What do you need? Your name, a touch…Jesus has it for You!

One of the most touching post-resurrection appearances of Jesus was when He appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden.  It is recounted in John 20:14-18.  She was at the tomb, had seen the angels and heard them say that Jesus was not there but risen.  However, she was so overcome with grief it had yet to truly register with her brain.    They (the angels) said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to john-20-16be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 

This scene touches me as it only took Jesus saying her name for her to recognize Him.  In John 10:27 Jesus told the disciples that the ones who know Him will recognize His voice and follow Him  ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”   Mary knew immediately that it was her Lord saying her name.  She was instantly comforted and wanted to touch Him.  He cautioned her not to touch him, but to go and tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord!  Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to Have-seen-Lord-daffodilmy Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Mary needed to have the Savior’s touch.  He touched her with His voice and He gave her the reassurance that all would be well.  Jesus confirmed He had indeed risen, was the Messiah and that  He was alive.  Jesus showed her that there is eternal Hope in Him!  She got all of those reassurances from Jesus saying her name!

Jesus what needWhat do you need Jesus to say to you today?  Do you need Him to call you by name, give you a word of encouragement, a word of guidance, or simply a word of Hope?  He can say and do it all- if you just ask Him.   Seek Him today and He will be found!    

  Linda 

IMG_0465
Today the garden tomb is a very peaceful spot in Jerusalem.

Amazed by the Empty Tomb, what about you?

IMG_0462The post resurrection appearances began at the empty tomb.  This fact occurs in each of the 4 gospels and 3 of the gospels include the appearance of a heavenly being interacting with the grieving followers of Jesus.   Since Jesus had been hastily buried due to the need to have him buried before sundown, as it was the beginning of the Sabbath and no one could be buried on the Sabbath, His body was not properly prepared with spices.  It was wrapped but not fully treated.  The women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb with spices intending to anoint Jesus’ body.  The gospel accounts say it was very early in the morning as they walked and talked on the way to the garden tomb.   They were concerned about how they were going to get the stone in front of the tomb removed so they could enter to anoint Jesus’ body.  When they arrived this was the scene:

garden tomb-JerusalemAnd looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”  Mark 16:4-8

The angel, who appeared to be a young man, told them not to be afraid as he had good news about Jesus.  He encouraged them to look and see that Jesus was not there.  He also told them to go and tell the others Jesus had risen and they would see Him again.  The women rushed off to tell the disciples.  John describes their reactions in John 20:3-8. “So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;”

Can you even imagine their joy, surprise, awe, fear or confusion over experiencing the empty tomb, the angel, the clothes that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body that lay neatly folded?  The disciples saw and believed.  How about you?  Do you see the things God does in your life, the unusual happenings, the providential circumstances that can only be explained as God’s hand?  Do these things register with you that God loves and cares for you?  God has a plan for your life just as He did for these disciples. He wanted them to encounter the living God, the resurrected Jesus, and experience His transforming power in their lives.

he-has-risenMay you encounter the Living Jesus and His transforming power today.

Linda

Jesus brought Peace to them and does Now to us!

Jesus appeared to the disciples and others to show them living proof that He was alive.  He did not appear just once but multiple times between His resurrection and Pentecost when He returned to heaven.  Over the period of 40 days He met in various places to reassure them He was alive, had returned from the dead and that their faith in Him was real and true.   On Resurrection Sunday He met the women in the garden, and the two men walking on the Road to Emmaus.  In today’s passage, Jesus appeared to those disciples gathered in the Upper Room.

“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’  When he had said them he showed them his hands and feet.  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”   Luke 24:36-43

What was their immediate concern?  Is Jesus real or are we experiencing hallucinations?  What was Jesus immediate concern?  Jesus wanted them to have and be at peace.  He did not want them anxious or fearful but open and willing to welcome Him into their midst.   What is your reaction when confronted by Jesus?   Do you doubt who Jesus is and question His reaching out to you or do you welcome Him with peace?

