TRANSCRIPTION | Wednesday, April 7, 2021 | Up

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Word of God. Acts chapter 12 verse number one says this, “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, and he intended to persecute them. After arresting him, he put him in prison, and handed him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each.” Now let's drop down from verse one to verse four there, and what's happening is that Simon Peter has been arrested. And Herod intended to bring Simon Peter out for public trial after the Passover, for us, that would mean Easter. And so Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. And the night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and century stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell, and the angel struck Peter on the side and said to him, “Quick, get up, Quick, get up, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.”

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I want to share with you this morning on just a simple two-letter word, a simple two-letter word, “Up.” I want you to pray with me. Father, we thank you for your presence. We thank you for your Grace. We thank you for this moment. And we pray Father that today, you would visit each of us with your profound grace. And by the work of your Holy Spirit, pull us into that next step that you have for us. Lord, let it be done in the name of Jesus, and the church said, amen. amen. If you're privileged to have someone there with you wherever you're at, just look at him and tell him you are in the right place at the right time on Easter Sunday. You know, I was thinking about this word Up. Acts chapter 12, verse one, verse four, and five, and even into verses six and seven, what we find is that Peter is given an instruction “get up.” But the word “up,” I want to just take it as a point of emphasis for a moment. That word, if you were to type it into an online Bible study tool and do some form of a keyword search, you would probably get an error message of sorts, because the word up is used so many times in the Bible, that it literally shorts out the keyword search. Over and over again, from the book of Genesis all the way to the book of Revelation, the word “up” is used. It would seem that God puts some kind of an emphasis on taking things up. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

It's one thing to focus in on a god who is enthralled with punishment, and judgment, and we do know that there will be a time when the world will be judged. But also we have to see our God as a personal God who is so interested with lifting us that he seems to over communicate the word up. In Scripture you hear and you see things like this, stand up, store up, stir up, build up, fill up, go up, went up, come up, heat up, stood up, spring up, taken up, lift up, look up. And I hope that's what you choose to do on this Easter Sunday is to look up to the Lord from where our help ultimately comes. So, there's different phraseologies that can be taken from the context of Scripture with the word “up”. But maybe, perhaps the best usage that humanity could ever have of this word is simply “he got up.” And that's what Easter Sunday is all about. It's about the fact that the tomb is empty. It's about the fact that Jesus, after he suffered and died, was laid in the borrowed Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. but on the third day, the stone was rolled away, and he got up, and the tomb is now empty. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

If I had the privilege of having a room full of people right now, I would have you touch your neighbor and tell them “he got up.” That's what today is all about. The tomb is empty. He got up. But maybe even more staggering in thought is this, Jesus showed up. You see, it's one thing to say that Jesus got up from the tomb that he got up from death, but when you think about how he wound up in that tomb to begin with, it's hard to imagine that Jesus would even be willing to show up. Because we know that before the foundation of the world, the decision was made that the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ would be slain. And yet still, God chose to create humanity. And he chose to set in motion a plan that for all of our sin, and for all of our failure, God would so love the world, that he would give his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life. But when you start thinking about that, the fact of which God gave his son, he sent his son to the earth, he arrived through the womb of a virgin named Mary. By the time he was at the age of 12, he was already confounding people with his wisdom in the temples. And then, as he reaches about the age of 30, he begins a public ministry, and for three and a half years. He does incredible works. He teaches with incredible wisdom. He opens blind eyes. He unstopped deaf ears. There's incredible things happening. But then when society turned on him, and he goes into this moment of crucifixion, and he takes on the wrath of God for the sins of the world, his flesh is pulled from his body, a crown of thorns is put on his head, he is stripped naked, he is mocked, and he is ridiculed, and he is made fun of and he's beaten to the point he doesn't even have recognition. And Scripture says that even though not a bone was broken, that every joint was out of socket. Can you imagine showing up for something like that? Coming from heaven to earth, knowing that a cross was in your future? 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You see, it's one thing that Jesus got up, but it's just as important that he showed up. That he showed up to take our sin away, he showed up to deal with our failure. And I'm going to tell you some right now, if there is a God who would be willing to show up for a cross so that our sin can be dealt with, you can guarantee that our God is also willing to show up in our current situation, in our current dilemma. In fact, God is so interested in you that he is numbered the hairs on your head according to Scripture. That God is so interested in you that he tells you to just think about a sparrow. And if a sparrow is getting fed then so his seed will never be found begging for bread because he sees you, God will show up. He may not come when you want him, and he may not come in the timeframe you expected. But we learn from John chapter 11, another story of resurrection. That when Mary and Martha thought Jesus was late, he was right on time, and ultimately Lazarus came out of that grave, because Jesus showed up. Jesus will show up. The important thing is that while you are waiting on him to show up in your present situation, you are celebrating the fact that he's already showed up on earth on behalf of our sins. And that means that you and I have to make a decision that we will not give up. You see, Jesus got up, Jesus showed up, and now we got to make a decision that we will not give up. 


