Running on Empty (4/8/18)

Posted by on Apr 10, 2018 in Sermons, Worship & Prayer | 0 comments

It was the Sunday after Easter (or as it’s officially called: “The 2nd Sunday of Easter”).  Last week we had a huge crowd.  The week before, we celebrated Palm Sunday with our cantata.  Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Egg Hunt… it’s been busy.  We’ve been on several mountaintops, and we’re feeling kinda worn out today.

Have you ever looked at your gas gauge and discovered that it was close to “E”?  When the gauge really does hit “E”, the engine doesn’t totally stall out.  Instead, it just sputters.  And when you step on the gas, there’s no power.  The engine’s still “alive”, but it’s running on fumes.

Sometimes people feel the same way.

And, yet, the message of that first Resurrection Sunday is that Jesus is in our midst to “refill our tanks” and to restore our energy…

 

Pastor Jim’s scripture was from John 20:19-31.  Click the below “Play” button to listen to the audio recording, then open the Drop Down box to read this passage (from the New King James Version)…

 

John 20:19-31

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”

27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;

31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

 

Don’t Blame the Disciples!

Cum’on- you’d probably do the same thing!  Your master was crucified, and you’d be scared to death that they’d be looking for you next.  And so you hunker down behind a locked door, trying to lie low until you figured out what to do next….

“We thought Jesus was the One.  We gave it all up for Him… Should we slip back into Galilee and fish?  Should we leave this room and boldly speak up?  What’s next???”

The disciples were exhausted.  Filled with grief, filled with remorse, emptied by the ordeal and confusion.

 

 

When You’re Running on Empty

Like the disciples, sometimes we are paralyzed. Our “get up and go got up and went.”  We need to be recharged.  And that’s when Jesus “appears in our midst.”  It happened literally for the disciples, but Jesus promises “to be with us always” too (Matthew 28:20).

We “look for peace in all the wrong places.”  But Jesus doesn’t wait for them to come to Him.  He comes to them.  He takes the first step and goes to where they are.

Jesus did the same thing for the widow in Nain.  In Luke 7:11-17 Jesus and His disciples were headed home when they “happened” to come across a funeral procession.  The grieving mother was a widow and the deceased was her only son.  

But Jesus was moved with compassion and turned the funeral into a time of awe and wonder by raising the son from the dead.  He didn’t do it as a teaching moment; the mother (or nobody else) called Jesus and asked Him to perform this miracle.  He was “moved by compassion” and “stood in their midst.”

When Jesus comes, His presence gives us three things (or more…) that recharge our batteries, fill our tanks, and give us the energy to get up and move on.

 

1:  Encouragement

The first thing Jesus says to these frightened disciples is “Peace be with you.”  Chill out… take a deep breath… it will be ok! 

He could have criticized them instead:  “Why did you abandon me… Where were you when I needed you the most?… Why don’t you believe the report of Mary that I have risen from the dead?”

But instead of criticism, He offers peace.  He encourages them.  He offers them His presence. 

Jesus is saying, “Know that I am with you“… 

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5-6

He tells us that He “is walking this journey with you“…. 

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.

Luke 24:13-16

That “You’re not alone…. 

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. 

Joshua 1:5 and 9

5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

Deuteronomy 31:5-6

The Lord will give them over to you, that you may do to them according to every commandment which I have commanded you.   Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Chronicles 28:20

And David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God — my God — will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord. 

Genesis 28:15-16

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 

 

 

He says, “You can always talk to Me in prayer“…

1 John 5:14-15

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Psalm 34:17-18

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

1 John 3:21-22

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Jeremiah 33:3

 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ 

Proverbs 15:29

The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous. 

Jeremiah 29:11-13

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Psalm 69:33

For the Lord hears the poor,  And does not despise His prisoners.

Job 34:28

So that they caused the cry of the poor to come to Him;   For He hears the cry of the afflicted.  

 

 

He says, “You can lean on Me when you are weak… I’m always here to refill your tank when you are running low…”

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

 

2: Love

As soon as Jesus had spoken His words of peace to His disciples in order to calm them, He showed them the scars on His hands and in His side.  He identifies Himself as the same person whom they had seen nailed to the cross.  Not only were the scars a proof of Jesus’ identity, but they also demonstrated the depth of His love.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 2:4

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…

Revelation 1:5

Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,  and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.

To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 John 3:16

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

When you and I are “running on empty,” we know that our Savior, who was wounded and died for us, loves us totally and completely.  If He can love us all the way to the cross and to the empty tomb, He won’t give up on us now.  When everything is falling apart and nothing is going right, peace and joy don’t come from what is happening around us.  Rather, they come from our relationship with God through Jesus.

 

3: Hope

The disciples were really downhearted as they hid behind locked doors.  Their fear and doube drained their tanks.  Their gauges were pointing on “E”.

Especially Thomas’.  He wasn’t there when Jesus appeared before, and he had lost all hope.  Grief and despair had drained his tank.

Even though Jesus invited Thomas to put his finger in the nail marks in His hands and side, Thomas didn’t need to.  He simply knelt before Jesus saying, “My Lord and my God!”  Thomas wasn’t overcome with proof; he was overcome with the realization of how much Jesus loved him.

Jesus fills us with hope.

  • When the chips are down and trouble is overwhelming us, we have a Savior who will stand by us and help us. 
  • When our lives are threatened by sickness or enemies, Jesus will give us the courage.
  • When death looms large, Jesus has won the victory for us and we will not fear death.

“Hope sines brightest when the hour is darkest.”

 

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

All of this leads us to this point:

The presence of the living and resurrected Jesus gives us a new reason to live.  A new purpose.  A new Challenge.  A new way of looking at ourselves and the world around us.

The presence of the living and resurrected Jesus fills our tanks.


 

During the sermon, Pastor Jim referenced a sermon he gave last year about Peter having enough faith to get out and walk on the water…

Time to Get Our Feet Wet! (7/30/17)

 

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