Jesus reassured the disciples that He was a real living being just as He promised.  He proved it to them by calmly showing them His hands and feet- pierced at the cross, and eating food with them.   Matt 7 7

How does Jesus make himself known to you?  Does He come to you in prayer, in the helping hands of others or through His Word?   Jesus can and does reveal himself to us if we are open and willing.  In Matthew 7:7 Jesus tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”   Be a seeker today and know the joy of His presence.  Be amazed as you encounter the living Lord Jesus, just as the disciples did in the upper room.  Each encounter with Jesus brings new revelation and understanding of who He is!   Be open to Him and He will give you His peace.

Linda

upper-room
The disciples encountered Jesus in the upper room, where will you meet Him today?

Strategic Living has ARRIVED!

Strategic Living FRCov (1)For such a time as this, my new book Strategic Living is perfect.  We all wonder, while we’re at home sheltering in place because of the Covid-19,  what we can do to reach others and survive ourselves.  In my new book, Strategic Living I take a biblical look at godly character and seek to challenge the reader to reflect and take action.   Becoming more and more like Jesus is a process called sanctification and takes deliberate effort and intentionality.  This new devotional gives concrete examples and direction on how God can and does shape our lives and explores perhaps new and different ways God desires that we act.  The book can be used for individual devotions or for group study.  Questions for group discussion are included along with key memory verses.

Take up the challenge and get your copy today.   It is available in paperback or eBook formats.

My book is available at Certa Publishing  http://www.certabooks.com/strategicliving   

And on Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946466719?ref=myi_title_dphttps://www.amazon.com/dp/1946466719?ref=myi_title_dp

thank you,   Linda

Strategic Living BKCovAfter reading my book, I would appreciate you taking the time to review the book.  As reviews help to spread the word.

God sighted on the Road to Emmaus, did you see Him?

IMG_0693
Friends walking towards Emmaus.

One of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is the encounter of the two on the Road to Emmaus.  Overcome with grief over Jesus’ death and disbelief over what the women said about seeing Him alive,  these two followers of Christ were walking along the Emmaus Road discussing all these things.  Jesus joined them on their journey without disclosing his identity.  As they walked they were surprised that this man did not know about all the events that had just occurred in Jerusalem.  They shared their hope that Jesus, the one crucified,  had been the long awaited Messiah.   Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

IMG_0692Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there and listened to Jesus explain all about Himself?  A little later in the story when they were sitting down to eat, Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread and began to give it to them.  Right then, their eyes were opened  and they recognized Jesus.  He then disappeared from their presence.  Even though it was late they quickly returned to Jerusalem to tell the disciples about their encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.

Jesus came to these two when they were in grief, despair and confusion, and He cleared up their thinking, encouraged and enlivened them.  Can you remember a time when Jesus came to you in prayer or through the actions or words of another believer to give you hope and encouragement?  Jesus promises that He will be with us wherever we go.  Just like these two, we need to look and recognize His presence with us and the hope that He brings.

Thank you JesusI pray that my Lenten Blogs have brought you hope and encouragement these past 6 weeks.  I have been mightily blessed by being with you and in the scriptures each day.  I am still pondering the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice and all the truths I have gleaned from the book of Ephesians.   I will continue writing on the post-resurrection appearances leading to Pentecost (40 days after the cross).  Christ appeared many times, before His ascension, to many individuals and groups.   They are affirming and touching encounters that teach us more about the depth of His love and care for us.

Be on the lookout for God sightings this week.  Be assured He is with you!

Linda

Signed, Sealed and Delivered- 1st Century Style

Ephesians 6 21 conclusionMy plan to blog through the entire book of Ephesians during Lent was off by only 1 day.  Here are the concluding verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

21 “To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.

23 Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. 24 May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 6:21-24

What did Paul send to his friends that lived in Ephesus?   He sent an actual person to deliver the letter.  Besides the written words of Paul, they would have Tychicus to talk to about Paul, so they could personally find out how he was doing physically, the conditions he was living under, how his ministry was going, etc.  All of this Paul knew would be an encouragement to his friends.  Then he ends with a final blessing to all who read this letter-  peace, love filled with faithfulness and eternal grace (God’s undeserved favor) upon all who believe and follow Jesus.  Each of us can receive Paul’s blessing and know that he meant the peace, love, and grace to be ours in Jesus, too.

ephesians 6 24Paul’s letter started with praise and thanksgiving for the faith of the Ephesian  believers and ended with his desire that they continue to walk in faith filled with Jesus’ love and peace for themselves and towards others.  Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be blessed by His peace, love and eternal grace and I can share these blessings with others in His name.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda

Resurrection Sunday!! Happy Easter!

