Fight for it! Love it! Be Steadfast!

And the summer journey ends with….Jude. I have loved my summer wanderings through the Bible where I have been writing on books of the Bible and my favorite passages. For my last blog in this series, until maybe next summer, I took a look at the short book of Jude. It is a letter with just 25 verses, but is packed with wisdom for the ages. Jude proclaims himself to be a servant of Jesus and a brother of James. James was a prominent Christian leader in the Jerusalem church after Jesus’ resurrection and the author of the book of James. Both were half-brothers of Jesus as listed in Matthew 13:55 “ Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.” Later in Acts 1:14 Jesus’ brothers are mentioned but not by name. They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.” Jude or Judas was a humble man as he did not presume upon favoritism because he was Jesus’ brother. He saw Jesus as His Lord and Savior, and he desired to be known and seen as a servant.

In the beginning Jude says he desires to talk about salvation but feels compelled by the Holy Spirit to instruct and warn them about men who seek to disrupt, mislead and change the gospel message. In verse 16 he says,  These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.” Times have not changed that much as we also need to be aware, wary and alert to those who would distort and/or seek to change the gospel message of love, grace, salvation and hope we have in Jesus. Jude calls the believers then and now to persevere for the sake of Christ. Verses 17-23 are a call to step up in our faith and hold fast to Jesus. “

17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.

20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.

22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, which group am I in? Do I add to the descension and unrest in the church or am I a peacemaker that holds to the truth of the gospel seeking unity? Am I diligent in prayer and seek to focus on Jesus? Am I kind in dealing with others seeking to show mercy? Do I love the sinner and yet hate the sins that plague mankind? These are ancient questions that still need answers from dedicated believers today.

Lastly, my favorite benediction is found in Jude 24-25. It is worth memorizing! “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

We serve an a mighty God as He is able in all things!

Linda

God’s Character Revealed

And the journey continues…Nahum. This short book in the Old Testament was written by Nahum the prophet. Like Jonah he was called to give a message from God to Assyria. Years earlier God sent Jonah to call the people of Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, to repentance. They had repented and God had postponed their destruction. They had been an evil people practicing extreme cruelty towards others and had taken the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity. God had promised revenge upon those who used and abused His people. So the time for their downfall has arrived and Nahum tells how God will destroy them because of their sinful ways. In the midst of these 3 short chapters there are some nuggets that speak of God’s great character and promises of hope in the future for those who trust in Him.

Nahum 1:2-7 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
    the Lord is avenging and wrathful;
the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries
    and keeps wrath for his enemies.
God does not allow those who love Him to be taken advantage of and not avenged. He is the one who will right wrongs and take care of our enemies. This biblical truth is given many other places in scripture. See Deuteronomy 32:41-43,Isaiah 35:4, Romans 12:19, Hebrews 10:30.

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
    and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
    and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and makes it dry;
    he dries up all the rivers;
Bashan and Carmel wither;
    the bloom of Lebanon withers.
The mountains quake before him;
    the hills melt;
the earth heaves before him,
    the world and all who dwell in it.
Here Nahum speaks of the sovereign control God has over His creation. He describes God’s character as being longsuffering, patient but just in the face of sin.

Who can stand before his indignation?
    Who can endure the heat of his anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire,
    and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.
The Lord is good,
    a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him
. God is God and no one can stand against Him and His power. Verse 7 is one of my favorites as it extols the goodness of God for all who believe and take refuge in Him!

In 1:15 Nahum tells of good news to come. The coming destruction of Assyria was good news to the people of Judah who had been threatened and abused by them. The good news also foreshadows the coming of Jesus who brought good news for all mankind. Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him
    who brings good news,
    who publishes peace!
Keep your feasts, O Judah;
    fulfill your vows,
for never again shall the worthless pass through you;
    he is utterly cut off.

