Easter Sunday 2021

Easter Sunday 2021

Pastor Jerry Gillis - April 4, 2021

Community Group Study Notes

1. Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
2. What was one thing that God brought to your attention through this message?
3. Read Psalm 13 in its entirety. What were some of the emotions that David expresses here? How does
he process through those feelings and pursue truth? Where does he land?
4. Why do we allow ourselves to be distracted when feeling some of the same emotions that David
experienced? What can we learn from David in Psalm 13 about how to handle this differently? What
will change in our lives as a result?
5. How will you personally and specifically apply this message in your life?


Sermon Transcript

I thought last Easter would be the last of its kind. A year ago, I showed up to an empty parking lot at church on Easter. An empty parking lot at church on Easter. It was super weird. I still remember thinking and feeling a mix of emotions. There was confusion, and sadness and disorientation because pastors don't just show up to church on Easter and nobody's there. That just really does not happen. I did a brief little devotional at 7 A.M. that morning for those that wanted to join online because everybody was locked down at home this time last year. And I did that timeframe from a completely empty worship center. As you can see right here, this is lonely Jerry in the lonely worship center. And this was last year on Easter at 7 A.M. in the morning with the gray beard and all the other stuff. I mean, it was surreal actually, because Easter is like, I mean, resurrection Sunday is like the day of days for the church. It's like Superbowl Sunday for the church calendar. And to have no one around was absolutely odd. We took a bunch of pictures actually, because we were saying to ourselves, this is the only time that this is ever going to happen. This will be the last time that we'll ever see a COVID-affected Easter and so let's make sure to take some pictures, you know? So we took some, there was like lonely Jerry in the atrium with some lonely singers over there. And then there's just lonely Jerry being lonely in the atrium as well. So this probably is gonna be like #lonelyJerry with all these pictures, right? But yeah, it was one of those things where you thought that this was it. We took some pictures and we said, you know what, we're going to chronicle this for posterity, and yet here we are a year later. And though things are significantly better and it's wonderful to see half of your faces, no, I'm getting to see all of your faces, right? It's wonderful. And I'm grateful for the progress, but we're still feeling the fallout. It's exhausting, isn't it? I mean, it's exhausting. It makes us wonder how long, like how long are we gonna be having to deal with this mess? How long will people have to suffer physically or emotionally, or mentally, or socially, or financially, or educationally? How long? It's okay to ask that question, by the way. It's okay to feel those feelings. Those are natural feelings to feel and natural questions for us to ask. I mean, the reason that I say that it's okay is because we've got an entire kind of concordance of stories and songs in the Bible that do the exact same thing. They're called the Psalms. What they were generally was songs or poems that were given to us as a collection of material. And there are a number of different writers that wrote some of these Psalms, but there was one in particular who wrote the vast majority of the Psalms, and his name was David. If you're new to church or the Bible or any of those things, maybe you've heard of David, right? The shepherd boy wielding the slingshot, throwing the rock, hitting the giant in the head, good night to him. You remember that guy? So that was him. He ended up becoming a king at one point. And when he wrote, he wrote with such honesty and transparency and was able to, to be able to just pour himself out before God. And there was one Psalm in particular that I wanna point our attention to in our time together, and it's Psalm 13. And here's what it says. David writes: "How long, Lord? "Will you forget me forever? "How long will You hide your face from me? "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts "and day after day have sorrow in my heart? "How long will my enemy triumph over me? "Look on me and answer, Lord, my God. "Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death, "and my enemy will say, 'I have overcome him.' "And my foes will rejoice when I fall. "But I trust in your unfailing love; "my heart rejoices in Your salvation. "I will sing the Lord's praise, "for He has been good to me." Now, I don't really know the occasion for David writing this but it was obviously something really serious that was going on in his life circumstances. If you know the story of David, there's a couple of possibilities. You might remember that David served under a King named Saul, the first King over Israel. Saul was a stud and you say, how do you know he's a stud? The Bible describes him that way. It's not exactly how it says it in the Hebrew, but my translation is Saul was a stud, right? Big, tall, handsome, killed people. That's what he did, right? He was a king. Killing people doesn't make you a stud, by the way. But he was doing this as a king. And so he would go out and he would fight wars for Israel against Israel's enemies. But David was now serving with Saul as well. And David was really close to Saul's son, Jonathan. They were really best friends. And David was a mighty man of war himself, so much so that when they would come back from being out in a war campaign, the people would begin cheering when they arrived. And they would say, "Saul has killed his thousands; "and David, his tens of thousands!" Well, David was gaining a lot of popularity but Saul was not a fan of this. He was not happy at all that David was getting all this publicity and all of this attention. And so Saul became very jealous of David and decided that jealousy, it moved into anger and violence and he wanted to have David killed. And he tracked David down. David's hiding in caves from Saul, and Saul was trying to track him down to kill him because he's so jealous and so envious of him. Is that maybe when he wrote this? Possibly. If you know anything about David, he eventually became a king. And when he did, things went well for him for some time, but eventually there was a rebellion that happened against him as sometimes happens in kingdoms. But that rebellion was led by his son, Absalom. Could you imagine the heartache that David was experiencing when his son was leading a rebellion against him? How awful that must have been? Is that what he's talking about here? I don't know. The