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Easter Sunday, Todd encouraged us with the historical truth of the empty tomb and why God is good, all-powerful and sovereign. We have a reasonable faith that stands up, even to the problem of evil. In fact, the hope of Easter is how we overcome evil. God offers us an invitation to know Him and to have that hope.
Something Sweet out of the Ingredients of Sadness
Why Good Leaders Have Always Written Letters to the Church They Love
All In With Jesus
Outrunning Your Past
Faith in Work
Following Jesus: How He Changes Your Place, People & Priorities - Luke 9:57-62
Our Purpose in Life
Healing, Hearing, and the Hope of the Gospel
Money, Stuff, and Eternity
Living the Word
An Audience of One
Mother's Day Message
A Biblical Perspective on the Value and Role of Women in Ministry
Baptism Celebration 2016
Sabbath: God's Solution to the Addiction of Busyness
Inside Out Church
Awaken the Hope of the World
An Evening with the Elders
Easter: The Greatest Evidence That God Is Real, Good, Powerful and Trustworthy
Good Friday 2016
Resolve to Be Faithful
Welcome. We're so glad you're here. Please be seated. Let's pray together.
Father, deepen our hearts' convictions that the things we just sang about are true. If we're here, and we're not sure, I pray today would bring it to greater clarity. If we have embraced that belief before, I pray it would go deeper into our hearts, that we'd be more convinced than ever, and that we would respond more truly and fully in every way you would have us.
I thank you, Lord, for your patience toward us. I thank you you're not angry at us with our sin, but we thank you that you hate sin and have done something about it. I pray you would make that abundantly clear now. In Jesus' name, amen.
We have a lot to sing about. Can you imagine if it were true that death was defeated? Can you imagine if it were true that we have no reason to be discouraged? Can you imagine if it were true that, even in light of all the horror that was around us, there was an explanation for it? Can you imagine if it were true that God was real, and not just that, but he loved us, and he was powerful enough to execute that which would be for our interests? Can you imagine if God wanted a personal relationship with you and did something about your condition?
The anchor of all our hope is God is real, God is love, and God is powerful. Easter is the largest testimony to that anchor of our soul that is those three truths. We are not people who have some blissful hope. We're not making up stories like the Greeks, trying to come up with some pantheon of ideas that explain the world in some way that makes sense to us but isn't rooted in any kind of reality. We are people who do believe our God is real.
One of the things that makes Christianity and the Bible, as a Holy Book, unique is it's dared to be anchored in the context of history. It's not a collection of writings. It's not insightful philosophical thoughts. It is a book that is anchored in history, because it's real. You need to know this.
It's not just the eyewitnesses in the gospel record who tell us Jesus was there. Tacitus, the historian for Vespasian, the emperor, writes about Jesus. Suetonius, the historian and analyst for Hadrian, writes about Jesus. The Babylonian Talmud speaks of Jesus. Thallus, the historian, is talked about by another writer as trying to explain the darkness that came over the earth when Jesus was crucified. He says he does it in a rather unscientific way that leaves him wanting a better explanation.
All types of people, even to this day, who look at the story of Jesus Christ, even people who don't necessarily believe the things that were claimed about Jesus, say, without a doubt, there was a man named Jesus who was born in Nazareth, miracles were associated with his life, he claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah, he was prosecuted and suffered under Pontius Pilate, he was buried by Joseph of Arimathea, there was a claim to his tomb being empty which changed the lives of his followers, and he was a good moral teacher who lived.
They don't necessarily agree with the explanation of the miracles or the empty tomb, but secular historians say you can be as sure of the reality of the person of Jesus Christ as you can be of any testament to ancient history.
Frank Morison, an attorney by trade who was largely influenced by the skeptics of the nineteenth century, was sick and tired of hearing Christians claim the reality of their faith, so he set out to disprove those specific claims. He was going to use the rules of evidence he learned as a lawyer to prosecute the resurrection, because he knew if the resurrection didn't happen, it would put this whole thing to sleep.
Frank Morison, in the intro to his book called Who Moved the Stone, talks about how he was unable to write the book he set out to write. His intellectual integrity demanded he write another book, so much so that as he saw the facts before him, he chose to believe in it. Now he says, "Not only could I not, but I would not any longer." The very first chapter of his book is called "The Book That Refused to Be Written," because the evidence demanded a response from him.
