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The Empty Church

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,the Beginning and the End. I will give free water from the spring of the water of life to anyone who is thirsty. 7 Those who win the victory will receive this, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.”Revelation 21:6-7

I want to wish everyone a Happy Easter in all this heartache and struggles. Today this is a little long but again what God has put on my heart to help us all find hope through this time and through this holiday.

What once was filled with smiles, hugs and praises now sits quiet, still and empty. Where music reached the rafters with joyous melodies and off-key devotion now is the sound of silence. Where our patriarchs and matriarchs sat sharing God’s glory each week is just empty pews, collecting dust. The weekly fellowship gone, the inspiration from the pulpit still. A church once alive now stands empty as this world pushes through this time of crisis.

Although a church is a wonderful place to gain strength with fellow Christians and we can become revived to get through another week, it is not the church that saves us. During this time of quarantine God does not only dwell at church waiting for our weekly visits. He is alive in our homes and hearts each day when we invite Him in.

As we approach this weekend of celebration where we take the time to recognize Jesus, the cross, the resurrection that we call Easter, let’s not dwell of the empty churches that we cannot celebrate in but bring the Easter story of Jesus home and into our hearts.

From the beginning of time love has motivated all that God does, for God is love.

1 John 4:8

What a wonderful world God created, such display of His glory. Nature now can function as a witness for God. Then God created his masterpiece, man. He created us not only so we could love Him, but so that He could love us, too.

How deep God’s love! When Christ, with loving care, knelt over Adam, shaping first man’s hand, He must knew that men’s hands would ultimately nail Him to the cross. Here we see creation and the cross merge, since Christ the creator was slain from the foundation of the world. Yet God’s divine foreknowledge did not stop Him. Under the ominous cloud of Calvary, Christ breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life knowing that this creative act would deprive Him of His breath of life.

Yet with all the joy in the Garden of Eden sin still lurked. Because God out of love gave man the choice to serve Him, Satan had a chance to cause man to sin, and sin Adam and Eve did. The fall of man filled all of heaven with sorrow. The world that God had made was blighted with the curse of sin. Yet the Son of God, heaven’s glorious commander, was touched with pity for the fallen race. With divine love God conceived a plan where men might be redeemed. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin. Sin so offensive to a holy God that it separated the Father and His Son.

The scriptures reveal a God who has an overwhelming concern for the salvation of humanity, who reaches out “with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Finally, after time the members of the Godhead allied in the work of bringing people back into a union with their Creator. Jesus highlighted God’s saving love. “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” (John 3:16)

Jesus had been born into this sinful world. In taking our nature, the Savior has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal age He is linked with us. While on earth Jesus showed God’s love through every action, every word spoken. Jesus ate with sinners, healed the sick, and had compassion on all. Since Jesus came to live with us, we know that God is acquainted with our trials, and sympathizes with our grief’s. Every son and daughter of Adam may understand that our Creator is the friend of sinners. For in every doctrine of grace, every promise of joy, every deed of love, every divine action in the Saviors life on earth, we see “God with us”. In a world so far in time from Jesus walking on earth, can you still hear the Master’s voice teaching us to love, teaching us of God’s plan and calling us to Him?

God’s salvation plan was not finished at the birth of Jesus though, it was just the beginning. Following His ministry on earth Jesus faced crucifixion of the cross. His love for His Father, and His pledge to man, made from the foundation of the world, to become the Sin Bearer, led Jesus to endure the harsh treatment of those He came to save.

What greater love has been shown to man than what Jesus did? To endure the beatings, the crown of thorns, the nail pierced hands and feet, and the denial of his friends. All this was done for the fallen race of man to help restore the broken relationship between humanity and God. With amazement the angels beheld the infinite love of Jesus.

In Jesus’ love, on the cross we hear “Lord forgive them for they know not what they do.”

That prayer of Christ for His enemies embraced the world. It took in every sinner that had lived or should live, from the beginning of the world to the end of time. Upon all rests the guilt of crucifying the Son of God. To all forgiveness is freely offered. “Whosoever will” may have peace with God, and inherit eternal life. Christ did not yield up His life until He had accomplished the work which HE came to do, and with His parting breath He reclaimed “It is finished” John 19:30. The battle had been won and Satan’s character was clearly revealed to the angels. What amazing love! What amazing grace!

Yet God’s love does not end there. Yes, the battle had been won but Satan still roams the earth seeking to destroy those who believe in Jesus, those who choose to follow the Savior. Jesus came to earth to be born into sin as you and I have, He struggled, He felt hurt and confusion, He was tempted. But He clung to God; He clung to salvations plan and three days after His death He rose from the dead. There was still work to be done to bring us back to God. A promise still to be fulfilled. For the faithful, heaven and everlasting life was promised.

So, with love God created this world. With love He created man and allowed sin. With love He sent His Son to die for us. With love we have a promise of a home in heaven. After Jesus’ resurrection He joined God in heaven with a promise to return asking us to share the gospel to the world. Now out of love, will we serve Him patiently waiting for the coming of Jesus as He so patiently waits for us?

For centuries those who have chosen Christ have faithfully waited for that promised day when the skies will open and Jesus will come to take us home. Many have died in His name and many have been saved. Though Satan ruthlessly has attacked man to turn them from God, God’s hand has never been far from reach. Once Jesus left this earth it was love that sent us the Holy Spirit to help us remain close to God. Love that sends angels to protect us against Satan’s attacks.

But with freedom of choice many have continued to sin and have pushed God away and as the hours go by Jesus is now drawing ever closer to fulfilling the full circle of creation to salvation. Soon we will be looking to the sky and seeing our Savior coming to take the faithful home.

“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God the dead in Christ shall rise first, after that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

What a glorious day! Salvation now complete, the enemy trampled, and creation restored with God. Through love God prepared a beautiful home for us with Him in heaven. A place we can freely walk with God again and worship with Him. Together we will praise God for all He has done from the beginning of time to the end.

“And the multitudes in robes of white cried out…Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb…Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever Amen!” (Revelation 7:10 & 12)

So, this time of year as we remember what happened at Calvary, let’s not forget the rest of the story. Let’s embrace the same love God gave us at creation, Jesus showed us at the cross, and what will be with us in heaven. Love for sinners, love for family, love for church family and friends, and love for God.

I know I want to be ready when Jesus comes, and my prayer is that you do too. During this time of crisis and quarantine let’s remember that it is not about the empty churches but where Jesus lives in our homes and hearts.

Let us in our own hearts ask forgiveness for any sin or anger we’ve been holding onto and fill them instead with God’s love and purpose to spread the entire story of God to the world so Jesus can come even more quickly. Let’s not dwell on the empty churches but purpose in our hearts to invite Jesus into our homes and share with others about Jesus, which is not hard with all the technology we have today. This holiday isn’t about being inside the churches to celebrate, it’s about remembering what Jesus did on the cross and what we have promised for our futures.

This is a hard time for us all, the stress, unknown, anxiety, frustrations and so much more has us all turned upside down, but God’s hand is still on this earth, He is never far out of reach and all we need to hang onto is the faith and trust of His love for us. This will pass, we will get through and hopefully all have a stronger relationship with God. My prayer today is that we all remember since creation that God is love and that we all have a safe holiday praising Jesus for what He did for us at the cross. Happy Easter!

“Behold I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12-13)

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