Christians tend to understand why it was necessary for Jesus Christ our Lord to die. He had to die because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. He was an offering for sin, and the wages of sin is death. He died so that we can be reconciled to God (Romans 5:10). It was necessary for Jesus to die. But it was also necessary for Him to rise from the dead.
The resurrection was necessary so that mourners could be comforted (Luke 24:38-39). There was deep grief that came upon the followers of Jesus once He died. The disciples were fearful. When Jesus died, hopes of a better day were dashed. Visions of a restored kingdom of Israel were destroyed. But when He rose, sorrow turned to joy. Jesus rose so that troubled hearts wouldn’t have to stay troubled. When we look at the evidence, our hearts shouldn’t be troubled. Distress should disappear because He is risen. Doubts about the future can be laid to rest because He is risen.
Jesus rose to make peace possible. In Luke 24:36 Jesus pronounces a blessing over His apostles that gives them what they need: peace. Jesus rose so that humanity can have peace with God (Romans 4:25-5:1). Because He rose, we have the opportunity to be acquitted of all wrong. When Christians stand in the presence of God we can have confidence because we have been declared “Not guilty.” Peace with God, enables us to enjoy the peace of God.
He rose so that disciples could be dispatched (Luke 24:46-49). Before Jesus died, He had given His disciples a charge to minister to those who were disabled and diseased. He had also given Peter the authority to proclaim the message about the Kingdom of heaven so that people could be saved. But when He died, the disciples became paralyzed by fear. After Jesus rose, He appeared to them in the upper room and opened their understanding. The risen Lord dispatched His disciples to deliver His message and continue His ministry. We preach Christ today because He rose nearly 2000 years ago. The Lamb who died is now the Great Shepherd who lives! The message is not to be kept to ourselves. To remain silent would be to dishonor the resurrection and deny God’s power. Disciples of Christ are to share the message. Jesus is sending us to go out into the world with a message of comfort, hope and peace.
“And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart” (2 Chronicles 25:2). This verse is perhaps one of the best descriptors of the condition of so many of our lives. In this verse we see the conflict that exists in our hearts between the Spirit and the flesh. When you look at the life of King Amaziah, you see a man who lived according to the Law of God. You see a man who did right by people, even those who reminded him of the men who killed his father (2 Chronciles 25:3-4). You see a man who led the people of God to great military victories. You see a man who listened to the prophet of God, although it cost him some money (5-10). He did right in the sight of the Lord.
Yet you see a man whose heart wasn’t in it. The same verse that tells us that he did right in the sight of the Lord also tells us that he didn’t do it with his whole heart. The same man who listened to the prophet of God on one occasion, told the prophet on a different occasion that he didn’t hire the prophet to advise him and that if he didn’t be quiet and leave, he would die. The same king who defeated the Edomites with the help of God, brought the gods of Edom into Judah and worshiped them.
Like King Amaziah, too many of us do right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole, committed heart. We do what is right in many areas of our lives, but there are some areas where our heart isn’t in it. Like the rich man in Matthew 19:16-22, there are just some things we are not willing to give up. The mindset of, “I love you Lord, but I love my sin too” leads to spiritual compromise and stifles our spiritual growth. God wants us to give Him our whole heart. God does not want our perfunctory service. He does not want us to give Him high praise on Sunday and then push Him aside until the next Sunday. He doesn’t want us to be like the person in your family who only calls or comes around when they need something.
God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to die so that we could live. Christ gave up His life so that we could have life. And because God has been so good we ought to be fully committed. If we are going to be fully committed to God, we must seek God through His Word (Psalm 119:9-12). We should listen to the counsel of the godly. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. God wants our heart to be His.
Life is unpredictable. No matter how many 5 year plans we come up with, how meticulous and strategic we are, or how many vision boards we do, more often than not, life doesn’t turn out how we thought it would. Although life is unpredictable, life goes according to plan. It’s just not our plan. Proverbs 19:20-21 state, “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. Many plans are in a man's heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand” (NASB). When we learn that life goes according to plan, life will be less frustrating for us.
Proverbs highlights the wisdom in listening. Listening goes beyond hearing sounds. It is paying close attention to something so that you can do what is suggested. Trial and error is not always the best way to learn. Many heartaches and headaches can be avoided by learning from others. Living without listening is like skydiving with no parachute. The odds of survival are slim and if you do survive, the injuries that you sustain will make the road to recovery a long and tedious journey.
Proverbs 12:15 states, “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice” (NRSV). We should not mindlessly accept all advice as beneficial for us. Not all advice is created equal. So how do we deal with advice that we receive? Listen to it and have an open heart. Express appreciation for the advice. Evaluate the advice based on the Word of God, the potential outcomes of heeding or not heeding the advice, and how it relates to your purpose and calling. Ask God, “What is it that I need to do with what has been said to me?” Then, decide to implement, discard, or file away the advice. Remember that you will be influenced by those who counsel you, so it is best to have counselors whose counsel is approved by God.
Listening brings about growth. Learning to listen to counsel and accept discipline now means that you will be wise later. The future belongs to those who learn from the past, live in the present and prepare for the future. As we evaluate the outcome of our life, we have to be comfortable knowing that life won’t always go according to our plan, but even so, it is going according to God’s plan. In the midst of all of our plans, we must seek the Lord’s purpose. Through listening, accepting and growing, you position yourself in the right neighborhood. But God puts you on the right street and at the right house. God has a destination in mind for you. If you want to avoid frustration, check with God before you try to implement your plan. Isaiah 14:27 reveals that no one can frustrate the plans of God. When our plan is God’s plan, then our path will be established and what has been planned with come to pass.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.