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Grace United is a community of believers in Jesus Christ who live, work, and play in Western Mass.

We haven't got it all together but we trust Jesus and, together, we are learning to receive God's grace and to walk in His ways.

If you are considering attending on a Sunday, or looking for a church to get closer to God and grow in, we welcome you with us.

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Spiritual Pathway
We promote a simple path as a strategy to grow in your faith and walk with Jesus Christ.
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GU Kids
GU Kids is fun, Sunday morning group to introduce children to the awesome basics about Jesus Christ and God's goodness to us.
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GU Youth
Our youth connect to discuss important life issues and to learn how God's grace in Christ makes a real difference.
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Worship
We gather each Sunday to hear from God through His Word, and to express our faith and hope and love in prayer and worship.
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Blog
Three Reasons To Be Excited About Our Future Resurrection

Four weeks ago we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection and what all it means, but why do WE need to be resurrected? What’s really going to change? 


I’m already born again, so why do I need to be resurrected?


Well, maybe this will help: You’re born again, so why do you still sin? The Holy Spirit is in you, so why don’t you feel closer to God? You know God’s will, so why don’t you keep it?


We might say, because Satan is a master enemy. Yes. And the whole world is under his power. But each of these reasons are outside of you. The biggest reason we still sin and don't obey God is because sin dwells in our physical being. 


As the Apostle Paul wrote,


Rom. 7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 


He further mentions the “lusts of the body,” the “desires of the flesh.” Calls this body “a body of death.” He says there’s a “principle that evil is present in me.”


Rom. 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.


Obedience is not automatic for any born again believer—not just you! Why? Because sin still dwells in our body and radically affects our emotions, reactions, desires. The presence of sin within makes us act like the person we don’t want to be.  


2 Cor. 4:6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels...


So the question, “I’m born again, why do I still sin?” helps to answer our question, “I’m born again, why do I need to be resurrected?” 


One reason we need to be resurrected is because this terrible force of sin that we’ve all inherited from Adam still dwells in our flesh. When Christ resurrects us we will have perfect, transformed, righteous, powerful bodies without a trace of sin.


When we are resurrected we shall freely, naturally, and forevermore live out of our born again self, our righteous new nature. No more struggle. No more inner turmoil. No more shame.  


The moment you trust Jesus for eternal life with God the Holy Spirit regenerates your spirit. Your spirit is redeemed! You have a new heart, a new nature, a new identity in Christ. But this body still awaits its redemption at the resurrection.


Rom. 8:23 Not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, [life is hard] waiting eagerly for our [finalized] adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.


At the resurrection. Then we will be fully redeemed. Perfect. Sinless. This is our destiny. Jesus Christ will transform our body and give us glory like His.


Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.


So be excited for your future resurrection! For you will never again struggle with sin. No more shame. No more inner turmoil. No more anger issues, self-hate, weakness.


No addiction will ever again violate your best intentions.


For our Lord will transform this weak and humble body to conform to His sinless, perfect, powerful, body. And the glory of our future resurrected body will match the glory of our regenerated spirit…  


A second reason we need to be resurrected is as long as we are still in this mortal bodythis is as good as it gets. This is as close to God as we’ll get. We cannot see God and live. We cannot inherit the kingdom in these bodies. We must be resurrected to be in His presence and to reign in His kingdom. 


Moses asked the Lord to show me your glory. 


The Lord answered Moses,


Exodus 33:19 … “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21 Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”


“You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”


Just like flying too close to the sun, we cannot survive an undraped, fully displayed encounter with God. Paul explained the plain truth, 


1 Cor. 15:50 Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.


Our regenerated spirit is excited and ready for God’s presence, but this mortal body cannot survive the unveiled presence of the Lord’s glory. 


This is why we can get excited at the resurrection, for then our bodies will be changed, made for heaven and earth. We will enter God’s fullest presence, and see His face which far exceeds any joy or ecstasy we have here.


But this body needs to be changed. And that’s exactly what will happen,


1 Cor. 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.


What are some of those changes that will take place?


1 Cor. 15:42 [When this body is buried or cremated] it is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown [buried] in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…


No physical limitations. No weaknesses. At the resurrection, YOU will have extra-dimensional abilities like Jesus who passed through doors, appeared at will, ascended into the highest heaven, and entered the presence of God—in whose presence is fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore…


This awaits us.


Another change, our bodies will be luminous, effervescent. Kind of hard to imagine. And it’s not a parlor trick. For our bodies will finally reflect the glory that God has already invested in us through regeneration.


Daniel 12:2 “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground [believers] will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others [unbelievers] to disgrace and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who have insight [who put their faith in Jesus] will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.


Jesus affirms this. He says, 


Matthew 13:43 Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” 


John’s revelation shows how Jesus now glows. His face is like the sun. His eyes like flames of fire. His feet like glowing bronze. Rather than hide this from us, and condescend to our level so He can be with us, our Lord will elevate us to His level. We will see Him and not be afraid, but be like Him.  


A final reason to be excited for our resurrection is that in our transformed, sinless, powerful bodies, that will shine as the sun, we will fully express our true identity, the glory of who we are.


And the world will see. And we will see. For our bodies will match the glory of our spirit, so that we forevermore live out our destiny as God's children. 


