Opportunities?? Thank you Jesus.

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”  Colossians 3:16-17 

colossians-3-17Having an attitude of gratitude is what Paul is talking about in Colossians.  He commends us to be filled with Christ and be used to bless each others lives with thankful hearts.  The ministry we have with each other is to be done with thankfulness because we are being representatives of Jesus to each other.  That is a staggering thought that God considers me to be Jesus’ representative when I talk with my neighbors, greet strangers, do my job at work and talk with my family day to day.  Our Jesus ‘face’ is not just for Sunday or when we desire to be like Him but all day every day.  Paul is teaching us that everything we say and do reflects on Jesus.  His final words in this passage are that we should thank God for all these opportunities.

Todayface the world with the Love of Jesus in your heart knowing that you represent Him before all that you meet.  Thank God for every person and opportunity that comes your way with an attitude of gratitude.  Now that is kingdom living at its best!

Have a blessed day filled with encounters for Jesus,

Linda

Are you in the crowd? Why did Jesus come to you?

There is one other post-resurrection appearance I want to think about as we wait for Pentecost.  Paul recounts to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 the appearances between Christ’s purposeful death and resurrection and His ascension back into heaven. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,(Christ died and rose again with purpose foretold in scripture)and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (Paul is referring to his encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus that happened sometime later.)

eyewitnessesHave you ever wondered about the large gathering of 500 that saw Jesus?  What was His purpose?  In each post-resurrection appearance, Jesus purposefully met with those who needed to see Him most- the grieving Mary, the doubting Thomas, the guilt ridden Peter and the unbelieving disciples.  What could have been His reason for appearing to 500?  Perhaps He wanted those who did not know Him as intimately as the disciples to experience His love and power first hand?  Perhaps He wanted to make known the reality that He was alive and they could carry on.  Perhaps He wanted to comfort, ignite, give hope, ….  Seeing Him again, knowing the reality of His death on the cross, knowing He had been buried and was alive for them to see must have been eyeopening, challenging, fearsome, awesome, unbelievable…..  One can only imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus.

Today as you think about this, try to picture yourself as one of the 500.  We have an advantage as we have His indwelling Holy Spirit within us to convict us and bear witness to our faith.  We do not need to see Him to believe.  Jesus addressed this issue in John 20:29 as He spoke to Thomas.  Jesus said to him, “Have you john 20 29 #2believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”   Faith is a blessing from God.   Thank Him today for your ability to believe even though you were not there with the 500. You can know that He loves, cares for you and is with you always.

Linda

Ascension Day- up He goes!

Acts-1-1-11-The-Ascension40 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 He 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!

Have a blessed Ascension Day, and may our prayer be, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus”.

Linda

Loving Jesus Requires Faith in Action

Today’s post-resurrection appearance is a continuation of the fishing scene I wrote about in Encountering Jesus brings on May 17, 2019.  When they (Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, John and James and  two other disciples) had followed Jesus’ instructions and cast their nets as He directed, they hauled in a great catch.  Jesus had a welcoming fire waiting on the beach and beckoned them to bring some fish for roasting.   They ate together and then Jesus spoke to Peter.

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 had an encounter with 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, like his 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 love Jesuswork 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

It was given in a word, her name.

One of the most touching post-resurrection appearances of Jesus was when He appeared to Mary 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 john 20 18my 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.  He confirmed he was risen, was the Messiah and that  He was alive.  He showed her that there was eternal Hope in Him!  She got all of that from Jesus saying her name.  What 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 and He will be found, today!    

  Linda 

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

What’s your fragrance like?

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have the aroma of Christ about me. Paul wanted the Ephesians, and us too, to think about the effect we have on others when we are around them. You can tell if someone bathes regularly, uses special soap or shampoo or is wearing a fragrance, but you can also smell one who does not bathe regularly, who ate garlic or onions recently or who is wearing an offensive fragrance. Paul says we have the ‘smell’ of Christ. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16a This is a sobering thought that to other believers or those who are open to Christ we the aroma of Christ. This aroma is pleasing to God and reminds them of life and brings knowledge of Christ to them. However, to the unbeliever the aroma of Christ and His presence in our life through His indwelling Holy Spirit smells of death, condemnation and judgement.

Today as we consider our presence in the lives of others, let us ask ourselves, Do I have the aroma of Christ about me? Can others smell His presence in my life? How strong or weak is my fragrance? If you think you are only fragrant enough for God to smell you, spend some time in His Word or in prayer or with other Christians or in worship or listening to Christian music. All of those will strengthen your fragrance towards God and others.

Linda

Suggestion: spend some time today in a fragrance a building activity- in the Word, prayer, worship, fellowship or listening to Christian music. Remember your presence speaks to others.

Love, where does it come from?

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have love for others. Jesus was very emphatic that as Christians we are to show love for one another. First we are to love God then others. Matthew 22:37-39 “Jesus replied, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Jesus also spoke of loving others in John 15:12, 15 “My commandment is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” “This is my command:Love each other.”

Why is loving others so important? It shows we strive to be like Jesus. His character and love are perfect and He desires that we grow to reflect Him. Jesus said in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” What is this love supposed to look like? Romans 12:10 gives us direction. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Hebrews 10:24 tells us it is to be a continual thought in our minds, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.

Where does this loving and honoring attitude come from? Since Jesus commands it, when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior His spirit indwells us and empowers us for right living! Paul eloquently wrote to the Ephesians in 3:17b-19 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Being filled with the love of Christ leads us into a life filled with love and good deeds towards others.

