Transcription details: Audio 05 27 2018.mp3
Input sound file: Audio 05 27 2018.mp3
a new life, a new church, and a new future awaits us all beyond the day of Easter, beyond the day of Pentecost. But today I want to draw your attention to the reality that the resurrection is uphill. You have to come up out of a hole in the ground to live a new life. Resurrection is always uphill.
This is Memorial Day weekend, a day when we particularly remember those who gave their lives. And I would like to remind you again I’ve mentioned this before of my grandfather’s first cousin, Arthur F. [Kueker?] who was awarded a silver star because in the action following the battle of D-Day outside of a French village by the name of Goresville, Arthur Kueker he was a sergeant. Arthur Kueker and a private captured a German machine gun nest. They first attacked with hand grenades and then they ran uphill with nothing but bayonets on their rifles because they’d run out of ammunition. The courage that that requires is difficult for me to imagine, but they ran into enemy fire and the next day he died from his wounds. It takes courage. Serving your country calls for bravery and sometimes that courage means you give your life. But here’s the thing, on D-Day, when they landed they landed on the beach everything from then on was uphill. Heroes are made because people are willing to go uphill whatever the cost.
This is not everyone’s experience. Jesus Christ was never a soldier but he also endured difficulty and suffering even until the day that he also died that you and I might be free, that you and I might be forgiven. So that you and I might know new life, he died on a hill and he had to carry his own cross up the hill. Almost everything in life that is valuable requires courage. Almost everything in life that is useful and meaningful is uphill from where we are and you cannot coast to get there because you cannot coast uphill. We live in a time– and it’s not so different than when I was a kid to where the goal in life was to have it easy. We are very fond of coasting. I was in elementary school when they invented the skateboard. And the dream of every kid who ever stood on a skateboard was a hill that went on for miles and miles and miles because what you wanted to do was coast downhill. The part that was not fun was when you had to turn around and walk back up the hill.
It’s when we walk back up the hill that heroes are made. Here’s a scripture passage about heroes from chapter 11 in the book of Hebrews which is the book of heroes. It mentions all sorts of heroes but here’s just a little phrase. The author goes on to say, “What more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, of Barak, of Sampson, of Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the profits heroes,” Verse 33. Who through faith conquered kingdoms and forced justice, received promises, who stopped the mouths of lions, who quenched raging fire to escape the edge of the sword, who won strength out of weakness, who became mighty in war who put forth armies to flight, because they had the courage to go forward and that it was difficult in a sense to go uphill. And so Paul encourages us in the beginning of the next chapter the chapter after the one about all of these heroes, therefore, he said, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, those who have gone before,” Paul writes, “Let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame.”
Lets also, in other words, the author of Hebrews writes, “Let’s go uphill even when it gets hard.” Here’s another hill. Mount of Olives was on a hill. Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane and going a little further he fell on the ground. He fell on his face and he prayed that if there was any other way if it were possible that the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Ah, but Father all things are possible to thee. Remove this cup from me,” yet Jesus said, “Not what I would will but it’s what Thou will.” Friends, to do God’s will is to move uphill. God’s will is always uphill you can’t coast to become a braver, stronger, better, person. It’s uphill. If you have lost your way, you will find it hidden behind whatever it is that you’re wanting to avoid and the other thing you will find is this. You will find that that road leads uphill. God’s will will lead you uphill. Because that’s how God makes heroic people. He says to them, “Follow me. And even though it gets harder, just keep following. You’ll get strong.” You’ll find God’s will uphill. Jesus said, in John 20:21, “Peace be with you.” This is the resurrection saying, “As the Father had sent me, even so I sent you.” And so you and I are going to move uphill to do God’s will. As the Holy Spirit flows into us and the Holy Spirit flows out of us, we are to go and seek the thing that God wants us to do, even if it’s a little difficult for us, even if it requires a little bit of courage. The Apostle Paul was in jail, Acts 23:11. The following night, while he was there in jail, the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage.” In order to make it up the hill, sometimes you have to take courage. Not wait for it. Not beg for it. Take courage. [inaudible] says to Paul, “For as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness also at Rome.” Take courage because you’ll need it to go uphill. Take courage because you’ll need it to go uphill. Because you know, sometimes it feels just like this. You think you need some courage?
Now, here’s the thing to think about. Why do you assume that you’re the little dog?
Why do you think that you’re the little dog? You may be the big dog. But what’s even more likely is maybe you’re the little dog. And you look up at God and you say, “You know, I’ll do it if you’ll go with me.” Friends, the big dog goes with you. You’re going to be okay. It’s just uphill. Not everything in following Jesus is easy. Not everything in following Jesus is coasting. There are lots of wonderful, wonderful people who did not have the energy to get out of bed this morning to come here. But you did. Little things add up. And they pay great benefits. But you don’t need to be afraid because God goes with you wherever you go. There are two ways to give your life. One is to go into battle and provide what some call the supreme sacrifice. But the other way to live your life is the saying that’s on the wall at this Memorial Veterans Garden in North Carolina. It takes courage for you to live your life day by day, and give your life day by day, but that’s important too. You can give your life day by day. You always have a choice in every single situation.
You can roll over and go back to sleep, or you can get up to do the Lord’s will. I’m not embarrassed to say that it’s the Lord’s will that you be here this morning. And I am so glad that you joined me. But I just want to acknowledge that it is uphill. But it’s also the Lord’s will that you find a chair to where you take a moment each day to pray. For some of you, that’s a struggle. That’s uphill. But it’s a good thing, and it will pay you great benefits. When you sit in that chair, you can take a Bible in your hand– and by the way, if you don’t have one, we have New Testaments here. I want everybody to have a New Testament for their purse, for the glove compartment in their car. A New Testament that you can give away to someone. But even more, for you to go uphill to open the Bible every day, and in some way allow the words of Jesus to speak to you. It’s uphill, but it’s a good thing. In every human situation, you can always choose to be like Jesus. And Jesus chose to take courage and to go uphill to do the Father’s will.
We’re going to sing a hymn that really blesses me. This is not a hymn that you know very well. I’ve made you sing it before. We’re going to sing it till we learn it. But let me just slip through the words to the last verse– number 375 if you’re looking in the book. I just want to show you the last verse. When God calls you to go out in your neighborhood and to witness, you may not be able to preach like Peter. You may not be able to pray like Paul. You may not be able to even sing like [Antoine?]. But you can say that Jesus has loved you, and God can take that and work with it. You don’t have to be amazing and awesome. All you have to do is be willing to do God’s will, and God will walk with you uphill. He’ll go with you – with you – all the way. So if you don’t know this song, I invite you to learn it. And we’ll just sing it till we know it. Please stand and sing with me. [music]