truth is, we're not told exactly what the situation and occurrence is of David writing this Psalm where he asks all of those questions. And maybe that's exactly the point. Maybe the point is, that we're not to pin this to any one thing, because what it's teaching us is something that's transcendent, that anything that we're going through, anytime we're experiencing some of these things, then this applies in our circumstances, because what it does is it expresses our feelings. That's what happened with David here. In fact, when you look at the first two verses, you see pretty clearly that David's asking a lot of questions. Look how many there are. There's one, there's two, there's three, there's four, there's five. There's five questions that David is asking. And notice how four of the five questions actually start out. How long, how long, how long, how long. You see, when you start seeing David in action and he starts asking all of these questions, you're finding now behind all of these questions are emotions, that David is feeling a certain way about the circumstance that he's in. And it's obviously a very serious circumstance. In fact, when you start to look, you see his emotions come out in what he's saying. When he says how long, what you see and what you hear is exhaustion. If you're asked that question before, how long, you know what it's indicative of? I'm exhausted. Like, how long is this gonna go on? Then he says, will you forget me forever? He feels forgotten. Have you? Ever? How long will You hide your face from me? You know what he feels here? Abandoned. How long must I wrestle with my thoughts? You know what he feels here? Anxious. And day after day have sorrow in my heart. He feels sad. How long will my enemy triumph over me? He feels defeated. Now just look at what you're seeing here coming off of this page. This is David, who is a King and some circumstance in his life has pulled him into all of this. And now he feels exhausted and forgotten, and abandoned, and anxious, and sad, and defeated. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt any of those things? Have you ever felt them all at the same time? I have. I felt them all at the same time. And it's okay to be honest about that. David was. He poured it out. I'm being honest about it. And I think you should be too, because maybe over the timeframe of this last year, I realized that there's a lot of faces that I haven't seen in a year. People that I'm looking at that have shown up here at the CrossPoint campus. And if you're at any of the other campuses I can see you too, by this special technology that I have. It's satellite, it's NASA. It's really, really big stuff. You see people that you haven't seen in a long time. And you realize they've been going through some things. This year has not been uneventful. They've been dealing with some stuff. Maybe you've asked how long a lot of times over this last year. How long am I gonna be separated from my family, who I really want to see? How long until I get to see those friends that I'm looking forward to seeing? How long until I can get back to work? How long until we can work at full capacity? How long will the sadness and frustration that I'm feeling last? Or maybe you're just tapping into some of these emotions over what you have gone through. Maybe you felt them. You're sad over the loss of a loved one. You're sad and defeated over a relationship that's gone sour for whatever reason. Maybe because of politics or because of masks or because of choices or whatever. Maybe you're exhausted. You feel alone, anxious. You're not married, but you really wanna be. You are married, but it's a lot harder than you thought. You're struggling to parent. You wish you were a parent. You wish you could get along with your parents. You miss your friends. You're struggling because you're sad that you can't go and do everything that you were going and doing any time you wanted to, any way that you wanted to. You feel defeated because so much has changed and you feel like you've lost so much. And even some of the things that were precious to you, graduations, weddings, funerals, school, hospital visitations, everything changed. We've all felt it. Every single one of us. We're not alone. People have felt those things before. And people tapped into the words of the psalmist even when thinking about those things. I remember that Dr. Martin Luther King, when he was journeying from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama. And he was there helping speak up for voting rights for African-Americans. And on March 25th, 1965, he delivers this address in Birmingham, and he taps into that two-word phrase often, because he realized how powerful it is. These were his words. He said, I know you're asking today, how long will it take? Somebody's asking, how long will prejudice blind the visions of men and dark in their understanding and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne? Somebody's asking, when will wounded justice lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the south be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men? Somebody's asking, when will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, plucked from weary souls, with chains of fear in the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified and truth buried? How long? How long? You see, these powerful words in the form of a question, how long, express real pain and real need from real people. And here in this Psalm, what we have to ask is, if David is pouring out his heart along some of this line, asking all of these things, the question ultimately for us is to ask, where does all of this lead? Where is it going? Where are the questions and the feelings, where are they headed? Well, the next two verses, verse three and four help us to see it. David says, "Look on me and answer, Lord my God. "Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, "and my enemy will say, 'I have overcome him.' "And my foes will rejoice when I fall." I don't know if you recognize how serious this is for David, whatever the circumstance is that he's facing. It's a serious one indeed, because he actually thinks that, God, if you don't hear me and answer me, then I don't know what I'm going to do. If you don't give light to my eyes, I will sleep in death. My enemies will overcome me. In other words, this may have been something that was life and death with him. He's concerned about real foes, real enemies that want to overcome him and rejoice in his downfall. And so what is it that David actually does? Look it. He says, "Look on me and answer." Do you know what David is saying? See me. Hear me. Have you ever prayed that prayer, going through some stuff? See me, God. Hear me, God