Love is the answer… live it! Like Jesus.

Troubled times can lead to fear, confusion, despair, alienation from God (self-imposed) and violence when they are not met face to face by Jesus.  When clinging and looking to Jesus, one can see hope, resources, direction, a drawing nearer to Him, and peace.   I have gathered a few quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that are pertinent to our times- I pray they will help direct you towards peace and hope.  He possessed it and lived it during his lifetime and now is in eternity with His Lord and Savior.

Dr King quote 1     When we see injustice, we need to speak out.

Dr King quote 3  Jesus teaches us to love one another.  Unbelievers will know we are Christians because of the love for one another.

We cannot hide our heads in the sand and say – OH, racism will get better on its own- no we have to stand and confront it each time it appears in our midst.  We cannot ignore it like those who persecuted the Jews during WWII.   Racism in any form is deadly.

Dr King quote 5

As I pray for peace in our land, I am convinced that faith and love are the only answers to this problem and all its consequences.  Hatred is evil and leads to more hatred.  Christ spoke of love not hate and He confronted many who hated Him but never resorted to violent actions or words.

Here are a few verses to meditate upon today:

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Ephesians 4:1-2 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,”

1 John 4: 7,11-12 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”  11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

God is love and desires that we love one another.  Let us walk in His love and purposefully show it to whoever we encounter.  Be His love in this world today.

Linda

Questions … can you answer them about Pentecost??

Who was there?  Scripture tells us in Acts chapters 1 and 2 that the disciples and many other Jews from every nation were gathered together.

untitled (2)What?  The arrival of the promised power from heaven that would empower them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

When?  Pentecost was 50 days after the Passover.  It was called the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament. It was 10 days after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven.

Where?  Jesus told them to go and wait for the helper that would come.  They returned to Jerusalem after Jesus’ Ascension just as He commanded.

41c6fe8801d24ef215fba3f9fc1c28b5Acts 2:2-4 describes to us vividly the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”    Peter stood and preached to the gathered crowd and told them that this outpouring from heaven was from God.  He quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel in Acts 2:17 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”   The arrival of the Holy Spirit was dramatic- tongues of fire- and noisy- as a strong wind and filled with many languages.  It was a surprise arrival yet it had been expected.  Jesus told them to go and wait, so they knew someone was coming.  In John 15:15-17, 25-26,  Jesus had promised them the Holy Spirit would come.  “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth.   And all this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”   Also in Luke 24:48-49 Jesus told them of the coming power and place,  “You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 

Why was this necessary?  When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit came to dwell within me.  This Spirit that arrived on tongues of fire and with a great sound lives within me.  He empowers me to live a godly life and to speak to others about Jesus and His salvation.  1 John 4:4 puts it this way, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is great than the one who is in the world.”      Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. ”     2 Corinthians 1:21-22  “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”    

How do you answer your own 5 W’s about the Holy Spirit?  Who is the Holy Spirit to you?  What are you allowing God to do with this Holy Spirit that lives within you?  Where are you walking in obedience and listening to His Word?  When are you  stepping out in faith to tell others about Jesus?    Why is the Holy Spirit necessary in your life?  Jesus wanted the disciples, and us too, to use the power the Father sent to do the work of telling others and living for Him.  Will you begin today by allowing God’s Holy Spirit living within you to lead you to live for Him in a mighty way that will bring Him honor and glory?

Praising Him this Pentecost Sunday,

Linda

Readying yourself for Pentecost, remember the Ascension

40 days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven.  His ascension is recorded in Mark, Luke and the book of Acts.  It took place on a mountain top in the vicinity of Bethany according to Luke 24:50-51 “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”  Mark also adds in Jesus’ destination after His ascension, Mark 16:19 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”   In the  book of Acts, Luke, the author, gives us a more complete picture of this event.  Acts 1:9-11 “And after ascensionHe said these things, He was caught up as they looked on, and a cloud took Him up out of their sight. 10 While they were looking intently into the sky as He was going, two men in white clothing suddenly stood beside them, 11 who said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will return in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

The disciples who were focused on where Jesus went and  the angels assured them that Jesus will return in the same way He left.   Jesus had lovingly told them that He would send a helper to guide and empower them in His absence.  Acts 1:7-8 “He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”  Jesus wanted His followers to be about telling others of the kingdom and the good news of the salvation and forgiveness available to each one though Jesus.   The promised Holy Spirit would come upon them in just 10 days at Pentecost and then the truth of Christ and His work would revolutionize the world!  