1 John 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.


This is who you are right now—a child of God. More than a title. More than a relationship. Understand, to be a child of God describes your nature. You are born again. Your spirit is regenerated—the you in this body is now immortal, righteous, alive to God. You are an eternal being with eternal life…


To be called a child of God is more than a relationship, it describes our new nature. We are born again of God.


But on this side of the resurrection, this is something we have to be told. It is something we have to believe. It is something the world does not believe. 


And why? Because you and I don’t look any different! Because your body is still unredeemed. For again, we have this great treasure in earthen vessels.


We’re like Jesus before His resurrection—He was God in the flesh but nobody could tell by looking at Him. His body was remarkably unremarkable. It didn’t reflect His eternal glory as God, in fact it veiled His eternal glory. 


In the same way, we are born again, our spirit is eternal, united to Christ, but our physical bodies do not accurately portray who we are. And we too often judge by appearances. So this is hard to believe. Hard to remember.


So he tells us again,


1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be; but we know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 


This is exciting. This is our destiny.


At the rapture of the living and the resurrection of the dead YOU will be complete. Body and spirit. Imperishable. Indestructible. Glorious. Sinless. Righteous. Powerful. Having divine authority to carry out your mission in the kingdom. Able to stand and worship and take in the glory and beauty and splendor of God. You will be fashioned for the kingdom on earth and the glory of heaven.


And every planet, every star, every galaxy, every ocean, every rock, awaits.


Romans 8:19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. [You, revealed in glory. That's what the creation awaits.] 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, [but with the] hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God… 23 And not only this, but … we ourselves groan … waiting eagerly for [what? For] our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 


So the change is cosmic. The ramifications are universal. And practical…


God affirms us over and over again in the significance of our true identity. 

You are a glorious being, created by an indescribably magnificent God in his own likeness. Yet you are a fallen glorious being, prone to sin and selfishness. Having trusted Jesus, your spirit is redeemed, restored to glory. But we have this treasure in imperfect, mortal bodies. And at the rapture of the living and the resurrection of the dead, your body will be transformed.


You will be a glorious being in a visibly glorious body, perfect, righteous, with great power, and visible glory. You will reflect Christ without any limitation. Whatever other say. Whatever you think of your looks, smarts, success; even if your life is a train wreck of sin or addiction, this is your destiny.


Even if it’s hard to fully see or emotionally connect with, this is your future. And the day is coming when this will no longer be a great truth to trust, but the truth we shall live. 


1 Cor. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

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Loving Our Children in Helpful Ways

Motherhood is amazing.


Think of it, your mom loved you from the moment she knew she was pregnant. Then she gave birth to you. It changed her body. Hormones amped out. She maybe nursed you, changed your diapers. Made your favorite meals. Drove you wherever you needed. Hosted friends, sleepovers. Did your laundry. Laughed at your jokes. Cherished every recital, game, good grade. Buffered between you and your father. Prayed for you, cried for you, worried over you, rooted for you. Your mom really truly loved you.  


Of course, moms are mere mortals, weak, broken, busy, stressed, and exhausted, but how God made it, you are incredibly special in your child’s eyes. 


For those of you who are blessed to be mothers, you got to co-create and bring into this world, and nurture a new person made in the image of God.  


This blessing of being a mom enables a woman to reflect in a most intimate and wonderful way, God’s love to another person—your child, your children.


I want to encourage moms to keep it up. For you have an incredible responsibility. But yet your primary calling is simply to love them.


The essence of motherhood is relationship. 


This seems natural for most moms, but it’s not always easy. It takes time. Energy. Sleep. And help. For your cute little baby has a sin nature. And it doesn’t go away as she becomes an adolescent, as she matures into a teen, an adult. At every stage she requires grace. And you want to give it to her but you aren’t made of grace. You need Jesus, to abide in Christ.


Motherhood is about relationships—first with God.


I don’t have to tell you this. But let me encourage you to take the time to meet with Jesus. Some time in the word. Each day in prayer. Let Jesus fill your cup. Trust Him for the patience, gentleness, and love He offers. Let Jesus Christ forgive you any built up guilt. Any built up shame or regret…


Motherhood is all about relationships—This is the relationship that sustains you and gives you peace to soar. So, first with God, then with your husband, then your child. O and also with experienced moms, godly women.


Titus 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women [young wives] to love their husbands, [because loving, Christ-centered marriages are the best soil for children to grow in Christ’s likeness. And] to love their children,... 


There’s not a lot here when it comes to motherhood—love your husbands, and love your children.


Moms, you’re really good at loving your children. But love as God does. 


God's goal is not that we, His children, never experience hurt, loss or sadness. We won’t mature that way, nor be of much help. God loves us in ways that help us to trust and walk with Jesus and mature in His likeness. That's His goal is for His children. And it starts in the home with mothers and fathers...


So I just want to list three helpful ways to love our children…


1. We love our children in a helpful way by growing them in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 


This isn’t just the mother’s role; it’s dad’s too. But especially when they are young, moms, you may have a more intimate connection, more opportunities, and you may have an easier time sharing Jesus with them.


The Apostle Paul wrote to a young pastor and friend of his,


2 Timothy 1:5 For I am mindful [Timothy] of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.


2 Timothy 3:14 You, [Timothy] continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 that from childhood [through your mother] you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation [not justification, but sanctification, glorification] through faith in Christ Jesus. 


