Are you ready to Go? Will you speak up?

Jesus was actively reassuring his followers on Resurrection Sunday. He appeared to the two men on the Road to Emmaus, to the women in the garden and Mary, to Peter and then to a gathering of disciples in a closed room. John records this closed door appearance in John 20:19-22. I like the Amplified translation as it makes what happened very clear.  “So when it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week, though the disciples were [meeting] behind barred doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy.” The fact that Jesus appeared to them without opening the door tells us He was a spirit. Yet, he showed them His hands and side that had been pierced at the cross which tells us He was physically real.  Only Jesus could be both in His resurrection body

He begins with the common Hebrew greeting- ‘Peace to you’.  This shows Jesus’ love and sensitivity as perhaps they might have expected a harsh word from Jesus for abandoning Him after His arrest.  They received peace and warmth from their Savior not rebuke or criticism.  When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” 22 And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  Their response to Jesus was pure joy!  He sent greetings of peace as they were living in fear being behind locked doors. I’m sure they thought that what happened to Jesus at the hands of the religious leaders could happen to them as his disciples. What they needed was peace and Jesus knew that. They also needed a mission or purpose. For 3 years they had followed him, spoke with him, listened and saw the miraculous power of God. What purpose did they have without him? Jesus knew what they needed was direction and purpose so He gave them orders to go out and tell others.   He was sending them with power from His Holy Spirit to go and be His representatives, telling others of His death, resurrection, salvation, love and forgiveness of sins.  Jesus breathed on them power that would sustain them until the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days later at Pentecost.     

tell others

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

Who will you joyfully tell today?

Linda

Holy Week, Thursday, Jesus Prayed for You and Me

As Jesus’ time on earth draws to a close, His Thursday was filled with love, encouragement, heartbreak and pain.  As Jesus celebrated the Passover supper with His disciples in the Upper Room, Judas was dismissed as he had already decided in his heart to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  Jesus spent precious hours teaching, reassuring and praying for His disciples.  Later they went to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and gained strength from His Father.  The soldiers came into the garden to arrest Jesus, and he was betrayed by Judas. They led him away to be tried in numerous trials both civilian and religious.  He was beaten, flogged, insulted and denied by Peter.

During all this time, Jesus was focused on doing the will of the Father and completing His mission on earth, the redemption of mankind.  I am touched when I consider His prayer in the Upper Room as recorded in John 17: 20-23 as he was thinking of me and you and not the ordeal he was facing.

I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.  (Message)

I was amazed that Jesus took time to pray for His mission, His disciples and All future believers that night in the Upper Room.  He wanted all future believers to be unified in faith, so we can tell others that Jesus was and is real and was sent by the Father.  He says that the unity of our faith and oneness with Christ will give evidence to the unbelieving world that God loves us and truly sent His Son to redeem us.  This unity was so important to our Lord and Savior that He interceded for us.  Jesus wants us to be one in Spirit, united, telling others about Him.

What difference does it make that Jesus spend time on his last night before his crucifixion praying for you?  When you are with other believers do you strive for the unity Christ desired or are you seeking to divide and cause unrest in matters of faith with your brothers and sisters in Christ?  Are you about the sharing of your faith with others by showing kindness, love and speaking of the hope you have in Jesus?  Today, think of Jesus and what He desires for all believers.  Strive to walk in unity.  He promises it will show the world that we believe in Him and desire to show God’s love to others.

Prayer:  Father, I am humbled and amazed that Jesus prayed for me on His last night on earth.  He loved me so much and wanted me to be one in faith and unified in spirit with all believers.  Help me to live today with an abiding faith in You, so that the people I meet will know that I love You and that You love me. Empower me to show your love to others so that you may be glorified in all I say and do. Amen.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be unified with other believers in Jesus’ name and share in His love.

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

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

Night to Day, that is You in Christ!

This has been a few stress filled days as I traveled to Los Angeles to attend and speak at the Celebration of Life for my dearest friend Joan. I am home now looking at our picture on my desk, remembering her smile of encouragement, her faith and her being family to me. She encourages me to write and keep speaking out about our beloved Savior.