Because we recognize that that is the only place that we can really find our help and our hope. You see, too often, instead of turning to God and asking God to see us and to hear us, we turn to other things to try and take our minds off of the circumstances that we're in. And so we binge watch Netflix until we are absolutely passed out. We zombie scroll on our phones while drooling on ourselves, not realizing that we're nearly comatose as we do it. Or we even reach for substances that will dull the pain or make us forget. But we recognize when it's all over and we've sobered up, that nothing's changed. You see, this is an incredibly difficult thing for us to to recognize here. But what we need to understand is that we do exactly what David did and that is we turn our attention to God. Listen, what is that attention to God based upon? Because what David is saying is we've got to have a faith in the middle of this entire circumstance that is willing to say, God, I know you hear me. And I know you see me in the midst of that, but that's got to be based on something. And the next two verses tell us what it's based on. Here's what David says, "But I trust in your unfailing love. "My heart rejoices in your salvation." And I will sing the Lord's praise because he has been good to me. You see, this is the foundation for which David is saying, God can be trusted because God has an unfailing love. God will be the rescuer in this circumstance. And God is good and He has been good to me. Now, David said something here that I think is absolutely remarkable. David was talking about God's unfailing love, God's salvation and God's goodness. But do you know what? David didn't actually know all the things that we know about these things. That's what's so remarkable. What David said was profound, but now those of us that live right now and have the benefit of some hindsight, we actually know more even about these things than David did. David may have had a whisper of them. David May have had a hint of them. David May have experienced these truly from Yahweh in that present time, but we've seen that filled out even more. You see, if we begin to back up, what we see is when we look at the great story of God, we see a God of unfailing love. We see a God who is actually love within himself. In other words, God existed before anything ever existed, God did in the person of the Father, the Son and the Spirit, a community of love that existed before anything ever existed ever. Think about that. When God created everything, He created it out of the overabundance of his own love. God created everything, the world, the universe, and even people out of His love. He didn't create people because He needed love. God was already existent in a community of love and Father, Son, and Spirit. What he created when He created us was He invited us into a relationship of love that already existed. You see, He has a love because He is love that is unfailing. It is relentless. And what happened in this story is that this God of love created everything out of His love. But what happened is the people that He created chose to say, ah, we know better than You. We think we can do this better. We know you said this, but we think this. In other words, they tried to usurp the right place of God as King and Lord over everything. And as a result, something entered in, a brokenness that entered into humanity's relationship with God, a breach in the relationship. It's how the Bible describes it in a simple little three-letter word called sin. Sin simply means to miss the mark of God's standard. In other words, we were no longer what we were supposed to be. Now, there was this breach, there was this break in fellowship. There's a separation. The problem with that is that that's not a problem that we can solve. Human beings could not somehow put that back together again. That sin had offended the holiness of God and now we could not bring that back into right balance. We saw sin begin to erupt through the course of the pages of history and we saw brokenness and violence, but we still have this loving God who has an unfailing love for a broken world and for broken people. And he demonstrates that love in suggesting to his people that the only way that they can actually be saved, the only way that they can be rescued is by God's own love doing it for them because they could never do it themselves. That's why the Bible says that the wages of sin is death. That all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. That means me and you and everybody who's ever lived. We've either actively chosen to sin or passively we've chosen sin and walked our own way from God. But God in his unfailing love decided that He loved us so much even in our brokenness that He would come and solve the problem Himself. You see, sin demands a payment. That payment is death, spiritual separation from God for eternity. But God is the one who came in and breached that gap. That's why the Christmas story matters so much to us because the Virgin gave birth and they called his name Jesus, because he would save his people from their sins. God puts skin on, came to live with us, moved into the neighborhood, lived sinlessly, preached about how people could be reconciled to the Father, went to a cross to die for the sins of humanity as a ransom. Not a ransom to the devil, because God owes the enemy nothing. It was God paying God. He was the only one who could actually pay the penalty that was due all of us. Jesus took it upon himself. He became sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. He drank down the full cup of the wrath of God to satisfy the justice of a Holy God, because God is both just and He's the justifier. He's the one who will judge sin and He's the payment for that sin. God has taken care of all of that in the person of Jesus. Why? Because He has an unfailing love. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. This is how God has shown His love to us in offering an unfailing love that provides salvation in Jesus and demonstrates that he is good beyond measure because what we deserve is judgment and what he gave us was grace in Christ. This is the hope of the glorious news of the gospel. And this gives us perspective, my friends. This gives us perspective that God can be trusted regardless of what circumstances look like. It gives us perspective that his love can be depended on. And that in this big scope of time and eternity, it won't be long before God delivers us from everything, because Jesus has died and risen from the dead conquering sin and hell and the grave on our behalf. And so in the big scheme of things, looking at the great story of God, we can know that whatever our need is, it won't be long before God delivers us.

