PIVOT: How the Resurrection Changes Everything

IMG_5839Check this out.  This tiny little thing right here.  Do you know what this is?

It is a seed.  It’s a seed to a well-known fruit plant in this area.  Now, I’m not going to tell you what kind of seed this is right away…  I wanna see if you can guess… You would never know that this little seed would produce the kind of fruit that it does…

Last week, we celebrated Easter together – the day that Jesus conquered death AND the grave by coming back to life – and not just by returning to His earthly mortal form – but by arising into His glorious, immortal form that will never again die!

We often talk about Jesus in the past tense – right?  And maybe that’s because the stories we know about Him are from what we remember of His mortal life on earth – from the Bible.

But – Jesus lives today.  Have you ever considered what that really, like, logistically means?  Jesus is a current, living person.  Jesus is a present reality – in the world, and in our lives.  He’s not a fable.  He’s not a fairy tale, or a legend.

If you call out His Name, right now, His very real, living ears will hear your voice.  His beating heart throbs today with perfect love for you!  His active and vibrant mind swirls with thoughts for you, and about you, and your rescue, and your redemption to Father God.

Jesus was – yes.  But also – Jesus is!  And that is because of the Resurrection.

I’ve been thinking about the Resurrection a lot this week.  One, because Easter was so recent.  But also because I have been reading through the Book of 1 Corinthians these past two weeks, and a few days ago, I reached 1 Corinthians chapter 15, which is all about the Resurrection, and what it means for those of us who believe in Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:1-7 –  1Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles…

The Resurrection of Jesus changed everything.  Easter represents THE pivot point of history – everything swivels – everything swings into a new direction when the Living Jesus stands up – His heart beating, His lungs filled with the breath of eternal life, His mind processing a thousand things a second – everything changed when Jesus stood up and walked out of the grave.

Beloved, this is what God does.  This is who God is!  God calls forth dead and lifeless things, and they come alive!  Resurrection is God’s specialty – He brings dead things to life.

He did it at creation.  The Bible explains that the earth was formless – a void – a great vast expanse of nothingness – until God spoke.  And as He spoke, life sprang into existence in every form and direction!  God speaks, and dead things rise.

1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-44a –  35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as He has determined, and to each kind of seed He gives its own body….  42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…

IMG_5831I’m not a farmer.  I’ve never planted, or tended, or harvested a garden.  But I’ve known many great women and men who have.  And from them, I observed some interesting things about gardening.

Planting time, to me, is like a mass seed funeral.  Have you ever considered this?  The farmer digs holes in the ground, or great rows in the earth.  He then takes these lifeless little pieces of organic matter, drops them into those holes or rows in the ground, and then – what? – he covers them over with dirt and earth.

I mean – that’s a burial!  Right?  That’s like an annual mass funeral – for seeds!

Jesus said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

IMG_5839Have you guessed yet, what our little seed here is?

In basketball, you have what is known as a pivot foot.  If you’re holding the ball, you can’t walk without dribbling the ball on the ground – but you can pivot.  The same is true in ultimate frisbee – you’re not allowed to carry the frisbee, but you can pivot.  You can swivel your body to face another direction.

The Resurrection of Jesus changed everything.  Easter represents THE pivot point of history – everything swivels – everything swings into a new direction when the Living Jesus stands up and walks out of the grave, victorious over death!

Resurrection is God’s specialty – He brings dead things to life.

1 Corinthians 15:12-14, 20, 24-26 –  12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith….  20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep….  24 Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

It used to be, when something died, that was it.  It’s life was over – there was no coming back.  But what God did through the resurrection of Jesus was to prove that death is not the final answer.  Death does not get the final word.

I have a dear friend who has been begging and pleading for the life of his marriage.  His marriage has really been struggling, and it looks like separation or even divorce is imminent.

I’m praying for resurrection!  I’m praying for God to bring back to life that which has died!  And this isn’t just wishful thinking: I can name several married couples whom I personally know, who God brought their dead marriages back to life!

He can do it!  God’s business is bringing dead things back to life!