What can we learn from this ancient prophesy? We know that the destruction of the Assyrian empire was historically accomplished at the hands of the Babylonians years after this prophesy was written. God’s word was true and accurate and shows how God’s will will be accomplished as He says. The words within Nahum show us more about God’s holy character and how He is mighty, sovereign, holy and all powerful. It also gives us assurance that God will avenge wrongs done towards those who follow Him in faith and shows His love and care for each believer. I cling to the truth of verse 7- God is good and in Him I will find refuge as He cares for me! Amidst the destruction and unleashing of God’s wrath towards their unrepentant sin, we see hope and restoration for those who believe in Him– Jesus. He is the ultimate good news of God that brings love, peace, hope, forgiveness and life eternal in Him. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Thank you Jesus.

May you have a clearer vision of who God is and what He has done for you through Jesus.

Linda

How do you do it? Live for Jesus

And the journey continues… James. This New Testament book is Oh so practical in nature. It was written by James, the oldest brother of Jesus. After his conversion, he became a pillar of the Christian church in Jerusalem and was widely known. His opening lines direct this letter to the dispersed Jewish Christians who had been scattered abroad after the death of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60). James is referred to many times in the New Testament as Jesus appeared to him personally after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7), was known as a pillar in the church (Galatians 2:9), was visited by Paul on various occasions, was Paul’s first choice of whom to tell upon being released from prison, (Acts 12:17), was important in the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15:13, was the brother of Jude (Jude 1:1) and history records that he was martyred in A.D. 62.

His short letter of 5 Chapters is packed with practical knowledge and instruction on how to live out a life committed to Christ that is filled with faith and good works. James was a servant of Christ and desired that those following Jesus serve Him wholeheartedly. It is filled with wisdom on how to treat others, tame the tongue and submit to God. If you desire to learn to think biblically it is a great book to memorize. The truths will permeate your being and infuse godly thinking into your mind. As James would say, it leads to solid faith and good works that show our love for God as we serve Him. Here are a few of my most favorite verses that have transformed my thinking.

James 1:2-4 talks about attitude and the results of trusting all of life’s events to God.  “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1: 5-6 instructs us to go to the source of all wisdom when we need answers but to do it with faith!  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:17 confirms the immutability of God. He also assures us that God is good in all He gives. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

James 1:19-20 instructs us to control our anger.  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

James 2:1 begins his teaching on treating others with impartiality. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” He concludes this chapter with words about faith and good works. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (2:14)

James 3 delves into the harm and good that we can do with our tongues!  “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (3:6)

James 4:7-8 is one of my favorite promises as it shows us clearly the way to draw near to God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

In his last chapter James talks about the whining rich, the need for patience and the importance of prayer. James 5:15-16 encourages us in our prayer life! “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Which of these nuggets of wisdom do you need today? Are you struggling with trials in your life and need the perspective of joy? Are you concerned that God is perhaps whimsical and will change His mind about your salvation? Are you being confronted with favoritism, gossip or want to know how to get closer to God? Are you struggling with prayer and asking yourself why pray? James is a book that can be read, meditated upon and digested slowly so that the truths contained therein will permeate your life and allow the Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out.

Be encouraged today by the practicality of James and how he makes faith in Christ applicable to our daily walk with Jesus.

Linda

Reboot your Basic Doctrines in Titus

And the journey continues….Titus. This letter is short but powerful! Paul wrote this letter to his beloved gentile convert Titus to encourage his ministry in Crete. Titus had worked alongside him in Ephesus during his third missionary journey. After Ephesus Paul sent him to Corinth to work in the church there. Following Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment, he and Titus journeyed to Crete to bring them the gospel message. Paul continued on and left Titus to work there strengthening the brothers and sisters in Christ by teaching and leading them. The last mention of Titus in is 2 Timothy 4:10 where Timothy mentions Titus went to Dalmatia, which is present day Yugoslavia. Paul’s letter is filled with basic doctrines emphasizing who Christ is and the life He desires us to live through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. When I visited Crete in 2016, the people continue to revere Titus, claiming they have his skull which they place prominently in a main church in downtown Heraklion. They credit Titus with the establishment of Christianity on their island.

There are two passages I dearly love in the book of Titus because of their clarity in proclaiming Christ as our Savior and Lord. See if you don’t agree.

Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Paul’s message is clear: salvation for all people, turn from ungodliness, devote ourselves to God, look forward with expectation to Christ’s return, live our lives free from sin and be committed to Him. All this is possible only through the power of the Holy Spirit, praise God!

