Jesus convinces doubting Thomas, what about you?

The disciples had gathered on the evening of Jesus’ resurrection behind closed doors. John 20:19-22. Thomas had not been with them and refused to believe what they were telling him about the risen Lord. This was his response to their joyful news.  John 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, and were saddened that Thomas could not share in the joy of Christ being alive because of his unbelief.

Thomas

A week passed and they were all gathered again in the upper room and Jesus appeared. John 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 as his Lord and God.  To him, seeing was believing.  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 1:13-14 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.”  

john 20 29

Praise God we too can know 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

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

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

Living in the Light of Jesus, daily!

For those of you who follow me, I apologize for the error in yesterday’s blog. Once I publish something, I can update it but it still is sent out to you without the correction. Going online and pulling it up brings up the corrected blog. I use 1 Corinthians 9:12 not 12:9. Hopefully, it did not interfere with the message as the scripture was written correctly.

Today I am looking at 1 Thessalonians 5:8 “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” This is a great verse with very clear message of what we are to ‘put on’ as believers. Paul is talking in this passage about Christ’s return and our belonging to His light as we not longer live in the darkness of sin. Verse 5, “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” We can live each day in His light assured that we belong to Him. I love 1 John 1:5 “This is the message we have heard from him (Jesus) and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Since we are children of His light, we are to put on faith and love and live with a knowledge of the hope we have in Jesus. Each day when you rise, greet the day with ‘God morning Lord’. You are assured that He is with you and that in His love He cares for you. Our faith in Jesus lets the love of God into our lives and brings with it hope for each day and for eternity with Him. Paul uses the analogy of armor in this verse. Our faith in Jesus protects our heart and the hope we have in him covers our minds as protection against the attacks of the world and its unbelief. We can live assured that Jesus has us covered. What a great way to live!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live each day in His light filled with His love and hope. May you rise each day and put on faith knowing with it comes His love, His protection and light for living that very day.

Linda

Entangled with the Vipers or Walking with Jesus?

Today’s challenge to our faith comes from Acts 28. It is an amazing story involving a poisonous snake and Paul. They had just come ashore safely after being shipwrecked. They were wet and cold. Here is the scene on the island of Malta.

Acts 28:3-6 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

Paul was simply putting sticks onto the fire when he was bitten. He was living life on his way to Rome as a prisoner. What do you think went through his mind? Certainly not panic as there is no indication from scripture that he even gave it a thought. He simply brushed the snake off into the fire. Those around him were sure the poisonous snake bite was a judgement for wrongs he had done. When he did not die, they had to come up with another theory and decided he must be a god. Paul later refuted their thoughts and spoke of Jesus. Because of how he had lived, they were willing to listen to what he had to say.

What actions of the world are you putting off, casting away as you seek to live each day for the Lord? Do you reject enticing entertainment, reject getting involved in gossip or do you seek to serve the Lord before your career? There are many ways we can put off the worldly pursuits and stay focused on what God wants us to do. Paul’s mind was on his trip to Rome and facing Caesar. But, he took time to heal the sick on Malta and tell those around him about Jesus before they sailed again.

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can remain focused on him in this sin-filled world and proclaim His good news. Where is your focus today? On the viper’s bite and the harm that can come to you? Or on the hope you have in Jesus? Who do you need to tell about Jesus today? Where do you need to add fuel to the fire and build up someone who needs the warm fire of Jesus’ love? Don’t be afraid of the vipers. God promises to deal with them.

Linda

Trust in Him, God has this!

Today’s favorite verse comes from my friend Mig. Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

This promise of sustaining power and victory over fears was given to the children of Israel because God knew they had hard times ahead and could always look to Him for help. Not many years later they were carried off to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar where they were held captive for 70 years. After the 70 years of exile, they we enabled by God return and rebuild Jerusalem and the destroyed temple. We can also claim this ancient promise in our lives as believers. We are His children through faith in Jesus and are members of His family. Romans 8:14 “For all who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God.”

