Jesus Said her Name, He can say yours too!

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

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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 my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

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

Jesus what need

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 today and He will be found!

  Linda 

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

On the Road with Jesus, He gives exactly what you need when you need it!

As we celebrated on Easter morning, Jesus did not stay in the tomb but rose from the dead. He has Risen INDEED! After his resurrection, he appeared many times to individuals, small groups and to as many as 500 at once. He was alive in their midst as He talked, ate and shared himself with believers confirming his life and assuring them of his victory over death. As we move along the road towards his ascension and return to heaven 40 days after his resurrection, we will come face to face with Jesus’ divinity and power over death. Join me on this journey as I look at each of the appearances over the next 40 days.

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

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

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

I pray that my Lenten Blogs have brought you hope and encouragement these past 6 weeks.  I have been mightily blessed by being with you and in the scriptures each day.  I am still pondering the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice and all the truths gleaned from the selected ‘put on’ passages. I pray you will bask in the hope of the empty tomb knowing He has Risen, 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!

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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

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

God Has us Covered! Protected Offensively and Defensively with His Armor

In yesterday’s blog, Paul gave us the reasons for putting on God’s armor. (See the blog entitled “Armored Up.” Today we see the purpose for each piece and the benefits of suiting up!

Ephesians 6:13-17 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Each piece of God’s armor is specifically designed to help us withstand the temptations and trial of this world. Satan wants to see us defeated. He knows he cannot take our salvation away as it is held secure in the love of God and sealed by the Holy Spirt. However, he can destroy our witness, cause us to be discouraged or feel defeated and worthless. Paul presents the specifics of God’s armor to encourage and strengthen us, as we seek to walk with Christ day by day. First, Paul reminds us that putting on God’s armor will allow us to stand in the face of evil and hold on to Him no matter what comes our way. Then Paul begins listing each piece that will fortify us. The truth of the gospel, the truth of who God is and His being binds us and gives us strength like no other. Covering our heart is the breastplate, so our inner feelings and soul are protected from harm by His righteousness. When David cries out to God in Psalm 51:10 ” Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”, he is requesting renewal of heart, purification by Christ and resilience. All of these come from the righteousness of God and are ours in his breastplate of righteousness.

The next piece of armor is for our feet, the gospel of peace. The salvation of Christ to the world brings peace wherever it goes, as being in Christ brings unity of purpose. Putting on the shoes of the gospel means being willing to walk with Him and tell others about His love, forgiveness and salvation. Now that Paul has us up and dressed, we need to pick up our outer shield which is faith. The shield goes before us and protects us from the doubts and methods of Satan who seeks to destroy us and our witness.

Lastly, Paul mentions our two offensive weapons that can be used in our battles against Satan. They are the sword of the Spirit and prayer. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God. Jesus rebuked Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness with God’s Word. His Word has power and can be our defense against any attack that Satan launches against us. It is a sword that is discerning and powerful according to Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The sword is amazing as it works to help us defend ourselves. Prayer is also an offensive weapon we can use it both for and against our enemies. Prayer changes things and gives us emotional, physical and spiritual support. We are admonished to ‘pray continually’ and that prayer is effective. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” 1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Prayer is a tool we can use continually- night and day, for and with each other and for our help, hope and defense!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can suit up with God’s weapons of defense and offense to stand against the powers of this world and Satan. Thank you Jesus for your all covering armor that we can use to protect and defend ourselves and our witness in this world.

Linda

Ask Jesus, He has the Answers You Need!

John 5:2-8 recounts the healing of a man Jesus encountered at the Pool of Bethesda. The man was disabled and could not get into the pool fast enough when the healing spirit stirred the waters. He was feeling sorry for himself and voiced his complaint to Jesus when Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed. “Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.”

As I meditated on this story, I asked myself what am I not doing because I expect others to do it for me? Am I not exercising because I don’t have anyone to walk with me? (Boy that really hits home.) Am I not serving because I feel the jobs they need done are not enough or maybe they won’t miss me if I’m not there? Am I not calling or visiting friends because I am too busy? Do I want to let someone else visit or call who has more time? Jesus wants us to identify our needs and ask Him. Go to the source for help and not blame inactivity on circumstances or others. Jesus says when we have needs to ask Him. In Matthew 7:7 Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” It is our responsibility to ask our heavenly Father when we have needs. I also want to add in James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” When we ask, we need to consider why we are asking, is our motivation godly or pure and unselfish? God won’t just give us what we want, especially if we are asking with the wrong heart attitude.

The man in this story had a need and asked Jesus for help. Jesus answered him directly with his command- take up your bed and walk! What do you need to ask Jesus about? Whether it is motivational, spiritual, or physical, Jesus has the answer and will answer. You may have to wait (hard part) but Jesus promises to answer our prayers. If His answer is ‘NO’, then we need to trust in His plans for the future and cling to Him. Psalm 4:3 “But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.” Call upon Him. He has the answers to all our needs.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can ask my heavenly Father to meet my needs with confidence and hope, knowing He will answer.

Linda

Ruins at Bethsaida today.

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

Lent…Our Lenten journey will begin on Ash Wednesday (Hey, that is tomorrow!)

Are you ready to begin your 6 week journey towards the cross? Here are some suggestions by Pope Francis that I found thought provoking and challenging. I have posted his words before and find them so right for this moment on the eve of Lent. I’ll begin my blog posts of my Lenten journey called “Put it on me Please, Lord Jesus” tomorrow. Let Pope Francis’ words motivate you as you seek to prepare your heart and mind for this time of reflection, repentance and thanksgiving.

Be prepared- pray and think about fasting from one of the above during this Lenten season. I will challenge you even more on the first day of Lent.

Linda