Col 1:13-22

A troubled and burdened man prayed and prayed that God would lift his burden. Day after day he prayed that his life would be easier and he begged for God’s intervention.

One day, Jesus came to the man and asked, “My child, what troubles you?” The man replied that his life was full of turmoil and that it had become too much to bear. He again asked for help stating that he just couldn’t continue to go on.

Jesus, feeling the man’s anguish, decided help was in order. The man was so happy that his prayers were about to be answered, that his burden already felt lighter.

Jesus took the man to a room and stopped in front of the door. When he opened the door, what the man saw was amazing. The room was filled with crosses; little crosses, big crosses, giant crosses. The man, bewildered, looked at Jesus and asked how this would help him. Jesus explained that each cross represented a burden that people carry; small burdens, big burdens, giant burdens — and every burden in between.

At this point, Jesus offered the man the opportunity to choose his burden. The man, so excited that he was finally able to have some control over his life, looked around the room for just the right cross. He saw a tiny little cross way back in the corner. It was the smallest cross in the room. After a bit of thought, he pointed to the cross and said, “That one, Lord. I want that one.” Jesus asked, “Are you sure, my son?” The man quickly replied, “Oh, yes Lord. Most definitely, yes.”

Jesus turned to the man and replied, “My child, you have chosen your own cross. It is the burden you already carry.”

The burden of sin is one we all carry.

God has given each of us talents and life experiences that follow His plan. Each of us has something different and unique to offer the world. Everything we experience in life guides us to the place God has chosen for us. He works through us . . . if we allow Him.

He needs each and every one of us for the work that He needs to be done in the world. There’s so much to do, and we all have our part in it!

Listening to testimony is one of the most powerful experiences that I have witnessed. Each one of us has a story. Where we began, where we are, and where we hope to be. Looking back at my beginning, I can say that the love that I’ve experienced from God and His forgiveness is what puts me here in front of you this morning.

I’ve been so blessed in my life because of Jesus. He put a love deep in my soul at such a young age. I can remember being 4 or 5, sitting in church and just being amazed that I could be allowed to be in the presence of the Lord. We were in God’s house and He was in charge of everything.

He was bigger than Elvis! And more famous too!

At the age of 9, I began serving as an altar boy. For five years I was allowed to serve in the most important part of our week, Sunday service. At the age of 13, I decided that I wanted to be a priest so that I could serve Him every day.  What a joy to be in the presence of God every day.

When the day came that I was old enough to understand the true love that God has for me, I realized that I didn’t have to become a priest to serve Him every day. I can serve Him no matter what the vocation. I can serve Him every day by sharing His love. The love that He gave me.

I have lived a pretty normal life with ups and downs. Maybe from the outside looking in, my life may seem more difficult to some. But one thing in my life that I can say was the absolute pinnacle of awesomeness. That was the day Jesus took hold of me, with my arms wide open, pleading to be forgiven.

You know what He said to me? You are my love and I have loved you forever and I will never let you go. What an amazing God we serve. A God that loves us.

I was blessed to have such a strong foundation rooted in the love of God and fortified by His Grace. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity growing up. Isn’t that sad? Doesn’t that make your heart hurt? There are people out there, right now, walking around who never knew Jesus. Never heard of His love and grace. They don’t understand the joy of being a child of the one true God. Don’t you think it’s time?

Don’t you think it’s time to get out there, in the trenches? Don’t let another day pass without sharing the gospel with someone.

Why are we here? We are here to worship and give thanks. That’s a big part of it. We are also here today and every other Sunday to learn more about our Savior so that we can share more. The more we learn and understand, the more we open ourselves to His voice, His will, God speaks through us. Sometimes with words, sometimes with actions. Be God’s vessel. Be the light in a darkened, sinful world.

In Matthew 24:14 it says:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Well, we’re still here so I think we have some work to do. Don’t you agree?

Christ gives His disciples a commission – and through them, His church:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.  Matthew 28:19-20

Your testimony is the story about your life here on earth. Your ups and downs. Your burdens. Your crosses. The gospel is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus’ testimony foretells of the life we have ahead of us. Our eternal life with our Creator.

In Jesus’ words, His comfort for you and His disciples in John 14:1

 Do not let your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.

I pray everyone here has accepted Jesus into their lives as their Savior. Giving yourself to Jesus completely and surrendering all that you have known is a HUGE step. Stepping out in faith. God is in control. If He’s able to create the universe and everything in it, what makes you doubt that he can’t help you? That he can’t forgive you?

God is much bigger than this little box we put him in. He stretches from beginning to end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. We will never be able to understand His full greatness, abilities, intentions, decisions, compassion, or His Grace. And quite frankly, we don’t have to. This is why we stand in awe of the way that he loves us. In awe of His majesty. Of His Glory. His Grace.

