What Easter is all about
Acts 12:14 says, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none under heaven given amoung men, whereby we must be saved."
Just what is Easter? There are always lots of things going on during this holiday; dressing up for Easter Sunday service in our new Easter outfits, big dinners with family and friends, even Easter egg hunts for the children. But just how much of all this, and anything else that may take place to celebrate Easter, really honors Christ? Why do we have all this confusion about Easter?
Easter is only mentioned once in the Bible, and this is in connection with the Spring Festival of the pagan (non-Christian) world long before the time of Jesus Christ. This holiday had nothing to do with Jesus Christ or His resurrection! It was to celebrate spring and the coming of new life after a long winter.
Every year in April, and very near to the same time as the Spring Festival, the Jews celebrated Passover. The Passover was a celebration of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage; which is also when Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again. In A.D. 325, the church council of Nicaea met and decided that Christians would hold Easter each year as a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. It would always be the first Sunday after the first full moon after Equinox which is April 1 this year. This date can be as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.
As Christians (those who know Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour and living Lord) we should not be celebrating the day of Easter. Rather we celebrate Jesus Christ resurrection on Easter. Jesus arose from the dead, proving Himself to be the Christ, the Son of God. Yes, He arose just as He said He would, and He ascended into heaven where He has prepared a place for us to go and be with Him. He will soon come again and take us to live with Him forever. Let's use Easter as an opportunity to tell the world what Easter means to us!
Jesus came into the world to die as a sacrifice on the cross for our sin, and He did just that. He was killed by crucifixion after being nailed to a cross. They took his blood soaked body down from the cross and buried Him in a tomb cut out in a rock cliff. They rolled a large stone over the entrance and set a Roman guard there to make sure that no one stole His body away. Everyone thought that He had failed in His mission on earth. But, it was through his death that his mission was accomplished, and three days later, after He was buried, He arose from the dead just like he said He would. Hallelujah!
Let's be busy this time of year proclaiming the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and inviting the lost and unchurched to services on April 1 at 11:00 A.M.
- Pastor David Carroll, Senior Pastor Sharon Baptist Church
P.S. The entire church has been invited to the sunrise service at Zion Baptist Church in Hampton, at 6:00 AM. Pastor Carroll will be the guest speaker for that service. The church I located at 125 West County Street in Hampton.
East on Mercury towards Phoebus
Turn right on Woodland towards HU
Turn left on West Country
Church is on your right
Feel free to post this on fb and twitter to get the word out!
It's hard to believe that we are entering into the second month of 2018 already. Where does time go? Normally, when I think about the months of the year a theme comes to mind.
For instance, November – thankfulness, December – peace and joy, January – new things, but February is the love month.
According to the encyclopedia, Saint Valentine's Day is a holiday honoring lovers. It is celebrated February 14 by the custom of sending greeting cards or gifts to express affection. The cards, known as valentines, are often designed with hearts to symbolize love. The holiday probably derives from the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalis (February 15). The festival gradually became associated with the feast day (February 14) of two Roman martyrs, both named St. Valentine, who lived in the 3rd century. St. Valentine has traditionally been regarded as the patron saint of lovers. But knowing the history and origin of the holiday doesn't bring us any closer to answering the real question…what is authentic love? The answer to the question I believe can be found in the book of 1 John 4: 7-11.
The declaration of authentic love is found in vs) 7-8 where it gives us the proper definition of authentic love. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Notice that God is love. These three little words are profound in that they speak to us of the very essence of God. He is Love! We know that He loves, because that is what He does. But this verse speaks of who He is, not of what He does! God's very nature is love. If a person really loves God, then he does what God does: he loves everyone.
John then goes on to write about the demonstration of authentic love in vs)9-10. A. This love was demonstrated when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to provide for our salvation. He was his "only begotten," His one and only Son! There had never been one like Him, and there will never be another like Him. You might be thinking why did He give His only begotten Son? The verse continues and says "that we might live through Him." According to verse 10 Jesus paid it all. He was the "propitiation" or the satisfactory payment for our sin. The Bible tells us that "the wages of sin is death". Jesus was the only One who could pay the price and redeem the souls of mankind.
In verse 11 we find the directive of authentic love. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." God in His great love for us set the example. Then He calls upon us to love one another in the same way He did. Love always moves us to act. God's loved so much that He gave. Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Let's stop "saying" we love others and really "show" it by our actions. Ask yourself this question. "Do I love in the same manner as God showed His love to us?"
May our prayer be like the Apostle Paul's prayer for the believers in Thessalonica in
1 Thessalonians 3:12 were it says, "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:" With the love of Christ…
Pastor David Carrol - Senior Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
What Doth Hinder You?
Text - Acts 8: 26-38
Here we find a familiar story about the Ethiopian Eunuch and Philip the Evangelist. This passage is oftentimes cited for the amazing obedience that Philip displayed in obeying the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the results are nothing less than spectacular. But as we look at this passage I want us to look at it from a different perspective, and that is through the eyes of a newborn babe in Christ. You see:
• The Ethiopian Eunuch in our passage was previously religious, but not saved.
• The Ethiopian Eunuch was a fervent church goer, a proselyte of Judaism, but had not received Christ until this point.