Christs returnAre you anticipating the return of Christ?  Be encouraged with these words from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 

apologetics-1-peter-3-15-28354Are you telling others about your Savior as you wait?  Be encouraged by Peter’s words: 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”   Be ready to tell others of your HOPE in Jesus!

Linda

Their Sacrifices are right and just on our behalf …. Semper Fi (Always faithful)

Memorial-Day-1For this holiday- Memorial Day- the greeting, “Happy Memorial Day” just does not express the appropriate sentiment.  Memorial Day is a day to remember the sacrifice of soldiers who have died in war.  It began after the Civil war and was originally called ‘Decoration Day’.  It was later extended to honor all fallen soldiers in any war.  Jesus told us in John 15:13  “Greater love has no one than his, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Anyone who joins the military knows they might be called to go to war and fight.  Believing in life, freedom and the independent pursuit of happiness is declared in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights and gives motivation and heart to their call to defend our nation.  It is an honorable calling that is worthy of our acknowledgement and remembrance.  Proverbs 10:7The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
 but the name of the wicked will rot.” 
  Who will you remember today that has answered the call and given their life for their friends?  You and I need to consider ourselves their friends and it is our obligation to their sacrifice that we remember them.  Scripture teaches that remembering will be and is a blessing to us.  Remember both the living and the dead, as both made or are making sacrifices on our behalf.

Will you attend a parade, a breakfast, have a time of prayer, watch a war movie?   Any of these things can be a cause to remember those that have fallen and give thanks for their sacrifice for you and for me.  Have a blessed Memorial Day!  I think that would be the proper greeting and I send it to you!

Linda

Arlington Cemetary
Arlington National Cemetery

Prayer:  Thank you Lord, for those brave men and women who have given their all- their lives- so that I can enjoy the freedoms our country provides.  Help me to be honoring to their memory and sacrifice knowing they laid their lives down for me, someone they did not even know.  Give me an attitude of thankfulness for those Veteran’s that are still living and help me to honor them.  Lord, give our leaders wisdom and a sense of unity in working to preserve that for  which so many have died.  Amen.

“But What about him?”….

The post-resurrection appearances continue………Peter was distressed that Jesus questioned him 3 times, obviously he forgot he denied Christ 3 times.  Here at the Sea of Galilee Jesus insisted the answer was “Follow me!”

John 21:17-19 “He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”   Peter was upset at the Lord’s insistent questioning of his love,  and Jesus replied with a prophecy about Peter’s life and death to come,  and how he would bring glory to God.  What Jesus required of Peter was obedience- ‘follow me’!

Peter then asked about John and received this rebuke from Jesus in verses 21-22. “When Peter saw him (John), he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”   Jesus wanted Peter’s focus to be on Him not on the future and what would happen to others.  As Jesus said, He would take care of John,  but Peter needed to focus on following Him.

John 21 22Let us take encouragement from this scene for today.   Just like Peter, we need to focus our lives on following Jesus, being obedience to His Word and walking with Him daily.  We do not need to ‘worry’ about others or question Jesus about their work and walk.  We have enough to do to keep our own focus on Jesus.   This does not mean we are not concerned about others,  but Peter was just being nosy here and wanted to know what would happen to John in the future- is his life going to be better than mine?  Since the Lord’s answer was always “Follow me”, that is what is crucial in our life too.  Obedience to Jesus is what He desires.  We are to keep our focus on Jesus and not compare our circumstances to others.  Later Peter so beautifully 1 peter 1 22wrote in 1 Peter 1:22-23 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” 

Let us take seriously our walk with Jesus and His command ‘Follow me!” May we let the distractions of the world fall away as we walk forward in obedience with our Savior.

Linda

Feed my sheep, How can you do this too?

