Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Cure for Loneliness

For Christians, Easter Sunday is actually Resurrection Sunday. Although for the world the Easter celebration is just fun and games, true Christians are not focused on those things. Actually Christians are celebrating Christ’s resurrection from His death that occurred on the cross many years ago, and are not celebrating some cute little Easter bunny and his basket of eggs. Christians are also celebrating the fact that Christ conquered eternal death for all of us through His resurrection from the grave. For God has told us that “… the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.– (Romans 6: 23. NASB)

The Wages of sin is death? Yes! In fact, the wages of our sins means that we will pay with our lives for the sins that we have committed. But so many people do not think that they have ever sinned. They believe that they are basically good, and that may indeed be true. However, it does not matter how good we think that we are, because the fact is that we are all sinners. Furthermore, our sins start at birth, for we are all born into a body that commits sin and into a world that promotes sin in every area of our lives. So, no matter how small the sin, our sins have earned us death. But, Christ’s resurrection offers us the chance to escape eternal death. In fact, Christ paid for our sins by dying on the cross for everyone's sins so that we would not have to pay for them. He paid the price and then arose from the grave conquering the eternal death that comes as a result of our sins.

Everyone knows that they will physically die someday. However, there is also a second death, which is actually a spiritual death. This second spiritual death is an eternal death, if we do not ask Christ into our hearts before we die our physical death here on earth. For, it is only through Christ that we can receive eternal life. Moreover, each person will either pay for their own sins in eternal hell, forfeiting eternal life, or they can through their trust in and faith in Jesus Christ receive eternal life. Furthermore, all the good works you have done here on earth will not offset your sins nor will good works earn you a place in heaven. Your only hope for eternal life is to receive God’s free gift of love and mercy that was purchased for you through God's Son, i.e. Jesus Christ. It was paid through Christ's death and resurrection from the cross.

God's Abundant Love versus Loneliness

Resurrection Sunday is also the story of God’s abundant love. A love so great that no one ever has to feel alone and unloved again. For, Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to give all people a way to have a loving personal relationship with God and to have Eternal life through God’s loving forgiveness of their sins. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its names, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” – (Ephesians 3:14-19. NASB).

How many of you have ever experienced utter loneliness even when you were in a crowd of people or had friends surrounding you? There is definitely a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Certainly most people have experienced both at one time or another. But, to help us understand the difference between the two, we need to understand that God created us to be in relationships with other people, but more importantly to be in a relationship with Him and His Son. God knew that relationships with other people would keep us from being alone. But, only a relationship with God and Christ can keep us from feeling lonely. However, until we trust in and believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will always feel that there is a empty place or something missing in our lives. For, even when we are having momentary happiness and fun, at the end of it all there is still no joy in our lives and we are still lonely.

The reason for this loneliness is that you do not have a personal relationship with Christ. Yes, you can have many friends, but they will not get rid of that empty lonely feeling that you get when you have time to think about your life. But, with Christ in your heart, you will never be lonely again. Certainly, there is no doubt that Christ changes your life, as He not only cleanses you of all your sins, but He also gives you His Holy Spirit who walks with you always. With Christ and the Holy Spirit you are never alone again. So, to never have to experience soul loneliness again, ask Christ to come into your heart and to cleanse you from all your sins. Then you can “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” and you can “be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

He is Risen

While Jesus was on the earth, many people would believe on Jesus and accept His gift of forgiveness and love, as they actually saw him lovingly perform miracles to help people. Many even saw Jesus Christ raise Lazarus from the dead. Yet others only believed in Christ after they saw Him alive again and walking among them three days after He had been pronounced dead and buried. Indeed, Christ had been resurrected! Because they saw Him with their own eyes, they believed that He was the Christ, the Son of God who was now alive after He had been dead. Still there were others, though, who did not actually get to see Him alive with their own eyes, and so they refused to believe. But, just because they didn’t see Him alive again didn’t change the fact that it was Resurrection Sunday and Christ was no longer in the grave; indeed, He is Risen.

Even some of those, though, who believed that Christ was the Son of God and who saw with their own eyes Christ crucified, could not get their minds around Jesus Christ coming back to life, even though Jesus had told them that He would live again. “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” But, on that Sunday morning when some of His followers went to the tomb, Christ was not in the tomb. “So the disciples went away again to their own homes. But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping, and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb: and she saw two angels in white sitting one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’”

Suddenly Mary turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But at first she did not know that it was Jesus standing there. Then “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Stop clinging to Me for I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go to My brethren and say to them, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’ (Then) Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.– (John 20: 9-18. NASB)
Yet, even when Mary reported to Christ’s followers and His disciples that she had seen the risen Christ, there were those who refused to believe. Even Peter and John had to run to the tomb to see for themselves that Christ was not there. Later, Christ would appear to all the disciples and to many others within the next three weeks. In fact, Christ was seen by many other people besides His disciples and friends, for the Apostle Paul tells us that “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, …– (I Corinthians 15: 6. NASB). So, word spread quickly that Christ had arisen from the grave, and many believed in Him.