We are not people who have some blind faith. When folks say, "You can be of faith all you want. I want to be of reason," they act like reason is the opposite of faith. We don't believe that. In fact, it isn't even a good use of the language. The opposite of faith is not reason. The opposite of faith is unbelief. The opposite of reason is irrationality. There is a reason to believe the Easter story. There is a reason to believe God is real.
Many people think the basis for rejection of God is rooted in scientific evidence. That is not the case at all. In fact, for a number of years, probably the atheist intellectual and philosophical champion was a guy by the name of Antony Flew. Antony Flew has since rejected atheism.
In fact, he read the book The God Delusion, by a later follower of atheism, Richard Dawkins, and when he looked at the evidence out there and the specificity of the particulars of the design of the universe, he started to be, again, by intellectual evidence, overwhelmed with the existence of God, which was contrary to the philosophical worldview he espoused and taught.
He read Dawkins's explanation for the universe, which can basically be summed up with blind, crazy luck, and Antony Flew said, "We have to be honest. If that's our best explanation, the game is over." He completely reversed his position. It shook the atheistic world to its core. Antony Flew did not embrace the fact that God is love, and God is powerful, but he absolutely said, "You have to acknowledge God is real."
What hung up Antony Flew was the problem of evil. We're not people who suppress the truth and don't deal with our reality. This is a world that has a lot of evil in it. The Bible is not afraid of addressing the issue of evil. Over 600 times, the word evil or synonyms for it are used. Thousands of stories are told in the Bible about real evil, treachery, horror, and wickedness. The Bible talks about evil more than any other book you could possibly pick up.
The Bible tells us, in fact, we should pray we'd be delivered from evil, not that we can hopefully make our way through it. The Bible tells us we should not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. The Bible tells us we should not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among us, as if some strange thing were happening to you. Jesus said, in John 16:33, we should not lose heart. "In this world, there is going to be tribulation, but take heart, because I have overcome the world. I have dealt with evil." It has been arrested, to go back to the first song.
You might say, "Wait a minute. It doesn't look like evil has been so overcome." This is the problem, the root of all rejection of confidence and hope. "If God were good, he would defeat evil. If God were God, he could defeat evil. Evil is still here, so evil has not been ultimately defeated. Therefore, God is either not good, or he's not God." Those people are not paying attention to what we're celebrating this weekend.
You can read story after story in the Scripture that talks about the fact that God is love, and God is sovereign, but there is no story you can read like the story of Easter weekend that absolutely seals it. It is the anchor of our hope and the reason we sing in the middle of a lot of horror. We are not people who live irrationally. We have a reason to believe God is good, even though evil is still here.
We're not just people who are eternal optimists in the face of evidence. We're not like the friend of an African prince who constantly said to everything, "That's good. It's all good." Sometimes Christians are known for saying, "God is good all the time. All the time, God is good." You're like, "Are you paying attention? There's a lot that's not good out there."
This African prince had this friend. They were friends as children, and when he grew up to a position of authority, he kept this friend alongside him. The friend did a lot of things for him, and one of the things he did was he would go hunting with him when he went hunting. He took care of his weaponry, loaded his guns, and handed them to him.
One time when they were out hunting, he loaded one of the guns improperly, and when this African prince shot the gun, it blew his thumb off. Of course, his friend goes, "That's good. It's all good." The prince said, "Are you kidding me? You just blew my thumb off because of your incompetence. It's not all good, and you're not going to be all around me anymore." He locked him up and threw him in prison.
The story goes, the prince was eventually healed and made his way back out into the bush at times to hunt. One time, he wandered to a place he should not wander to, and he found himself among cannibals. They captured him, tied him up, put a stake in the ground, and built a fire around it.
When they came to take him and tie him to the stake, so they could cook their meal, their prize… As they went to untie him and fix him to that pole, they realized he was not a perfect creature, that he was missing a digit. They had a superstition that they would not eat an imperfect creature, so they let him go.
He ran back as fast as he could to his own village, overwhelmed that his friend was, in fact, right, that this was good. He went to his friend and said, "Friend, friend, I am so sorry. I can't believe I did this to you. You were a faithful friend all these times, and you made an innocent mistake." He explained the story to him and said, "You were right. It was good, but what I did was terrible and awful. I'm a bad person."
The friend said, "No, no. It's all good. The fact you put me in jail is all good." He goes, "No, it's not all good. I betrayed your friendship. I betrayed your trust. I didn't believe you when you said it was all good." His friend looked at him and said, "Look, it's all good. If you hadn't put me in jail, I would have been with you when we went hunting."