You know, the truth is, is that Dr. King, when he made that speech in Montgomery, Alabama, and he kept bringing that question forward, how long, how long, how long, he knew how to answer it, because he knew the promises of God. And rather than me reading it to you, why don't you just listen to it from his own mouth? Take a listen. I know you are asking today, "How long will it take?" Somebody's asking, "How long will prejudice blind the visions of men?" I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment-- However frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again. How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow. How long? Not long. Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne, yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown, standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own. How long? Not long. Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. How long? Not long. Because mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; His truth is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat. O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet! Our God is marching on. Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on. Amen to that, huh? You see, the great power, the great power behind the hope in Dr. King's words were that he pointed to a higher King. He pointed to another King. That's what David does. David is a king, but he is actually saying in the midst of this circumstance that seems to want overwhelm him, he is actually lifting his eyes and pointing himself to a greater King. And that's what we're hoping to do today on this day. You see, there is no doubt that there are so many people listening to these words today, wherever you find yourself, on whatever campus, watching online here in front of me, that you have profound and real things that you have been dealing with. Whether it's over this last year, whether it's really recent, every single one of us have walked through sometimes what we think is a very dark valley. You need to understand you're not alone and you aren't without hope. Because when you look at the whole story from beginning to end, when you look at life in view of eternity, we have assurance from God that whatever it is we are going through, whether it was what David was walking through, whether it's what we're walking through, whatever it is we're going through, in the big picture, it won't be long. How long? Not long, because the Apostle Paul tells us, "I consider that our present sufferings "are not worth comparing to the glory "that will be revealed in us." How long? Not long, because God said through the prophet Amos that justice will roll on like a river; and righteousness, like a never ending stream. How long? Not long, because King Jesus faced the painful death of the cross for us, even though he experienced his own feeling of abandonment and being forgotten as he cries out on a cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And even though he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and sadness, he still loved us and gave his life for us. He slept the sleep of death on our behalf and no doubt his enemies and his foes, whether those on earth or the very demons of hell rejoiced over his fall and took joy in his death. But how long did he stay dead? Not long, because three days later in glorious splendor, God called His Son from the grave and he arose tangibly, physically, and now imperishably as a testimony of God's unfailing love, of God's salvation, of God's goodness, and the hope that we now have of eternal life in Him. How long? Not long, because before long Jesus is coming back and the old creation will be gone. And with him will come new creation where every tear will be wiped away. Every sickness and virus is no more. Every pain will be healed and every broken thing will be repaired. How long? Not long. This is the hope that we have in the resurrected Christ in this life and in the life to come. Not long. This is the great hope that we hold out on Easter. This is the great hope we hold out on resurrection Sunday. But I must sober us up for just a moment as I conclude. What if we reject him? How long is our despair? Long. What if we keep walking in our own way and thinking that this is just a religious exercise that we check in on every now and then as a cultural phenomenon, but we're still the master of our own destiny and the captain of our own ship. And we're the kings and queens of our own lives. And thank you very much, God, but I've got this. You can just be my lucky charm. You can just be my cross that hangs on my mirror, but I'm willing to walk in my own way and do my own thing. If we continue to do that, how long is our just judgment? Long. And if we reject the light of the world, the light that's shown in the darkness and the darkness could not comprehend it, the light who is the life of all mankind. The light that came bursting forth from a tomb on the third day after his death, if we rejected that light, how long is our darkness? Long. But the great news of the gospel is that God in His unfailing love has offered us salvation in Jesus, because he is good to us. And His love and His salvation and His goodness are long enough to reach you, no matter how far away you think you are. His love is farther still. His goodness is farther still. His salvation is farther still. So I can't think of a better day than today, a better time than now. If you need to surrender your life to Jesus to find the experience of the forgiveness of your sins, the hope of new life now and the hope of eternal life to come, this is your day. This is the hope that you have. How long? Not long. Let's bow our heads together. As