The Cover-up

Many of those in power positions, though, refused to believe Jesus was the Christ. Initially they had feared that their earthly power was going to be taken from them by this man called Jesus. He just had too many followers, which made them think that this Jesus might try to usurp their authority. So, in order to protect their power structure, they believed that the status quo with them in authority was better than believing that Christ is the Son of God. Even though many of these men and women in power were emotionally lonely and emotionally tired, they at least had power in a world that is run by those who have power. As a result, they chose to accept the emotional loneliness and sins of their lives over God’s loving and cleansing gift of mercy by refusing to allow the love of God to be bestowed upon them through belief in Christ the Son. So, when word came that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, they denounced His resurrection as false; telling each other and any who would listen that it was a hoax.

The Sadducees, Pharisee, politicians, Roman governors, and King Herod did not know what to expect next. It couldn’t possibly be true that Christ had really risen from the grave; could it? Even if He arose, they couldn’t let themselves believe that Jesus was the Christ, because if He was, that meant they had maliciously crucified the Son of God. If He was the Son of God, could they now expect the wrath of God to come upon themselves? Certainly they knew that long ago God’s wrath had come down upon Pharaoh when God punished him after he had reneged on his promise to let the Israelites go. The wrath of God came down on Pharaoh after Pharaoh and his men tried to follow the Israelites through the Red Sea to capture or kill them. However, instead of Pharaoh and his men capturing and killing the Israelites, God sent the sea water back over the Egyptian army drowning all of them. But receiving the type of wrath and punishment that Pharaoh had received did not scare the Pharisees as much as the Jewish people believing that Jesus was the risen Son of God. How could they control a people who believed in Christ's resurrection. Decidedly, those in power believed they needed to nip in the bud those stories of a risen Christ before things got out of hand, and before the Roman government decided to come in with martial law.

 Certainly, the Jewish leaders and Roman governor needed to do something quickly, as many people were now reporting that they had seen Jesus alive. The only recourse of those politicians, Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and others who had crucified Jesus, was to now try to cover up His resurrection. But a cover-up was not going to be easy.
The reason that a cover-up would not be easy is because the truth of the situation could not be refuted – Christ is alive. In fact, there is undeniable proof that Christ arose from death, i.e. that the resurrection really took place, for Christ’s resurrection has the power to transform each of our lives. It is in that transformation of our lives that we know that Christ is alive. Certainly, there were many whose lives were transformed when they believed in and trusted Christ as their personal Savior. There have been many more down through the centuries who have been transformed because they have believed in and trusted Christ. The changed lives were the proof of Christ’s resurrection and love. No cover-up could change the fact that millions of people have been given eternal life and a cleansed life through Christ the Lord.

Transformed Lives

Why are our lives transformed?  Well, God gave the world the greatest gift of love that He could give us. “… God gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – (John 3: 16. NASB).  Eternal life is exactly what those who believe in Christ receive the moment they repent of their sins and ask Christ to come into their heart. In other words, the proof of Christ’s resurrection is within each person’s heart; a heart that believes in Christ as the Risen Lord. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit gives us proof that Christ arose from the grave and has now transformed the lives of those who have believed in and trusted Him. 

You may ask, what kind of proof do you really have that Christ arose from the grave?  Well, the proof that Christ arose from the grave could first be seen in the eyes of those who saw Christ firsthand after He arose. But, the proof of His resurrection is also recorded in the Bible by those who saw the heavy stone rolled away and an empty tomb. Later, the proof of Christ’s resurrection can be seen from the experiences that Christ’s disciples had with Jesus Christ, which were recorded before He was translated back to Heaven to be with His Father. The proof, too, can be found in the historical records of the frantic search conducted by the authorities for Christ’s body; a body that could not be found. Further proof is in the testimonies of those five to six hundred people who saw Christ alive. But the greatest proof of Christ’s resurrection from death and the grave is found in the hearts of all those who have personally met Christ through their Salvation.

Throughout the centuries, unbelieving people have asked Christians, i.e. those who have asked Christ into their heart, how they know that they have not been duped by the resurrection?  How do we know that Christ is alive? Well, it is very simple. No matter how the Pharisees, Sadducees, etc., tried to cover up the Truth of the Resurrection, there was one thing they could not account for. They could not account for the transformation that takes place in the life of one who truly believes in and asks Christ into their heart.

The love that God sent to us through His Son is an all-encompassing love that permeates every cell in our body and transforming us once we ask Christ into our heart. No longer are we to be afraid of this world and what it can or might do to us. No longer do we feel alone, i.e. no longer does a “Saved” person experience the kind of loneliness that can’t be eradicated with sex or a spouse or eradicated through friends and parties. For those who are “Saved”, i.e. those who have believed in and trusted Christ as the Risen Son of God, Christ now lives in their heart. There is no longer any loneliness to be found in the hearts of those who have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, for He is always with us. That is because Christ sends the Holy Spirit to live inside of each “Saved” person. So, instead of being totally alone, those who have repented of their sins and asked Christ to come into their heart are now secure in not only who they are, but they are also secure in Who they belong to, and secure in His love for them.