Father’s it’s your responsibility, but dads and moms, teach your children about Jesus. Who He is. You don’t have to be a scholar—tell them what you know. What you trust. Tell them what He did. And why you trust Him. 


I.e., Train them in why they can trust and follow Jesus in all they face. Don't expect them to know. And don’t trust the world to teach them.


Don’t so protect them from the world that they don’t know how to combat it. Equip them for the battle. 


We as parents, as fathers and mothers need to help our children,


2 Cor. 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.


Read them great books. And pray for our children,


Eph. 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.


They are in class five days a week. They need to hear from you. Bring them to GU Kids each week. They need to talk about Jesus with other kids, too. 


2. We love our children in a helpful way by affirming their God-given identity. 


Identity is a heart word that is related to who your child is. And it is under siege today. As moms and dads, we need to proactively build into our youngest children a strong sense of identity, significance, and destiny. 


Today, we need to affirm their character, and strengths, AND their gender.

Considering the spirit of the age, in some schools, some classes, shows they watch, you need to protect your children at the core of their being. 


Your child has a God-given need for significance in his identity. But if this need for significance goes unmet, he can question his identity.


Want to be something more. Or different. Kids naturally question themselves. They don’t always like how they are. Boys may not fit masculine ideals. Girls may not fit in feminine ideals. They may be made fun. Bullied. Feel inadequate on the playground, in the classroom. If they do not feel significant in who they are, and another way to identify is cheered, given high status, the promised significance is alluring. 


Love meets this need with affirmation. A father and mother’s affirmation builds into our young children a strong sense of identity, significance, destiny.


A helpful way to love your child is by affirming who God made him or her to be. Their character. Strengths. Their sex. Affirm your son’s masculinity. Don’t nag that he’s too aggressive. Help him to value being a boy, a male in all its meaning. Affirm your girl’s femininity. Don’t mock her fears. Instill the value, beauty and strengths of being a female.  


Moms and dads can love your child in a helpful way by affirming and helping them to see the strengths and talents, the character traits and qualities that our Lord wove into them. 


Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. 


Know your child. Help them reflect God’s image, not yours. They need the grace of a parent to understand them. To see how God blessed them. To see things in them that they don’t see. They have so many insecurities. They don’t always like how they look, who they are, or how they compare. 


Affirm their strengths. 


Moms, you’re probably doing this naturally. You love your children.


Here’s a third helpful way to love your children, and this may be a common blindspot for many moms today. And more and more fathers too. BUT…


3. We love our child in a helpful way with diligent discipline.


Our heavenly Father loves us even when we are pig-headed, disobedient, totally selfish, and totally justifying our sins. But for our sake, He lets us know what is right and wrong, and He does not simply ignore our actions. 


Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 


God knows that if He doesn’t intervene we can just go on in our sin. And if we do they will destroy us. He calls fathers and mothers to love their kids this same way. He uses very strong love language to communicate it to us,


Proverbs 13:24: Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. 


He says this frequently; He says this is loving. He says this a lot because we think think discipline is unloving. We feel guilty disciplining. But this is loving; this is helpful. This is an area to humble ourselves and yield to God. 


Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.


Moms, you only want to express love to your child. Awesome. Godly discipline is an act of love! It is never fun, it’s painful. But in the long run, diligent, loving discipline blesses your child with wisdom and boundaries to prepare them for a righteous life marked by peace, not violence. (Trust Jesus Christ)


This doesn’t negate that motherhood is ultimately relational, extending love and grace. Things moms value. For these are the very qualities God extends to us. Love and grace are what draw us to Him. Because of His grace, we can be honest with Him. Because of His grace, discipline works.


And if this is so in our relationship with God, how about with our kids?


When you trust God with this you aren’t doing this alone. 


And when it’s all too hard. And you don’t have any more strength or patience or gentleness, Christ is your strength, your help in times of trouble. 


Take a break. Open your bible. Pray. Cry out to God whenever you feel overwhelmed, when chaos has overtaken the home. Get with your husband.

Call a godly friend. And remember what God has promised you…


Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.


2 Corinthians 12:9 … “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 


You don’t have to be strong or on top of it. In fact, best to admit YOU'RE NOT. And to trust the Lord and turn to Him.

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How Is Jesus Different After His Resurrection

We just celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. People ask what’s the big deal? Many people were considered clinically dead and then came back to life. 


But they weren’t too dead. They were revived or resuscitated, not resurrected. They survived a near death experience, they didn’t conquer death.


And not one of them walked out with a transformed body, new life, and immortality. Plus each died or will die again. Even those Jesus raised… 


Question, how many people did Jesus resurrect from the dead? ZERO. 


How many people did Jesus raise from the dead? History records THREE: Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son. All three died a second time. 


But Jesus’ resurrection—and which He promises us one day—is fundamentally different. On Good Friday, after mortally suffering for six long hours,


Luke 23:46 … Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this He breathed His last.


When Jesus’ spirit left His body, just as with us, that’s death. Nothing is inside to animate life. The heart ceases. Breathing, brain and brain stem function all ceases. And Jesus’ vacated body began the irreversible process of decomposition. Not only that but He was dead for three days. 


Yet on Easter, Jesus walked out of the grave in the same yet transformed body. He wasn’t a ghost, a disembodied spirit; He was in a physical body. 