our heads are bowed here in this moment, I would encourage you if you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus. Maybe you came with a friend or a family member. Maybe you're watching online because somebody invited you to do so, whatever that looks like for you, I wanna encourage you that the greatest need that you have above all needs that you have in your entire life is to know Jesus, to know the grace that God has given to you that you could never have gotten on your own, to know the love and the salvation and the hope that comes in Christ that changes you right now and gives you hope for eternity. See, that's why the Bible says that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life. The Bible says it this way as well too, as many as received Jesus, He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe on His name. And if you're here or you're watching online and your need is to begin this relationship with Jesus Christ, I would encourage you to do that today. It's an act of faith. It's a response of faith to the grace that God has offered us in Jesus. But you'll know what it means to have your sins forgiven because you can never do that. You'll know what it means to be freed from that and to walk in the light as opposed to the darkness, and to walk in freedom as opposed to the bondage of sin, to walk in the hope of forever life as opposed to the temporary and brief nature of this one. So if you want to pray that and receive Jesus, then you just do it with all the faith that you have. I can help you. I'll lead you in a prayer. There's no magic in my words. This is about your heart posture before God. But if you want to receive Jesus and surrender your life to Him this morning, maybe you'd pray something like this in your heart to the Lord. Just repeat this in your heart but mean it with your own faith. Lord Jesus, I know that I've sinned and I cannot save myself. But I also believe, Jesus, that You died for my sins and You died because of my sin. Thank You that You rose from the grave, conquering sin and death and hell on my behalf. I receive You now as my Lord and Savior. I confess that You are Lord and I am not. I believe You died and You rose again. And I surrender myself to You. Fill my life, change me. As our heads are bowed and eyes are closed, if you just prayed that with me and you meant it with all of your heart, I'm so thankful for that. There's no more important decision that we make in the entire world than that decision. And there are many times where we would simply say, "You know what, if you prayed that, I want you to, "I want you to step out of your seat "and I want you to come join me." And there'll be a bunch of us and we'll talk to you. But I realize in this day and age right now we're still experiencing, not everybody's comfortable with that, I get it. But can I ask you to do something? If you just prayed with me to receive Jesus, we're gonna make it easy for you because we wanna be a help to you. We wanna encourage you. There's gonna be a number that'll show up on the screen. And would you just text the word yes to that number? Let me tell you what's gonna happen when you do. You text the word yes to that number, you're gonna immediately get a text back that simply says, "Here are some resources for you that are gonna help you "in your journey with Jesus." We're gonna send those to you immediately. And then there's gonna be a question on there as to whether you would want to identify yourself so that we could follow up with you and pray for you. And that'll be your choice. So that's what's coming. We wanna be able to resource you. We wanna be able to help you. We would really love for you to identify yourself because we'd love to pray for you and connect you in an even more personal way. But that number is up on the screen right now. And in a moment it's going to remain on there because here and at all of our campuses, our worship band is coming out again because we're going to respond to our time in the Word with a brief time of worship before we come back up here and close our time together. And while we're singing and while we're taking advantage of the time that we're singing, if you are someone, maybe you're online, maybe you're in this location, at one of our campuses, wherever you are, while we're singing, that number is actually going to remain on the screen. Take an opportunity to simply text yes so that we can know who you are and follow up with you to help you on this journey of faith. I promise you everybody around you will be thrilled. They'll be thrilled because we've all come to some place in our life to receive Jesus. So Father, I pray that You would help us to turn our attention toward You, when we face the circumstances we face in our lives, when we feel forgotten or abandoned or anxious or lonely or isolated that we turn to You because You hear us and You see us and You've shown us how much You hear us and how much You see us, because Jesus has come. He has died and He's risen from the dead. And we can know beyond a shadow of doubt because of what You've done, Lord Jesus, that we can always know that You see us because You've seen us then and You see us now. I pray You'd give courage and grace to those who prayed to receive You and to begin this relationship and walk with You. Give them the courage to follow through with that. Thank You, Lord Jesus, that we speak to You, not as just a figure that we memorialize, someone we look back on and gain inspiration from. But we speak to You as the living Savior of the world who hears us and sees us in the now. We love You, Lord Jesus. And we pray this in Your name, Amen.

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