Connecting Point – May 22, 2024

I love reading the miracles in the Bible - and one of my favorite miracles is when Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the grave (John 11) after Lazarus had been dead for four days. We read in John 11:38-44: "Then they came to the grave. It was a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 'Roll the stone aside,' Jesus told them.  . . . Then Jesus shouted, 'Lazarus, come out!' Lazarus came out, bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, 'Unwrap him and let him go!'"

Can you imagine what was going through people's minds when that miracle occurred? Some perhaps wondered what trickery had been worked, or they wondered if Lazarus had really been dead for four days. Others would have been frightened because people are often frightened by what they cannot understand. But most people there probably rejoiced because Lazarus was back with them. And others put their faith and trust in Jesus as their Messiah (John 11:45).

We notice at least one peculiar phrase in this great story. We are told in John 11:44 that when Lazarus came out (looking somewhat like a mummy), that although he was alive, he was still bound up in his grave clothes. Although he was alive, he was still in bondage to some degree to the attachments and hindrances of his former situation. That sounds like how many Christians in our world today are still living. Although they have transitioned from "spiritual death" (Ephesians 2:1-3) to "spiritual life" (Ephesians 2:4-7) through receiving Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they are still bound to some degree by the hurts, habits, and hang-ups of their former life.

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32)

Let me ask you, "What are some hurts, habits, and 'hang-ups' from your former life that you still cling to - that cause you at times to not experience the peace, joy, and victory of the Lord in your life?" Most people come into the Christian life with some sort of baggage or burden in their lives.  In fact, many people come to Christ because of the baggage or burdens in their lives.  Those burdens or that baggage could include negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, bitterness, a critical spirit, depression or discouragement, envy, fear, frustration, greed, guilt, hurt, hatred, insecurity, jealousy, loneliness, malice, pride, rage, rebellion, selfishness, unforgiveness, worry, etc.  Those burdens or that baggage could include ungodly ambitions or actions such as addictions, deceit, excesses (of many kinds), immorality, meanness, pornography, rebellion, selfishness, sexual sins, etc.  Again, although all Christians experience some degree of "new life" when they receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, many (if not most) Christians are still "bound up" by the hurts, habits, and "hang-ups" of their lives.  They are like Lazarus - alive but bound. And they need others to help them get freed from the burdens and bondages that keep them from experiencing all of the freedom and fullness that Jesus offers His followers.  Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32). He also said, "I have come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Jesus wants us to not only be forgiven.  Jesus wants us to be free and victorious as well.

As you pray today: 1) Pray for the Lord to show you any hurts, habits, or "hang-ups" that you may still have in your life, and to show you how they negatively affect you and keep you from the abundant and victorious life the Lord offers; 2) Ask the Lord to forgive you for allowing those hurts, habits and "hang-ups" to continue to keep you from being all He wants you to be; and 3) Ask the Lord to give you direction about where or whom you can go to that will enable you to find the fullness and freedom Christ offers.

By the way, one ministry at Celebration that helps people experience freedom is CELEBRATE RECOVERY. Check out the Celebrate Recovery ministries at our Mandeville/Covington, Metairie/New Orleans, and St Bernard/9th Ward Campuses and learn how they can help you and others "get free of those graveclothes."

Communion

This Sunday (May 26) at Celebration we are participating in Communion and continuing THE WAY OF THE WISE sermon series that we began on Mother's Day. 

In this series, we're learning from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom, the Book of Proverbs, wise principles that will enable us to make wiser choices and experience better consequences in the circumstances and relationships of our lives. Be sure to catch all of THE WAY OF THE WISE sermons in May and June either in our in-person or online worship services.

All In Baptism

In a couple of weeks on Sunday, June 9, we will have our annual ALL-IN BAPTISM DAY at our Celebration Campuses. On that day we are encouraging the following people to take the step of baptism by immersion if: 1) they've never taken that important discipleship step in their life, and 2) they weren't fully committed to the Lord when they took that step earlier in their lives.

From the beginning of Christianity, people have demonstrated they're a follower of Jesus Christ by being baptized (Acts 2:37-41). "Baptize" is a transliteration of the Greek word "baptizo" which means to "immerse under the water", and so "baptism by immersion" is the Biblical mode of baptism. When a person takes this step they're declaring that they are committed to living for Jesus Christ. Making that strong statement helps us to rise to a new level of faith and strength in our lives. To learn more about "baptism by immersion," contact your Life Group Leader or a Campus Staff Member, or go to www.celebrationchurch.org/baptism.

Beth Moore Celebration Church

The Living Proof Conference, led by renowned Bible teacher Beth Moore, will take place June 21-22 at Celebration on Airline. Women from Churches across our region will be joining us for what will be an incredible weekend of worship, learning, and spiritual growth. Ladies, you can register yourself and your friends at www.celebrationchurch.org/aspire. Tickets are $90 per person, $50 for students, or $75 for groups of 10 or more.

Other upcoming events for Students at Celebration include:

  • Promotion Sunday (June 2) - when our children move up in our ministry to new classes that will help them in their spiritual growth

  • Youth Camp (June 10-14)

  • Father's Day (June 16) - when we will be honoring and appreciating birth fathers, stepfathers, "stand-in-the-gap" fathers, and spiritual fathers.

  • Midpoint Camp (June 24-26)

Students attending our Youth and Midpoint Camps will have a great time as they connect with other students from our Celebration Campuses and they grow in their faith! If you have a student that would like to go to camp, you can register here. We are also fundraising to help students go to camp. If you would like to help a student go to camp, you can donate here.

Our Pastors and I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we continue THE WAY OF THE WISE.

Pastor Dennis

Gratefully yours,

Pastor Dennis Watson
Lead Pastor, Celebration Church
dennisw@celebrationchurch.org
dennis.watson.96

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