And for all the internet hype and memes, He wasn’t a zombie.


If Jesus was a zombie, He wouldn’t have eaten breakfast with His disciples, He’d have eaten His disciples for breakfast.


The angels wouldn’t have said to the women, “Do not fear!” They’d have said, “Run for your lives!” Rather than be disgusted by Jesus’ rotting body, they were overcome with joy. 


After His resurrection, Jesus’ body was different. 


While He was here on earth, He was Eternal God but He veiled His glory. His natural body reflected His new humanity not His eternal deity. Yet now that Jesus Christ has been resurrected, His glorified body reflects, for our sake, the radiance and glory of both His divine and human nature. 


Jesus’ body was put into the earth like a seed, and by through resurrection, it sprung forth into something glorious and new, like an oak sprouting out from a buried acorn. 


So what does Jesus look like now? What was different about Jesus after His resurrection?


1. After His resurrection, Jesus’ body was different enough to go unrecognized by His followers. 


Mary didn’t recognize Jesus. Neither did the two on the road to Emmaus.


John 20:14 When [Mary] … turned around and saw Jesus standing there, she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”


It wasn’t poor lighting! His resurrection body is different. He was glorified. His body took on a glory that matches His identity and reflects who He is, immortal, indestructible, physical yet spiritual. Fashioned for earth and heaven. To live with us and to “live with the Father in unapproachable light.”


Unapproachable light. Remember, no mortal can see God as He is (in His full glory, His full identity) and survive. The Lord told Moses,


Exodus 33:20… “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”


We’ll talk about that next week as we consider what God says about our future body. But we must be changed, we must put on immortality before we can see God fully. And Jesus was in a glorified body, living among not yet glorified beings. He still couldn’t show the full change. We’ll see that soon. But even still, He was different enough to go unrecognized… 


We see this with two of His followers that were heading to Emmaus,


Luke 24:15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.


Even after this, seven of Jesus’ disciples went fishing, and caught nothing. 


John 21:4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.


Even after seeing Him several times now, they didn’t recognize Him. So this stranger tells them where to cast the nets and they do, and the nets are miraculously full of large fish. That’s when John said, “It’s the Lord!” And Peter swam to the shore while the others rowed back with fish in tow. 


Jesus not only appeared differently in His resurrected body,


2. Resurrected Jesus was also able to vanish at will. 


Luke 24:28 As they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. 29 But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. 30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” 33 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.


3. Post-resurrection Jesus could also appear at will.


Luke 24:36 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate before them. 


Not a ghost, not a zombie, not an android body. Jesus is nothing less than fully human. Yet He goes wherever He wants. He teleports through walls. He enjoys food but doesn’t need it and He is not affected by calories… 


Jesus' resurrection shows that the body is good.


He wasn’t trapped in human flesh as if it wasn’t a part of Him. But His body that died and started to decay is now utterly transformed. Metamorphosed. Fashioned for heaven and earth. Eternally reflecting who He truly is. Unlimited. Glorious.


I said His body is fashioned for heaven and earth. In His resurrected body,


4. Resurrected Jesus entered in and out of heaven


Acts 1:9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men [angels] in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”


So Jesus could pass through locked doors, fly or ascend into the highest heavens and return to earth. Which in the future remember, He will reign from His throne on earth, and from the right hand of the Father in glory. 


Jesus is luminous, He radiates holiness, power, glory.


But this leads to one final observation. After He ascended to heaven, He appears to be even different from His forty days on earth after His arose. 


A few of the disciples got a glimpse of this when Jesus told them,


Matt. 16:28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” 17:1 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light… 5 [Then the Father spoke,] “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 


Paul described his experience in Acts, “I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground,” Jesus spoke to him.


In the book of Revelation, we read John’s experience,


Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lamp stands [seven churches]; 13 and in the middle of the lamp stands I saw one like a Son of Man, [he looked human like us] clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars [angels], and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” 


This is how Jesus looks now that He ascended. This is how He is in heaven. 

Yet this is discomforting for some. This thought of Jesus seems scary, less personal. True, every time His followers saw Him they were frightened and fell to the ground! We don’t want scary Jesus, we want fully human Jesus. He’s more personal, relatable, gentle. BUT will He be less intimate in heaven? No, even in His radiant omnipotence God is love. That’s His nature…


He is all-powerful yet merciful and gentle. He is holy and transcendent yet intimate and personal. His voice roars like many waters, yet it will match who He is—in holiness, power, and love. His eyes aflame like fire, yet with them He looks into your eyes and says, “I am yours and you are Mine.” 


Jesus’ body human didn’t reflect all that He is, it didn’t reflect His essential nature as God. Just as man. But after His resurrection, He now does. The One we love and pray to glows with power, and radiates brilliant glory… 


He reflects who He is as God the Almighty. And and as man. One of us. 


This is our God. This is our Savior. The Light of the world. Pure goodness.

When Jesus rose from the dead and ministered on earth for 40 days, He still had to veil His glory because His followers were not resurrected yet, they were still flesh and blood. No man may see His glory and live. But after we are resurrected, we will see and be amazed and be drawn in worship. Rather than condescend to our level, He will elevate us to His level.


