Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Happy Easter to you.
Well, before we get started, we’re going to do something really fun.
Everybody get out your phones…it’s okay…you can do it.
I know some of you are like, “But I’m in church!?!”
This is a different kind of church J
Okay, now, if you have a smart phone, go to your app store. (on whatever smartphone you have: iPhone, Android, Windows, it doesn’t matter)
If you don’t have a smart phone, fake like you’re going to an app store.
Okay, search for Renovation Church in your app store, and download our brand new app!!!
(Show Church App Slide – Leave up until I finish talking about App)
We’re really excited about this!
We’ve been working on this for quite some time, and the App Store approved it just a few days ago…just in time for Easter, so it’s awesome.
So, download it to your phones…it’s free of course.
You can interact with a TON of stuff on there
You can watch video of our messages or listen to the audio
You can Read the Bible on there…and even do some of our Bible reading plans
You can sign-up to serve, for a house group, submit a prayer request…
And even give your offering.
Anyway, we’re just really excited about it, so it’s okay if you just tuned me out for two minutes while you put it on your phone.
Speaking of technology…we know it’s great, but we also know that it can absorb a ton of our time.
We spend a ton of time on our phones (and now even more w/ a Renovation Church app), spend all day looking at our laptops, and the rest of the night watching TV…
And many saying it’s ruining us.
And maybe it is…or maybe it’s not.
I’m always fascinated by studies and experiments, and here’s an interesting one:
Two years ago, a technology writer, by the name of Paul Miller decided to completely unplug from the internet for a year…not easy to do if you’re a “technology writer”
He disabled his wi-fi in his house, disabled any sort of smart TVs, and exchanged his smart phone for a dumb phone (his words, not mine) J
And then, 1 year later, he came back online and wrote an article about his experience.
Here’s what he wrote:
“I’m here. Back online after a year without the internet. And now I’m supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more ‘real,’ now. More perfect”
He goes on to say that what he found was “that I can’t blame the internet, or any circumstance, for my problems. The problem is within”
And it’s interesting because we all like to think that if we all just stopped:
Using our devices so much…then we’d find peace
As if in the 1800’s everyone was just peaceful.
If we just started working out…then we’d be energetic and happy again
If we just started that diet we’ve been thinking about for 5 years, then we’d hit our goal weight and be “happy”
If we just met that perfect someone, THEN I’d be happy.
But I think the point from his study is that WE are the ones that are broken.
WE are broken no matter what the circumstances are around us.
We’re broken people in a broken world.
In a world where relationships are broken, divorce happen, adultery happens, lying happens
Jobs get lost, abuse exists, siblings stop talking to each other
Let’s face it…the world is broken and we’re broken with it.
And whether we have the internet or not, or have the right job or not, or right relationship of not, won’t solve the fact that we’re a broken people.
GOD WALKS ALONG SIDE US
But that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t walk alongside of us.
And that doesn’t mean that he can’t renovate and restore us.
I want to show you a passage from the Bible that shows this, but first, let me set the scene.
Jesus has come to earth as the Messiah. And then around the age of 30 or so, he starts doing public ministry…and does so for 3 years.
But at the end of those 3 years, the religious people hate him so much for his teachings on sin, grace, judgment, and forgiveness…that they have him put to death.
And they convince the Roman government to kill him…on a cross.
But 3 days later, on that first Easter morning, he rises from the dead.
The Bible tells of many of his resurrection appearances, and I want to show you one of them this morning.
This one happened literally ON Easter Sunday. Maybe later that morning or in the afternoon.
Let’s take a look.
I’d love for you to follow along..
Bible under every chair…
Or, you can follow along on your New Renovation Church APP!!
Just click Bible, and Weekly Verses.
(Luke 24:13-19) – NIV
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people
So two of Jesus’ followers are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus…about a 7-mile walk.
And Jesus shows up and starts walking with them.
Except they don’t recognize him…and Jesus doesn’t tell them.