• The Ethiopian Eunuch was well to do and had been entrusted with all the precious riches of his master, Candace the Queen of the Ethiopians, but yet he lacked the spiritual riches of Heaven until He accepted Christ.
And we find that his first words after being saved are in the form of a question. And like the Ethiopian Eunuch we too should be asking this question:
V36 “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?”
I want us to think about this question the Eunuch asked, “what doth hinder me?” What is it that hinders you in your Christian growth? You see the Ethiopian Eunuch knew He should be baptized [move forward in his walk with the Lord] and asked the simple question what doth hinder me? In other words, what is it that is hindering you from moving forward in my Christian life? Let me give you five possible hindrances in the Christian life. There are certainly more that can be found in the Bible but these five are pretty broad and encompass many areas in our lives.
1. The Hindrance of Sin.
The hindrance of sin falls into two categories, one is positionally and one is practically. The unsaved person is hindered positionally and the saved person oftentimes is hindered practically. The unsaved person positionally is separated from God because of sin.
Isaiah 59:2 "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."
Jesus spoke saying, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” John 8:24
Positionally, the unsaved person is hindered (separated) from God because of Sin. The good news is that this hindrance can be removed by placing your faith and trust in Jesus Christ just like the Ethiopian Eunuch. Jesus being the perfect sinless Son of God, shed His blood on a Roman cross for your sins. In your place Jesus Christ died and took upon Him your sin and the sin of the World. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 Cry out to Jesus and ask Him to save you turning from your sinfulness to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
Oftentimes however, the saved person is practically hindered because of sin. The Ethiopian Eunuch was rejoicing in V39, notice what it says, “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” I want you to understand however that there was coming a day when practically the Ethiopian Eunuch would need to ask forgiveness for sin which he would commit that would hinder his fellowship. In John 13 we find the account of Jesus as he washes the feet of the disciples. In this account Jesus alludes to the daily washing of our ‘feet’ as we walk in this world. “Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.” (John 13:10) John in his first letter continues this thought by explaining that 1) We have an advocate with the Father (Jesus Christ the righteous); 2) That if we confess our sin our fellowship can be restored. 1 John 2:1 says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Then we find in 1 John 1: 7-9, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Practically this hindrance can be removed as well. Our responsibility is to humbly come before God, confessing our sin. If we will do this, God has given us the promise of a forgiven and restored fellowship with Him!
2. The Hindrance of Disobedience
We have not only the hindrance of sin, but also the hindrance of Disobedience. In our passage, Philip the Evangelist portrays over and over again obedience to the directing of the Holy Spirit. In Verse 26 the Bible says, “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, Saying, Arise, and go” and in Verse 27 we find, “And he arose and went:” In Verse 29 The Bible says, “The the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near” and in Verse 30, “And Philip ran thither to him...” In Verse 35 we have the record that Philip preached to the Eunuch Jesus. In all counts Philip was an obedient servant to His Master. One of Dr. Clarence Sexton’s favorite sayings is, “The only responsibility of the servant is to obey the Master.” Galatians 5:7-8 tells us that the churches in Galatia had stopped being obedient to the truth. And Paul gives us the indication that it was ‘someone’ (the Judaizers) who had dissuaded them from being obedient. “Ye did run well (notice the past tense); who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.” You see the hindrance of disobedience causes us to be the ‘Usta – Christian’ : I use to go to church; I use to go Soul-Winning; I use to work in the Bus Ministry; I use to read my Bible; I use to pray. Hebrews 12:1 tells us we should ‘lay aside’ these hindrances. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight [Hindrances], and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”
3. The Hindrance of Being A Stumbling Stone
The truth is that you and I have the potential to be a stumbling stone to someone else getting saved. This is exactly what the Pharisees and Lawyers were charged with by Jesus in Luke 11:52. “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” While there were at least 8000 Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41; 4:4), the Eunuch had to have a special courier sent to him by the Holy Spirit (Philip the Evangelist). How is it the Eunuch got out of Jerusalem without the Gospel being preached? Maybe it is that we are hindering someone else by our actions or by our refusal to witness. Jesus warns us about the dangers of Hypocrisy which is the leaven of the Pharisees, and much like them we oftentimes as Christians say one thing, but the World sees something else (Matthew 16: 5-12). Or perhaps it is not our hypocrisy but that we refuse to be used of the Lord to witness to our friends, family members, coworkers, or people we meet throughout the day. This is our refusal to witness. Whatever the case, this hindrance not only affects you spiritually but those around you as well.
So far there are three potential hindrances to the Christian life and there are two more I will just make mention of:
4. The Hindrance in the Home
1 Peter 3:7 "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."
This hindrance manifests itself by the following:
By not affording due honor to one another
By not dwelling with each other according to Knowledge
By not loving one another
5. The Hindrance of Satan:
1 Thessalonians 2:18 "Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us."
This hindrance is one that we should expect as a Christian who is moving forward for Jesus. No doubt Philip the Evangelist had some hindrances from the adversary to deal with. I can’t imagine how much Satan was fighting against the spread of the Gospel! Christian take heart and understand that our Adversary and the World will try to hinder you from being what you need to be as a Christian. What can we do? We can pray and put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6: 10-20)
2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
I ask you again, what doth hinder you?
Pastor James Grandinetti - Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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