1 Cor. 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we [who are alive when Christ comes for us] will be changed.


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What was Jesus' message after His resurrection?

Following His resurrection from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ “presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to His many followers, over 500 in fact over a period of forty days” (Acts 1:3).  


We will look at several of Jesus’ resurrection appearances over the next two weeks. Today, we’ll focus first on His Words. What was Jesus' message to these believers? How does it apply to us today? Next week, we’ll consider what changed in Him, and what will change in us when we are resurrected?


The first person to whom Jesus revealed Himself is Mary.


If you put all four Gospels together, you realize that Mary Magdalene and several women went to the tomb and saw it empty, she left and told the disciples. And nobody knows what to believe?! So Peter and John go to the empty tomb. Mary follows after them. John now believes Jesus rose from the dead. They leave, Mary stays behind; that’s when two angels appear,


John 20:13 And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” [It’s Easter Sunday! The greatest event just took place. Why are you so sad?!] She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said, “Rabboni!”


Jesus’ initial message was “stop weeping and start believing.” 


When He entered the upper room where His disciples were hiding in fear, His message was similar, “stop fearing and start believing.”  


And this isn’t just for Easter Sunday.


Whatever you face, however hopeless it seems, however powerless you feel, it’s hard to remain miserable or frightened or hopeless when by faith you believe that Jesus is fully alive from the dead, and you embrace the hope that His resurrection brings.


He told the two disciples that He met on the way to Emmaus pretty much the same, “Stop being so foolish and start believing.”


Luke 24:15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. 17 And He said to them, “What are these [sad and hopeless] words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad.


After they revealed their initial hope in Him but their current lack of faith,


Luke 24:25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! [I.e., stop being so sad and believe! Really, STOP BEING SO FOOLISH, BELIEVE ALL THAT GOD SAYS ABOUT ME. It’s very illuminating that Jesus thinks we are foolish to not believe ALL that God’s Word says.] 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” [Why is it necessary they happen? Because Scripture said it would happen!] 27 Then beginning with Moses [Genesis] and all the prophets [from Amos - Zechariah], He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. 


Stop weeping, stop fearing, and stop being foolish! How by believing that Jesus has risen from the dead. And believe everything the Bible says, everything it says about Jesus. Jesus says it’s foolish not to. That’s less of a judgment, more of an outcome—we live foolishly, we think and act like an unbeliever whenever we do not believe what God’s Word teaches. 


Again this isn’t an Easter message. However hopeless your current crisis seems, however powerless you are to affect a good outcome, whatever is robbing you or peace or joy in this life. But let me ask, why were the disciples afraid? Why was Mary so sad? 


It wasn’t just because Jesus was so sweet and she missed him so much.

John 20:13 … [But in her own words] “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”


Jesus freed her from seven demons. She experienced that. Jesus forgave her sins and she believed Him. She believed Jesus reconciled her to God. He fully accepts her, always, because of Jesus. She longed for this… 


Jesus was her Lord. I.e., she trusted and loved Him and gave her life to serve Him. We serve what we love. So, WHEN HE DIED, she’s left asking, “Is any of this true?! Am I forgiven. Does God accept me?”


And now His body is missing and it was just all too much for her to handle…


So Jesus’ initial message to His followers was stop being so sad. Stop being so afraid, so hopeless. Do you see how foolish this is as you believe that I am alive. Jesus’ resurrection means every promise God made will likewise (literally) be fulfilled. His resurrection means Satan has no authority over you, sin is no longer your master, and death’s power is destroyed. 


Jesus’ resurrection has an effect on a galactic, cosmic scale, for

“He created all things, seen and unseen.” And “in Him all things hold together.” And “in the fulness of the times, all things will be summed up in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.” (Eph 1:10). Paul says,


Eph. 1:20 [God the Father] raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, [or any name you can name, any threat they pose] not only in this age but also in the one to come. 


Believe this. Frame your understanding of the world around this. Don’t fear the end of the world as others do. Nor the state of the nation; and don’t put all your hope in political parties. Believe that Jesus has all rule and authority and power. Believe this into your situation. See this and believe this over your fears. No problem is too big for Christ in heaven and also in you. 


On a personal level, Jesus’ resurrection means we have a God who suffered and died for us, yet lives to save us. He understands through personal experience everything you face.


He knows what it is to be heartbroken, betrayed, hated, frightened, human.


Jesus’ resurrection means you are always loved—by the Almighty. You are always listened to, always cared for, and always interceded for. 


Rom. 8:34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.


But there’s more. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead, we can declare,


Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? [NO. for Christ conquered all in His resurrection!] 37 [So] in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. [And rose again for us!]


So Jesus’ early message was stop weeping, stop fearing, stop reacting to the world and culture like its got any power, and believe that Jesus has risen from the dead and therefore we have hope in Him in every situation. 


So whatever you face, financial crises, a boring job, a failed relationship, annoying people, a vindictive enemy, illness, aging, or death. By faith live in the hope that Jesus’ resurrection brings. You’ve a living Shepherd…


Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2… He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul… 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me… 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


Jesus had one other clear message or really mission that He kept sharing,


John 20:19 So when it was evening on that day, the first of the week], and when the doors were shut where the disciples were , for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”


This was specific to His disciples. He was sending them out as His apostles. The Holy Spirit wouldn’t be sent to the whole church, all believers, for another fifty days, but until then He came to these for a special empowering.