Titus 3:4-7  “But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” Paul here emphasizes we are saved because of God’s grace and mercy, forgiven, and generously filled with His Holy Spirit through the power of faith in Christ. Christ has made us right before holy God and with that knowledge we can live confident lives assured of our salvation and eternal life with Him.

These basic doctrines are filled with hope and assurance based on God’s mercy and grace to us by sending Jesus to save us and cleanse us from all our sins. What is your response to this marvelous outpouring of love towards you? I am reminded of Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Thank you Jesus.

Linda

Life with Christ=No Fear, Faith and God’s Word

And the journey continues….2 Timothy. Paul wrote this final letter to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy, during his final imprisonment in a Roman dungeon prior to his death. He exhorts Timothy to be strong in the faith, reject worldliness and willingly suffer for the cause of Christ. As Timothy’s mentor, we wanted this young minister to continue wholeheartedly for Christ remembering all that Christ had done for him. There are several key verses that shouted out to me as I reread this letter. I pray they will speak to you today as an encouragement from Paul to stay the course of faith and preserve in the face of adversity for the rewards are great and blessings abound.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Paul was telling Timothy that he knew he had a sincere upbringing in faith but to remember the power of faith that came through the Holy Spirit when he believed in Jesus. Paul had led him to Christ and wanted him to remember his gift of faith and that it is one of boldness, power, love and self-control. It is the same with all of us. We have that same gift of faith in Christ and it is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that gives us power for living. Jesus wants us to live fearlessly for Him.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 scholars believe was part of an early Christian hymn Paul included. It speaks of Paul’s faith in Christ and his belief that suffering with Christ will bring great rewards.

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.
The part of this that gives me the most hope is that even in my faithlessness God is always faithful. Faithfulness is an integral part of God’s character from which He can never separate himself. Praise God, He is faithful.

Paul also wrote about the hardships Timothy will face following of Christ. 2 Timothy 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” He says evil men and their deeds will always continue to abound but he exhorts Timothy to remember, continue and stand fast holding to God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:14-17″But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” In seeking to live a godly life, we too need to remember what we know about God, rely on His faithfulness, delve into scripture so that the Holy Spirit may teach, correct and train us into the men and women Jesus desires us to be in and through Him. The Bible is not just ancient words but the very breath of God given for our growth and benefit. All of it is inspired and through it God seeks to teach us about Himself and how He wants us to act and react in this world we live in. God wants us to do good work and being in His Word will ready us for work in the world. He will equip us with all we need.

Paul has poured himself out to Timothy knowing his remaining time on earth was short. His desires for the continuing faith of this child of God are sincere, heartfelt and instructive. What part of his message do you need today? Are you struggling with fear, faithfulness, and persecution? Or are you in need of teaching, correction and training from God’s Word? Do you not feel equipped to face the ministry to which God has called you? Paul reminded us in 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 “ For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” All promises are Yes in Christ and our faith is established and sealed by Him. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee, our proof, that God is alive and Jesus lives within us. Rejoice as you face each trial as He is with you, will help you persist in faith, teach, guide and equip you with all you will need! Praise God!

Linda

A Hole in the Roof leads to Blessings

And the journey continues…. into the gospel of Mark. One of the stories I love from the book of Mark is also found in Matthew 9 and Luke 5. Mark 2:1-12 shows a scene where Jesus is preaching to a packed house and some friends bring their paralyzed friend to see Jesus. “When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” 12 And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

There are several things I love about this story. First, the friends moved heaven and earth, so to speak, to get their friend to Jesus. They knew that Jesus had the power to heal him. They went above and beyond to get their friend into the meeting place. They were creative and resourceful by digging through the roof and lowering the man through the hole they had created. It was not an easy task I’m sure. Who do you know that needs Jesus’ healing power? Are you persistent in trying to ‘get’ them somewhere to hear the gospel message? I am reminded of Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Are you like the friends in this story? You know Jesus and what He has to offer. Are you desperately trying to share it with your unsaved friends? God desires that we share the wonderful benefits provided by Jesus, as everyone needs Jesus!