The beach scene continues in John 21:15-17 as the disciples haul in a great catch at Jesus’ direction.  They recognize Him as their crucified Lord and join him for breakfast.

john 21 15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. ”  John 21:15-17

Jesus had previously encountered Peter where I’m sure they dealt with Peter’s great guilt over his denial.  (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5)  Scholars put this first appearance to Peter on Resurrection Sunday where this encounter in Galilee is later.  Here it would seem Jesus is making a point of asking Peter about his proclaimed love for Him.  He asks 3 times, mirroring Peter’s denials.  Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him and if he does, then Peter is to show his love for His sheep.  He is to feed or tend to His sheep.  Throughout the gospels sheep have been synonymous with followers and my sheep specifically believers in Jesus.   John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Jesus is the good shepherd who died for all believers.  John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,”  and John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”   Jesus is asking Peter to demonstrate his love for Him by leading, tending, loving, caring for, guiding, protecting…. those who are believers in Jesus.  He is saying ‘be a good shepherd’ to the flock of believers that come into your life.

Isn’t that what Jesus wants for us too?  As believers, like Peter, we are to look out for others, lead them towards Jesus, care for them, show them kindness and give that ‘cup of cold water’ in His name.  Knowing Jesus, requires us to take up this ‘job’ and love others.  We do it not because we have to but because we love Jesus.  James tells us faith without works is dead (James 2:26 ) and loving and showing Jesus to others is our compelling jesus loves youwork for Him.  We do it not out of obligation or for future reward but out of love for our Savior.  Who will you show love to today?  Who will you ‘feed or tend’ in Jesus’ name?

Linda

Breakfast on the beach… with Jesus

IMG_0072
Sea of Galilee at sunrise

One of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is in John 21.  This passage will bring a smile to your face and assurance of the Savior’s love,  as you picture the scene beside the Sea of Galilee.

Several of the disciples had gathered by the Sea of Galilee, Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John and 2 other disciples (John 21:1-2) and Jesus appeared to them.

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with. you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”  “No,” they answered.  He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find

IMG_0069
Typical fishing boat

some.”  When they did they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.  Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him(for the had taken it off) and jumped into the water.  The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about 100 yards.  When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.  Jesus said to “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.  John 21:3-14

I love this tender story of Jesus’ compassion for the tired discouraged fishermen who were his friends.  Here are a few Lessons and Truths we can know from this passage.  What Jesus did for them that morning, He can do for us too:   1.  Jesus knows how things are going in my life, my disappointments and my joys.   2.  As believer,  Jesus considers me His friend.   3.  Jesus can guide and provide for my needs.    4.  If I look,  Jesus will reveal himself to me;  He is always near.     5.  Jesus can and does make himself known to me.   I need to be aware and watchful.   6.  Jesus desires to fellowship with me.

John 20 10Which of these lessons and truths speak to you today?   James 4:8 tell us,  “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”   Meet Him today wherever you are, He will be there waiting for you just like He was for the disciples that morning by the sea.

Linda

Are you a Doubter? Joint Thomas-seeing and believing anew!

The disciples had gathered on Resurrection Sunday evening and Jesus appeared to them coming in even though the doors were shut.  Thomas had not been with them that evening and they eagerly told him all that had happened.   This was his response from john-20-25-ampJohn 20:24-25.  Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”  This is the passage that earned him the nickname of doubting Thomas.  He was emphatic that unless he saw the evidences of Jesus death marks himself he would not believe it to be Jesus. Do you know people that are doubters too?  Do they reject any evidence that Jesus is the Son of God in scripture purely because they can not see Him for themselves?  I’m sure the disciples were totally convinced as to what they had seen but saddened that Thomas would not share in the joy of Christ being alive.

A week passed and they were all gathered again in the upper room and Jesus appeared. ThomasJohn 20:26-29 continues the story,  Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.  Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus knew what Thomas needed and came right to him.  Thomas was amazed and proclaimed Jesus his God.  To him, seeing was john 20 29believing.  He needed a personal encounter with the living Jesus!   Jesus added this next verse for Thomas, the disciples and all of us.   29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”    

Faith is a gift from God and we who believe in Jesus are blessed with the knowledge of Him as our Savior.  However, each one of us who believes encountered the living Christ and came to know Him in a personal, vibrant and  living way.   Even though we do not physically see Him,  we can and do know within our being that Jesus is Alive!  The Holy Spirit indwells us when we believe in Jesus and testifies to us about Him.  Jesus had promised this in John 15:26 ““But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”  Later Paul, explains in Ephesians ephesians 1 13-141:13-14 how the Holy Spirit works within us, In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Praise God we too can know Him and experience Him in our lives.  We are blessed – Just as Jesus said we would be through our faith in Him!   Have a blessed day as you ponder the wonder of Jesus being alive in your life!