How many stories are there of financial situations – bankruptcies, foreclosures, failed business ventures – they were lifeless, dead, decaying in the grave – when something with even greater life emerged!

How many lost children have returned to the Lord after years – even decades – of fervent prayers by their parents?

God’s business is bringing dead things to life!  That’s who He is!  That’s His specialty – that’s what He does!  Death does not get the last word.  The resurrected, living King Jesus – the all-victorious One – the One who reigns supreme over all dominions, authorities, and powers – He gets the last word.

That’s one of the things that makes the sacrament of baptism so special in the life of a Christian – it foreshadows our own resurrection, with Jesus, into glorious, eternal life.

The sacrament of baptism represents much in the life of one who believes in Jesus:

First, it’s like a bath: it represents our cleansing from sin – how the blood of Jesus sacrificed on the cross atones for our sin, and makes us right with God.

Second, baptism represents the death of sin’s power in our lives!  The power of our sin died with Jesus on the cross.  Once we place our faith in Jesus for salvation, we are no longer bound to the tyranny of sin to control our lives.

Third, baptism is a symbol of our own earthly, mortal death in these bodily forms.  Baptism foreshadows how our bodies will die and be laid to rest one day – and it foreshadows the victorious resurrection from the grave that we will all experience by Jesus’ power into glorious, imperishable bodies – fit for an eternal existence in the glorious Presence of God!

I suspect there are some reading this now who want to be baptized.  You want to place your faith in Jesus, to trust in Him as your Savior – to rescue you from the tyranny of sin – to yield the control of your life to the Lordship of Jesus.  If so, let us know!  Email me at nick@liketreesplanted.com.  We want to pray for you and with you, and to celebrate your faith in Jesus, and your desire to be baptized.

IMG_5839If you haven’t already guessed it yet, this tiny little seed on my fingertip is a single strawberry seed.  Just a few of these, buried in the ground, given water and nourishment, will emerge as a vibrant plant, bearing the fruit of dozens of strawberries – each containing about 100 more seeds, just like this one.  Isn’t that amazing!

God is able to take that which is dead and lifeless on its own, add His life-giving power, and cause it to spring forth into glorious, multiplied life!

For each of us, it just takes a pivot.

IMG_5832Maybe something in your thinking needs to pivot…  you’re locked into one way of thinking about your current situation, and you just need to look at things from a different angle.  Would you be willing to yield your thoughts – your mind – to God today, in order for Him to bring something back to life that you thought was long-past dead.

Maybe something in your faith needs to pivot…  you’ve thought of the stories of Jesus as nice fairy tales, or legends, or myths…  but God is calling you today to pivot your faith into the direction of reality.  Jesus is real.  His life – real.  His death – real.  His resurrection – real.  His Presence, in heaven, next to the Almighty God of the universe, advocating specifically for you and for me – is real.

Would you be willing to pivot away from disbelief, and put your faith in the saving, healing, and resurrecting power of Jesus today?

Maybe one of your habits needs to pivot.  You are consistently doing something unhealthy – or destructive – and it’s undermining your life – and if left unchecked, it will eventually kill you.  Why not surrender that habit to Jesus today, and let His resurrection power set you free?

Maybe one of your relationships has died – it’s lifeless – it’s in the ground – covered over with dirt.  The burial’s over, and you are walking away from it…  Would you consider stopping where you are, pivoting on that spot, going back to your dead-&-buried relationship, and pouring a bit of water on it?

What if your dead relationship – whether it be with a spouse, or a parent or child, a sibling – I don’t know – what if that dead relationship is actually a seed that has been planted into the ground, and is just awaiting some faith and some nourishment from you in order to spring up from the ground to bear fruit 30-, 60-, and 100-fold?

Listen – if you believe in Jesus as the Son of God and as the Savior of all who will believe, Romans 8:10-11 says that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is alive in you, offering you the same resurrection-power that He used to bring Jesus back to life.

I implore you to make a pivot today, and to let the Resurrection power of Jesus bring something back to life in your world.

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