What the Sadducees, Pharisees, government officials and Scribes failed to understand was, that try as they might, they could not get rid of the people’s belief in Christ. So no amount of trying to discredit Jesus Christ could change believer’s minds that Christ was alive. These unbelievers and naysayers also forgot to take into account that God is all powerful and can do anything, including bring His only Son back to life. Furthermore, the naysayers could not account for Christ sending His Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who repented of their Sins and believed on Him. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit transforms people. In addition, these hypocrites and politicians did not understand that no one can discredit the Holy Spirit Who lives within each “born-again” Christian. For, try as the devil may, every true “born-again” Christian knows that She Knows that She knows that Christ arose from the dead and that He lives in her heart, assuring her that she has an Eternal Home with God. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is proof that Christ is alive.

A Spiritual War Against the False Teaching of the Devil

This assurance means that those who believe on Christ can and do have their sins forgiven, and they will get to spend Eternity in Heaven with God. However, at the same time that many are “Saved” with the assurance of a living Christ and the assurance that they will be in Eternity with Him, there is also a spiritual war going on for the souls of man. But the one doing the warring is the devil who constantly tries to keep people from believing on Christ and from asking Christ to come into their heart. The devil hates mankind because we are in the image of God, and the devil hates God. Therefore, the devil wants as many people has he can get to not believe on Christ. Sadly, those who don’t believe in Christ and His resurrection will go to Hell when they physically die. Their punishment will be total separation from God and separation from His love. Can you imagine living without love of any kind? Well, that is exactly what the devil wants for mankind. I don’t know about you, but I believe in Christ as the Son of God who came to earth to give His life for my sins, so that I can, in believing on Him, spend Eternity with God.

The only way to battle against the Devil is to put on the Armor of God, starting with the Helmet of Salvation. Once you have the Helmet of Salvation then you can add the rest of God's armor to protect you from the slings and arrows of the devil. The Apostle Paul describes God's Armor this way: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with Truth, and having put oh the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace: in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the Helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints." -- (Ephesians 6: 13-18. NASB)

We all need the armor of God in order to battle the false teachings of the devil. If you are not yet "Saved", I encourage you to reach out to Christ and in repentance of your sins, ask Him to come into your heart and forgive you of all your sins. Then, you will no longer have to deal with all the world's issues alone. Just as importantly, you will never be lonely again. Furthermore, with your Salvation you will be assured of an eternal life with God.

True Love

On this Resurrection Sunday, stop and ask yourself if you have a loving personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ. I hope you can say in your heart of hearts that you have received the assurance of an Eternity with God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, for then you are indeed “Saved”. Do you feel that no matter where you are in the world, that you are never alone because you have Christ and the Holy Spirit in your heart?  If you cannot say that you have the comfort of the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you need to talk to Christ and ask for His forgiveness for your sins. Christ will forgive you!  Christ will give you a peace that is beyond comprehension. Only God's love will suffice. If you have God's love in your heart for others, you will no longer think hateful, mean thoughts about others or the problems of this world. You will know for certain that God is in control and that He wants you to show His love to everyone that you encounter. If you have hate in your heart, though, you do not know Christ as your Savior.

Only Salvation can bring about redemption based on Christ’s love for you, and Salvation expresses what love really is. For, only Salvation can show you what God's true love is like. This glimpse into true love was given to us by Christ and His Father when Christ died on the cross for us. For, out of true love Christ gave His life on that cruel cross so that you could someday be cleansed through the blood that He spilt on the cross for you. Then in His going to the cross, Christ showed us that love is not selfish. For, Christ could have said that He would not experience so much pain and humiliation and thus would not die on the cross for our sins. But, Christ willingly out of an incomprehensible love went to the cross for our sins. On the other hand, God could have demanded vengeance or retribution for all the sins that we commit. Instead, God showed us that love does not demand vengeance. “But love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes, all things, endures all things.”  -- (I Corinthians 13: 4-7. NASB).

Christ is the epitome of love! Through His love for us, we learn about kindness and righteousness. We also can see through Christ’s love for us that He did not hold it against those who crucified Him, but instead forgave them, setting the stage for our forgiveness of others who have done us wrong. Moreover, Christ bore all things and endured all things in order to show us the pure love that He and His Father have for us. So, what can we show in return? Can we, too, be an example of loving purely those we encounter? Can we help others? Can we love our neighbor as ourselves?  If we can do that, we are shining the light of Christ and His love upon a world that is desperate to know the Truth of Christ’s love. So, if you are a Christian, step forward to actively mentor another or share the Gospel message during this season of the celebration for our Risen Lord. You can do it! You can become an Active Relational Christian Mentor to either a believer or unbeliever. You can share the Gospel message and share the love of Christ.

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