Every now and then, you hear a story like that, and you go, "Great, it resolves itself. That makes sense. I see what God was doing there. It is all good." There are a lot of stories, gang, that don't resolve themselves. Do you know a few of them? I do. They're all around us.
Just this week, as I was doing some reading, I was reminded of the story of Scott and Janet Willis. Scott is a pastor in upstate Illinois. He had nine children, six under the age of 13 whom he loaded into his 15-passenger van with his wife one weekend to go up to Wisconsin and have a celebration for the birthday of one of those six kids.
On the highway in front of them was a truck driver. Through corruption in Illinois state government, the secretary of state at the time, who was running for governor, was working with trucking companies and other major donors. He taking donations in return for the favor of overlooking the qualifications and quality of those applicants.
They didn't meet the standards. They couldn't communicate with other drivers on the road. They couldn't comprehend language they needed to comprehend in order to meet code and do the things they needed to do. They didn't understand certain levels of care and maintenance on the truck. This man had been driving this truck on the highway, and other truck drivers tried to get his attention and explain to him, "You have damage on your truck. You had better pull that thing over."
He ignored them all or didn't understand them. He shouldn't have been licensed. A piece of that truck broke off, metal slid underneath the 15-passenger van that was following it and lodged up underneath the fuel tank, sparks from the highway ignited that fuel tank, and an inferno blew up in the back of that van, killing all six of the children.
When Scott and his wife bailed out, because the explosion was in the back, he went back up, trying to pound on the glass. His own hands were burned. He finally shattered it through with his elbow and pulled out the 13-year-old, who later died that night in his presence. I don't have anything to resolve that story, except corruption that was exposed in government and real evil that happened.
I think about other stories I could go on and on about, and not just ones in Chicago, Denver, or Belgium, but stories that are right here in my friends' lives. You look and go, "Why are you people that sing? It doesn't look like evil has been defeated. It doesn't look like your God is good, because, frankly, I can't believe he could be."
What's so interesting about so many of us is sometimes we can numb ourselves to the reality of the horror out there, because it hasn't really hit us Americans like that. We were largely moving along fairly happily until 2001, when, all of a sudden, this horrible thing happened. Terror came on our homeland, really, for the first time in the continental United States.
We asked ourselves, "How can God use evil to have 2,973 people die that way?" largely ignoring the reality that, less than a decade earlier, in Rwanda, there were almost a million people who were killed in the bloodiest conflict of our century, in the most brutal, unspeakable ways imaginable.
Rape was used as an object of war, all because of racism and tribal warfare among people we thought were the same. It happened for a hundred days. It was like three 9/11s per day happened in Rwanda, not in some instantaneous way, but with hunting and horror. Evil has been around for a long time. About that same time, close to a million people per year died from malaria. Even to this day, 500,000 people per year are dying from an insect bite.
People who study the environment and look around at what's going on say there are 14,000 people per day, that's 5,000,000 people per year, one every 15 seconds, who die from water-related illnesses, because people can't get clean water. "What kind of God would let a mom watch her child die from dysentery, an infection running through a community because they can't get water? Are you kidding me? You want me to sing God is alive?" This is the problem that ultimately faces all believers.
I can't always give you why evil happens when it happens, but I'm going to tell you, the Easter story is what screams that God is real. It's not a myth. It's not some pantheon of philosophical architecture. It's in our history. There was a man who came, and he said he came because he was God, and because God loved us. There was a man who came and said, "Something is going to happen you can't explain, and it's because God is powerful. You can trust me." Easter is the anchor of our hope. It's why we grieve, but not as people who have no hope.
Let me show you God is love. In John 14, Jesus is talking to his disciples. It's a passage that way too often is only reserved for times when death has visited people. They read this passage as if we shouldn't be troubled in the face of death, and we should believe in God. Jesus said, "Believe in God, and believe also in me. We're the same thing. If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. If you know me, you know the Father. Believe God is up to good."
He just got through telling them the good God was up to was going to involve this most loving of men. This most awe-inspiring teacher was going to be turned over to people he said he created, whom he gave live, animation, and breath to, whom he sustained through his power. They were created by him and for him.
He said, "I'm going to let those men nail me to a cross, mock me, and spit on me. I'm going to let them crucify me. Believe in God. Believe in me." Jesus goes on to say, "In my Father's house, there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. In fact, if there were no room for you in heaven, if there were no way for you to be closely associated with God, I'd have told you, 'Hey, gang, here's the bad news. It's not going to get much better, so party on.'"