Recently, we lost a great brother in the faith, Reverend Billy Graham. He was an inspiration to many and brought many to know Jesus. His faith in our Lord Jesus and his perseverance in sharing the gospel took him from a little town in North Carolina to around the world.

Some referred to him as the Protestant Pope. But he referred to himself as a child of God. A brother in Christ. A husband and a father.

As a human being, Billy was no different than you and I. He was born. He lived. And then he died. But what his journey of faith in Jesus showed all of us was amazing. This was a humble man who did nothing for his own boasting, but for the glory of God. His life was more than just a line between two points. It was an exciting adventure with Jesus at his side.

I want to tell you of another journey. Jesus’ journey to the cross.

In Jesus’ times and before, the cross was the most terrible form of execution of the Romans for criminals. They would tie them with cords or nail their hands to the cross and leave them hang until they died. Sometimes this could take up to a week. But when they sentenced Jesus to die on the cross, it was much different.

They forced a crown of thorns onto his head. They mocked him and spit at him. They scourged him with whips that had pellets on the ends. They beat him within an inch of his life. And then they made him carry his cross to a place outside of Jerusalem called Golgotha. The hill that displayed many deaths of thieves and murderers. Hanging on to each breath, Jesus walked and stumbled under the weight of that cross. With each step growing weaker and weaker.

Once he reached that hilltop, they nailed him to the cross. The pain of each nail driven through his hands and feet would have been horrific. But then, they raised him up to hang there. The Savior of the world, treated like a criminal, hanging from a cross.

He hung there for six hours. A darkness fell over the land. A darkness that you and I are responsible for. This darkness was as if God had blocked his view of Jesus with the clouds. It was a separation between God the Father and God the Son.

At this point, Jesus called out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” It was in that moment, that the sins of the world were laid upon Jesus…. A reckoning for you and me. Washed in the blood and made white as snow. Pure. So that when God sees us, he sees us wrapped in the righteousness of Jesus.

God is far too holy and pure to gaze upon sin. It was his plan from the foundation of the world to have his only begotten son take on this mission. To restore us. To redeem us.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made.
John 1:1-3

God placed there in the beginning sentences of John’s gospel, his Son Jesus, right next to him. Jesus, who knew no sin. Who bore the weight of all our sins. There is only one word to describe that and it’s LOVE… Perfect love.

At the foot of the cross, the ground is level. No matter how big the sin, it is sin… No one has a sin too big for Jesus.

Grace flowed down from that cross. Each drop of living blood ran down and covered us. The amazing grace that broke the chains of sin. The evil one lost.

I recently saw a video on YouTube. The title was “Billy Graham’s Last Message to the World.” There was a part that I wanted you to hear from that message. It is very powerful and very true. So, I would like to read that part transcribed from the video.

The cross is offensive. It confronts people, even so, it’s a confrontation all of us must face. We deserve the cross. We deserve hell. We deserve judgment and all that that means.

Many people would dispute the cross and be offended being called a sinner. But the cross directly confronts the evils that dominate this world. The cross demands, doesn’t suggest, it demands a new lifestyle, in all of us.

Sin is a disease in the human heart. It affects the mind and the will and the emotions. Every part of our being is affected by this disease.

How can we break this bondage? How can we be set free? God helps us to break those chains. The bible says if any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things pass away. Everything becomes new. He can make you a totally new person…

The only way to the Father, Father God, is through the cross of Jesus. This means we need to do our part and repent of our sins and turn away from them. The sacrifice he gave, God the Father, was God the Son. Jesus.
Our ransom has been paid. We have been redeemed. We have been lavished in His grace.

If you have not given your life to Jesus. The time is now. The cross demands a new lifestyle.

He loves you that much that He died for you. Listen again very closely. God loves you so much. He sent Jesus, His son, to die for you. So that you could be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. To open the gates of heaven. To raise those who have fallen asleep. For all the saints of the church. You and me. We are the body of Christ. His church. All this, He did, so that we could be with Him for eternity.

We should take this moment right now and open ourselves to the King. Our Lord of Lords. The Almighty One.

Imagine you are standing in front of Jesus right now. Take that big burden you’ve been carrying. That huge bag over your shoulder. Your burden of sin. Put it at His feet. Feel that?? No more weight. No more worries. Just breathe. With your heart prepared and your soul open to His will, reach out to him. Don’t be afraid. His arms are wide open.

Will you pray this prayer with me?

Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I’m am a sinner and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins. I repent of my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and my life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus name. Amen.

And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Acts 2:21