Faith, can you believe without seeing? Take a lesson from Thomas.

john-20-25-amp

The disciples had gathered one evening shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and Jesus appeared to them coming in through the locked doors.  Thomas had not been with them that evening and they eagerly told him all that had happened.   This was his response from 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 but saddened that Thomas could not share in the joy of Christ being alive because of his unbelief.

Thomas
john 20 29

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 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.”    

ephesians 1 13-14

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.”

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, Thursday, Where’s Jesus?

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.  Then 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 the 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 God’s love.

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

3rd Sunday of Lent, Jesus did it All!

This week again we have an amazing list of benefits for believers through faith in our risen Lord Jesus. As you mediate on these truths from God’s Word in His letter to the Colossians, let the revelation of who Christ is and what He accomplished on the cross sink into your mind. Let it produce in you a greater sense of gratitude and hope.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,

I can know God the Father who is exactly represented by Jesus the Son and who is fully God, Creator and totally Sovereign over all creation. Colossians 1:15-17 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

I can rely on Sovereign Jesus to hold all things together for me in my life. Colossians 1:16b-17 “all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

I can know Him and the peace of reconciliation in my life. Colossians 1:18-20 “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.  So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,20 and through him God reconciled  everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

I am redeemed and reconciled to Almighty God so I have His hope-filled love for eternity. Colossians 1:21-22 “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

I can proclaim the Good News of love and redemption and hold onto a faith that is strong and unwavering through the power of Christ in me. Colossians 1:23 “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, redeemed by His blood and a citizen of His heavenly kingdom through faith in Jesus . Colossians 1:24-27 “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory”.

I pray these truths will lead you to fall deeper in love with God and lead you to praise! Here is our praise Psalm for this week:

Psalm 105:1-5 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;
    rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.
Remember the wonders he has performed,
    his miracles, and the rulings he has given,

Have a blessed day and week to come,

Linda

Amazing, God loves me that much!

Colossians 1:18-20 was about the reconciliation we have through Christ. Paul continues with this topic in Colossians 1:21-22 explaining in more detail the how’s and why’s of this amazing transformation that is available to us. “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” Paul explains our state of being from birth. We are born sinners, separated from God by our sin-filled nature which we act out in words and deeds. It is our natural state of being because of the sin passed on to us from Adam and Eve and held captive in a world ruled by Satan. That may sound harsh but Christ called Satan the devil, the prince of this world and an angel of darkness.

Once we came to know Jesus and believe in His death and resurrection, we were brought into a relationship with God. Our sins were forgiven and we were clean and pure, holy, blameless and able to stand before God. God cannot tolerate sin and where sin is- God is not. However, He loves us and loved us even before we knew Him. Romans 5:8 is a precious verse that is hard to even fathom, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” God loved us and wanted to make a way for sinful man to be restored to relationship with Him. The entire Bible is God’s love story to mankind as He seeks to find the lost and redeem us. When you consider all of this truth, it is staggering. It is amazing that God loved me so much that He was willing to send Jesus to suffer and die for me. God wanted me that much. How can I not be thankful that He loves, cares, and wants me to spend eternity with Him.

Ponder this amazing truth today! Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am redeemed and reconciled to Almighty God so I have His hope-filled love for eternity. Thank you Jesus!

Linda

Reconciled, Thank you Jesus!

In Colossians 1:18-20 Paul continues to make his case for the supremacy of Christ. Here it is in the New Living Translation:

Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth

    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Paul is wanting the Colossians to know and understand Jesus, who He is now, head of all believers, and what He did by rising from the dead. Jesus raised several people during his ministry like Lazarus and the widow’s son but their return to life was not permanent as they died later in their lives. Jesus’ resurrection was the first to conquer death permanently and be raised to new life. He also points to Jesus as the fullness of God. He possesses all of God’s attributes and powers. In verse 20, Paul tells us why God sent Jesus to die. Jesus came to reconcile us to God and mend the relationship that was broken in the garden by Adam and Eve’s sin that separated them from God. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He made peace between mankind and creation available. Thank you Jesus!