Which shows the importance of believing that the resurrected Christ sends us His Holy Spirit and we need to be led by and to rely on Him to be effective.


He also gives us the privilege to announce to others God’s forgiveness of their sins and guilt and shame. We get to announce freedom and forgiveness in Christ. And if they believe they are forgiven and restored to God, and given infinite worth, identity, clothed with glory, as God’s possession.


Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel [GOOD NEWS] to all creation.”


Share the good news that the risen Savior entrusts with us.


Believe that there are people out there whom God will grant to believe and be saved. Share with those who are sad, empty, feeling hopeless, afraid. People have epic fears today. COVID shows how much people fear death. People freak that the world will end this way or that. An asteroid. Global warming. WWIII. Well we know how. And we know who. We’ve a message that saves all who believe in Him. For we know who made them and loves them and died for them. Not just for us. Jesus defeated Satan for them, destroyed the power of death for them, offers to forgive them and give eternal life to them.

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Jesus Died And Was Buried, So Why Worship Him?

What kind of God would allow Himself to be so disgraced, so brutalized, killed by His own subjects? The God and Father of our Lord, and Jesus Christ His Son. The God who in His love chose to endure suffering on the cross to reconcile us to Him. 


Jesus’ arrival was anticipated long before He came. In fact, He is the only person in history who was pre-announced more than a thousand years before he was born by no less than 18 different prophets that predicted his birth, life, and death. And several were impossible to fulfill, yet Jesus fulfilled them,


Isaiah 7:14 Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.


Micah 5:2 From you, Bethlehem, One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”


Jesus made shocking and self-aware statements that went along with those prophecies. I Am the eternal One, the first and the last, the Beginning and the End; the Giver of life. Abraham rejoiced to see me (2000 years before). Moses wrote about Me (1500 years). David called Me Lord (1000). I am the only way to God; nobody comes to the Father but through Me. I am the Judge of the living and the dead and the Forgiver of sin. The dead shall hear His voice (ominous) and “unless you believe in Me,” Jesus said, accepting His provision for you, “you will die in your sins.”  


Adding weight to His claims, Jesus did incredible things. While we may now be familiar with these, or we’ve seen crazier things in movies or a galaxy, far, far away. People simply don’t have the power to do these things.


What things?


Like stopping violent storms in their tracks, and casting out gruesome and frightening demons which terrified whole cities. Jesus cleansed people of leprosy & healed paralytics, caused the deaf to hear, and the blind to see. “So even if you won’t believe my words believe what my works say of me.


His followers did. Gradually, imperfectly, in fits & starts, but they believed.

So when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and people celebrated, it made perfect sense. But by Thursday, Jesus was arrested, put on trial, and His claims were judged to be false. The religious leaders, cultural elites, and the state all decided He is not God. Not Christ. Not even good. 


Many unbelievers today say Jesus is a good man; they said he’s a criminal.

When Jesus was beaten into jelly and mocked with a crown of thorns, it seemed to confirm the world’s assertions. For the cross was about judgment, control, and shame. And in all the world’s religions, what kind of god would allow himself to be treated like this?! No real god at all. So even His closest followers at this time were distancing themselves from Him.


With each lash of the whip, each strike of the nail through His flesh, each passing hour on the cross, the world looked more and more convincing, Jesus looked more pathetic, and His followers looked more foolish.


Finally at 3:00 PM Jesus breathed His last. He’s dead. A spear was thrust into His side for good measure, and for an exclamation point. As the stone was set over the tomb, his body never to be seen again, all hope was lost. 


His followers are like, “How could we have missed it?! Everything He did was amazing. Everything He said rang true. Wasn’t that God’s voice that affirmed, ‘This is My Beloved Son.’ We saw Him cast demons into pigs, right?! We were in the boat with Him when He stopped that storm from drowning us in the sea.” But He is dead. It doesn’t matter. We were wrong.  


EXCEPT, for months Jesus publicly stated that He was going to the capital where He’d be betrayed, arrested, executed and then rise from the dead.

And He put all the weight of every claim and promise on His resurrection. 


Matthew 12:39 “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 


And just weeks before this, one of Jesus’ best friends was sick. His sisters dispatched a message to Jesus, “Lazarus is really sick. Please, come quickly.” As His followers start packing for the trip, Jesus says, “We’ll stay here for awhile.” Then, once Lazarus dies, Jesus says, “Let’s go visit my friend." 


So they show up and Lazarus is already dead and buried. Martha, his sister, comes out to Jesus and says, “You’re late! He’s dead. You weren’t even here for the funeral. And here we told everyone all about You, how You would heal him and instead You don’t even show up. Not only did You blow a great opportunity but you make it harder for us to trust in You.”  


Jesus doesn’t apologize. He doesn’t scold her for not believing. And He doesn’t tell her, “Martha, I know how to resurrect dead people.” He says,


John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies [He’ll resurrect your body], 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die [speaking of our spirit]. Do you believe this?”


Then, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The news of this really boosted the crowd noise on Palm Sunday. This was also the miracle that united Jesus’ enemies to hatch their plot to have Him falsely arrested and executed.


So that’s all good and well. But Jesus died. He’s dead. End of story. What makes Him special or any different? Why do we still talk about Him today? Why should I or anyone trust in Him or worship Him? He’s dead. Buried!