What do you see in this promise today that you need to sustain you? God promises to be with us always. We do not need to fear or be anxious about the situations, people or circumstances of our lives because God is right there with us. He promises He will strengthen, help, and uphold us with His righteous right hand, which is Jesus. All the help, comfort and stamina to continue facing life’s trying situations will be given to us in the name of Jesus. We know we can count on this promises as God keeps Him promises and is always faithful. Exodus 34:6 “The Lord passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” We can count upon Jesus’s upholding hand as 2 Corinthians 1:20 reveals “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

Mediate upon the fact that God is with you wherever you go. God has sufficient strength to enable you to overcome whatever obstacles are in your pathway. God will help you. When God says He will, He always does. God provided Jesus’s righteousness to cover, cleanse and uphold you always.

Be encouraged! God has this. Put your FAITH in Him Ask Him for His sustaining power to fill, help and uplift you today!

Linda

A Favorite from Isaiah, Be encouraged!

This is a new series for 2022 to be continued throughout the year! Since my word for the year is FAITH, God has given me this inspiration and avenue to build my faith. I will be featuring favorite verses of wonderful friends of faith that have been share with me. I pray they will encourage and strengthen your walk with Jesus throughout this year.

Last summer I met with a group of ladies that studied Promises for Dynamic Living with me. In one of the lessons we were asked to share a favorite verse. I wrote them down and will start with my friend Joyce’s favorite. She chose Isaiah 43:1-3a.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I love this passage as it shows God’s love for His chosen people Israel and that extends to us. Peter assured us of this in 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” As believers we are chosen to belong to Him just as the children of Israel were his precious people so are we- chosen and special in His sight.

What does God proclaim for His chosen ones through His prophet Isaiah? We do not need to live in fear as He created us, redeemed us, calls us by name and promises to be with us. The Israelites had experienced being overwhelmed by their enemies and were rescued by God as they passed through the parted Red Sea escaping the pursuing Egyptian army. (Exodus 14) They had the story of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego who lived through the burning furnace and were not consumed. (Daniel 3) Because we belong to Jesus, we too can depend upon His guidance, protection and know we are His in all circumstances. Lastly, we can know and depend upon all these things because God is who He says He is and now and forever. He is our Savior! Praise God!

I pray these favorite words Joyce choose from Isaiah will encourage and comfort you today. They have power to uplift, assure and redeem in the name of Jesus. Perhaps they will become one of your favorite verse too!

Linda

The Gift of Faith leads to a Journey with God

As I continue to look at my word for the year, faith, I’m seeking to dig deeper into the aspects of what faith really is. Hebrews 11:6 admonishes us, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” This verse appears in a chapter where the author is speaking of the great heroes of the faith, those who demonstrated true, lasting faith in God. The Message translation includes verse 5 with 6. “By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” Let’s combine this verse with Hebrews 11:1  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” and 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”

These verses show us that we need to believe that God is real and alive even though we cannot physically see Him. Our faith in His existence is pleasing to God. It means we realize as truth that we can seek know God and that He will reward our faith in Him. This concept of faith is huge. It establishes a foundation for our beliefs, trust, hope and assurances in God. It gives us reason to pursue a relationship with God through Jesus so that we can be the beneficiaries of a walk in life that pleases God. It means we do not need to physically see God to know He is real and to live a life filled with faith. We can know that our faith, belief in Him is going to be pleasing to God.

One other aspect of this faith that we need to consider is Ephesians 2:8-9 “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” This to me is one of God’s mysteries. He gives us faith, in Him, freely as a gift. We do not have to earn it or do anything but believe! How amazing this that!! God is gracious and loves us so much He gifts us with faith to believe. Paul expressed this thanks this way in 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” This gift is: grace, His unmerited favor, Jesus, who died to redeem us from our sin-filled state and faith and the ability to believe and put our trust in our unseen God. It is not just one gift but many made possible by Jesus.