What does this mean for you and me? We can be connected and reconciled to God though faith in Jesus. He can and will bring us into a family relationship of love and acceptance that is filled with forgiveness of sin, hope and has the promise of eternal life with Him. I love Romans 8:15-17 “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”

May you know and feel God’s love and care today. May you know Him personally and feel His forgiveness in your life. Call on Him and He will answer. Romans 10:13 is a promise He always keeps. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can know Him and the peace of reconciliation in my life.

Linda

1st Sunday of Lent, Reflect on Truths uncovered and the Goodness of God!

This first week in Colossians brought us significant truths from just the first 4 verses. Meditate on them again as you consider Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His victorious resurrection that made all these things possible through Him. Then ponder David’s amazing words of praise to a God who is always good in Psalm 34:1-10.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can trust that all things that happen in my life will be used by God to bring good to me and glory to His name. Colossians 1:1 Thank you Jesus.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I, as a saint, can know and experience God’s grace and peace in my life because of His faithfulness to me. Colossians 1:2 Thank you Jesus.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can pray with a thank-filled heart and experience the love of Jesus in my life through and with other believers. Colossians 1:3-4 Thank you Jesus.

Psalm 34:1-10 Taste and See That the Lord Is Good

34 I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

May you know and see God today as you Praise Him, feel His protection around you and taste the goodness of His love as you seek refuge in Him.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 27: What a deal we got through Jesus!

I was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’.  It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’.  It began as a term used to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians.  It then became a day term retailers used to signify when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased.   In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.  Luke 23:44-46   The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me.  His death on that darkest day brought the greatest profit for us.  John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen.  “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

risen

Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath.  Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they hurried to get Jesus down from the cross,  buried and settled in a borrowed tomb.  Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste.  After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday.  “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.”  Mark 16:1  Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as they learned of Jesus’ resurrection and his defeat of sin and death.  An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  What joyous news they had to share!

colossians 1 ;21

That blackest Friday brought death and burial to Jesus but brought the greatest profit to you and me.  Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it.  “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,”    That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history.  Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven.   We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God and that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin.  That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.

During these COVID times you may not be venturing out physically but think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ.  Praise Him and Give thanks for His sacrifice that brings the greatest gains-salvation, eternal life, His indwelling Holy Spirit, heaven, godly character, a relationship with God, resistance to temptation, purpose in life…..- to you and me!

Linda

Love, Hope and a Redemptive Plan = Jesus our Savior!

I love the message of truth given in Ephesians 1:4-10.  I can be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope I now have in Him.  Here it is in the Message translation for ease in understanding,

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving ephesians 1 7by the hand of his beloved Son.   7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

God had a long range plan to redeem us.  It was not a spur of the moment decision.   In Genesis 1:26, God decided to create man,  a thinking living being in His image, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,”    After giving Adam and Eve the directive to not eat of the tree of good and evil, Eve bowed to temptation from Satan and ate giving some to Adam too.  God had anticipated this as He created man with free will and planned for a way to restore men and women into relation ship with Him.  Genesis 3:15 gives the first prophecy of Jesus coming to counter Satan’s dominion over the desires of man. I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hersHe’ll wound your head,  you’ll wound his heel.”   Jesus would be born into this world and give hope to mankind through His sacrifice.  

John 3 17Why would God do this?  His motivation was and is  LOVE.  He loves His creation and desires to have a relationship with us.  John 3:16-18 says, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”     

Does this give you HOPE?    Hebrews 3:6 speaks of this hope we now have in Christ. “but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son.  And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”   I also love Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

romans 5 2The Word is filled with references to God’s plan of redemption and the restoration of His relationship with mankind from Genesis to Revelation.  The story of God’s love for us, His desire to bring us back to Him is why Jesus came.   All these things give me Hope and I pray  they do the same for you as you meditate on Jesus, God’s love and His desire to be in relationship with you.

