Encountering Jesus brings….

One of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is in John 21.  This passage will bring a smile to your face and assurance of the Savior’s love,  as you picture the scene beside the Sea of Galilee.

Several of the disciples had gathered by the Sea of Galilee, Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John and 2 other disciples (John 21:1-2) and Jesus appeared to them.

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with. you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was john 21 4Jesus.  He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”  “No,” they answered.  He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”  When they did they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.  Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him(for the had taken it off) and jumped into the water.  The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about 100 yards.  When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.  Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”  Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore.  It was full of large fish, 153, but even with some say the net was not torn.  Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.  Jesus came , took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish  This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.   John 21:3-14    (The prior appearances were in the upper room, see blogs from April 26, May 10 and May 14)

I love this tender story of Jesus’ compassion for the tired discouraged fishermen who were his friends.  Here are a few Lessons and Truths we can know from this passage as what Jesus did for them that morning, He can do for us too:                                                    1.  Jesus knows how things are going in my life, my disappointments and my joys.              2.  Jesus considers me His friend.                                                                                                        3.  Jesus can guide and provide for my needs.                                                                                  4.  If I look, Jesus will reveal himself to me; He is always near.                                                    5.  Jesus makes himself known to me.                                                                                                6.  Jesus desires to commune with me.

John 20 10Which of these lessons and truths speak to you today?   James 4:8 tell us,  “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”   Meet Him today where ever you are, He will be there waiting for you just like He was for the disciples that morning by the sea.

Linda

Here is my picture of sunrise over the Sea of Galilee and the typical fishing boat used with tourist in Israel today.

Is Jesus personal to you?

Several of the post-resurrection appearances were to specific individuals instead of groups.  Jesus met Mary as I wrote about in the blog of May 3, 2019,  but today I want to look at Jesus’ appearance to Peter and James.  The appearance to Peter is mentioned in Peter appearancepassing in Luke 24:34 “saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”  and in 1 Corinthians 15:5 by Paul “and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve”.   The Luke message was delivered to the disciples by the two men who Jesus met on the Road to Emmaus (blog of 4/23/2019).  Here the men referred to Peter as Simon using his old name.   Jesus also referred to Peter by his old name when He told him he would deny Him three time before the rooster crowed. The prediction of the denial is recorded in both Matthew 26 and Mark 14.  The actual denial event is recorded in all 4 gospels, Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18.   Peter was not acting with his new believing nature, clinging to the rock of faith which is Jesus, but with the old, impetuous, doubting nature of unbelieving Simon.  It shows great compassion from our Lord to singularly appear to Peter to forgive and restore him.  Jesus would have known the anguish and guilt Peter was feeling after his denial of Jesus the night before the Crucifixion.  The forgiven Peter went onward, never doubting nor denying his Lord and Savior again.  Jesus personally knows what we need and seeks to be there for each one of us.   What a wonderful, compassionate and loving Savior we serve.

The other post-resurrection appearance that was mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:7 was to James.  Scholars believe this was James the half-brother of Jesus and not one of the other followers named James.  His brother did not believe in Christ before the resurrection, but afterward became a prominent member of the church in Jerusalem, wrote james appearancethe book of James and died a martyr’s death in 62 A.D.  “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”  This appearance speaks to me of Jesus’ compassion and love for his earthly family and for those who are lost.  2 Peter 3:9  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.   He knew James needed to see Him personally to be confronted with his unbelief.  Jesus does that for each one of us as we seek to come to faith and trust in Him.  He is a personal God that loves and cares for each of us.

Jesus personal GodIs Jesus personal to you today?  Do you claim Him as your God and Savior?  Mary did in Luke 1:47 “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”  Thomas did in John 20:28 “ Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” and Paul in Philippians 4:19 “ And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”    Let Him hear your words of declaration today as you thank Him for being your God and Savior.

Linda

Joy, Fear, Surprise, Elation, Defeat…How would you have felt at the empty tomb?

IMG_0462The post resurrection appearances began at the empty tomb.  This fact occurs in each of the 4 gospels and in 3 of the gospels it includes the appearance of a heavenly being interacting with the grieving followers of Jesus.   Since Jesus had been hastily buried due to the need to have him entombed before sundown, as it was the beginning of the Sabbath and no one could be buried on the Sabbath, His body was not properly prepared with spices.  It was wrapped but not treated.  The women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb with spices intending to anoint Jesus’ body.  We are told it was very early in the morning and they talked among themselves about how they were going to get the stone in front of the tomb removed so they could enter to anoint Jesus’ body.