That's not what Jesus said. Jesus said, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. I am going to go and prepare a place for you." So many people read this and say something along the lines of, "Look how beautiful creation is, even with the fall all around it. Jesus created this world in seven days, and he's been working on your house for 2,000 years, and he's a carpenter. It's going to be awesome!" I'm like, "Okay, that's not really what he has in mind here."
What he has in mind here is something else. He said, "I am going to go and prepare a place for you." Then he goes on to say, "You know where I'm going." What I love about the Scripture is it records the reality of events. In the midst of this story, Thomas raises his hand and says, "We don't know where you're going. How do we know the way to where you're going?"
Jesus looks at him and says, "Thomas, listen. How many times do I have to tell you the same thing? I am the way. I am real. I am the truth. I am the life. There is no life apart from me. No one is going to come to the Father and dwell with him except through me. Where I am going, Thomas, is what I just got through telling you.
I've told you three other times, and I'm going to tell you again. Where I am going is to lay my life down. I'm going to go, as the sinless, perfect, eternal Son of God, to meet your eternal debt before a holy God. He is slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and full of grace and truth, but by no means will he let the guilty go unpunished.
We hate sin, because sin hurts people. We hate evil. We see the suffering of evil. That's why you've seen me weep at our friends' graves. That's why you've seen me show you I want to reverse the curse of sin in this world, but here's the problem. Sin isn't just a thing. Sin is what lives inside people, and people have brought evil as they have rejected the presence of God.
I'm going to go provide a way so evil people can be reconciled to God. You'd better believe in me, because there is no other way to be reconciled to God. God is about to do something that is so wonderful, if you heard it, you wouldn't even believe it. I'm telling you, I am going to a cross, that the wrath of God might be poured out on me. God is going to make me, who knew no sin, to become sin on your behalf, that the righteousness of God may be available to you.
All of you, like sheep, have gone astray. Each of you has turned to your own way, but the Lord is going to cause the iniquity of us all to fall on me, the perfect Lamb of God. If you have faith in me, death will pass over you, and you will come out of judgment into life. I am the Passover Lamb. That was a picture of what I have come to do. I am here to deliver you from the bondage, not of Pharaoh, but of sin. Believe in me. I'm God, and I love you."
Jesus says, "If you know me and the love I'm showing you, you would know the Father and the love he has for you. From now on, you're going to know him because of me. You've seen him because you've seen me." A little bit earlier in John 10, Jesus turns to his friends and says this amazing stuff.
He says, "I'm the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. That's why I'm going to do this. When the hired hand, who is not the shepherd or the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches and scatters them. He flees because he's the hired hand. He's not really concerned about the sheep, but I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, even as the Father knows me.
I lay down my life. No one is going to take it. I'm in control. I'm doing this because it's what a loving shepherd does. This won't be a cosmic accident or an overthrow of power. This will be me willfully letting it happen, because I love you. I have other sheep who are not of this fold, and I must bring them in also. They will hear my voice through you.
I'm going to leave you here in a world that will still have evil in it, but because you understand the goodness of the Father, and that he would give his Son that others might be redeemed, I'm going to use you as my sons by faith. You'll live in the midst of evil yourselves and tell the story of my sacrifice, and that it was acceptable to God, evidenced by my resurrection, when I take my life back up again, because the wages of sin have been met. For this reason, the Father loves me, because I laid down my life so I may take it up again.
Make note of this: I'm not just loving. I am powerful. No one has taken it away from me. I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back up again. You can be sure God is real, because I'm going to do what only God can do. You can be sure God is love, because I'm going to go to a cross for you. You can be sure I'm powerful, because I will defeat death."
Here's the question: What are you going to do with Jesus? What are you going to do with this God who loved you? The Scriptures said by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor, that through his poverty you might become rich. What are you going to do with a God who demonstrated his love for you?
It's the question Jesus asked his disciples numerous times. He said, "Who do you say I am? You have to answer this question for me. Who do you think I am?" It's the most important question you can ask yourself. A long time ago, a guy named A.W. Tozer wrote this simple truth. He said,
"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. […] The most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. That our idea of God corresponds as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence."
He's saying it doesn't really matter if you go to church and sing songs. It doesn't really matter if you have some creed that says you believe in God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, if you don't really believe God Almighty is real, that he loves you, and that he's powerful. When your 15-passenger van blows up, your daughter is murdered in some terrorist attack, your body fails because of some disease, or your child is raped, stolen, or tragically lost, you're going to say, "You're not there, God, and I reject the fact that you could make this good in any way."
