Jesus is Personal, He Knows You like No Other!

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 passing 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 is there for each one of us.   What a wonderful, compassionate and loving Savior we serve.

James-the-brother-of-Jesus

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 the 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 God

Is 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

An Empty Tomb, where is He? Look!! He has Risen Indeed!

The 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-Jerusalem

And 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 the disciples’ 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 and even confusion over experiencing the empty tomb, 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-risen

May you encounter the Living Jesus and His transforming power today as you realize afresh that the tomb is empty and He has Risen Indeed!

Linda

Resurrection Sunday, A True Eternal Blessing!

During our entire Lenten journey, we have pondered the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross and the actions Jesus wants us to ‘put on’ so we can shine His light and love on others.  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 Paul writes,”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. 17 And 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 belief in the resurrection was essential to 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 Corinthian believer’s faith and are for us as well.  Without the resurrection there is no forgiveness of sins and no 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 4

Because 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

Holy Week, Saturday, All is quiet!

Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb by his friend Joseph of Arimathea.  Scripture gives us some hints as to what Jesus was doing between the time of his burial and resurrection.  There is a lot of debate by scholars on the subject, but it is agreed that Jesus was in Hades preaching and teaching.  Ephesians 4:8-10 speaks of Jesus descending and leading captives as he ascended into heaven.  1 Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus preaching to spirits in prison. We can be assured that he was not in the tomb waiting around but doing God’s Work.

Why is scripture basically silent on this period of time?  Probably because it is of little importance to us as believers.  The gospel essence is the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  His power over death is so miraculous and life giving that our focus needs to be on His victory and our resulting redemption.  We also know that Jesus was always about His Father’s business.  “Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I , too, am working.”  John 5:17  God always has a purpose and a plan, and Jesus was always doing the Father’s work.  So on this silent day we can ask ourselves, Am I doing what God wants me to do?  Am I using the time God has given me to pray, study, witness and do good things for others?  Quietly think about God today as you prepare for Resurrection Sunday.   Know for sure the truth of Isaiah’s ancient words:    How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”   Isaiah 52:7

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can wait upon Him with assurance and hope knowing my future is secure and all His plans are for my good and His glory!

Blessings as we await His resurrection,

Linda

Holy Week, Tuesday, A Full Day of Teaching!

Bible scholars attribute many happenings to the Tuesday of Holy Week.  Jesus was questioned by the religious leaders as to by what authority was He speaking and performing miracles.  Jesus cleverly trapped them with their own questions, and they left him alone. (Matthew 21:23-27)  After that confrontation, Jesus proceeded to teach in parables about the tenants who killed the messengers sent by the master, then about the wedding banquet where those invited refused to come and strangers were welcomed in their place instead.  Both of these pointed to the treatment of Jesus, God’s Son, by the religious leaders and Jews of His day.  Jesus also taught about taxes and where we owe our allegiance.  He spoke about marriage in heaven and who He really was. (Matthew 21:28-23:39)  

Later in the evening, Jesus ate at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. There Mary anointed Jesus with pure nard, a very expensive perfume, and the disciples were upset at her for using this costly perfume on Jesus. (Matthew 26:6-12)  From morning until night, Jesus used every minute to instruct and build up the faith of His followers as He knew His time was short.

During this day, one of Jesus’ most important teachings was revealed when the Jewish leaders asked Jesus what was the most important commandment in the Law?  Jesus replied: 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39

This statement about the right priorities for our lives is so simply stated, and yet is so difficult to live out on a daily basis.  Putting God first in our lives will keep everything else in balance and then loving others with as much love as we love ourselves comes next.  Do you love yourself? Do you take care with what you put into your body, soul and mind? Jesus tells us that He expects us to love and respect ourselves. Out of our love for God will flow love for ourselves and those around us.  Think about your priorities today and the fact that Jesus spent time His last week on earth telling us how to align our lives in the most productive way for ourselves and others.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have His Holy Spirit’s indwelling power that enables me to keep my priorities in line with Him. Putting God first, honoring yourself and loving others is God’s way. Thankfully, He is able and will see the faith He has started in us to completion as promised in Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” He also promised help in Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Praise God! He wants us to love and cling to Him and to show His love to others. He will enable us to do so in His time and His way.

Linda

Wholeness Through Jesus

Our scripture today speaks of the death on the cross that put our sins to death and made us alive in Christ. Before Peter concludes with Christ’s suffering in verse 18, he reminds us that in Christ we will suffer for good. 1 Peter 3:15-18

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to GodHe was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

We are to expect suffering but Peter tells us to cherish Christ in our hearts and always be prepared to tell others about Him. As we speak gently to others about Christ, we need to persevere even if other speak ill of us. His admonition is that it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. We can console ourselves that Christ suffered, and He was without sin. He died for our sins so that we could be make righteous before God. In His death, he put to death sin and made us alive with the Holy Spirit within us. I love Romans 5:8 “ But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ knew I was a sinner and died for me anyway, so I could be reconciled to God. What an amazing Savior we have in Christ Jesus.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am purified and made righteous so that I can speak freely of His love and salvation! Thank you Jesus for loving me when I do not deserve it. Thank you Jesus for making me whole and purifying me so I can stand before God the Father covered in your righteousness. Thank you Jesus for you great love for me.