Where do you put your faith today? Is it in the unseen, all-knowing Creator God or is it in the things of this world that you can see? If you do not believe, you can in sincerity ask God for the faith to believe and He will give it to you! Faith is a gift, a precious gift, from God. Do you spend time seeking to know God more fully? Do you look into His Word daily for guidance? Do you spend time talking and communing with God in prayer? All of these are an outgrowth of believing in Him. Will you seek Him today in faith? Thereby, pleasing God with your heart-filled actions and attitude.

Linda

Faith, Amazing Truths within Our Grasp

As January is progressing, I’ve been seeking to come to terms with, understand and accept the new word God has given me for 2023. When I was searching related scriptures, there were many that spoke to me and shed light on where God might be going with this. Colossians 2:6-7 “ Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” The reason Paul started these verses with therefore is that he was coming to a conclusion. He had been talking about the love and devotion he had heard about in the Colossian church. He had heard how the believers there were showing love and devotion to one another and Christ. These words show where he wants them to be or to go because of their faith and heart for God. Paul desires that they walk with Jesus daily. He wants them rooted and grounded in faith in Christ that will hold them firm in times of trials and tribulations that come in life. He wants them to remember what they had been taught about Christ, God and the Holy Spirit, and what God desires for us in our lives. Paul wants them to remember the truths of faith- salvation, eternal life, hope of His return, a home in heaven with Him, constant support 24/7 as He will never leave us nor forsake us! He wants them to be continually thankful for the abundance they have in Christ and empowerment through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

What amazing gifts God has given to us through faith. May your day be filled with His goodness, hope and reassurances that come through faith in Jesus. He desires the best for us and promises to never leave us- He is always there! I love and cling to Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Linda

What’s in a Word?

In my first blog of the year, Happy New Word, I challenged you to pray about a guiding word for this New Year of 2022. Last year my word was joy and I saw it manifested throughout the year. God has given me the word faith for 2022. I have been praying about which scripture to claim along with my word and God has led me to Psalm 37:3 and Hebrews 11:1.

Psalm 37:3 has been a favorite verse of mine for many years. “Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”
Befriend is defined by ESV scholars as feeding upon faithfulness that leads to safety or safe pastures. I like to think of it as embracing faithfulness in my life. In order to embrace faithfulness fully, I need to walk in trust and seek to do good. This gives direction and hope to my faith and assurance of His protective hand upon me. What He has given me by faith is sealed by His Holy Spirit and cannot be lost. Ephesians 1:13 “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.” My walk of trust and service will help me from misplacing my priorities. It is so easy to lose focus and to misplace my focus upon worldly things that surround me.

Hebrews 11:1 is also a favorite as it defines faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” When people question my faith, I can rely upon the hope and assurance I have in Christ that He is real, alive and with me always. I have that conviction as His Holy Spirit speaks to my spirit that I am His. Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” I can be assured that I am His and can be called His child.

In addition to choosing a scripture to go with my Word, I graphically used a program called Word Art to give me a visual of my word. It is an easy program to use and generates a fun art focus to hang near your desk or someplace where you can be reminded of your word. You need to ponder about your word and brainstorm other words it brings to mind. Select those 10 words related words that will expand and define different aspects of your word. My word of faith generated the following list for me: hope, goodness, strength, rooted as in rooted and grounded in faith, courage, trust, conviction, pleasing as in pleasing to God, assurance, and abundance. I made two visuals. One is in the shape of a heart which is red and the other a cloud in blue. The program can be found at http://www.wordart.com It is a free site. Here are my visuals:

I do not know how God will use this word in my life this year but I know He will. May this blog be an encouragement to you to pray about a Word for 2022 and to choose a scripture to claim and cling to during the year. God wants to lead and teach us…we just need to be open to His leading and His teaching.

Linda