Linda

Final Sunday of Lent 2020, amidst the Palms

Palm Sunday 2020Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, the day of  Jesus’ return to Jerusalem.  His reception was loud and colorful with waving palms, cloaks on the ground, shouting, chanting of praises and Jesus riding on a humble donkey.  It was the conclusion of three years of public ministry that ended in His death on the cross on Friday.  However, all was not lost as He miraculously rose from the dead and appeared on Easter morning just as He said He would.   His ‘life’s ride’ on earth was a wild one filled with compassion, love, obedience and sacrifice for us.   As we enter this Holy Week let us ponder anew how we personally have felt His compassion and love in our lives.  How we have benefited from His obedience to the cross and the sacrifice of His life for ours.   We have much to be thankful for, even in the hardest of times.  Only you can answer today’s sentence,  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am or can_____________________.

Some time today read one or more of the Palm Sunday Triumphal entry passages:  Matthew 21:1-11,  Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-38, John 12:12-15.

Here is the summary from this weeks passages in Ephesians.  We meditated on Ephesians 5:21-6:14Think about:  **Which truth have you seen in your life this week? **Which is the most meaningful to you in your life right now?

  • we can live lives submitted to one another in love that mirror Christ’s love for us. Ephesians 5:21-33
  • we (both parent and child) are able to submit to one another with love and respect. Ephesians 6:1-4
  • we can show God’s love and care whether we are the employer or employee bringing glory to God and blessings upon ourselves.  Ephesians 6:5-9
  • we are able to battle against unseen forces through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 6:10-12
  • I can be filled with His Holy Spirit and protected by His armor to face the challenges of each day.   Ephesians 6:13
  • I can have godly character that is based on His truth and righteousness.  Ephesians 6:14

Personally, the truth from Ephesians 6:10-11 reminded me of the unseen forces of evil that we face each day.  This truth really resonated with me, especially during this Covid-19 Pandemic.  It is something I never envisioned and pray fervently that God will cause the virus to be contained and that the evil effects would be lessened.  We need to humble ourselves and pray for His mercy.    The most meaningful truth this week that brings me real encouragement is from Ephesians 6:14, that I can have godly character if I am rooted and grounded in the truth of Christ and put on His righteousness.  It is an eternal hope filled with promise.  In Christ, I can be a new creation.

Palm Sunday vectorHave a Blessed Palm Sunday.

Linda

Got Hope in 2020? Anchor it in God’s Steadfast Love.

Hope-in-Gods-Steadfast-LoveAs we look at hope in scripture we see survival hope, hope in His Word and today I see hope in His steadfast love.  God’s love is an anchor for our soul and His love surrounds us 24/7.  Knowing God loves us- gives us Hope, knowing God is trustworthy and faithful gives us Hope that is secure in that love.  John 3:16 reminds us that God’s love is what motivated Him to come after us, free us and send Jesus to suffer and die to redeem us for all eternity.  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.   This love, eternal and sacrificial is ours so that we may have Hope.

In the Psalms David captures this love hope and puts it into words we can cling to:  Psalm 33:18 “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,”    Psalm 33:22  ” May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,  even as we put our hope in you.”   Psalm 147:11 “The Lord delights in those who fear him,  who put their hope in his unfailing love.”     We see in these verses hope comes from knowing God’s unfailing love because we revere, worship and adore Him.   Hope comes when we put our trust in God, and God is pleased or delighted by our reverence and fear.  We know that God is love, and the proof of His love is His sending Jesus to save us.  “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”1 John 4:10

psalm33 22Meditate on God’s steadfast love today and consider how that love gives you HOPE1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;  for his steadfast love endures forever!”    Psalm 13:5 “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.” Psalm 33:22 “Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.

Begin 2020 with Hope rooted in God’s Steadfast Love,

Linda