You are not paying attention to history. Tozer is saying your creed is not going to be enough. What do you deeply believe about God? If you believe, deeply, the Easter story is true, what you'll deeply believe about God is he is real, loving, and powerful. Even though it looks like there's no way he can turn this one around, in fact, God can turn it around. It is all good. We don't always know why or how, but we know he is good. Tozer writes,
"The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is—in itself a monstrous sin—and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Always this God will conform to the image of the one who created it… A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God."
I agree with this statement. You have to get far enough away from a false view of Christianity that you can see with fresh eyes what true Christianity is. In other words, a faith not based on the truth needs to be lost as soon as possible. Folks, if Easter is true, and you must decide if it is, a belief based on truth needs to be embraced as passionately as possible.
You ought to be the most unusual of people, almost aliens and strangers to a world that doesn't know the reality of God, that he is love, and he is good. You ought to sing in the midst of horror, and you ought to have hope. You ought to be people who, as it says in 2 Corinthians 4, do not lose heart. Even though your outer man is decaying, your inner man is being renewed day by day, by being deeply convinced of the truth God has revealed in history. You're renewed day by day by that hope.
If God can turn that cross, that most exemplary act of human evil, into the greatest good for humans, and if it is true he did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how can it not be true that he will freely give with him all things? If God is for us, who can be against us? If it's true that God became man, walked on this earth, and gave his life, how can we despair?
I know there are despairing things around us, but these things are the trouble he told us would come. We shouldn't be surprised, because he hasn't eradicated sin all the way. All we know is he's eradicated our sin if we have faith in the provision of the cross, so we regard all these things as momentary, light afflictions which are producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. That's only going to happen if you know the Easter story.
I don't have to go back 2,000 years to see God show himself to be God. I see it happening here all the time. There are so many stories of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ running through this place that I would say exactly what the friends of Jesus who lived when Jesus was on this earth said, which is, "If I told you all the stories, even all the libraries in the world couldn't contain them." I feel like that sometimes.
I have one right now I'm going to share with you, where people are living out a deep, conceived belief, not just some creedal profession or some idea that if I do what God wants me to do, he'll protect me from evil. That is not the story. Our worship is not an insurance policy. We don't share our faith, go to church, give money, support missions, care for the poor, and stay faithful to our spouses so God will protect us from evil. That is a myth. It is a God created by fallen men who aren't paying attention to Scripture.
We are people who know evil is real in this world. Sickness will come. Sometimes you could even make the case that the more God trusts your faith in who he really is, the more he will allow you to display that faith to a world that has no concept of a God who can be good even with a cross involved in it in some way.
You run into a soldier, a strong man serving God faithfully, dealing with his sin, repenting, and reconciling with his wife, who all of a sudden finds himself with his speech being increasingly compromised, so much so that he was accused of being drunk in a business meeting, only to find out what was about to hit his body was an affliction that didn't look like it was momentary in life. In fact, it was probably going to lead to his death, yet you watch him sing. You watch his wife sing, and you go, "Maybe he knows a little more about Easter than I do. I had better catch up." Here's his story.
Roddy Elliott: Fight the good fight of faith, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us eternal glory. We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Dee Elliott: I met Roddy on a blind date when I was a plebe at the naval academy. I had come home and found out the girlfriend I had been dating for four years prior had decided we weren't going to go any further.
Roddy: She dumped you.
Dee: Well, you don't have to go there. We dated for six months, and then we split up for a good two years. Then we got back together when she couldn't resist an invitation.
Roddy: It was an invitation to go to an Army-Navy game. We did, and that was pretty much it.
Dee: We got married after I graduated from the navy, and then we moved to the West Coast and spent six years in Southern California, operating in and out of Vietnam. Then we moved to Washington, DC, and spent eight years in consulting and defense and intelligence business there. Then we moved to Dallas.
Roddy: Our relationship, our marriage, was not in a great place. We had one son. Dee was driven and controlling, and I was a little girl trying to be a woman. God had a lot of work to do in our relationship to reveal to us what was important. It took many, many years. It wasn't overnight. It was a process.
Dee: We started coming to Watermark in 2002. We had been at another local Bible church and loved it, but we needed something fresh. The truth being spoken and shared so directly was so much more attractive than I could ever have imagined. We looked for places to serve, and the marriage ministry seemed to be fertile ground, if you will. We've been a small part of contributing and offering to serve and be instrumental as best we could. It's been thoroughly fulfilling.