 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, one of the things that I work with my children on, especially my son, a lot, is removing the quit option. There's so many times when I'm working with my son on something, and he gets a little discouraged. And he gets a little frustrated, because maybe he doesn't have the tools in place yet to be able to fulfill whatever is being asked of him, or even the life experience. And he'll say things like, can't or I don't know how. But what I've often learned is it's not that he can't, it's not that he doesn't know how, it's just simply that he won't, or he don't. And I think too often, we push the quit button, and we give up the moment that it just gets a little bit difficult, or it just gets a little bit challenging. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, they say about Abraham Lincoln that he was not the most attractive president to have ever been elected. In fact, some said that he was fascinatingly ugly. There was a moment where that Abraham Lincoln was in a debate, and he was actually being accused by his hostile opponent of being two faced. And it was in that moment that Lincoln just stopped and looked at the crowd and said, with all sincerity, if I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one? Abraham Lincoln, a list of his failures; 1832, he lost his job; 1832, he was also defeated for legislature; 1833, he failed in business; 1834, he was elected to legislature but then in 1835 his sweetheart died; 1836, he had a nervous breakdown; 1838, he was defeated for speaker; 1843, defeated for nomination for Congress; 1846, elected to Congress, but in 1848 lost the nomination again; 1849, he was rejected to even be a land officer; 1854, defeated for senate; 1856, defeated for nomination for Vice President; 1858, defeated for a place in senate; 1860, elected president. Now think about that for a moment. That resume, it is filled with more defeat and more failure than it seems to be filled with success and victory. But today, far and wide, historical scholars decree that Lincoln is probably the greatest president that has ever lived. Why? Because Abraham Lincoln didn't give up. It seems like that Abraham Lincoln believed in the comeback. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, my whole life, I've been a University of Kentucky Wildcat fan. And I know there's other fans out there, and all you Louisville Cardinal people... just…. it's Easter Sunday forgive me okay. But, University of Kentucky, the family that I grew up in, it was a big deal. Like if you didn't root for UK, you almost got kicked out of the family altogether. And I remember that some of my favorite teams were like 94, 95, 96. And there was actually a moment when in the mid 90s, the University of Kentucky had a team with Jeff Brassow and Walter McCarty and some other stars. And Jeff Brassow was one of my favorite players back in the day. And, what I saw happen is they went down to Baton Rouge, and they got in a game, and they weren't playing well, and they were down, and they were down big. And I remember at halftime that my family, the majority of them, just gave up on UK, and they just went to bed. Like they're so far down, there's no chance that they're going to come back and win, let's just go to bed. But I believed in the comeback. I believe that they weren't going to give up, and they were going to keep giving it everything that they had. With 15 minutes and 34 seconds left in that game, they were down by 31 points. But over the course of that last 15 minutes in the game, they hit 11 three pointers, and they outscored the Tigers 62 to 27, for an incredible comeback victory. They won 99 to 95. And I remember the next morning when I went to breakfast with my family, I got to kind of rub it in the face of my parents and especially my dad and let him know you gave up on them. But they came back. They were a comeback story. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I don't know how much you feel like you're down right now. I don't know how many failures you feel like you've had and how many losses you feel like you've taken, and how many defeats you've had, maybe even just in this recent season. Maybe you feel like that there's not even enough time left on the clock for you to get everything that you've lost. But I believe that there is an unction from heaven to tell somebody don't give up. Don't give up. I mean, if I could give you one more basketball analogy. I've always been a huge basketball fan. Michael Jordan, he testifies in one of his own moments that he missed more than 9,000 shots in his career. He lost more than 300 games. 26 times, he missed the game-winning shot. He was cut from his high school basketball team as a sophomore. But today he is far and wide revered as the greatest player to have ever picked up a basketball. Why? Because he didn't give up. Because he believed in the comeback. Now, I've told you two or three stories, and not a single one of them mention God. They're just motivational in nature. And so what I want to insert to you is if there can be those kinds of comebacks just through people's own fleshly will, then you tell me what could happen in your life when you involve God in the equation. He is the God of the comeback. And that is actually what Easter is all about, the God of the comeback. That when it looked like he was down for the count, when it looked like that there was not enough time left, and the score was at a place where that surely the enemy was gonna win. We serve a God who teaches us that you don't have to give up. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Daniel was put in a lion's den, but he didn't give up. On the other side, he got promoted. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace, but they didn't give up, and on the other side of it, they too got a promotion. David was overlooked by his father and outmatched by a giant. But not only did he take the head off the giant, God was looking when nobody else was. The church is running for their lives in the book of Acts. And the reason for that is because that they're dealing with so much stuff .They're under persecution. They're being run from house to house, and yet they didn't give up. And today, Christianity has over 2 billion people that profess to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ. I came to tell somebody don't give up. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You want to talk about a God of comebacks. When people didn't give up. Elijah was overwhelmed with depression to the point he was ready to quit. But on the other side of that depression, he would step out on Mount Carmel and call fire down from heaven and be used to lead a national revival. Moses had a huge mistake. He committed murder. He was put into 40 years of isolation as a result of that murder. But he didn't give up, and he came back to lead an entire nation into deliverance. Paul, he tells us that he was stoned. And as a matter of fact, can I just read some stuff to you? 2 Corinthians chapter 11, verse 25 through 29, it's Paul's own words. You want to talk about not giving up. Here's what he says, “Three times, I was beaten with rods. Once, I was stoned. Three times, I was shipwrecked a day. A day and a night, I spent in the deep. I've been on frequent journeys. I've been in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, dangers from country men, dangerous from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers of the sea, dangers of false brethren. I've been in labor and hardship. I've been through sleepless nights. I've been hungry. I've been thirsty. I've been without food. I've been cold. I've been exposed. I've been a part of such external things. And then there is the daily pressure on me of taking care of all the church people.” Somebody say amen. “Who is weak without my being weak. Who is led into sin without my own intense concern.” But what Paul is saying is that I didn't give up. I went through difficult times, I went through hard times, I went through challenging times. Some of them simply because he was a Christian, or he was a preacher of the Gospel, but he didn't give up. Paul knew that he served a God who got up out of a tune. He knew he served a God who showed up to take away the sins of the world. And because of that, he knew that regardless of what the circumstance was, he should never give up. Because God would always be the author and the finisher of his faith. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I'm going to tell you something that disciples were on the verge of giving up when they put Jesus Christ in that tomb. But on the third day, when they went and looked in, and they saw that the tomb was empty, their faith was encouraged in a way that it had never been encouraged before. And I just want to give you one more word of Paul, because I think it needs to be said. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul makes this statement. He said, “I've been pressed on every side, but I'm not crushed. I’m perplexed, but I'm not in despair. I'm persecuted, but I'm not abandoned. I'm struck down, but I'm not destroyed. Why? Because God was for him, and that settled it. Don't give up. Don't give up. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, around about the Easter season, circling back to the anchor text that I took when I was coming into this message. We find a story of a man named Simon Peter who was a disciple of Jesus Christ, and he'd been through a lot in following Jesus. And what we find with Simon Peter is even though he knew Jesus got up, even though he knew he'd seen the Son of God show up, and even though there had been some moments in his life where he had previously chosen to not give up, it just seemed like life was really coming down on him quite hard. And there is a picture painted in Acts chapter 12, that through some interpretations, would seem to imply that Simon Peter had once again reached a place of maybe being on the verge of giving up. And what happens with this is James, another prominent Christian leader at that time, has already been beheaded. He's already been martyred for his faith. And now this king is going to take another prominent leader such as Simon Peter and also martyr him because it seems to be in some way pleasing the people. And so what Scripture tells us is that Simon Peter is arrested, it seems to come in a moment when he almost didn't expect it. It's coming about the time of Easter, a moment when he typically would have been celebrating Jesus's victory over death held in the grave. But instead, he's in prison, and he's waiting for them to come and drag him out into a courtyard and literally take his head off of his shoulders. And what we see in the Scripture is that Simon Peter has just laid down. And you can sense maybe there's depression in this room, maybe there's discouragement in this room, maybe there's this, just this pain associated with man, I wonder what this is going to look like. I wonder what this is going to feel like. I wonder how all this is going to unfold. And then what Scripture says happens is that the church that Simon Peter was associated with started praying. And they were praying around the clock, and they were believing God for a breakthrough in Simon Peter's life. And while the church was praying in one place, God was moving in another place. And what happened is an angel showed up and came into that jail cell with Simon Peter. I want you to see it with me, Acts chapter 12, verse number seven, “Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared, a light came into that darkened cell, and the angel struck Peter on the side and said to him, quick, get up! And when he did, the chains fell off of Simon Peter.” I'm gonna tell you something about our God.