Regarding his burial, there’s a story of a man named Joseph of Arimathea, and this takes us right into the Easter story, which gives the answer,


Luke 23:52 this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. 54 It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes.


Luke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men [angels] suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; 5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? ||| 6 “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” 8 And they remembered His words, 9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest… 11 But these words appeared to the men as nonsense, and they would not believe them. 


“Silly woman! You probably went to the wrong tomb. C’mon, He’s dead. It’s over. We were wrong.” Except, she was right!


John 20:3 Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and [John tells us he] ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.  

But Peter did. He saw the linen that was around Jesus’ body but no body. 

John 20:8 So the other disciple [John] who had first come to the tomb also entered, and he saw and believed. [He believed what? That Jesus rose from the dead! That Jesus is alive. AND His promises are true and everything they’d had hoped in is real. All because of the empty tomb.] 9 [For up until this, they] did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 


And remember, Jesus put the weight of all His claims on this miracle. And He did rise from the dead just as He said, just as the Scriptures said. And the world which looked so right in its judgment against Jesus, is wrong… 


Everything Jesus claimed to be, He is. Every word Jesus said is true.


Jesus is the Lord and Giver of life. He reconciles us to God. What we see is not all there is. This life is not all there is. The sadness, the hurt, the struggle, sin and death—it all gets resolved. Utterly transformed and renewed, 


1 Corinth. 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable [immortal, everlasting, indestructible] and we will be changed [made something new].


The other question needs to be answered—what kind of God would allow Himself to be so disgraced, so brutalized, killed by His own subjects? Until this, the answer was a weak god, a false god, or no god at all. Now the answer is the God who created us. Who has all power and dominion and authority. The God of Abraham and Isaac, Moses and David, Peter and Paul. The God and Father of our Lord, and Jesus Christ His Son. The God who in His love chose to endure suffering on the cross to reconcile us to Him


1 John 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the perfect payment that satisfies justice] for our sins. 


Even if you were raised a skeptic. Or raised in a church that messed you up, sorry. Even if none of your friends are believers and the one Christian you know is kind of odd.


Or even if you think there is no god, or all religions believe in the same God—no, Jesus is not one god among many, or one dead man among billions. The empty tomb doesn’t allow that. 


Jesus’ resurrection validated Jesus’ unique claims, and vindicated His holy name. 


Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Yet there are lots of religions with their gods and founders over the centuries. But only one of them, Christianity, has a founder who was predicted to come, offered words of life, demonstrated great acts of power and love, and provided irrefutable proof of who he was by rising from the dead.

May you hear His words and believe,


John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 

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How to Respond When Your Faith is Attacked

Christians in America are not beheaded for our faith in Jesus but persecution extends beyond martyrdom to include harassment, insults, discrimination.


Jesus acknowledged this when he said,


Matt. 5:11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.


Accordingly, blessed are you whenever you are targeted, hassled, or sued for practicing your faith; when students are shamed for sharing your faith on campus. Blessed are you when someone on Facebook attacks you because you post a bible verse that refutes one of their sacred tenets; when companies refuse to hire you for your stance in Christ; when your boss forbids you from talking about Christ; or when political leaders, famous people, or Twitter derogatorily label believers anti-choice, anti-science, or transphobic or backwards or bigots because we champion God’s design—these are forms of attack, persecution. If we don’t see the blessing of it, it’ll keep us silent.


And the way things are trending, this will become more and more common.


So expect it. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you… A slave is not greater than his master; if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…" (John 15:18-20)


So how are we to respond when our faith is attacked?


The answer is NOT to be silent! It is not to keep mum about Jesus, how to be forgiven, or where they can discover infinite worth, perfect love, eternal life.


The darkest forces in the world want our silence but people the world over need to hear God’s message. We are not called to be silent but to share the good news, wherever we go (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Thess. 1:6-9).


While being public with our faith may result in attacks on our faith, persecution, our goal and purpose is not to avoid persecution but to soar with Jesus in it.


How do we do that? How do we respond when our faith is attacked?


1Pet. 3:8 To sum up, all of yoube harmonious, [be a supportive community for each other. Be] sympathetic, [GK, sumpatheo, lit., "suffer with" one another, be present for each other. Be] brotherly, [love as family. Be] kindhearted, and humble in spirit [not arrogant, nor acting in the flesh;] 9 [And when you are called names, or discriminated against for your faith do not retaliate:] not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 


Extra rewards in heaven are promised for expressing grace in submission.


After Jesus said, Matt. 5:11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. [He said] 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


The way you respond to people who discriminate against you at work or attack you online is important to God. But it never feels good.


Nobody wants to be called a hater! Or a fool. We take it personally. Shame is triggered, and our pride and self-defense mechanism retaliates. But know that this is a spiritual attack on Jesus Christ, not your personal worth. 


Jesus said, The world hates Me, because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. (John 7:7) The world hates God. Hates His authority. His morality. It loves the darkness. Calls evil good. This is the world Jesus came to save. And this is the world that you and I are to represent Him before, today. 


So if they call you fool, rejoice, they notice. Hear what God says, “the real fool is the one who says there is no god.” You aren’t a fool, for God has revealed to you the mysteries of God in Christ. You know the Way and the Truth and the Life. And you aren’t on the wrong side of history, you know the One who is the Beginning and End.