In today’s passage, Romans 13:12-14 Paul is speaking to the Roman Christians about their behavior. Since they belong to Christ, much is expected because they no longer walk in darkness and have been given the fortitude by Jesus to meet the new high standards He has set for all of us. “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The Roman Christians had just come out of idolatry and the worship of pagan idols. They were asked to give up those practices that focused on the fleshly nature of man and live morally upright lives based on love for one another in Christ. It was a tall order then, and is today too. There are many ‘idols’ that pull us away from focusing on Jesus and, they seek to occupy our time, talents and monies. Paul exhorts the Roman Christians to put on the armor of light. What is the armor of light? I have been pondering this and I feel it is God’s character that was shown to mankind in Jesus. In verse 14, Paul tells them to ‘put on the Lord Jesus Christ’. Both of these phrases, suggest we need to put on the godly character of Jesus in place of our old nature. His godly character has support, armor and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirt that makes it tough enough to withstand than anything we can ever face.

How do we put on this armor of light? First, we need to be committed to Jesus and firmly believe Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” We need to believe in Jesus and His saving work on the cross on our behalf.

Second, we need to spend time in God’s Word getting to know who He is, what He has done, what He will do and how we are to live lives for Him. Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Secondly,(again) we need to spend time in prayer talking with God- Adoring Him for who He is, Thanking Him for all He does or has done, Confessing what you know and He reveals to you as sin and seeking His help by asking Him to intervene in the circumstances of your life. Psalm 46:10 ““Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Thirdly, we need to seek the fellowship of other believers so as to encourage and strengthen each other in Christ.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can put on Christ’s armor of light to successfully live each day. With His armor of light, you will be as different as night is from day in your new life in Him!

Linda

Advent…God with Us, Immanuel

Matthew 1:20-25 is the rich account of how God told Joseph in a dream of His Son that was to be born to Mary, Joseph’s fiancé. Yesterday we looked at Joseph’s character that shone with faith and obedience to God. Today I want to focus on this Son of God that was to be born of Mary.

20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Joseph was told by God in a dream that the child conceived within Mary was God’s Son by His Holy Spirit. He would be named Jesus, which means God with us. This Son was coming with a purpose which was to save all mankind from their sins. All men inherited their sinful nature from Adam and Eve when they sinned in the garden. God’s plan was one of restoration and redemption though the coming of His Son Jesus. This was a lot of information for Joseph to process. He was righteous, which meant he was learned in the scriptures and laws of Moses which he practiced faithfully. Joseph would have known the quote in verse 23 is from Isaiah 7:14. He would have known of God’s promised Messiah who was to save His people. Joseph must have been overwhelmed by the responsibility and privilege God was placing upon him to be the earthly father of His Son. He took all this in and stepped out in obedient faith to follow the command God gave him. He married Mary immediately and did not stop to count the cost. The cost as we will see was significant but the blessings and privileges of serving the Lord would have been immense.

What obstacles are you facing in your service to God? Are they ones you create in your mind, the what ifs? Are they circumstances that you feel are too big for God to overcome? If so, think about Joseph and all he had in front of him, and yet he trusted God and walked in obedience. Jesus is the key- He came to be with us ‘Immanuel’ and to save us from our sins. Take His hand and walk with Him. When things get hard He promises to never leave you nor forsake you, He’s got this!

Linda

Advent…gives examples of God’s Grace

Mary and Elizabeth were related in some way and since Mary was young and Elizabeth was old, perhaps she viewed her as an elderly aunt. The angel had mentioned Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy when he came to Mary, so going to visit with her would have been a ‘soft’ spot to land, so to speak, while she grappled with her changing life. Elizabeth would have been able to comfort Mary and care for her just as young Mary would have been able to help Elizabeth. Being close in distance was a blessing for both of these godly women, which is evidence of God’s providential care. Read this account from Luke 1:39-45 with ‘grace’ in mind which is God’s unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor or goodness towards us.

