This week we are blessed to have Pastor Gary Keith be our guest blogger as we finish our series on The Work of Jesus Christ: His Resurrection. (If you missed the first two messages of this series, click here). Gary is the Lead Pastor at Life Bible Fellowship in Upland CA. He is also my very close friend and colleague as we have been accountability partners over the past 30 years. – DL
Wow!! What a great day yesterday was! And I hope you had a wonderful Easter celebration! But here we are on Monday – the day after – and, regardless of how uplifting yesterday was, we need to ask ourselves the question: how will the truth of the resurrection impact our life today and tomorrow and the next?
As Christians we believe that Jesus physically and bodily rose from the dead. Paul reminds us of just how significant the resurrection is when he writes, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) The reality of the resurrection is central and critical to everything we believe. But what does this mean to us personally? How can our everyday ordinary lives gain traction and greater transformation through Jesus’ work of the Resurrection?
While it is true that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead means that those who put their trust in Him will rise to new heavenly life after we die, His work means so much more than that.
Eugene Peterson profoundly wrote, “Resurrection doesn’t have to do exclusively with what happens after we’re buried or cremated. It does have to do with that, but first of all it has to do with the way we live right now.” So now that another Easter Sunday has come and gone, how do we live in light of the resurrection?
Let me suggest a couple of ways:
1. Because of Jesus’ work of resurrection, we can now live a Christ-directed life
When we receive Jesus as our Savior, His resurrection allows our lives to change for the better. As Brad shared last week, Jesus’ crucifixion broke the curse that kept us chained to the old, sin-filled, “going nowhere” life. And now, Jesus’ resurrection opens the door to the best life possible: one that is directed and empowered by Christ. How does this change occur? By emptying ourselves of our agendas and replacing them with God’s plan. We move from a self-directed life to a Christ-directed life. Paul writes about this in Galatians 2:20 when he says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So, I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
As Paul says, we have been crucified with Christ. Not only does God see us as if we had died with Christ, but the power of the old life no longer has a hold on us. In our daily lives, we can now crucify sinful desires that keep us from following Jesus. Because we have been crucified with Christ, we have also been raised with him. In our daily life we have the resurrection power as we continue to fight sin. Think about that: We have the same power available to us that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:19-20). We no longer have to succumb to sin. We have more than just our will-power working for us. Christ lives in us – he is our power for living and our hope for the future.
As a whole life worshipper, we ask: How am I doing at living a Christ-directed life? Am I just doing my own thing? Am I trying to rely on my own power to overcome sin? What is Jesus calling me to yield to him, to his agenda?
2. Because of Jesus’ work of resurrection, we can move to fruitful life by abiding in Christ.
Jesus is alive and, because of that, we can now bear much fruit by choosing to “abide” or remain in Him. We find this concept on John 15:4 where Jesus says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” This is a picture of an intimate relationship with Jesus. It involves a 24/7 connection with Jesus.
Abiding involves staying in the relationship with Jesus. It involves keeping short accounts when we sin. It also involves listening for His voice and asking Him what we should do next. It means we ask Him to fill us with His love and Spirit when we interact with others or when we do a task. Essentially, abiding in Christ means we rearrange our day to focus on Him through spiritual rhythms/practices. We start each day with him (Personal Worship Time) and walking with Him throughout our day (Worship in Everyday Ordinary). As we do this, we will bear much fruit: we will be a blessing to other people, we will accomplish deeper things in our work, we will become more Christ-like in our attitudes and actions, and we will exhibit more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23)
So, what are you doing to abide with the resurrected Jesus? To keep that relationship intimate? What are the rhythms of your life that keep you connected to Jesus? How do you devote time to hear from God – either through his word or through listening for His still small voice?
Because Jesus rose again from the dead, we can live as WholeLifeWorshipers, which involves following Him in both a Christ-directed life and with Him in an abiding relationship. It means we live in the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. That power enables us to overcome sin and to bear fruit in all we do and are. So, let’s life into this life more and more: every day and into eternity!
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