Still I Rise

Still I Rise

Mark 16:5-6

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Force bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a floundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater when he is captured by the Japanese and taken to a Japanese prison camp where he faces unimaginable cruelty  and brutality. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will. The movie Unbroken, based on this true story, is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.  He was able to rise out of an unimaginable situation!

I used to mime to the song, still I rise by Yolanda Adams.  As a matter of fact, I believe I mimed to that song last year for Bishop Clarke’s pastoral anniversary service.  I used to love to minister to this song because it describes that no matter what life throws at you with the power of God on your side you can rise.  Here are a few lyrics from the song.

Shattered but I’m not broken 

Wounded but time will heal 

Heavy the load the cross I bear 

Lonely the road I try I dare 

Shaken but here I stand 

Weary still I press on 

Long are the nights the tears I cry 

Dark are the days no sun in the sky

Yet still I rise 

Never to give up 

Never to give in 

Against all odds 

Yet still I rise 

High above the clouds 

At times I feel low 

Yet still I rise 

Sometimes I’m troubled 

But not is despair 

Struggling I make my way through 

Trials they come to make me strong 

I must endure I must hold on 

Yet still I rise 

Never to give up 

Never to give in 

Against all odds 

Yet still I rise 

High above the clouds 

At times I feel Low 

Yet still I rise 

I stopped by this Easter Sunday to let my SCC Family and those watching online know that it does not matter what your situation is.  

It does not matter what the circumstance is.  

It does not matter what you have been through and it does not matter what you are going through.  

No matter how many times you have fallen.  

No matter how many times you have been knocked down, you are not knocked out.  

You can still rise.  

You may take licking but you will keep on ticking because you can still rise just like Jesus did in the text to day.  

He had been beaten.  

He had been whipped.  

He had been flogged.  

He had been ridiculed.  

He had been talked about.  

He had been mistreated.  

He had been spat upon.  

He had been punched in the face.  

He had been impaled in the skull by the crown of thorns forced onto his head.  

He had been forced to carry the cross.  

He had been nailed to that same cross.  

He had been hung between two criminals.  

He had been pierced in his side.  

He hung on the cross for six long hours.  

He gave up the ghost and died.  

They placed him in a grave.  

And three day later he rose with all power in his hands.  

So when the women came to anoint his body for burial he was gone.  They were afraid that someone had stolen his body, but the angel of The Lord said, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And just like Jesus rose over two thousand years ago assuring us of our salvation, if we are saved, if we are washed in the blood, if we are members of the fraternity or sorority of the twice born, we to can rise out of any and every situation or circumstance that we may be facing.  Because Jesus rose we can rise!  So the relevant question is, how do we rise.

First, We rise because of God’s greatness.  It takes a great God to rise from the grave and that’s exactly what our great God did!

We rise because we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us.  

We rise because no weapon formed against us shall prosper.  

We rise because greater is he that is me than he that is in the world.

We rise because of the greatness of God!  Why do you think that song was so powerful and popular.  Nobody greater, nobody greater, nobody greater than you.  And you do know that there is nobody greater than God. 

Not your mother or your father.  

Not your sister or your brother. 

There is nobody greater than God.  

Not President Trump!  

Not Barack Obama.  

Not Lebron James.  

Not Steph Curry.  

Not Carson Wentz.  

Not Oprah Winfrey.  

Not Superman.  

Not Batman or Spider-Man. 

Not Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny!  

Nobody is greater than God.  We rise because of God’s greatness.

Secondly, We rise because of God’s grace.  Grace is defined as God’s unmerited favor.  In other words, we receive favor we do not deserve.  

That is why the grace of God is so amazing.  

That is why the grace of God looks beyond our faults and sees our needs.  

That is why the grace of God is sufficient enough to keep us.  

Is anyone in the room grateful for God’s grace.  

Because you know that it was nothing that you did that saved you.

It was nothing that you did that brought you out.

It was nothing that you did to bless you.

It was nothing you did to deserve it.

There is nothing we could do to deserve it.

We rise because of God’s Grace.

Lastly, We rise because of God’s glory.  And here is the crazy thing, we don’t even rise for ourselves.  We rise to give God glory.   We don’t rise to glorify ourselves, we rise to o glorify God.