Linda

Suggestion: Ask God to send you someone special to love with His love today.

Established, Anointed and Sealed- Thank you Jesus!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been established, anointed and sealed by God the Holy Spirit.   I put these all together as they are all stated in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”   First, Paul says we are established by God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1-21  Other words used for established are stand firm in or to be confirmed in Christ.  The Holy Spirit within us enables us to join with Christ and stand with Him in faith.   Second Paul says,  we are anointed by God’s Holy Spirit.  This anointing empowers us with His Spirit and gives us gifts to work for Him. (Gal 5:22-23, “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” In Old Testament times the Holy Spirit of God would come upon people to do certain tasks for a certain amount of time.  But since Jesus died and rose from the dead, believers now have His indwelling Spirit with us 24/7.  This indwelling starts the moment we accept Jesus as our Savior!  Believers are  anointed by God to live for Him and do His good work.   Lastly, Paul reminds us we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and His Spirit living 
2 Corinthians 1-22within us is a guarantee to our hearts that we are saved by Him and have an eternal future with Him.  When I do canning, I use heat to seal my jars to keep out polluting air and germs.  It keeps the contents fresh and usable for future time.  Likewise, the Holy Spirit is our protection from the sin-filled world around us and keeps us usable for His work now and into the future.  

Feel the joy today of being establish, anointed and sealed by God the Holy Spirit.

Linda

Thank-You-JesusSuggestion:  Remember a time when God helped you to stand firm for Him.  Remember your own coming to faith in Jesus and share it with someone if you can.  Thank Jesus that His Holy Spirit confirms you each and every day as belonging to Him!

Christ has it – No need to worry or fret!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have untold resources and possibleriches available to me in Christ.  Once we grasp this concept of riches in Christ, a whole new world is opened to us.  As Jesus said, in Matthew 17:20, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Here are some key verses about God’s riches given to us in ChristPhilippians 4:19 philippians 4 19is a wonderful promise from God. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  God knows what we need and promises to supply all our needs.  When I am stressing over money, relationships or personal suffering, I take great comfort in knowing Jesus has my back and will provide all that I need whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual.  He is there with me and knows my needs before even I do.  In Colossians 2:2-3,  Paul expands the idea as he speaks to the Colossains. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so col 2 2 3that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.   Jesus has resources that can bring me complete understanding and encourage me to work together for Him in love.

The riches available to us in Christ are for:  the strengthening of our faith, the release from worry about material provisions, the increase in understanding of His Word and the understanding of the mystery of salvation, atonement, sanctification, forgiveness, justification, Christlike living, fruits of the Holy Spirit, ……    With this increased knowledge and focus we are rich and have all we need for godly living in Christ! Like the Colossians we will  be united in purpose and love as we serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

Linda

Suggestion:  Make a list of the things you understand about Christ today that were hard or unknown to you before becoming a follower of Jesus.  You will be thankful and amazed.  Make a list ways God has provided for you in just the last few months.  You will be thankful and amazed!  Thank you Jesus.

Promises, do you know any to claim?

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have very great and precious promises I can claim for my life.  The verse I chose as the theme verse for my book Promises for Dynamic Living shows us exactly how blessed with promises we are.   2 Peter 1:3-4

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 

Jesus promises He has given us everything, absolutely everything we need for a godly life because we know Him through faith.  The promises He has included in His Word should be extremely precious to us as the promises help us to be one in the Spirit with Him and live a life that is above the corruption of this world.   I find this simple truth encouraging.  Satan wants us to believe there are things missing from our lives that only the world can provide.  Christ says, “NO!!”,  I have given you everything you need.  Satan wants us to believe that the world is fulfilling and will lead to a good life.  Christ says, “NO!!”, the way of the world leads to destruction and away from godly living.

So what exactly has Jesus provided for us in His promises?  As you study the scriptures, you find that we are promised many things- comfort, love, salvation, hope, peace, joy, understanding of godly things, fellowship with God the Father and Son, infilling of the Holy Spirit, eternal life…..  the list goes on.  Each of these are promised by our faithful loving God.    Hebrews 13:8 tells us Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  unchanging GodGod and His truth is unchanging from the creation of everything until now-God does not change and will not change.  We can count on this.  So all the things God promises in His Word from the beginning are still true and unchanging.    Hebrew 6:17-19a further confirms God’s mind for us.  17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. 

130907-Let-God-s-PromisesHow can the truths of 2 Peter 1:3-4 effect our lives?  If we take Jesus at His Word and believe in His great and precious promises, we will live abundant lives that are filled by His Holy Spirit.  He wants us to lead godly lives that are anchored in His hope.

Linda

Suggestion:  Take the challenge today and look into His Word- seek His precious promises and then claim them in your life.  Need help finding promises? Here are a few to get you started:  Nahum 1:7, Philippians 4:19, Lamentations 3:21-23, James 4:7-8a, Deuteronomy 31:6.   Or for a longer list you could get a copy of my book Promises for Dynamic Living.   In it you will  find 70 different promises from God’s Word explained in a devotional format.  Each promise is meant for you as God desires to enrich and lead you towards greater godliness in Christ.

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Get a copy in paperback or eBook form-available on my website from my publisher or Amazon.  My new edition now has questions for group Bible Study included.  Order it today.