Secondly, the group of religious naysayers took objection at Jesus telling the man ‘his sins are forgiven’. Jesus countered with the words he could just as easily have said ‘take up your mat and walk’. When you think about it, both are things only God can do! Only God can forgive sins and only God can heal a paralyzed man so that he can immediately jump up and walk out carrying his mat! It seems they were offended by Jesus’ words declaring them to be blasphemous. They were upset as forgiveness was God’s to grant, not his. However, they failed to see that He was God and was doing things that only God could do!

Lastly, Mark observed that all were stunned as they watched the events unfold and were amazed. Their amazement led to worship and praise of God. What has been your reaction to God’s hand in your life? Is your response one of praise and thanksgiving?

May you see with fresh eyes today the amazing riches you have in Christ. May you seek with persistence to bring others to Jesus. May you marvel anew at the power of Christ to heal and forgive.

Linda

Wow! God loves me THAT much!

And the journey continues.…I am intimidated by the book of Romans yet, the more I’ve studied it, the more I’ve grown to love and understand it. I have 2 favorite chapters in this complex book that speak to my heart. Today I’m focusing on Romans Chapter 5 later in another blog, I’ll get to Chapter 8. Here are the first 5 verses and verse 8 from Romans Chapter 5.

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. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us…..but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

By chapter 5 Paul has reached a conclusion in his arguments as he uses the word therefore to begin this chapter. Because of what he has written before, he then concludes the following and what a conclusion it is! We are justified (declared not guilty of sin) by our faith in Jesus. We have peace of heart and soul because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Through faith in Jesus, we now have eternal hope and stand in a position of grace (unmerited favor) before God. Paul tells us that our character will change as we accept Jesus in our life! Knowing Christ brings a life of faith trials which Paul calls sufferings. The suffering we do for and with Christ produces character we could never achieve on our own. We will have endurance, hope and God’s love in our hearts. Even though we are sinners, we can be cleaned up and declared not guilty before God because of Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. Wow!

I also chose verse 8 because it shows how undeserving I am. As a sinner, I cannot find a way to God but through Christ. God knew my sinful state and loved me anyway. He loved me enough to send Jesus to died for me. That is amazing love!

Paul continues on in verses 9-11 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Paul also concludes that since God has declared us not guilty of sin through our faith in the work of Jesus on the cross, we are new in character and no longer enemies of God. God is holy and cannot abide sin so faith in Jesus saves us and brings us into a relationship with God, reconciled to Him. God desires a relationship with you and me. So He made a way through Jesus for this reconciliation to take place.

I stand amazed at the depth of God’s love, His sacrifice on my behalf and the character changing process He has begun in me through faith in Jesus the Son. Let these words of life, love and hope sink deep into your soul today and be encouraged because you are loved by God and your faith in Jesus can and will transform you! Praise God!

Linda

Pentecost-Today is the day!

Our journey from the cross to Pentecost is finally over. Pentecost: Who was there?  Scripture tells us in Acts chapters 1 and 2 that the disciples and many other Jews from every nation were gathered together.

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What happened?  The arrival of the promised gift from the Father, power from heaven that would empower them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

When did it happen?  Pentecost was 50 days after the Passover.  It was called the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament. It was 10 days after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven.

Where did it happen?  Jesus told them to go and wait for the helper that would come.  They returned to Jerusalem after Jesus’ Ascension just as He commanded.

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Acts 2:2-4 describes to us vividly the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”    Peter stood and preached to the gathered crowd and told them that this outpouring from heaven was from God.  He quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel in Acts 2:17 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”   The arrival of the Holy Spirit was dramatic- tongues of fire- and noisy- as a strong wind and filled with many languages.  It was a surprise arrival yet it had been expected.  Jesus told them to go and wait, so they knew someone was coming as gift from the Father.  In John 15:15-17, 25-26,  Jesus had promised them the Holy Spirit would come.  “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth.   And all this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”   Also in Luke 24:48-49 Jesus told them of the coming power and place,  “You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 

Why was this necessary?  When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit came to dwell within me.  This Spirit that arrived on tongues of fire and with a great sound lives within me permanently.  He empowers me to live a godly life and to speak to others about Jesus and His salvation.  1 John 4:4 puts it this way, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is great than the one who is in the world.”      Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. ”     2 Corinthians 1:21-22  “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”    

How do you answer your own 5 W’s about the Holy Spirit?  Who is the Holy Spirit to you?  What are you allowing God to do with this Holy Spirit that lives within you?  Where are you walking in obedience and listening to His Word?  When are you  stepping out in faith to tell others about Jesus?    Why is the Holy Spirit necessary in your life?  Jesus wanted the disciples, and us too, to use the power the Father sent to do the work of telling others and living for Him.  Will you begin today by allowing God’s Holy Spirit living within you to lead you to live for Him in a mighty way that will bring Him honor and glory?

