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An Empty Celebration

An Empty Celebration

Philippians 2:5-85- In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:6 -Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;7- rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.8-And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross! {{more}} Do Everything Without GrumblingJeremy was not a normal child. He had a terminal illness which affected both his body and his mind. Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and had sent him to a religious elementary school. At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. He was a frustration to his teacher and to all the children in the class.Springtime came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Their teacher told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg with this assignment: “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?” All the children responded enthusiastically, “Yes, Mr. Miller!” All of them, that is, except for Jeremy. He just listened carefully, his eyes never leaving the teacher’s face. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? The teacher thought perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them, but she got busy and forgot. The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in a large wicker basket on Mr. Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Mr. Miller found a flower. He said, “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life. When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arms. “That’s my egg, Mr. Miller,” he called out.The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked real. The teacher held it up. He said, “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too.” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Mr. Miller, that one is mine!” Next, the teacher found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom. “My daddy helped me!”Then the teacher opened the fourth egg. But the egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy’s, he thought, and, obviously, he didn’t understand her instructions. If only he had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because he did not want to embarrass him, he quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Mr. Miller, are not you going to talk about my egg?” A bit flustered, the teacher said, “But Jeremy; your egg is empty!” He looked into his eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too!” Amen!Truly, the greatest symbol of new life is found in an empty tomb!Matthew 28:5-7 says, “But the angel answered and said to the women, ’Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead.” Amen!Romans:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Imagination is a Wonderful thing. Out of it we get. A FAIRY that pays money for Teeth. A FAT Man that delivers gifts. A rabbit that lays Eggs. But it’s all empty celebration.You do not need a bunny or some eggs to excite the imagination about Easter. It stands alone on its own without any help! Our empty celebration is found in the empty tomb!Here is Empty Promises We Can Celebrate this Easter: An Empty Life. Jesus showed that THE WAY TO BE FULL IS TO BE EMPTY. Tell that to my gas tank! Real ‘fulfillment comes when we are empty of our own desires and make Jesus our heart’s desire!Jesus’ Last Words before His Death: IT IS FINISHED! What does this mean?Fulfillment! That everything that needed to be done was Done! That Jesus has Literally Emptied Himself of Everything he had to offer TO ME/YOU, That We might Live LIFE ABUNDANTLY! He poured it all out that it might be found within us! Amen!When you Watch Him Live you Know that His life was Consumed for Humanity; you and me and that He emptied Himself of all other cares. Stepped Into Humanity at its Worst he offered his Very Best! EMPTIED HIMSELF of ALL LIFE To FILL Ours With HIS. Amen!If you are not experiencing God’s presence in your life, it may be that you’re not “empty” enough! We serve a Lord that specializes in filling emptiness!In creation He flung the universe into an expanse of emptiness. He hung the stars upon nothing John 6 empty stomachs 4 plans were offered:The Disciples said, let’s just get rid of the problem Tell them to go awayJesus said, that’s not it, they will faint on the way home they are running on empty.Phillip said, let’s raise the money. He did some figuring and found it would take 200 days’ wages to buy enough bread money’s not the solution to every problem it cannot buy everything! House is not a home; a bed does not guarantee good night’s sleep; medicine does not bring good health; and a beautiful church building does not bring the power of God!)3. Andrew found little boy w/ small lunch, and said, it’s not much, but it’s a start!4. Jesus had the true solution as he took the little boy’s lunch and demonstrated that little is much when God is in it!In all 4 gospels, Jesus gave thanks prior to even breaking the bread…showing the multitudes that only God can fill their emptiness! We serve a Lord that specializes in filling emptiness!In John 2 Jesus Changes Water Into Wine1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”He