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LIVING IN THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION TODAY

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
American Baptist - United Methodist

7 MAY 1995

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

1 Kings 17:17-24
Psalms 23:1-6
Acts 9:36-43
1 Corinthians 13:7

Four weeks ago we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord.

What have we done since then?

Have we just packed up that celebration until the same time next year?

Or, have we continued to live in the power of that resurrection until today?

And what about tomorrow?

Are we planning to continue living in the power of His resurrection forever more, even to all eternity?

Let's take a look at this resurrection power at work from three examples, and see how it affected the lives of others then, and how it applies to our lives today.

The first example is from 1 Kings 17:17-24, and concerns a woman and her son from Zarephath.

The prophet Elijah had entreated her to make a bread cake for him when she had virtually nothing left to live on, and at a time when she was resigned to die.

But because of her trust in Elijah’s words, the flour and oil didn't run out for a long time.

17. Now it came about after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe, that there was no breath left in him.

18. So she said to Elijah, “What do I have to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance, and to put my son to death!”

Not too long before this, she was resigned to die with her son, but now that the Lord's power has been evidenced through Elijah, her attitude changes.

She knows Elijah is a man of God, and she is sure that he has the power to heal her son; thus, in her frustration and anguish she rebukes him for not having done so.

19. And he said to her, "Give me your son." Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed.

20. And he called to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, hast Thou also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?"

21. Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord, and said, "O Lord my God, I pray Thee, let this child's life return to him."

22. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived.

23. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down from the upper room into the house and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, "See, your son is alive."

24. Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth."

Wasn’t the miracle of the bread cakes also evidence that the Lord had put words of truth in Elijah's mouth?

And, hadn't she just acknowledged that he was a man of God?

Or, is the problem that we always need to see some miraculous happening to keep our faith and interest?

Is our memory so short?

Do we doubt the words of others so much that we fail to fully believe?

Or, could it be that we fail to believe and have faith and hope, because we lack God’s pure love in our lives, as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13:7?

7. [love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Now that her son has been raised from the dead, will she fully believe and have strong faith and hope?

Will she continue to live in the Lord's resurrection power?

As we contemplate these things in our minds, and consider the depths of our own faith, let's take a look at another example, this time from Acts 9:36-43.

36. Now in Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did.

37. And it came about at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room.

38. And since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, entreating him, “Do not delay to come to us.”

39. And Peter arose and went with them. And when he had come, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him weeping, and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.

40. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

41. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive.

42. And it became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

43. And it came about that he stayed many days in Joppa with a certain tanner, Simon.

We are not told why the Lord chose this particular time, or this particular place, or even this particular woman to raise from the dead.

We do know that her loss was deeply felt by all who knew her, but those kinds of feelings are felt by many others over the loss of a loved one.

We consider it an impossibility for the dead to come back to life; thus, when it happens, such a miracle causes many to believe in God.

But the real resurrection power was not the raising of Tabitha from the dead, but the love she showed in her life.

Even if Tabitha had not come back to life in physical form, her love could always have been resurrected and continued to live among them.

In this way, we all have the power to raise people from the dead.

But likewise, those who are without God can raise evil from what might seem to be the dead, by living in their lack of love and lack of compassion.

But what they are really doing is raising death itself, in order to trap others in the net of hell.

That which is of God is also of love and compassion.

We cannot separate them.

And this perfect love and compassion have no limits; they extend to the whole of creation and beyond.

If we do not live in that love and compassion, we are not God's, and His resurrection power is not in us.

It's really this simple.

We seem to always read the 23rd Psalm at services of death and resurrection, but the Psalm is really a hymn of living in the resurrection power of God.

1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

2. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

3. He restores my soul;

He guides me in the paths of righteousness

For His name's sake.

4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil; for Thou art with me;

Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

5. Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

Thou hast anointed my head with oil;

My cup overflows.

6. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.”

Or as other translations say, "goodness and mercy"; but in any event, they reflect the resurrection power of love.

And it doesn't only mean that the Lord follows us with His love; but even more, that His love is seen so strongly in us, that its effect is seen after we go on, as if it is following us.

It is this love that allows us to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

It is love that allows us to be satisfied with what we have and not want something else.

It is love that restores our soul, even when it feels like it is dying.

It is love that overcomes the evil that is so prevalent around us, and allows us to live a joyful life even in its presence.

Love is the resurrection power.

Live in it!

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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