They’re like, “Are you the only one in town who doesn’t know these things?! What planet have you been living on?!”
And Jesus is like, “What things?” J Awesome.
The passage continues
(Luke 24:20-27) – NIV
20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
So they tell this “guy” walking w/ them, “It gets crazier…some of our women checked out his tomb, and Jesus wasn’t there…but they can’t be trusted, so we sent our men” J
And then it says, Jesus…who they still can’t figure out is Jesus… explains to them what the Scriptures say about him starting with Moses and all the Prophets.
Well, what does that mean?
It means that he started telling them the stories from the Old Testament…which was their scriptures at the time.
And how, for hundreds of years, the Bible had been prophesying that he would come & what he would do.
I know many of you are visiting for the very first time today, but for those that have been here while we’ve been teaching the book of Matthew, you’ve seen how almost every week, they reference one of those prophecies
And Jesus is going to show them how the Messiah had to suffer, BUT THEN…he would come into glory. He would resurrect.
Let’s see how this story wraps up
(Luke 24:28-35) – NIV
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
So they finally recognize Jesus.
And it says, when they do, they returned to Jerusalem at once.
SO they had just walked 7 miles to Emmaus…it’s night now…after dinner, but it doesn’t matter.
They run the 7 miles back and tell the 11 remaining disciples.
Jesus has indeed resurrected! He’s alive!
WHY THEY DON’T RECOGNIZE HIM
But why didn’t they recognize him at first…when they were walking with him?
Well, a number of things really.
For one, Jews at that time, didn’t believe in a bodily resurrection on earth anymore than a modern person does today.
It’s like, if you were walking 7 miles from Blaine to Andover, and you saw someone who looked just like your friend who had just died.
Your brain would just go, “Well, that’s not him…That’s impossible. That’s just his doppleganger…I’m just thinking that because I’m grieving.”
And remember, they were grieving. They’d probably followed Jesus for years…thinking he was going to change the world…
And then all of a sudden…shockingly…he’s killed.
Something they probably never expected.
They’re simply not thinking straight
And for whatever reason, their hearts weren’t ready for it yet.
The passage says they were “kept from recognizing him”
Jesus was walking along side of them…through their difficult time…but they couldn’t see it was him yet.
This was my experience before I became a Christian.
Like a lot of Americans, I was familiar with Jesus. It wasn’t like I never had heard of him…
I just didn’t follow him.
He was following me though. He was walking right behind me.
My story is…I went to church some growing up. But never paid attention. Never cared really.
As my teenager years went on, and as high school went by, I went to church less & less, and the idea of God bothered me more and more.
Especially his hypocritical followers.
But it’s interesting because I knew ABOUT Jesus…
And as I look back now…I know He was walking with me…I can’t tell you all of the things he must have protected me from in those first 18 years that could’ve ruined me…
He was there…I knew about Him….but I didn’t know Him.
I didn’t see Him.
My eyes hadn’t been opened yet.
I mean, you can be physically alive, but spiritually blind.
And that’s what I was.
And that’s what these 2 men in the passage were for the moment.
But the closer you get to Jesus, the more your heart starts to burn.
Did you catch that part of the passage. It’s one of the most important verses
(Luke 24:32) – NIV
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
They’re saying, “Our hearts had to be on FIRE…but we were so struck with grief, so busy searching for answers, that we didn’t see him right in front of our faces!”
Same thing in my life…Jesus was right there…right in front of my face.
I heard about him. I went to church even…but I just didn’t see it.
We let things get in the way.
Sometimes it’s grief…like the disciples…sometimes it’s busyness.
For me, it was my own pride and arrogance.
For others it’s their own agenda, work, even their families.
We all have these things where we tune out the “spiritual-burning” within our hearts.
It’s like, if you get real heartburn…
That’s telling you something about your body!
It means you have some acid problems
But most of us don’t do really anything about it.
We just pop an antacid, and continue on with life.
Rather than paying attention to what’s really happening inside.
And I think that’s what’s happened to so many of us.