Easter2020During our entire Lenten journey, we have pondered the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross.  Now we need to come to the realization that without the resurrection His death would have been meaningless,  and we would be still lost in sin!  In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 “12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 1And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”

Paul made this argument to clarify for the unbelievers and doubters that resurrection was essential to their faith otherwise they would still have all their sins and be under penalty of death.  Romans 6:23  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Belief in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and His victorious resurrection were essential to the Ephesian believer’s faith and are for us as well.  Without the resurrection there is no forgiveness and victory over death! All of Christ’s suffering here on earth would have been for nothing.  I know that God is sovereign, all powerful and omniscient and nothing is left to chance or done randomly.  Jesus prayed in John 17:3-4 just before His death, And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”   We know God’s plans will be accomplished, His Word, Jesus would not return to Him void. Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”   Job 42:2 also reminds us of this truth, ““I know that you can do all things,  and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”   Praise God His purpose was not thwarted and was accomplished completely by Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead.  Praise God, our Redeemer Lives!

1 corinthians 15 4Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, Your faith is real, your sins are forgiven, you will spend eternity with Jesus, you are empowered and indwelt by His Holy Spirit!  Praise God!

Happy Easter!  Blessings because of our risen Redeemer, Christ Jesus.

Linda

Do you speak boldly? Maybe you are under prayed?

Ephesian 6:19 -20 is a plea from Paul for prayer support from the Ephesian believers.  He desires them to use their privilege of intercession to lift him up before God. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.”    In the previous verse (18) he had extorted the believers to use their weapon of prayer to intercede for each other in regard to their  faith, character, etc. and on all occasions.  He is asking that the believers support his ministry and give him the courage to speak boldly,  especially since he was in prison.  I find it encouraging that Paul, one of the most eloquent writers and speakers for Jesus of all time, knew he needed the power pray could bring to his ministry.  He needed the right words for bold speech and explanation of the gospel message.  Like Paul, we should never take for granted that we ‘know ‘ it all and can explain all the essential doctrines of the faith.   We are nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit and Paul knew that.   We need to take a lesson from the Apostle Paul and seek prayer support for our ministries.  Bathe them in prayer before you go out, while speaking, and after wards.  Pray, pray, pray!   

ephesians 6 19Who do you know that is in the need of prayer for their ministry of service?   Sunday School teachers need it, Pastors need it, Worship leaders need it, Church leaders need it, …..  we all stand in the need of prayer to be able to go out and give out the message of hope in Jesus to a hurting world.    For my first book, Fearless Living, I claimed Isaiah 55:11 “so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire  and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”   God promises that giving out His Word will not return isaiah_55_11empty but will accomplish His purposes.  A great promise to claim!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be confident that God will hear my prayers and that giving out His Word will accomplish His purposes.

Linda

 

 

Prayer, Are you using it as a Weapon in Life’s Battles?

Paul has described the armor of God in terms of those pieces worn by Roman soldiers of the time.  The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit.   All of these are physical weapons in our arsenal for fighting our earthly battles of seen and unseen forces that are against us because of our faith.  They are to be worn in all circumstances so that we are never without protection from God and His Holy Spirit.  The last piece of armor Paul lists is a non-physical weapon that we are to use constantly, prayer.   Ephesians 6:18 describes this weapon,  ” And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

ephesians 6 18Prayers are to be constantly on our lips for other believers.  It is a weapon that is to be used at all times for all occasions.  Paul exhorts us to stay vigilant for attacks upon our faith, trials that test our resolve or ideas that cause us to doubt.  Being alert keeps you or other believers from being taken by surprise by the things of the world that would cause you to stumble.  What kinds of prayers should we be offering for other believers?  Faith that is growing and maturing seeks to be more and more like Jesus so anything that would strengthen the walk, character, resolve, purity, thankfulness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, hope, salvation, purity, pursuit of righteousness….  the list is endless.  All these things we are told in scripture are desirous for the believer.   Here are a few examples:

Leviticus 19:2 “‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”   We can pray for our own holiness and purity as well as all other believers.