He got up, he showed up, and you can't give up. And one of the ways you can prove that you're not going to give up is by choosing to get up. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, according to Scripture now dwells on the inside of me and you if we profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And it would be really easy to just lay down and just wait to die. It would be really easy to just lay down and wait for everything to completely fall apart. It would be really easy just to say, surely this is the end of me, and surely this is the end of my business, and surely this is the end of my family, and surely this is the end of my influence, and surely this is, surely this, and surely this, and surely this, and keep filling the blank with all the negativity and all the things that you think are going bad, or you could choose to get up. And when you get up, what Scripture says is the chains fall off, they fall off. It didn't fall off till he got up. I'm gonna say it again. The chains did not fall off until Simon Peter got up. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And I just feel an unction from heaven to tell somebody get up. Open the blinds, let some light shine in, push back the depression, push back the discouragement, push back the frustration, push back the poor pitiful me, why me, why here, why now scenarios, get that Charlie Brown devil out of your living room and step into a mentality that says I'm about to get up. Matter of fact, if there's somebody sitting near you just, you know, look at them and tell him get up. You see, the reason that you get up is so that you can rise up. It's more than just standing up, it’s that when God helps you to get up, you go to a brand new level. The thing that comes to my mind is that a hot air balloon. And when a hot air balloon is being filled with heat, when it's being inflated, that hot air balloon, it eventually gets to the point of inflation to where you can't hold it down. You can't chain it down any longer. It'll pull stakes out of the ground, because it's so inflated. And I think that that's what God wants to do in your life is he wants you to believe that he got up. He wants you to recognize that he showed up before, and he will show up again. And it's super important for you to keep your faith inflated and not give up, so that you can get up. And as you get up, Daniel discovered when he got up out of the lion's den, he had risen to a new level. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego discovered when they got up out of the fiery furnace, they had risen to a new level. We even discovered with Simon Peter that when he got up out of that prison cell, that his influence went to a whole new level with the Church. It was such a miracle that when he showed up at the prayer meet where they were praying for him, they couldn't even hardly believe that it was happening. It was so incredible. God has promised us as I've already referenced in this message. And I just want to say it again, the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead, the day that we celebrate Easter, that the tomb is empty, that spirit is available to you and I. God does not intend for your head to be down. He does not intend for you to be this way. It's not that you won't wrestle with discouragement. It's not that you won't wrestle with depressed thoughts. Some of you are even right now wrestling with suicidal thoughts. The point is this, that you believe that the Spirit of God inside of you is greater than the spirit of the world that is against you. That you testify things like I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That if I lose something, or something's taken away from me, I might be pressed, but I am not crushed. I might be in some level that feels like it's got some despair, but the enemy can't destroy me, because God is for me and that settles it. And so that's the encouragement; rise, up, rise up. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Even as they just begin to play some music softly. I think sometimes when we forget that he got up, we tend to think that he won't show up, and the result is that we give up. And instead of getting up, we just lay flat on our backs and miss the opportunity to rise up. Rise up. I was thinking about the lyrics to the song, “Because He Lives.” They go like this. “God sent his son, they call him Jesus. He came to love, heal, and forgive. He lived and died to buy my pardon, and now an empty grave is there to prove my savior lives. And because he lives I can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone. Because I know he holds the future. And life is worth the living just because he lives.” My goodness. Aren’t you glad he lives? Maybe this is a moment where you celebrate the fact that he showed up for your sins, and you throw your hands in the air right there where you're at, and you begin to confess your need for repentance, your need for forgiveness, your need for the grace of Jesus in your life. Pour your heart out to him right now. Invite him to save you. Invite him to be the Lord of your life and celebrate that because he lives you can face tomorrow. As you have a moment of prayer, you say preacher, I don't know how to pray. That's a lie from hell. You talk to God like you talk to your very best friend. Just pour your heart out to him. You say preacher, I don't know how to facilitate this or go through this, that tug you fill on your heart right now, that unction that you feel on the inside of you, that's God reminding you that he's not finished with you, that he's got more for you. Let him tug on the strings of your heart and reel you in to the cause of heaven today. Come on, pour your heart out to him. Maybe you're coming back to the Lord. Maybe you come into God for the very first time. Whatever the case, get up out of that sin, get up out of that addiction, get up out of that mess, get up out of that depression and give your life over to Jesus. Let him raise you up as a testimony to the goodness of his grace.