Old Brick Reformed Church, Organized 1699

490 Route 520 • P.O. Box 153 • Marlboro, NJ 07746

Office Phone: (732) 946-8860

Secretary's Email: secretary@oldbrickchurch.orgInfo

Sunday Worship: 10:00AM - 11:00AM

Pastor Kaden's Sermon Notes for Sunday May 3rd

Believe and Believing

His name was Eric Weisz but everyone is familiar with him by his stage name, Harry Houdini. He was born in Budapest, Hungary on March 24, 1874 but he emigrated to the United States where he made his home in Wisconsin. Houdini was an illusionist, stunt performer and a sensational escape artist. He could free himself from straight jackets in minutes and often challenged police departments to keep him locked up in cells, chains or ropes that he was able to escape from in minutes to the surprise and frustration of the police.

Houdini was married to a woman named Bess and he was deeply attached to his mother Cecilia. Harry's attachment, fixation really, with his mother was a bit "unusual" to say the least. When Cecilia died, Houdini was devastated. Speaking about his mother, Houdini once said: "If God in his greatness ever sent an angel on earth in human form, it was my mother". He was so consumed with grief after his mother's death Houdini spent the next twenty-five years attending seances conducted by mediums who claimed they could "make contact" with his dead mother, but none of them, however, ever could. As an illusionist himself, Houdini was able to see through their fraudulent scams. They often used many of the same "slight of hand" tricks to convince participants they had made contact with the departed, tricks Houdini knew and had mastered himself as a magician and illusionist.

When Houdini finally realized the futility of his efforts he said, "After twenty-five years of ardent research I declare that nothing has been revealed to convince me that intercommunication has been established between the spirits of the departed and those still in the flesh." Houdini would remain bereft for his mother for the remainder of his life.

Interestingly, after his death, his wife Bess took up her husband's mantle and began attending seances in the hope of communicating with her departed husband, Harry. Her pursuits were also futile, and she finally gave up her efforts. Bess was quoted in the Associated Press: "If I had succeeded in communicating with Houdini, I would have shouted it from the housetops." But she never could.

There's only one who died who was able to overcome death, our risen Savior, Jesus Christ. On that first Easter day, God raised his son Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus Christ triumphed over death and grave. The tomb could not contain him; death could not keep its prey. God raised his son and Christ is alive forevermore.

It took Jesus' disciples a little while before the reality of Christ's resurrection sunk in and took root in the hearts. Jesus' many post resurrection appearances confirmed that it was true. As they encountered the risen Lord, they were reminded of what he had told them, that the Son of Man must suffer many things, be crucified and, on the third day rise from the dead. Now they believed his words.

Seeing the risen Lord, hearing his voice, seeing the nail prints in his hands and feet convinced the disciples that Jesus had indeed conquered the grave and was alive once again. And once it did, the disciple's lives were radically transformed forever.

When they left the room where they had been hunkered down in fear, they began doing what Houdini's wife Bess was hoping she'd be able to do, but was never able to do, they began shouting from the housetops Jesus is alive!

I'd like to call your attention to two verses of scripture from John's the 20th chapter, verses 30-31. As you read them, I'd like you to ask yourself if you think there's a difference between the meaning and use of the words, believe and believing here. Ready?

John 20: 30-31 states:
"Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by BELIEVING you may have life in his name."

So, what do you think? Do you think there's any difference between those two words? If you said yes, you'd be right. One has to do with knowing things about who Jesus is, learning facts such as, he was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, began his public ministry when he was around 30; his ministry lasting 3 years and then He was crucified on a cross. This is "head knowledge", it's believing certain things (facts) about Jesus.

The other word "believing", however, has to do with heart knowledge. It's when, what we know about Jesus is transferred to our hearts and changes our lives. That's what eventually happened to the disciples following our Lord’s resurrection. On Pentecost day they were filled with the Holy Spirit and their head knowledge became heart knowledge and radically transformed their lives. When that happens inside a person when head knowledge becomes heart knowledge. They begin to experience life in Jesus' name, abundant life, a grace filled life. They become "new creations" who are committed to living for Christ and the honor of his name.

Now tell me, if I were to ask you to describe your faith right now, would you describe it as a faith of head knowledge or heart knowledge? Would you say the risen Lord is living inside your heart and reigning in your life? Have you been transformed by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit? Have you become a "new creation" in Christ?

Take a look at the following passages and discover what happens inside individuals who are transformed by the matchless grace of God: Acts chapters 2, Acts 4: 1-21, Acts 7-8:1, Acts 9:1-30

I'll close with yet another one of my favorite illustrations, this one is entitled: "The Touch of the Master's Hand". It was written by Myra Brooks Welch and describes so very well the incredible transformation that occurs in the lives of those who are, "Touched by the Master's hand".

"Twas battered and scarred and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile:
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
"Who'll start the bidding for me!"
"A dollar, a dollar; then Two! Only two?
Two dollars, and who'll make it three?
Three dollars once; three dollars, twice:
Going for three ---" but no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening up the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bid for the old violin?"
And he held it up with the bow,
"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two!"
Two Thousand! And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand twice,
And going, and gone," said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand
What changed its worth." Swift came the reply;
"The touch of the master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scared with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine;
A game -- and he travels on.
He is "going once" and "going twice",
He's "going and almost "gone."
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that's wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.

Oh, how truly wonderful is the matchless grace of Jesus!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor George Kaden

Reformed Church
In America
RCA The Reformed Church in America is a fellowship of congregations called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the very presence of Jesus Christ in the world.


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