You have these moments…where your heart is burning within you…and it’s saying, “God is real. God is real. He loves you. God is real. You should do something about this”
But then we just squash the burning inside. (Pop a pill)
“Nah…back to work…back to the rat race…let’s take another drink…back to the internet…back to life as we know it”
But God is trying to get your attention.
Let me say that again: “The God of the UNIVERSE…is trying to get YOUR attention”
And some of you in this room…you know that’s true.
You can feel it’s true…even if you’re not a “spiritual” person or whatever.
Life feels…broken. It’s not quite right.
But I want to tell you something: There’s one who can fix it…can Renovate it.
And he’s alive. He resurrected. HE’S ALIVE.
And that’s why sometimes we feel our hearts burning inside.
Saying…there is more. There’s more to this life.
It’s true. God designed you for more than this.
He’s got so much more in store for you.
And He’s Real!
But here’s the deal. It’s not just the fact that he’s alive….
Jesus didn’t just resurrect. We’ve got to back up 3 days. He died.
But why? Why did he die?
Let me tell you a story first. A true story.
It took place at Azusa pacific University…which is out in California in 2009
Before graduation that year, there was a special gathering of about 50 people.
Mostly comprised of people from the graduating class of 50 years ago and a few faculty.
The president of the University brought out 3 graduating students in front of the group, and told the group that for the next two years, these 3 students were all going to serve the poorest of the poor in India
The 3 students thought they were just there to be commissioned and sent out with a blessing…which they were.
But, then something happened that they didn’t expect.
The president turned to them and said, “I have a piece of news for you. There’s somebody you don’t know –an anonymous donor---who was so moved by what you’re doing that he has given a gift to this university in your name, on your behalf.”
He turned to the 1st student and said, “You are forgiven of your debt of $105,000.”
And the student just began sobbing in front of everyone.
He turned to the second student and said, “You are forgiven of your debt of $70,000.
Then to third, “you are forgiven of your debt of $130,000.
The students had no idea it was coming.
The whole room was in tears. They were blown away by grace.
We’re in a similar situation.
We too are in debt.
It’s called sin.
In fact, if you grew up Catholic or Lutheran or Presbyterian…you might have even prayed the Lord’s prayer and for many, a section of it, went something like this:
“Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors”
That’s how it says it in the Bible too, in Matthew 6.
Because sin is like debt.
It’s like going in the hole against God.
And we do it a lot.
Like…a lot a lot. Like, I’m probably 15 in the hole this morning already.
See, it’s not as simple as, “I’m just going to be a good person and go to heaven someday…as long as I don’t murder anyone”
It doesn’t work like that.
No one’s going to waltz into heaven and impress God with their resume of good works.
There’s nothing you can do to EARN your way to sit in his presence for all of eternity. Nothing.
Instead, it’s just the opposite.
Our debts are piling up every day.
The case against us grows…every day.
With every sin, we get further into debt.
With every lustful look, every gossipy conversation, every bitter thought, every day gone by of completely ignoring our maker…the one who gave us breath.
And the list grows and grows.
How are you going to get out of debt? How are you gonna make it up?
Walk a lot of old ladies across the street? Never miss church? Volunteer at the homeless shelter?
There’s nothing you can do…
Well, that’s not entirely true.
There is one thing.
Except, it’s not really doing anything…it’s more like a decision.
Because somebody else already did this for you.
And this decision…is the most important decision of your life.
Here it is:
See, Jesus did die 3 days before Easter…on the cross….but he died BECAUSE the list of your debts was so big and so long…that the only thing coming towards you was earned punishment.
Because God is a just God. He’s not a cheat! He can’t ignore it.
Just punishment must happen.
And for us, that’s hell. That’s separation from God.
HOWEVER….this same “just” God loves you so much…(no, I’m serious…he loves you so much…He’s been walking along side of you this whole time…even if you can’t see Him).
He loves you so much…that he sent his one and only son Jesus to die on the cross…to take your place.
