COME! to Him

Today’s favorite comes from Matthew’s gospel and my friend Lee, chose verse 28. I have added the surrounding verses to give a better picture of our Lord’s meaning and scope.

Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus’ words bring comfort to our hearts and minds as He recognizes our humanness and the difficulties of this world in which we live. Consider the Jews Jesus is addressing when His words were spoken. They were harasses and overburdened by the religious leaders of their day. They had constant rules and regulations which they need to abide by be considered faithful. Most of these were man-made rules that were a great burden to the people and caused them great distress. They were also citizens of an occupied country. Rome was a formidable ruler that demanded much from those they enslaved. They were also living in troubled times and families struggled for existence- food, shelter and peace. Jesus’ words of peace and promised rest were music to their weary ears.

Is it not so with us? Do you long to hear words of comfort from your Savior? Jesus promises He is gentle, loving and by coming to Him He will make your burdens lighter. Belonging to Jesus will not add to your burdens, but will free you spiritually to be able to rise above the earthly worries as you cling to Him. Jesus promises belonging to Him means He will walk beside us and help us carry the burdens we have in life. If need be at times, He will carry us. Resting in Jesus is the safest place to be. In 1 Peter 5:10 Peter spoke these words to believers, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Jesus’ rest is a rest that restores, strengthens, confirms and helps establish us in faith. Praise God!

Thank you Lee for pointing us to this verse. May we be reminded of Christ’s command, COME! You cannot receive the blessing of rest and restoration unless you come to Him.

Linda

Seeking Renewal? ASK!

As we age it seems harder and harder to keep up with those young ones around us. Whether it is little children or teens, their endurance is only a remembrances to us! Today’s favorite verse, from my friend Sharon, is Isaiah 40:30-31 which gives us encouragement no matter what our age.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

In these verses, God’s Word is acknowledging our humanness and reminds us that even the young do not have unlimited strength and endurance. To survive in the world, we must rely upon the Lord. He promises to renew our strength when we feel we cannot go on. We do not need to wait until we are spent to call upon the Lord for additional strength. As we learn in walking with Jesus, it is better to call upon Him before we reach the end of our strength as He promises He will lift us up, cause us to soar and be renewed.

I can see how this verse is a favorite as it stands a reminder of God’s strength in all things and our limited resources. When you combine this with Philippian 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” We can be assured that God does not tire, God has unlimited resources and He wants to provide for us. We just need to ask. John 14:13-15 shows us Jesus’ willingness if we ask with the right heart. “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Where do you need God’s help today? Is your need physical, mental, emotional or spiritual? What obstacles are you facing that you are allowing pride to get in your way of asking God for help? Do you see problems ahead and need God’s strength to overcome? God has the resources to help you soar and not grow faint. He can give you the wings of eagles to cause you to soar above and be renewed.

Thanks Sharon for the reminder of God’s strength and constant provision. Call upon Him and be renewed!

Linda

Want the hope of a straight pathway? Look to Jesus

This summer I want to delve into God’s Word and add to a couple of my series. First, I want to continue to explore favorite passages that my friends have found meaningful for confident living with and in Jesus. Second, last summer I did a series where I Wandered through the Bible writing on passages that have been meaningful to me in years of study and living with Jesus. Hence you will see both series continued this summer and I do hope you will allow God’s Word to speak to you in a new and fresh way as my journey continues.

Today I want to highlight a favorite passage of mine and my dear friend Joan Pauls. She went to be with the Lord this March and I thought it fitting to begin this series anew with her passage. Her favorite passage is Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Knowing my friend Joan, I can see why she always got strength and power for living from these 2 short verses. One must TRUST in God with all of your heart and being, forsaking the worldly views or what you think is right and go with God. He knows the true pathway in life and our submission to Him and His will leads us on His path and in His way. God never fails and His ways are right and just. Sticking to worldly views and morals and standards is not enough as they are often in conflict with what God desires for us and gives us in His Word. We must Trust in Him, lean only on Him and His wisdom and submit to His ways. Those actions and thoughts will lead us on the straight path and we will not be deceived or lead astray or as we say take the long road around. God’s way is direct and never crooked. Is it easy? No. Keeping our focus on Jesus, His Word, being steeped in prayer and connected in fellowship will help us in our daily submission to Him.

Joan knew that this was a recipe for great and confident living in Jesus. Those around her knew her heart belonged to Jesus and that she loved Him. May we do likewise and be blessed with the straight pathway He has promised.

Linda

P.S. These verses are also a favorite of my friend Elizabeth and I wrote about her favorites in the blog entitled, About To Give up? Look to God’s Word- He has the Answer you need. She had several verses she leans upon to help her live confidently in Jesus. Look it up, February 15, 2022.

Waiting… is Time to Serve Him

When Jesus ascended back into heaven He promised a gift from the Father would come. He did not tell them how long they would wait, but He did say don’t go home. They trusted that the wait would be short enough that they would not want have to return to fishing in Galilee. Scripture gives us some insight into their waiting period which we know was 10 days. The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost which was 10 days after Christ’s ascension into heaven. Acts 1:12-14 “Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

During those days of prayer and fellowship they came to the decision that they needed to chose another apostle to take Judas’ place due to his betrayal of Christ and suicide. Acts 1:15-17 “In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.” Peter quoted a prophecy from Psalms in Acts 1:20 “ “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: “‘May his place be deserted;  let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’

They all felt that Jesus wanted them to have 12 Apostles representing the 12 tribes of Israel. There seemed to be several men that met the criteria of having been with Jesus and who had followed Him from baptism to crucifixion. This was a unique time period and in the future they no longer cast lots to chose leaders. With the Holy Spirit as their guide, they did not have to use this manner, and here is the last mention of it in the Bible. Acts 1:21-26 “ Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.”

