”
If they had been there, if we had been there, we’d have known the truth, and there would be no hiding, no fear. Jesus is not dead anymore. He is risen.
It’s the glorious morning of Christ’s resurrection.
The Son has risen, it’s time to wake up.
It’s time to come into His light. If we wake up, we would know the truth. We would know who He is, and who we are.
Revelation 1 tells us “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father”.
We are his priests. We are his temples.
And what’s the first thing a priest was to do every morning?
He laid out his offerings on the altar.
In the bible, the burnt offering is a picture of total dedication to God, a complete sacrifice.
And we are to start, and end each day, by giving ourselves as living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Our lives are to be a sweet aroma that rises to the heavens.
That is who we are, and who we are to be.
It’s not…finding some time for God…making some space for Jesus..doing our bit for the Lord….but that’s what it seems like sometimes. We say “I just can’t seem to find some time for prayer, and church, and devotions anymore….”
Well, God isn’t asking us for some time….he’s telling us to lay down our very lives.
Someone was talking about tithing at one of the conferences that I have attended, and someone else piped up and said, “we’re supposed to give 10% to God”.
” That’s not true”, someone else said, “according to the Word of God, we’re supposed to give everything.” 10% might be a lot, in terms of money. 2 copper coins might be a lot in terms of money. God isn’t in the banking business, he’s never broke, he always has enough and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
You know why he always has enough. Because it all belongs to Him.
Yeah, tithing, or tenthing, is a powerful way to remember to give to God OFF THE TOP, rather that giving him the leftovers.
The whole thing…every cent of the money, and the efforts, and the talents, and air that you breathe is to be go God’s glory. All of it. It’s not yours, it belongs to Jesus.
Jesus literally gave up his very last breath for you. He didn’t hold back.
So it’s time to wake up, realize who we are, who we are serving, and what everything is about.
In the first few chapters of Psalms…we have the whole day….morning, noon and night…and in all of it…David is turning it all over to his Messiah, his Creator.
So is that our day?
Does our day begin and end with God?
If not, we’ve got a change to make. We can’t try to fit him into our lives. He must be our lives.
Jesus gave everything for you. Does that really sink in? Yeah, we know the story…but he gave up everything. Sacrificed it all. He didn’t schedule us in when it was convenient.
Dying on that cross was certainly not convenient. He shed tears of blood for you and me.
Though his resurrection, he gave us eternal life. He gave us everything! Does that really sink in?
If so, we are to wake up, because the Son has risen in our lives. (and again, that’s son with an “o”)
Because there is nothing good in the darkness. Jesus went through the darkest hours in history, bar none. He faced down hell and death itself to save us from it. The evening is over. Jesus does not live there. We do not live there.
So….can the world see the Son, the risen Lord, shining through our whole lives?
If not, then this in the moment. This is the time. Time to embrace the fact that we are a morning people, living the truth of Easter Morning every day. It’s time to wake up, and make the first thing and the last thing of every day, of every breath, be to the glory of Jesus.
(c)2011 Timothy Henry