Psalm 25:9  “He guides the humble in what is right  and teaches them his way.”  We can pray for humility in ourselves and others and commitment to walking with Jesus daily.

Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”      Pray for each other’s daily walk, grounding in scripture, strength of faith and a life showing great thankfulness.

Galatians 5:22-23 “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”   We can pray for the fruits of the Spirit to be evident and developing in our life and other believers.

Pope-Francis-Quote-Let-us-always-pray-for-one-anotherBecause Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have the privilege of lifting myself and others up in prayer as we face life’s battles.   Take this privilege seriously and make it a habit to pray for yourself and others so that all would be strong in faith and rooted and grounded in Christ.  Satan desires that we stumble and falter as he wants to destroy our witness for Christ.  Jesus reminded the disciples before His death,  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  Pray that we will all be over-comers and live victoriously in Him.

Linda

Holy Week- Jesus’ Friday was incredibly grueling.  He was tried in various courts in the night and early morning, beaten, brought before Pilate and condemned to be crucified.  He was brought to the cross and crucified then buried in a new borrowed tomb.  “Good Friday”  was good for us but physically hard, painful and demanding all from our savior.   Matthew 26:47-27:66, Mark 14:4-15:47,  Luke 22:47-23:56 and John 18:2-19:32. 

Are you using your Sword effectively? Take a lesson from Jesus.

Ephesians 6:17 lists two weapons – the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.  As Paul reminded us in verse 16 these weapons are to be ready in all circumstances.  The helmet of salvation is an offensive weapon like the breastplate of Ephesians 6-17 Swordrighteousness, shoes of the gospel and the belt of truth.  However, the sword of the Spirit is our only physical weapon that can be used both offensively and defensively.   “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,”   

The Sword of the Spirit or the Word of God is a weapon for close combat one to one or for group warfare.  The Word of God includes the physical words in the Bible, the message of the Word, their intended meaning and the actual saying of the words out loud.  Jesus gave us a perfect example of the use of God’s Word in combat when He was confronted by Satan in the wilderness.  Jesus did not try to reason with Satan or argue with him.  He simply used God’s Word and its truth to thwart him.  He answered his questions with the Word of truth. (See Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13 for the account of Satan confronting Jesus in the wilderness.)

We can take a lesson in how to use the Sword of Spirit from Jesus.  We need to learn to use God’s Word when we are confronted with indecision, confusion, difficult circumstances, temptations, fears, etc.  The reason Jesus was able to use God’s Word to rebuff Satan was because He knew the Word of God.  That should lead us to the conclusion that we need to hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we will be ready.  Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Memorizing scripture has eternal value as once you put it into your mind, the Holy Spirit will use it to shape and mold your mind so that you will be stronger in faith, less led into sin and confidently face situations.    We also need to study and immerse ourselves in God’s Word to know more about who God is and what He has for us. Jeremiah 29:11 reveals God’s heart towards us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Studying God’s Word is essential for growth towards maturity as a believer.

Hebrews 4:12 describes God’s Word  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  hebrews 4 12God’s Word is active and alive, remember saying or using the words of God has power to effect lives for Him.  God’s Word helps us to discern God’s truth and discover our hearts intentions.  God’s Word has power and should be treated with reverence as it is God’s defensive gift to us for use in our struggles here on earth.  Know it, use it  and be transformed by it!  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead I have access to the living Word of God that can and will defeat the enemy.

Wield your sword in battle today.  Have God’s power in your hand and on your lips.

Linda

Holy Week- Thursday was the day of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples.  He spent considerable time comforting them and praying for them.  They went to Gethsemane where Jesus prayed,  arrested and led off to trials throughout the night.  Matthew 26:17-46, Mark 14: 12-42, Luke 22:7-46, John 14:1-16:33