filled some empty wash pots at a wedding feast, a village event that the whole city came out for in those days. There was a festive mood until the unthinkable happened: the host ran out of wine and the people began to scurry about, whispering about the problem, until the whole crowd knew and the host was embarrassed! The Lord let them scramble for a while before bringing the solution. He allowed them to feel their emptiness/inadequacy. He waited until they ran out of options, and then He took empty water pots, filled them with water, and then worked the miracle!And the joy that the world has to offer is just temporary. It always runs out, the result is always a void left over…emptiness. But the joy of the Lord is ever new and ever satisfying!The world offers you its best at first…until you get hooked, and then it’s all downhill from there.“The best day you’ll ever spend in sin will be the 1st day “Hebrews 11 says, talks about the pleasures of sin “for a season.”Proverbs 14:13 says, Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.Proverbs. 20:17 says, Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. Amen!But Jesus gives a miraculous joy that never ends. He gives us His best from the start, and somehow, miraculously makes the joy grow and get even better! Truly, every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before/the longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows!Jesus took water pots that were used in those days for external washing, and made them useful for something internal, something deeper and more satisfying. He created something fulfilling and He used emptiness to do it! We serve a Lord that specializes in filling emptiness!Are you running on empty? If you’re not experiencing intimacy with Christ on a daily basis it may be that, though you feel empty.You are not empty enough! Make room for Jesus by taking some irons out of the fire and making Him a priority!• We need to be emptied of sin.God cannot fill a vessel that has no room to pour into. It is an impossibility if we harbor sin in our lives. Now, Christians are not sinless, but we SHOULD sin LESS! It’s all about desire. True repentance is not perfection, but turning from sin and doing our best to head toward God.• We need to be emptied of self.Ladies and gentlemen, we will never find intimacy with Christ until we stop bowing down to the shrine of self!• We need to be emptied of substitutes.Be careful, often we try to substitute service for surrender/work for worship but Martha becomes Mary when she drops her “to do list” and falls at the feet of Jesus!Serving is good and right, but do not let yourself get so busy doing things for Christ that you neglect spending time with Christ!Accept no other substitutes for the filling of the Spirit. Do not fill yourself up with drugs, food, movies, music, relationships or nothing less than Christ!Empty yourself out on this altar; a toxic waste dumpEmpty the sin, the self, all substitutes. Amen!This Easter, we have the promise of an empty life. Jesus is our example, and we should follow in those footsteps. Also…2. An Empty CrossI’ve never appreciated the crucifix hanging on a mirror or a hospital wall. Jesus isn’t there anymore!The cross is empty and yet it is full of God’s promises! THE EMPTY Cross tells me that I Can Be Forgiven of ALL my Sin.The Cross was a cruel place of death. Jesus was Beaten, Broken, and Bruised. He took it all on himself that we might not have to! Jesus showed that THE WAY TO GO UP IS DOWN. “When I could not go where He was, He came to me”. He came down to my level when I could not get up to His! Amen!The Empty Cross tells me that I can be free from my past Have a Great life in and through Jesus.It is the place where he died but today, it is empty. Empty of Jesus body, but full – full of God’s promises. Full of hope for you and me. The promise of the empty cross is that you and I stand forgiven. Because it was on that cross that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.3. An Empty Tomb.Jesus showed that the way to live is to die. Without The Empty Tomb. There is No SAVIOR. No Salvation or Hope.Nothing is Sure!Tomb, You shall not hold Him longer, Death is strong, but life is stronger.Stronger than the dark, the light; Stronger than the wrong, the right; Faith and hope triumphant say; Christ will rise on Easter Day.While the patient earth lies waiting; Till the morning shall be breaking Shuddering beneath the burden dread Of her Master, cold and dead,Hark! She hears the angels say; Christ will rise on Easter Day.For, in the fact of the empty tomb is the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise to every one of us that we too will be raised to eternal life. To those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, death has lost its sting. It is no longer something to be feared. What fear is there when we have the promise that one day we will live forever with Him in Heaven?The world gives us promises full of emptiness: God gives us emptiness full of promise!Silly rabbit eggs are not for kids, it’s an empty tomb full of promises for all who would be God’s children!Happy Easter!