Linda

Holy Spirit’s Work, Cause for Rejoicing

Chapter 10 of Hebrews gives us a discussion of the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, once for all, like I wrote about yesterday from Hebrews 9:24-26. In Chapter 10:15-18, the author tells us about the Holy Spirit’s actions in accordance with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We are now under grace and once we accept Jesus as Savior and receive His forgiveness, the Holy Spirit enters into our lives and hearts. Here is His work within us:

 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,

16 “This is the new covenant I will make
    with my people on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.”

17 Then he says, “I will never again remember  their sins and lawless deeds.” 18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.”

These verses are cause for great rejoicing for every believer. The Holy Spirit has begun an new agreement with each believer to claim us as belonging to the Lord and to write on our hearts and in our minds the right way to live for Him. He promises to remember our sins no more! Amazing! He reminds us that faith in Jesus assures forgiveness of sin and there will be no need to offer any sacrifices like they did in Old Testament times. It is a new day with Jesus! I am reminded of Romans 12:1-2 where Paul calls us to live sacrificially for Jesus. It means giving our all to Him. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” We now have a higher calling to live and reflect the Holy Spirt that lives within us.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live forgiven and with God’s laws on my heart and in my mind as I seek to love and serve Him. Let God claim your heart and mind so that each day you can live filled by His Holy Spirit reflecting His love and goodness towards others.

Linda

Healed and Forgiven in Jesus!

Our ‘put away’ scripture today comes from Hebrews 9:24-26. The author of Hebrews is writing to Jews explaining how Christ’s coming and His sacrifice was different from the continual sacrifices the priests made at the temple and the sacrifice made once a year for the sins of the people taken into the holy of holies. Christ’s was better and only had to happen once for all time as He was/is the perfect complete and all sufficient sacrifice to atone for our sins and appease God’s wrath. The author also mentions that Christ took his complete sacrifice to heaven itself not into the temple made by man. He took his sacrifice to God himself to make complete atonement for our sins.

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 

If Christ’s sacrifice had not been complete, once for all time, he would have had to have come and died over and over again. He did not! He came and died once and put to death all sin and took all sin upon himself. 1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Praise God! Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live covered by His righteousness and healed by His love. Thank you Jesus!

Linda

A Hidden Gem Brings Hope and Assurance

Today’s ‘put on’ scripture is a bit of a surprise. When I read it I could not remember seeing this promise from God about the Holy Spirit here in 2 Corinthians. It is a gem, a hidden treasure to encourage and enlighten you and me!

2 Corinthians 1:20-25 is an infusion of hope and courage from the Apostle Paul.  For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

His first affirmation is that every promise is fulfilled, completed, and made right in Christ. What a blessing to know that everything God has planned will be completed by Christ in His time and in His way. We do not have to doubt. 1 Kings 8:56 puts it this way, “Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” God keeps His promises. Amen means ‘so be it’. That is another affirmation that God’s will is to be completed just as He said.

Paul continues to reassure us that God makes us able to stand firm in our faith in Christ. David stood firmly rooted in the Lord and said, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” in Psalm 19:14. May David’s words and conviction be ours as we stand firmly for Christ. Paul also reminds us that we are anointed by Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit. The seal He puts upon us shows He owns our hearts, we belong to Him and His Spirit living within is just a heavenly deposit to remind and empower us to live for the Lord. His Holy Spirt is our guarantee that all is Yes in Christ and we have an eternity settled with Him.

May these verse help you to ‘put on’ His love, claim His promises and step out in Spirit led faith today!

Linda

Armored Up!

As Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians, he pens some of the most famous ‘put on’ verses in the Bible. Ephesians 6:10-12 set the stage for the specifics that come later. He tells us to be ready by putting on God’s armor which will help us stand when things get hard, when we are under attack from the evil one, or when we feel weak and unfocused in our faith.

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Before telling us about the specific pieces of armor God provides for those who believe in Him, Paul gives his general reasons for putting it on. 1) From the beginning Paul reminds us that God’s armor works because it is given infused with His mighty power! 2) God’s armor will help us be strong in Him. 3) His armor will help us stand firmly rooted in faith against Satan’s attacks. 4)The forces coming against us are unseen, other worldly, not tangible so we need God’s special armor to be able to stand and fight victoriously.

God realizes that standing firmly against Satan and his minions will take His power within us. We cannot do it alone. He has designed special armor for believers to wear so that we can stand protected in His power. We need to know that God goes before us and also has our backs! “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;  your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 49:16 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 Both are precious promises God has given to us! So armor up, put it on, cling to it and stand upon His truth in the knowledge that He is with you! Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can stand firmly upheld and armored by Christ. Remember Christ wins!

Linda