IMG_0470 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “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.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  Mark 16:4-8

The angel, who appeared to be a young man, told them not to be afraid of him as he had good news about Jesus.  He encouraged them to look and see that he was not there.  He also told them to go and tell the others Jesus had risen and they would see Him again.  Then the women rushed to tell the disciples.  John describes their reactions in John 20:3-8. So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

Can you even imagine their joy, surprise, awe, fear or confusion over experiencing the empty tomb, the angel, the clothes that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body neatly folded?  The disciples saw and believed.  How about you?  Do you see the things God does in your life, the unusual happenings, the providential circumstances that can only be explained as God’s hand?  Do these things register with you that God loves and cares for you?  He has a plan for your life just as He did for these disciples. He wanted them to encounter the living God, the resurrected Jesus, and experience His transforming power in their lives.

he-has-risenMay you encounter the Living Jesus and His transforming power today.

Linda

Look who’s here! Jesus is alive!

For 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and others to show them living proof that He was alive.  On Resurrection Sunday He met the women in the garden, and the two men walking on the Road to Emmaus.  In today’s passage, Jesus appeared to those disciples gathered in the Upper Room.

“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’  When he had said them he showed them his hands and feet.  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”   Luke 24:36-43

What was their immediate concern?  Is Jesus real or are we experiencing hallucinations?  What is your reaction when confronted by Jesus?   Do you doubt who Jesus is and question His reaching out to you?  Do you think your feelings are not real?Jesus reassured the disciples that He was a real living being just as He promised.  He proved it to them by showing them His hands and feet- pierced at the cross, and eating.   Matt 7 7How does Jesus make himself known to you?  Does He come to you in prayer, in the helping hands of others or through His Word?   Jesus can and does reveal himself to us if we are open and willing.  In Matthew 7:7 Jesus tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”   Be a seeker today and know the joy of His presence.  Be amazed as you encounter the living Lord Jesus, just as the disciples did in the upper room.  Each encounter with Jesus brings new revelation and understanding of who He is!

Linda

upper-room
The disciples encountered Jesus in the upper room, where will you meet Him today?

Words of life, do you have them?

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a complete manual for living in God’s Word.  God’s Word has stood firm and resolute since the beginning of time.  His Word, Jesus, came in human form bringing salvation to all who believe.  His Words in the Bible bring life, depth, understanding and guidance to us so that we can live the lives that God intends by following His ways and bringing Him glory.   Here are a few verses affirming the guidance and hope we receive in God’s Word:

Psalm 119:9 “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.”  Obedience to God’s Word leads one towards purity in all areas of life.

God's WordPsalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  God’s Word internalized helps us not to sin.

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet  and a light for my path.”  God’s Word provides guidance to my life.

Matthew 4:4 “But Jesus told him (Satan), “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  God’s Word rebukes Satan and gives spiritual sustenance for living.

Luke 11:28 “Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”  Applying God’s Word to our lives brings blessing.

John 6:63 and 68  “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”  and “Simon hebrews 4 12Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”  God’s Words are words of life and spirit and they lead to eternal life in Him.

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”  God’s Word is alive and works on our hearts, minds, souls and desires to align them with His ways.

Jesus plainly said that His Words lead to life.  Thank you Jesus.

words of lifeLinda

Suggestion:  Open His Word today and reread some of the above passages.  Let Him speak to you from His Word and be blessed.

Looking for your keys? See Jesus, He found them.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have an eternal home.  Jesus’ work on the cross reconciled us, as sinners,  and brought us into relationship with Holy God.  Jesus knew that future believers would then dwell with Him in heaven.  He reassured the disciples of this joyful fact even though they did not understand it at the time.  It was only later they would grasp more fully the greatness of the price He paid to mansionsredeem all mankind.  John 14:1-2 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;  believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?     Jesus wanted his disciples, and us too, to understand that He was leaving them,  but He was going ahead to prepare a place, a home for them.  He assured them there would be room enough for all.  This scripture is often used at funerals to comfort the grieving.  The idea that we have a prepared place to go, a home in heaven is of great comfort and gives us great hope.

