Are you like Thomas? Encounter the Living Jesus today!

The disciples had gathered on Resurrection Sunday evening and Jesus appeared to them coming in even though the doors were shut.  Thomas had not been with them that evening and they eagerly told him all that had happened.   This was his response from john-20-25-ampJohn 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 would not share in their joy that Christ was alive.

A week passed and they were all gathered in the upper room when Jesus appeared Thomasagain.  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 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.”    

john 20 29Faith 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 Him 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

He has Risen, He has risen indeed!

risenBecause Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have faith in resurrection too.  Paul writes on the importance of believing in the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20.  “12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.”  Paul is making the argument that if we do not believe in resurrection, life after death, then we can’t believe Christ was raised either.  15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.”  He continues that if we don’t believe in the resurrection then all the people who saw Jesus (like 500 plus) were liars but the most horrific consequence of not believing in Jesus’ resurrection is that we are still in our sins, no forgiveness or redemption has occurred.  Jesus has to conquer death and sin to redeem us. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”  If Christ did not conquer the grave, we are to be pitied and we are lost!  Paul makes his conclusion in verse 20a, “20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.”   Praise God!  Death could not hold him and Jesus rose victorious over death, leaving our sins behind and rising to new life.  We too can hold that hope as Christ has won the victory for all who believe!

easterHave a blessed Resurrection Sunday!   As the early Christians would greet one another to show they believed saying,  “He has Risen.”  With the response being, “He has risen indeed!”

Linda

6th Sunday of Lent, Resplendent with Palms!

IMG_0501Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem the week before Passover and His death on the cross is a wild an joyous event.  I have walked the Palm Sunday Road and it is a very steep hill leading down from the Mt. of Olives that leads to the eastern gate. As I walked that road, I could see this scene in my mind that is included in all four gospels.

Matthew 21:1-11    Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

IMG_0505The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Blessings today as we usher in the final week of Jesus’ life on earth with Palms, Shouts of Hosanna and Praises to Messiah, the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world.

Linda

IMG_0513
Jesus entered into the city through the eastern gate that is now closed.  In later times the gate was blocked to keep Messiah from entering,  not realizing that Jesus had already come that Palm Sunday so long ago.

Suggestion:  As you praise God today in worship, choose an attribute of God that you are most thankful for and let God know what it means to you.  Consider- Savior, His Grace and Mercy, Sovereignty, Faithfulness, His Hope, His Assurance of Salvation in Jesus, His granting Freedom from Sin or His Provision for you.  Praise His Holy Name!

Property of Jesus, that’s me!

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been bought with a price and belong to God.  The concept that we belong to God gives me hope, assurance and confidence for living.  Someone, the greatest someone in the Universe, God, cares about me and loves me.  He loved me enough to sacrifice greatly on my behalf, by sending Jesus to redeem me.  1 Corinthians 6:19,20 ” Or do you not know that your JesusPropertybody is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”   When we accept Jesus as our Savior, His Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us.  Jesus died so that this transformation within us would be possible through faith in Him.  Paul is saying we owe a debt of gratitude for the amazing grace God bestowed upon us.  We need to treat our bodies- mind, soul and spirit with the upmost care as that saved body and spirit came at a high price.  What makes this so amazing is that Jesus did it freely with no obligation on our part.  We cannot earn it nor did we deserve it!  Humility and obedience are the way to honor God with our bodies in return for His grace to us.  He has a purpose and a plan for us that will bring peace, joy and hope to us and honor to Him.

Linda

Suggestion:  take time today to focus on a way to honor God in your mind (in prayer or holding thoughts captive to Christ), in your speech (words you say to others) and in action (with your body as you look to helping others).   Seek to glorify Him today!

5th Sunday of Lent

Today as we go to worship let us think about Solomon’s words to the people of Israel. He knew who God is and what he has done!

“Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”

1 Kings 8:56-61

Be bold in living for a God this week knowing you can rely upon Him as He keeps all His promises. Not one of His promises will fail!

Linda

Suggestion: Claim one of God’s promises this week, review it daily and let the hope of a God’s Word work in your life. Here are a couple of suggestions: Lamentations 3:21-23, Philippians 4:19, James 4:7-8a, Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 37:5 or John 14:27

My entrance ticket is valid and being used daily, is yours?

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have entrance into His kingdom.  The gospels refer to the kingdom of God frequently.  Jesus said that one needs child like faith in God to gain entrance.  Mark 10:15  “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  Jesus said that entrance would be harder for the wealthy as laying aside their wealth to pursue God’s kingdom is tough.  Mark 10:25 “ It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  Jesus was sent to proclaim the good news of His kingdom and He sent the disciples out to proclaim it too.  Luke 9:2 “and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”  Jesus used parables to describe His kingdom with the mustard seed and leaven in Luke 13:18-19,21 “He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” 21 “It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three God's kingdommeasures of flour, until it was all leavened.”  All of these examples tell us that to see the kingdom of God we must have faith, as a child, set aside our worldly goals in pursuit of His kingdom,  be dedicated to telling others about Jesus and growing continually in our love for Jesus.

John tells us straight out how we can gain entrance into God’s kingdom.  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 3:3    Paul explains in Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Entrance into God’s kingdom comes through faith in Jesus and the power of the romans 14 17indwelling Holy Spirit empowers us to live in and for His kingdom day by day.   Because of Jesus and His work on the cross, I can gain entrance into God’s kingdom now and forever through faith in Him.  Christ alone is the answer!

Linda

Suggestion:  Take inventory of your kingdom benefits- do you feel you have right standing with God because of Christ?  Do you have peace and joy from the inside out provided by the Holy Spirit?  Look to Jesus and ask Him with a repentant heart to clean your heart and mind and give you indwelling joy and peace.  He is faithful and will provide what you need to be whole.