For those who don’t know, He is


Rev. 1:5… Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth… He loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.


When social media attacks, when co-workers turn on you, rejoice and turn to Him. Don’t play victim or counterattack, but 1 Peter 3:9 give a blessing instead: for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing


Then Peter quotes Psalm 34, 


1Pet. 3:10 For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE [the good life], TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS [even under hostile conditions], MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. 11 HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. 


1) Guard your lips and keyboards. Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceit.


2) Turn away from evil and do good—don’t react in shame or pride, cling to Jesus. V9 “Don’t return evil for evil or insult for insult, but give a blessing instead.


3) When haters hate, “seek peace and pursue it.” Don’t back off your beliefs. Don’t just agree with them to pacify them. But seek a peace not a battle.


Then Peter quotes more from Psalm 34, which gives us several assurances,


1Pet. 3:12 FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS [assuring us of God’s care and protection], AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER [reminding us that God gives grace to the humble], BUT [3] THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” [So do not fear them.]


Peter then asks an important question: 1 Peter 3:13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. [Christ will reward you in addition to heaven. So live your faith out loud, bring Jesus to work, and into the public sphere, share what He means to you with others and if you suffer for it do this with Christ. He quotes Isaiah Ch. 8] “AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED”, 


Isaiah 8:12 And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13 It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. 14 Then He shall become a sanctuary…”


If you regard Him as holy and awesome, towering over demons, presidents, superstars, superheroes, nations, galaxies, technologies, philosophies, if you regard the LORD of hosts as YOUR God and Defender, then you won’t fear any threat, accusation, or derogatory name men call you! And then, He will become your sanctuary, your holy place, your safe place.


Back to 1 Peter, Peter says the same thing to New Testament Christians,


1Pet. 3:14… “DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED”, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts!

This is the same thing Isaiah said but Peter connects Jesus Christ to be the Lord of hosts!


To sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts is to have the highest regard for Jesus Christ and His His will, His authority. (For me I have to focus on His grace first: His authority and Lordship are awesome and good, but it is His grace that draws me to Him.) So sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, have a relationship with Him that affects what you do, the choices you make. This may be more gradual, in fits and starts. But to sanctify Christ as Lord is to not make every decision on your own, and don’t fear that others are in control of you either. Submit to it—Christ is Lord. He is sovereign. Nothing can happen without His okay. He loves you. He watches over you. If He allows bad to happen, He is with you and He will bring you through it and reward you for it.


But if you live like that, be ready to to suffer and to be share about Jesus.

 

1Pet. 3:15 But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…


When we show that we trust Jesus, and we aren’t afraid to speak, we don’t fear what others do, and if we are insulted we love rather than curse, some may ask—How do you respond that way? How do you love like that, or forgive like that? Why aren’t you afraid? Why are you so hopeful? 


I know of some who start with their weakness. What they struggled with, anger, guilt, relationships. This can set the scene for you to tell them what Jesus did for you. How you found hope, value, love, forgiveness, mercy. 


Some personally explain a passage like John 3:16 or 1 Pet. 3:18 “Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”


Maybe have a 1 minute elevator spiel prepared. For me,


My hope isn’t in people doing the right thing or that good things happen to good people. My hope is in the God who made the universe and created every one of us in His image; that even though I rejected him for so long, I am of great worth Him. I know it's true because He sent His Son, Jesus Christ. And while powerful men put Him on a cross and killed Him, unjust as it was, Jesus flipped it on us, He went to the cross for my good. He dealt with all the stuff that messed up my life and that kept me from God. And after He died for us, He rose from the dead. And He promises us eternal life with Him. I trust this. And God honors my trust. I know God forgives me, even for the things I can’t forgive. And I know God welcomes me, and He wants me to know Him. And the more I know Him, the more my hope increases for this life and for the life to come. So no matter how good or bad I am, no matter what you or anyone thinks or says of me, even if the worst happens, just as Jesus rose from dead, so will I. And this world will be made new—full of love and authentic joy. No sadness, injustice, no pain. That’s my hope. That's His promise to all who believe.”


The world wants us to conform to its image. “Act like us. Think like us.” And if not, at least keep your faith private, offline, out of the public square. Don’t even share your beliefs with your children, for that’ll interfere with our plans for them.  


And too many believers oblige, thinking, if we keep quiet and we keep the peace and we make the world happy—we’re really good people for it.


But church, it’s holy week, Jesus didn't even make it through Friday night.


And we have the best of news. Our message still blows the angels away. It is the power of God to save everyone who believes. It defeats the power of sin and hell and death. And it confers entrance into the kingdom of God and to the throne of grace and of His presence in glory. Believe it. Live it. Share it.


1Pet. 3:12 For THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, AND THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL. 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. 

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How do I receive eternal life with God?
Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from our sins. He made forgiveness possible through His death, and new life and relationship with God available through His resurrection. Trust Jesus for this and you shall be saved.
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How do I get baptized?
After you trust Jesus Christ for eternal life, a great next step is to express through baptism that your past is buried and you have new life in a new relationship with God through Jesus. We can help with that.
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Grace United is supported by our members and those who share a passion for Jesus Christ and a vision for our ministry in Western MA.
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