To take your punishment. To pay for your debts.
BUT HOW? HOW does that work? How do we get our debts forgiven?
(Romans 10:9) – NIV
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
That’s why he died. He died to take your place.
And if you believe in that…I don’t care how long your list of debts is…I don’t care what you did…or who you did it to or who you did it with or for how long it happened….HE’LL PAY IT ALL.
Out of love for you…(he’s crazy about you…He died for you for goodness sakes)…He paid it all.
He looks at you and he shockingly says, “That long list of debts, I’ll forgive it all, I’ll wipe it away”
And He’s alive today, so you can follow Him!
And that’s how you can be forgiven.
Because he didn’t just forgive everyone by dying.
It’s still a choice that we each have to make. That we have to choose to accept.
And it’s not as simple as “Sure, I believe this happened”
I’m asking you to respond to that burning in your heart…that notion that God is real…
I’m asking you to respond to the idea that God can restore the brokenness…even if it takes a lifetime…and then some
I’m asking you not just to believe in this amazing God…but to follow Him.
Because that’s what true belief is anyway.
Think of this way.
When Alexander Fleming first discovered penicillin, it was a great breakthrough, but when it came down to the individual who was sick. Belief had to be more than believing in a great breakthrough in history.
Think of belief in 3 stages.
1) You can accept that penicillin exists
2) You may trust in its ability to heal you
But some people stop there.
And they stop there with Jesus too.
I did for 18 years. “He exists. I’m sure he does good stuff. I’m busy. I don’t care that much”
3) But true belief. Real belief, takes it to the next level.
You receive the drug. You take pencillin.
And this morning, I wonder if it’s time for you to receive Jesus into your life.
I wonder if it’s time to say, “You’ve been walking behind me this whole time…but I see now…I see you’re real…I see you died for me…so how about I follow you now?”
See that’s the difference.
To believe is to follow.
And for many of you, I think today is the day for you to follow Jesus.
So, I want to ask you this morning…do you want to believe that Jesus died for you and become a follower of His?
To start a relationship with Him? To finally answer that burning heart inside of you….To have all of your debts…all of your sins forgiven.
This is why he died. This is why he rose again…to forgive you and have a relationship with YOU
Have you ever told Him that? Have you ever committed your life to following Him?
This is how we’re forgiven. This is what Christianity is all about!
If you’ve never done this before…then by all means, let’s do it today.
Start following this amazing God and be forgiven.
In fact, let’s do this: Let’s all bow our heads and close our eyes…as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.
If you want to start this incredible relationship with Jesus…. ….and believe in what He did for you and commit your life to him (to make Him your leader & forgiver) to be completely forgiven…spend eternity in heaven w/ Him and NOT in Hell.
If that’s you…and you’ve never done this before…in just a few moments, I’m actually going to ask you to quietly stand up. As a symbol…to say…this is what I’m living for now.
Everyone is going to have their eyes closed (no one’s looking), so this is just between you & God
This is a way for you to say, “I believe that THIS is what life is about. From this moment onward, I will be a follower of JESUS.”
So wherever you are, all across this room right now. If you’d like to become a follower of Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to just, real quietly, stand up wherever you are.
If God is nudging your heart in this…remember…that’s Him. Answer this time. Be bold. It’s TIME! Accept His forgiveness. Start a new life with Him. It’s amazing!
If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?
It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at…again, the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
EVERYONE repeat after me with these new believers.
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life. Amen
AMEN!! Let’s just clap and praise God.
If you gave your life to Christ today, I need you to do 2 things for me
Right after the service today, I want you to go to the back of the room …for just a moment.
In the back there is a sign that says “FOLLOW-UP”
There will be some incredibly nice people there (they have lanyards on) who want to give you some extremely helpful tools to help you get started in your faith
Won’t take you very long. But absolutely go back there.
Also, if you stood up today, we wrote you a letter. It’s under your chair, and we’d love for you to read it before the service is over.
Let me just pray & thank God!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.
APRIL 20, 2014