Praising Him this Pentecost Sunday,

Linda

Waiting…Hard for them and us!

Jesus had been appearing to them for the last 40 days since his resurrection. He had been teaching and confirming who He was and their mission to continue to tell others about Him after He returned to heaven. They had many questions and voiced a few in Acts 1:6-8. Here was Jesus’ answer, “Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” They wanted details- the how, when and where of His return but He simply reminded them of the power and their greater purpose. Jesus wanted patient obedience and focus from them.

How good are you at waiting? I’m not prone to waiting patiently, but when I know something is coming I can endure with a bit more patience. The disciples were commanded by Jesus to wait for the coming Holy Spirit that the Father would send. They were not to leave Jerusalem and go home either. The fact Jesus told them to wait there would have given them hope that it would be only a ‘short’ time before this promised power would arrive. Acts 1:1-5 “In my former book (the gospel of Luke), Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Is that a lesson you need to learn too? We know Jesus is to return and what our job is until he does. Why do we fret over the when and where? Just like the disciples, we need to wait for the right time for speaking out about Him, remain steadfast in faith, constant in prayer and filled with His hope. God’s timing is perfect and He alone knows when Jesus will return. Until then, just like the disciples- we wait. But, God has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to tell others about Him. The disciples were waiting for that power- only a few days more until the Holy Spirit arrives on Pentecost. They didn’t know it was only 10 days away so they returned to Jerusalem after the ascension and waited together . Acts 1:14 “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” This is a perfect example of how we can encourage and support one another as we wait.

If Jesus returned today, would He find you doing what He asked? Are you telling others about Him? Are you praying for others and remaining steadfast in your faith? Are you encouraging and praying with fellow believers? It was a challenge for the disciples and it is a challenge for us. They had just seen and heard Jesus and knew Him to be real and trustworthy. We have the empowerment from the Holy Spirit within us to be faithful and honor His requests, and we too know Him to be trustworthy!

May you seek to do His will while you wait for His return.

Linda

Maintaining Focus on Jesus Brings A Life of Love and Purpose

The Sea side post-resurrection appearance continues………Peter was distressed that Jesus questioned him 3 times, obviously he forgot he had denied Christ 3 times.  Here at the Sea of Galilee Jesus insisted the answer was “Follow me!”

John 21:17-19 “He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”   Peter was upset at the Lord’s insistent questioning of his love,  and Jesus replied with a prophecy about Peter’s life and death to come,  and how he would bring glory to God.  What Jesus required of Peter was obedience- ‘follow me’!

Peter then asked about John and received this rebuke from Jesus in verses 21-22. “When Peter saw him (John), he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”   Jesus wanted Peter’s focus to be on Him not on the future and what would happen to others.  As Jesus said, He would take care of John,  but Peter needed to focus on following Him.

John 21 22

Let us take encouragement from this scene for today.   Just like Peter, we need to focus our lives on following Jesus, being obedience to His Word and walking with Him daily.  We do not need to ‘worry’ about others or question Jesus about their work and walk.  We have enough to do to keep our own focus on Jesus.   This does not mean we are not concerned about others,  but Peter was just being nosy here and wanted to know what would happen to John in the future- is his life going to be better than mine?  Since the Lord’s answer was always “Follow me”, that is what is crucial in our life too.  Obedience to Jesus is what He desires.  We are to keep our focus on Jesus and not compare our circumstances to others.  Later Peter so beautifully wrote in 1 Peter 1:22-23 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” 

1 peter 1 22

Let us take seriously our walk with Jesus and His command ‘Follow me!” May we let the distractions of the world fall away as we walk forward in obedience with our Savior.

Linda