There are other scriptures that would imply that this eternal home is not only a place,  but a new body form.  In our heavenly home, we will have a heavenly body that is eternal, immortal and imperishable.  2 Corinthians 5:1-2 in the Amplified version makes it very clear. “For we know that if the earthly tent [our physical body] which is our imperishablehouse is torn down [through death], we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our [immortal, eternal] celestial dwelling,”    and   1 Corinthians 15:42 “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. The [human] body that is sown is perishable and mortal, it is raised imperishable and immortal.”   

Be encouraged today as the suffering of this life will end and we will someday be with Jesus in a new body in a new home.  Praise God!

christ alone hopeLinda

Suggestion:  Find someone to share your eternal hope and destination with and tell them how that gives you hope for today.  You live with assurance as you know you have a home in heaven and Jesus is waiting for you there.

Living with Confidence, Thank you Jesus

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a life with a godly plan and purpose. This thought brings me great comfort as it means my existence has meaning and I am here for a reason. It also means God has intentions for my life and knowing that God is good means His intentions are always good for me, my life and my growth. Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse I claim frequently for reassurance when things seem bleak or unsettling in my life. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I can rest in knowing Sovereign God has a plan and purpose for me and it is all good!

Knowing God’s plan is good, we can cling to that promise in hard times as well as the promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Many say “life just happens” but this verse assures us that is not true. We can rest assured that God’s purpose and design is greater than anything Satan can throw at us. This verse promises God can use all things for our good. Many times we don’t see how at the moment, but God is faithful and eventually we may see how He uses even the very hard things in our lives to teach and grow us for His good.

One last verse for today: 2 Timothy 1:8b-9a “But join me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy life -not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” Paul knew that God had a purpose for him, a work that was divinely commissioned just for him and that God would empower him through Christ to do all He had set out for Paul to do. We can know that is true for us as believers, too.

When things are hard- claim any of these three verses in your life. Cling to them and know God is faithful and keeps all His promises.

Linda

Suggestion: Take time to reflect on a hard time or difficult relationship and see how God worked in the circumstances to bring you to a better place or to grow you. Claim one of the above verses over something you are facing and believe God for the results.

Promises, do you know any to claim?

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

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

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

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

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

Linda

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

Dynamic-FrontCover-150

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

Peace, do you have it?

peace-with-godBecause Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have peace with God.  Peace seems like such an illusive thing.  Some days I revel in it and some days it seems out of my reach.   What we can be assured of is that peace is ours through Christ and is always attainable.  Jesus said in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  The peace Jesus gives is not worldly calm and freedom from activity,  but a peace that will satisfy our souls.  It is the peace the pervades us even when the world is swirling around us.  Paul describes this peace in Romans 5:1-2  “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”   Paul assures us that the peace we have though Christ brings us into relationship with God, is filled with His grace,  and it will purposefully sustain us no matter what else is happening in our lives.

Since peace is ours for the taking in Christ, why do we struggle with it so much?  I think it is because of the pull of the world on our lives.  We are free in Christ from the power of sin over our lives,  but we live in a sinful world.  The effects of sin on us and our lives are unavoidable.  Staying above this and living in peace takes work, prayer, diligence to stay in the Word and fellowship with other believers.  Are you getting a dose of each of these in your life each day or week?  Lent is good time to renew commitments and take time to pray, read God’s Word, memorize a verse or two and have fellowship with other believers.  It is good for your soul and will bring you peace!

27733-jesus-peace.1200w.tn

Linda

Suggestion Today set aside time to pray, read the Word or talk with a Christian friend.  Then look for God’s peace to surround you!

3rd Sunday of Lent, Continuing our Lenten journey

Psalm 121 is known as a song of ascent.  These were psalms thought to have been used in annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem.  The city is on hills in Judea and the trip towards Jerusalem is always referred to as going ‘up to Jerusalem’.  Journey with me this morning using Psalm 121 and get a new, higher view of God, as we continue our Lenten pilgrimage to the cross.

judean hillsI lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

Have a blessed Sunday as you worship our Lord.

Linda

Suggestion:  Read this psalm again sometime today and pause after verse 2 and thank God for His help in a situation you faced this last week.  After verse 5 as you thank God for your protection this last week from any disasters that might have befallen you.  After verse 8 for the future care and hope He provides now and for eternity.