Empty Tomb – Empty Church

Joseph LephiewSeries, Sermons, Transition-TRUSTING THE UNKNOWN

Sermon Notes

Everyday when I come down to the office here at the church I see an empty church, empty chairs.

When I first started coming down to the office I was discouraged. We had just relocated here from the Hilton. I was so encouraged in the beginning, then the Corona Virus and churches were being closed. We had just moved in, now an empty church with so many empty chairs.

As this time of challenge has been going on I began to see hope and things differently. How you see things is how you will react or respond.

There is a huge difference between reacting and responding. A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. Reaction is followed and fueled with anger,hostility,resentment and usually divides people. A response is thought out, calm and non-threatening. A response is where you take some time, remove yourself from the emotions, wisdom is usually applied in these times. Responding is to work thru, work together, create positive, win win to the challenges. A reaction typically provokes more reactions – perpetuating a long line of hatefulness with nothing accomplished. When we react we usually create a bigger mess and not sure how to stop, trying to get the last word. A response typically provokes discussion – perpetuating healthy discussion (debate even) that leads to resolution.

Empty has different meanings to different people. When I first seen an empty church and empty chairs I was sad. It was how I seen, what I see, the way I seen that created my reactions.

When I prayed and got our staff together and inquired Gods assistance I seen this not as a crises but an opportunity. A God opportunity.

Chinese do not have the word crises but their word for crises is interpreted as OPPORTUNITY.

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted,”
Christine Caine

The perspective of a seed. The seed just sees darkness and buried, but God reality is it’s been planted. What feels like death is actually creating life.

What looks dark will eventually show and see the light. That seed will die for a moment, but the life within will push out of the outer shell and roots going deep but the life pushed the dirt and pushes through to the light. Light is received and life and growth takes place.

It is your perspective, how you see things. How can you see opportunity, good when it looks like so bad and dark.

“Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5 AMP

This word teaches us how and what kind of perspective we are to have in times of crises. This is how we are to live our life. Not just in crises but this is to be our lifestyle.

Growing up we heard in crises, troubles, or hard times, “Just trust God.” We know this is Gods Will And Gods Way but it was so hard to handle. Sounds easy but difficult if you don’t understand. It is so easy to tell others now we all are having to live this word.

Trust means: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. The key to trust is a firm belief in. God is reliable. God is truth. God is able. God is my strength.

TRUSTING GOD MEANS KNOWING GOD. TRUSTING GOD MEANS LISTENING TO GOD. TRUSTING GOD MEANS BELIEVING GOD.

“Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart.” This is what God says to do everyday know matter what happens, crises or blessings.

When a crises hits it reveals things, hidden things, beliefs, fears that we did not know we have. This crises has showed us things about our world, government, churches, family and most importantly it shows us things about us.

We celebrated Palm Sunday this is the time we celebrate Jesus riding into Jerusalem. They threw palms and their coats on the road as Jesus rode into the city. The people, disciples did not understand what was really happening, and what was really going to happen. In their minds Jesus would become the King and rule and reign as the regional King.

Jesus was riding to the cross. Jesus was riding in to become our Savior, our Sacrificial Lamb. To die in our place. No one understood what was happening. They forgot the words of the prophets. They forgot what GODS WORD SPOKE.

In crises it is so easy to forget what God promises and to see only what we see, rather than what shall be in God.

“Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5 AMP

AND DO NOT RELY ON YOUR OWN INSIGHT OR UNDERSTANDING. THE FIRST PART SAYS OUR TRUST AND CONFIDENCE SHOULD BE IN OUR GOD WITH ALL OUR HEART.

WHEN CRISES HITS IT WILL REVEAL WHERE, WHAT AND WHO OUR TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IS IN.

IT WILL EITHER BE IN OUR LORD AND HIS WORDS OF PROMISE OR US IN OUR ABILITIES, OUR STUFF, ME, ME AND ME.

CRISES IS HAPPENING NOW, YOU CANT STOP IT. CRISES WILL HAPPEN MANNY TIMES IN OUR LIVES. THE QUESTION IS WILL YOU REACT OR RESPOND. WILL YOU GO FEAR, ANGER, RESENTMENT OR RESPOND IN GOD WITH, WISDOM, PATIENCE, TRUST, FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE.

Story in the Bible of two houses. Both were houses and the Bible says they both went threw the storms. The houses represent us our lives. Storms hit both houses. Crises will come whether you are a believer in Jesus Christ or not. What is powerful about the story is both house were in crises, both were beat on by the storms, both had high winds and painful and scary. The difference was their foundations. When the crises hits and it will many times throughout our lives how will you react or respond.

If your foundation is the rock Jesus you will stand and the storm will pass. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24 “rock foundation were those who hear the Word and obey and do it. These are called wise by Jesus. If your foundation is anything other than Jesus your house will fall. Jesus said these hear the Words of God but do not obey. He calls these people foolish.

Crises will show up. JESUS RIDES INTO JERUSALEM AND THE PEOPLE ARE CHEERING, BUT THE CHEERS SOON CHANGE TO CONFUSION, DOUBT AND WORRY. Jesus is set up and arrested. He is sentenced to die.

They call it GOOD FRIDAY the day Jesus was beaten, tortured, abused, humiliated and carried His cross and was crucified. Why call it good? God seen His son take the sins of the world on himself so we could be restored back into relationship with the Father. That is good.

For the disciples they seen this as a huge crises. They could not see the bigger picture. All they seen was Jesus crucified, dead and buried. The tomb is sealed and Roman guards are guarding it.

Peter and the rest of the believers are destroyed, their hopes, dreams, faith is shattered. They can’t figure this out. How could Jesus die, how could he fail them.

In Matthew 20:18-20 Jesus foretells of how He will be arrested, condemned, crucified and how must die and He will raise on the third day.

Jesus tells them but they forgot or they misunderstood. They did not get it. Just like us. Many times we don’t understand Gods Plans and Ways.

Jesus body is placed in the tomb, dead. His disciples are so disappointed and lost. They see the crises as failure. They see the crises as death. They see the crises as God abandon them. Jesus forsook them.
Peter and the guys leave and go back to what they were doing before Jesus came into their lives, fishing and mending nets. They reacted and did not respond. They reacted in fear, hurt, angry, disappointed.
The woman kept going to the tomb, especially Mary Magdalene, she was devoted after being set free from demons. She shows up the third day and the tomb is empty.

“Angels said to them, “Why are you looking for the living One among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee,”
Luke 24:5-6 AMP

The angelic men are speaking to the women who are at the empty tomb, says why are you looking for the living one among the dead? HE IS NOT HERE. HE HAS RISEN. REMEMBER HOW HE TOLD YOU.

NO ONE REMEMBERED HIS WORDS. EMPTY TOMB. THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY APPEAR. JESUS SHOULD BE DEAD AND DECAYING BUT NO BODY, NO DEATH, HE IS LIVING AND RISEN.

JESUS IS RESIN. HE IS ALIVE. HE DEFEATED DEATH, HELL AND THE GRAVE.
The crises is taking a shift.

“What you meant for evil God will turn for good.”
Genesis 50:20

This was Joseph speaking.

CRISIS WILL ALWAYS BRING NEW. NEW LIFE, NEW BEGINNINGS, NEW HOPES, NEW.