We're at a point in our lives, our late 60s, when most people look forward to slowing down and "enjoying" life. I was diagnosed in January with a rare motor neuron disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Most people know it as ALS, and other people know it as Lou Gehrig's Disease. While there are a few experimental treatments, there is simply nothing proven, and there is no cure.
I look at this first from a human perspective and try to work that through. I think we all do that, but very quickly I have gone to analyzing this from a spiritual perspective. Everything is right. God is in his place. He set the earth on its foundation. He has control of my life and everybody in my world around me. He holds me in the palm of his very right hand. Because that's true, I have nothing to worry about.
Roddy: This is where the rubber meets the road. From as long as we've been believers until today, this is a culmination of what it has been about and the way God has grown us. It has all been a process, and it has brought us to this point. Now we stand on our faith.
Dee: It is life. Part of living is dying. We're simply having to stare it down, as in most cases, without preparation, other than the spiritual preparation that comes with knowing we serve a sovereign God. So many times we'll say, "Okay, Lord. Give it to me. We can take it. We can do more." I'm not asking for any more. I'm just asking for a little longer to do what I know I need to do and to be able to do it well.
Roddy: He is the love of my life. Going on 46 years, he is the love of my life. I've even had the thought that I'm almost jealous that he's leaving me here to learn how to pay the bills and run the house while he's sitting there in heaven rejoicing with Christ.
Dee: One of the other things we've learned along the way, and I've encouraged a number of young guys with this idea, is to never doubt in the dark the decisions or revelation God gave you in the light. We just want to share the good news that Christ was obedient, he was born, he was crucified, he died, he resurrected, and he lives. Sharing that good news takes my eyes off my affliction and allows me to focus on what is really the only truly important part of the life we have.
[End of video]
If you're a guest here this morning, and you have no idea what we just saw, we just saw the introduction to story after story after story that is screaming evidence of the reality that our Redeemer lives. Those are our friends, our family members, our neighbors, and we pray it's you. We don't want you to just come to an Easter service with us. We don't want you to come to Watermark with us. We want you to come to Christ.
We want you to know God is real, he loves you, he's sovereign and powerful, and he lives to have a relationship with you. He's not looking for you to do anything except respond to his offer of love to cover a multitude of sins, like he's done for me. I don't know what you think of God, but we're going to try one more time to tell you who our God is. He's a good, good Father. He is perfect in all of his ways, even when we can't see it.
I don't know who you think you are, but we're going to try to tell you one more time that you are loved, and God wants you to come to that living Redeemer, very God of very God, who gave himself for you. As we sing this song declaring the nature of our Father and the nature of his affection for you, I pray it would capture your heart the way it's captured mine. Church, would you stand and sing with me and declare the goodness of our Father?
Praise God. How amazing that we get to stand here and sing that together. When you walked in, we handed you a Watermark News. There's a story inside this. Our Father, who is perfect in all of his ways, was working in a way we didn't even know. This surprised us. Read this thing, and just believe God is at work. He wants to work in and through you.
If you're somebody who has never come to know your good, good Father, he wants to work in you, for you to come to that realization and expel that spirit of deceit, to acknowledge him for who he is and to understand who you are. He wants you to realize there's nothing you could ever do to please him and earn his love. You just have to say, "I need mercy. I need something I don't deserve." It's called grace, and it was poured out through the cross.
Come to your good, good Father. He is slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and full of grace and truth, but by no means will he leave the guilty unpunished. Part of the perfection of his ways is he will deal with evil. If evil resides in you because it has not been dealt with at the cross, it will not be good.
God offers forgiveness to your repentance, but he does not promise tomorrow to your procrastination, so I ask you to come, to check the box in here that says, "I want to know how to have a relationship with God through the way, the truth, and the life." We will love to follow up with you.
Better yet, don't leave without coming and visiting with us or finding people outside who are waiting to talk to you. Say, "Tell me how I can know that Father, how I can be certain his goodness is bestowed upon me." If his goodness has been bestowed upon you, in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, because he has overcome the world. He's perfect in all of his ways.
God wants to work through you. He wants to work through you to love the homeless, to sing in the midst of scars, to hold fast in the midst of storms, to believe God is using you when you can't speak in your teenage years, and to believe he's good when he takes away your motor faculties in late years. Worship him, and do not shrink back. Live in the story. Live with the hope. Come to our good, good Father. If you know him, go worship him.
God bless you. Happy Easter. We'll see you.