So you came out of the storm, give God the glory

You’ve fallen but you got back up, give God the glory

You graduated from college

You got the job

You got the raise

You overcame depression 

You survived the abuse

You walked away from the accident

You came out of the chemo

You survived the scandal, give God the glory.

We rise because of God’s glory!

That’s great Pastor Brian we rise because of God’s greatness, grace, and glory! 

So what do we do after we rise?  In other words, why do we rise?

First, We rise to live.  Jesus rose to live again just like he said that he would. And he rose with all power in his hands.  So we rise so that we may live.    Let me pause for a moment and say that we don’t rise to live the way we lived before we rose.  That is what’s so significant about baptism, water baptism represents an outward expression of an inward experience.  We go in the water as a symbol of Jesus’ death and burial and we come out of the water as a symbol of his resurrection.  In other words we cannot rise and do the things we did before.

We don’t rise to talk about people

We don’t rise to lie, cheat, and steal

We don’t rise to doubt God

We don’t rise to dishonor our leaders

We don’t rise to disrespect those in authority 

We rise to live.  We rise to live the life that God has called us to live.  And he called us to live a life of abundance.  Not abundance in the things of this world, but abundance in the things of God.  We rise to live!  Does anybody want to live this morning.

You shall live and not die. 

Secondly, We rise to love.  Because we live and we live because of God and God is love we rise to love.  One of God’s greatest commandments is to love your neighbor as yourself.  Now this is extremely hard for some of us because we don’t love ourselves.  

So how can you love anyone else when you don’t love yourself.  

How can you care for anyone else when you don’t care about yourself.  

How can you take care of anyone else when you don’t take care of yourself.  

The devil is a liar!  

I rebuke the spirit of self doubt this morning.  

I rebuke the spirit of low self esteem this morning.  

I rebuke the spirit of self hate this morning.  

I rebuke the spirit of depression this morning. And I plead the blood of Jesus over anyone that does not love themselves this morning.  You are lovable and you deserve to be loved.  God so loved the world….  And he would have sent his son if it was just you. That’s how much God loves us.  And we must love one another the same way.  And not just with our words but with our actions.  We have to show people that we love them.   You can tell me you love me all you want, but until you show me that you love me I won’t truly know that you do!  We rise to love! 

We rise to live, we rise to love, and last but not least, We rise to lure. We rise to live so that we can rise to love and we rise to love so that we can rise to lure!  Don’t let this be another Easter Sunday that you use as an excuse to to get a new dress or a new suit to look good at church or online.  Let this be the Easter that you decide to be the woman or man of God that God has called you to be and begin to lure people to Christ.  A fishing lure is used to attract fish to the hook, so the fisher can real them in.  And God has called all of us to be fishers of men.  

So what are you going to do to lure people to Christ.  

What are you going to do to help save a dying world.

What are you going to do in the kingdom

What are you going to do in the church

What are you going to do at school

What are you going to do at work

What are you going to do in your neighborhood 

What are you going to do in your home to lure people to Christ 

Still we rise but what will we rise and do

You must rise to live

You must rise to love

You must rise to lure

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, 1928 – 2014

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

So no matter what you’re going through remember still I rise

The storms may come

The billows may roll

The haters will hate

And the rumors will fly

They may scandalize my name

They may knock me down 

I may fall down

I might mess up

But still I rise because of God’s greatness, because of God’s grace, and because of God’s glory.  

I rise to live 

I rise to love 

I rise to lure

Still I rise!

And at this very moment I rise to give God glory

I rise to give God praise

I rise to worship the God of my salvation 

I rise to lift up the name of Jesus 

Is it there anybody here that is glad about the whole thing 

Noah once asked me, why is it called Good Friday when Jesus was killed.  I explained to him that although Jesus died it was good for us because his blood saved us…

And early Sunday morning

Jesus rose from the grave

Just like he said he would 

Defeating death

With all power in his hands

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today…

And I just want to know…

Is there anybody here is that is excited about the fact 

That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow

And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord

If so, magnify the lord with me

Let us exalt his name together

Stand to your feet and put your ten stringed instruments together

Stand to your feet and give God praise

Give God praise for his greatness 

Give God praise for his grace

Give God praise for his glory

Give God praise because you rise to live

Give God praise because you rise to love

Give God praise because you rise to lure

Give God praise because Still you rise!

Somebody say still I rise!


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