Linda

Assurance and Purpose come from the Risen Jesus – Do you feel it?

Jesus was actively reassuring his followers on Resurrection Sunday.   He appeared to the two men on the Road to Emmaus,  to the women in the garden and Mary,  to Peter and to a gathering of disciples in a closed room.   John records this appearance in John 20:19-22.  I like the Amplified translation as it makes Peacewhat happened clearer. 19 So when it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week, though the disciples were [meeting] behind barred doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side.”  The fact that Jesus appeared to them without opening the door tells us He was a spirit.   Yet, he showed them His hands and side that had been pierced at the cross which tells us He was physically real.  Only Jesus could be both in His resurrection body.  He begins with the common Hebrew greeting- ‘Peace to you’.  This shows Jesus’ love and sensitivity as perhaps they would have expected a harsh word from Jesus for abandoning Him after His arrest.  They received peace and warmth from their Savior not rebuke or criticism.  When the john 20 19disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” 22 And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Their response to Jesus was pure joy!  Then He sent greetings of peace to them and gave them orders to tell others.   He was sending them with power from His Holy Spirit to go and be His representatives, telling others of His death, resurrection, salvation and forgiveness of sins.  Jesus breathed on them power that would sustain them until the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days later at Pentecost.

romans 10 17What is your response to the risen Savior?  I’m sure the disciples had various reactions like joy that He was alive, curiosity about His wounds, questions about their purpose in life now that He is no longer teaching them day to day?  Jesus answered their questions, shared in their joy and gave them purpose.  It is the same purpose Jesus has for us- tell others the good news of the gospel.  He desires that everyone hear how He saves us from eternal punishment for our sins and forgives us.  Paul reminds us in Romans 10:17   “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Jesus sent them, and us too, into the world tell otherswhere we live to tell others the good news of Christ.  We have to speak out and speak up for Jesus.

Who will you joyfully tell today?

Linda

Jesus is personal, Let Him hear your declaration of Faith today!

Several of the post-resurrection appearances were to specific individuals instead of groups.  I previously wrote about Jesus’ encounter with Mary,  but today I want to look at Jesus’ appearances to Peter and James.  The appearance to Peter is mentioned in Peter appearancepassing in Luke 24:34 “saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”  and in 1 Corinthians 15:5 by Paul “and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve”.   The Luke message was delivered to the disciples by the two men who Jesus met on the Road to Emmaus.  Here the men referred to Peter as Simon using his former name.   Jesus also referred to Peter by his former name when He told him he would deny Him three time before the rooster crowed. The prediction of the denial is recorded in both Matthew 26 and Mark 14.  The actual denial event is recorded in all 4 gospels, Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18.   Peter was not acting with his new believing nature, clinging to the rock of faith which is Jesus, but with the old, impetuous, doubting nature of unbelieving Simon. This personal appearance to Peter shows great compassion from our Lord to singularly appear to Peter to forgive and restore him.  Jesus would have known the anguish and guilt Peter was feeling after his denial of Jesus the night before the Crucifixion.  The forgiven Peter went onward, never doubting nor denying his Lord and Savior again.  Later, Jesus met a group of disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and spoke more with Peter and his future work in the kingdom.  See John 21.   Jesus personally knows what we need and seeks to be there for each one of us.   What a wonderful, compassionate and loving Savior we serve.

The other post-resurrection appearance that was mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 was to James.  Scholars believe this was James, the half-brother of Jesus, and not one of James-the-brother-of-Jesusthe other followers named James.  His brother did not believe in Christ before the resurrection, but afterward became a prominent member of the church in Jerusalem, wrote the book of James and died a martyr’s death in 62 A.D.  “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”  1 Corinthians 15:7.   This appearance speaks to me of Jesus’ compassion and love for his earthly family and for those who are lost.  2 Peter 3:9  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.   He knew James needed to see Him personally to be confronted with his unbelief.  Jesus does that for each one of us as we seek to come to faith and trust in Him.  He is a personal God that loves and cares for each of us.

Jesus personal GodIs Jesus personal to you today?  Do you claim Him as your God and Savior?  David did in 2 Samuel 22:3 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation,”  Mary did in Luke 1:47 “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”   and Thomas did in John 20:28 “ Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”    Let Him hear your words of declaration today as you thank Him for being your God and Savior.

Linda