A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

What grace or favors from God jumped out at you? The the child within Elizabeth ‘jumped’ or moved in her womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. Somehow the presence of the fetus within Mary was recognized by Elizabeth’s unborn baby. The result was confirmation to Elizabeth and Mary that the child she carried was the long awaited Messiah, their Savior. In Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit came upon people for an allotted time, and He did not dwell permanently within the body of the believer as he does today. The Holy Spirit was the cause of Elizabeth’s proclamation acknowledging the deity of Mary’s baby and how precious Mary’s faith and trust was in God. I love that God favored Mary and Elizabeth and gave them confirmation in what would have been a difficult social time for both of them. Elizabeth being an old woman and pregnant and Mary being unwed and pregnant. In addition to this, God also gave Mary the gift of grace in her faith. She fully believed, no doubts, that God was able to do what He said He would do. Her faith is amazing as she never wavered in following through with God’s plan or doubted His ability to complete what He had started. Such complete faith and trust in God is a blessing filled with His grace. I am reminded of 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.” Mary knew what God started He would bring to pass.

When have you experienced God’s favor in your life? Was it during a difficult time? Did it give you encouragement? We live in the age of ‘grace’ as Jesus came, died on the cross and rose from the dead so that we could be forgiven and drawn into a relationship with Him through faith. He has given us His Holy Sprit to indwell us. Living the Christian life takes dependence upon His Holy Spirit each and every day. This age of grace will end when He returns again, and we will be with Him for eternity. Come Lord Jesus, Come again!

Linda

Happy Thanksgiving from the Heart

As I conclude this year’s Thanksgiving month of thanks, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! May the day be filled with thanks to the God who provides all we have and need. I chose as today’s verses Colossians 3:15-17. Let the Word of God bring to mind the many things you have to be thankful for and to create in you a growing attitude of gratitude towards Almighty God.

15 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Have a blessed day thanking your heavenly Father, thanking Jesus, and thanking His indwelling Holy Spirit. Let your praises of Thanks be a sweet aroma towards Him.

Linda

Our Richness Abounds Because of HIM!

As we begin this last week before Thanksgiving, let us turn our thanks completely to God. He is the source of all good things as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 103: 1-5.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The psalmist admonishes us to:

** praise the God for who He is, was and will always be!

**To not forget what God has done for me-REMEMBER His great works (my salvation being the first on the list!)

**To know with assurance that God forgives sin and heals. He is Jehovah-Rapha the one who heals both physically, spiritually and emotionally.

**To thank Him for his redemption from the pits of life in this world and the promise of eternity with Him crowned with His love and mercy.

**To Him who satisfies our needs with His goodness and renews us daily in spirit so that we always feel young in Him.

Let your thanks abound today as you meditate on all you have in and through Father God, Jesus the Son and His Holy Spirit. We are rich indeed!

Linda

A New Heart and Spirit = Thanks to Jesus

Today’s verse is 1 Chronicles 16:35-36

“Save us, O God of our salvation,
    and gather and deliver us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in your praise.
36 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!”

This scene takes place when David was rejoicing at the arrival of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. The ark was the object containing the mercy seat on top and inside the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s rod budding rod and a jar of manna. All these objects were precious to the Israelites and reminded them tangibly of their unseen God’s provision and mercy. The attribute David is extolling God for is being their Savior. He was remembering how God saved them from slavery in Egypt, brought them through the wilderness and led them to conquer the promised land. God had delivered them repeatedly and their eternal God is worthy of all their praises.

When has God saved you? If you are a believer, you were saved from the penalty of sin which is eternal death, when you accepted Jesus as your Savior. Perhaps you have also had other experiences in your life where you have been threatened physically or spiritually and God rescued you from harm. When God saved us by faith in Jesus, it was for eternity and we will belong to Him forever. All the benefits of knowing Him are ours by faith and we can claim the promises He has for us in His Word. The fact that Jesus Saves is worthy of rejoicing and giving thanks. Where would you be without Him? You would be eternally lost and separated from God which are the consequences of disbelief. Thank you Jesus for saving me from that horrible eternal fate and giving me a new life with a new heart and spirit within me. In Ezekiel 36:26 God promises us both. And I will give you a new heartand a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for your Spirit within me that gives me life, hope and guidance as I seek to honor and serve You. Thank you.

Linda