What do we take away from this scene? The disciples knew what Jesus expected of them, their mission was to tell others about Him and to live and walk with him each day. Knowing that they needed 12 Apostles, they set about identifying those amongst themselves that met the criteria of having been with Jesus. They let God choose which would take up this responsibility when they chose by casting lots. So what does God require of us as we await His return? Is it not the same? We have our mission and purpose to tell others the good news of Jesus’ love and forgiveness. We have lives to live that are to glorify Him in all we say and do. We are to walk with Him each day leaning upon His wisdom, understanding, hope and eternal justice as we seek to live humbly, before Him. AND, we have work to do as we seek to carry out His mission of telling others about Him, of His love and redemption. Waiting is not idle time but it is work time. Spreading the good news is essential and filled with purpose.

So… get up, get busy and be about His work while you wait. Study, learn, memorize, speak out, praise, pray, encourage and support one another in love until He comes again!

Linda


40 Days with Jesus, Now Ascension Has Arrived

40 days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven.  His ascension is recorded in Mark, Luke and the book of Acts.  It took place on a mountain top in the vicinity of Bethany according to Luke 24:50-51 “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”  Mark also adds in Jesus’ destination after His ascension, Mark 16:19 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”   In the  book of Acts, Luke, the author, gives us a more complete picture of this event.  Acts 1:9-11 “And after He said these things, He was caught up as they looked on, and a cloud took Him up out of their sight. 10 While they were looking intently into the sky as He was going, two men in white clothing suddenly stood beside them, 11 who said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will return in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

The disciples were focused on where Jesus was going as their beloved Savior rose before their eyes until He was out of sight. Two men in white suddenly appeared, angels, and assured them that Jesus will return in the same way He left.   Jesus had lovingly told them that He would send a helper to guide and empower them in His absence.  Acts 1:7-8 “He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”  Jesus wanted His followers to be about telling others about the kingdom and the good news of salvation and forgiveness which is available to everyone though faith in Jesus.   The promised Holy Spirit would come upon them in just 10 days at Pentecost and then the truth of Christ and His work would revolutionize the world!  

Christs return

Are you anticipating the return of Christ?  Be encouraged with these words from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 

apologetics-1-peter-3-15-28354

Are you telling others about your Savior as you wait?  Be encouraged by Peter’s words: 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”   Be ready to tell others of your HOPE in Jesus!

Linda

Where is Your Focus? On the World? On Jesus?

The Sea side post-resurrection appearance continues………Peter was distressed that Jesus questioned him 3 times about his love, obviously he forgotten he had denied Christ 3 times.  Here at the Sea of Galilee Jesus insisted the answer is “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 Him.   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

Loving Others Is What We Are to Do in Jesus’ Name

The beach scene continues in John 21:15-17, previously the disciples had brought in a great catch of fish at Jesus’ direction, recognized Him as their crucified Lord and joined him for breakfast.

john 21 15

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 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. ”  John 21:15-17

Jesus had previously encountered Peter where I’m sure they dealt with Peter’s great guilt over his denial of His Savior.  (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5)  Scholars put Jesus’ first appearance to Peter on Resurrection Sunday and this encounter in Galilee sometime later.  Here it would seem Jesus is making a point of asking Peter about his proclaimed love for Him.  He asks 3 times, mirroring Peter’s 3 denials.  Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him and if he does, then Peter is to show his love for His sheep.  He is to feed or tend to His sheep.  Throughout the gospels sheep have been synonymous with followers and my sheep specifically are believers in Jesus.   John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Jesus is the good shepherd who died for all believers.  John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,” and John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”   Jesus is asking Peter to demonstrate his love for Him by leading, tending, loving, caring for, guiding, protecting…. those who are believers in Jesus.  He is saying ‘be a good shepherd’ to the flock of believers that come into your life.

Isn’t that what Jesus wants for us too?  As believers, like Peter, we are to look out for others, lead them towards Jesus, care for them, show them kindness and give that ‘cup of cold water’ in His name.  Knowing Jesus, requires us to take up this ‘job’ of loving others.  We do it not because we have to but because we love Jesus.  James tells us faith without works is dead (James 2:26 ) and loving and showing Jesus to others is our compelling work for Him.  We do it not out of obligation or for future reward but out of love gratitude towards our Savior.  Who will you show love to today?  Who will you ‘feed or tend’ in Jesus’ name?

Linda

Breakfast by the Sea, sounds wonderful!

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee

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 at the Sea of Galilee and decided to go fishing. Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John and 2 other disciples were there according to John 21:1-2. As they approached the shore, Jesus called out 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 Jesus.  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 “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.  John 21:3-14

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 glean from this passage.  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.  As believer,  Jesus considers me His friend.   3.  Jesus can guide and provide for my needs.  He can show me to where to cast my net.  4.  If I look,  Jesus will reveal himself to me;  He is always near.     5.  Jesus can and does make himself known to me.   I need to be aware and watchful.   6.  Jesus desires to fellowship with me.

John 20 10

Which 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 wherever you are, He will be there waiting for you just like He was for the disciples that morning by the sea.

Linda

Jesus convinces doubting Thomas, what about you?

The disciples had gathered on the evening of Jesus’ resurrection behind closed doors. John 20:19-22. Thomas had not been with them and refused to believe what they were telling him about the risen Lord. This was his response to their joyful news.  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, and were saddened that Thomas could not share in the joy of Christ being alive because of his unbelief.

Thomas

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 as 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.” 

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.”  

john 20 29

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

Are you ready to Go? Will you speak up?

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

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

tell others

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

Who will you joyfully tell today?

Linda