Godly character, what is that?

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have godly character.  What is godly character?  God has many attributes and some are communicable to us through Jesus and some belong solely to God.  For example, only God is incomprehensible, the creator, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent or sovereign.  However, those characteristics of God that He wants us to possess are vast and growing characterwonderful.  He desires that we are like Him in having peace, joy, being forgiving, thankful, honest, friendly, generous, loving and humble to name just a few.  As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit transforms us in a process called sanctification as we are made more and more like Jesus.

Why does God want to do this for us?  Scripture is clear there are great benefits to this character transformation.  Romans 5:2-4 “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.”   Wow! Through faith in Jesus we stand in grace, rejoice in hope and our suffering produces godly character in us!  James 1:2-4 also speaks of the count it all joytrials of life bringing about change in our character for good.  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.”  Life’s trials test our faith and produce character that is steadfast and leads to perfection in Christ.   It is the trials in our life that God uses to hone and shape our character to make us more and more like Jesus as we learn to depend upon Him and place our Hope in Him.  

hopeMay you find joy in your trials and suffering as God works on your character, a character that will bring you hope!

Linda

Suggestion:  Determine to take a different view of the hard things you face today.  Seek to see them as character building. Praise God for the ability to cling to Him with a thankful, joyful and hopeful heart!

Completeness! Thank you Jesus.

Complete-in-ChristBecause Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been made complete in Christ.   Colossians 2:10 “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”   My understanding of this is that all God’s purposes for our lives are made complete in Christ.  2 Corinthians 1:20 “ 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.”  Knowing that we can be who God wants us to be because of Christ’s work on the cross, we can consider ourselves complete in His power.   We have assurances from God’s Word that our completeness in Christ is made possible by His Holy Spirit within us and through the leading of His Spirit we will be made more and more like Jesus.  

Here are some verses to encourage you as you walk with Jesus each day and seek be to complete in Him:   2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”   God’s Word teaches, corrects and trains us so we can do His good works.  Seeking completeness?  Stay in God’s Word so He can equip you!         

James 1:2-4 “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.   God wants us to face trials with joy as they will hone and perfect our character to be more like Jesus.  Do you feel your character is sagging or you are growing apathetic?  Endeavor to see your trials and tests as opportunities to build your character and allowed by God to grow you up in Christ.       

joy in Christ1 John 1:3-4  “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our  joy may be complete.”   John wanted us, as believers, to rejoice in Christ as fellow-shipping with the Father and Son brings complete joy to us and our fellow believers!  Do you consider yourself a joyful ChristianIf not, seek to know Christ better and fellowship with positive spirit-filled Christians.  Their joy for Christ will be contagious!

Linda

Suggestion:  Choose one of God’s completeness strengtheners from scripture and praise God for the completeness you feel!

  • Choose a portion of God’s Word to read each day this week. (Psalm 31, 37 or 103 are my personal favorites)
  • If you have a particular trial coming up this week, endeavor to count it joy and praise God for the opportunity.
  • Seek out a fellow Christian(s) and praise God together in song or prayer.

Where do you need hope? Jesus has it.

hope as long asBecause Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have hope.  One of the most precious things we possess in Christ is our eternal hope in God and His power to transform and use us to do His work.   Romans 5:1-2 gives us a list of God’s provision that results in hope for us.  Therefore, since we have been justified by faith (declared not guilt of our sins), 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.”  Our hope in Jesus brings us freedom from sin’s guilt and punishment, peace, grace, and joy.  Oh! glorious 1 peter 1 21HOPE!   This same theme is repeated in 1 Peter 1:21 “Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.”   Because of Christ and His work on the cross,  we can know and trust God and our faith in Christ brings Him glory and us HOPE!

Where do you need the HOPE of Christ in your life today?  Are you feeling burdened by sin’s guilt? Give it to Jesus with a repentant heart and He will replace that guilt with hope.  Are you struggling with doubt or difficult circumstances? Give it to Jesus and He will replace it with peace which He gives freely bringing you hope. (John 14:27) Are you struggling as you feel alone or singled out?  Ponder God’s grace, His undeserved favor, and know that He promises His grace is sufficient for all our needs. (2 Corinthians 12:9) His grace will bring you hope.  Are you suffering from lack of joy?  Ask Jesus to restore the joy of your salvation and those thoughts of eternal rest and refuge with Him will bring you joy.     David knew the struggles of life and reminds us in Psalm 43:5              hope_in_god_by_blugi-d90ilc0 “Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
 I will praise him again
   my Savior and my God!

May you Hope abound as you put your trust in God and firmly place your gaze upon Jesus.

Linda

SuggestionPass on the hope of Jesus todayforgive someone you have been holding something against, be a voice of peace, calm or joy to someone, or be gracious to someone today (giving them undeserved favor in your eyes).  The look of hope you see in their eyes will bring joy to you and give God glory.

Dearly Loved, that’s me!

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have the Father’s love.  Knowing you are loved gives power, affirmation, hope and joy.  Knowing you are love by God the Father fills us with confidence, hope, security, and comfort.  Scripture speaks frequently of God’s love for us.  Jesus was talking to the disciples about God’s love and his imminent return to the Father shortly before His death in  John 16:27-28. “For the Father You-are-dearly-loved-facehimself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. 28 Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” Jesus said I am dearly loved by God because of my love for Him God loves that I love Jesus! When you think about one of your  loved ones, aren’t there things you really love about them.  Maybe it is the way they smile, maybe that they always hug you so tightly or say loving things to you for no reason except that they love you.  This little portion of scripture gives us a glimpse into God’s character and love.  He loves us dearly- not a little bit of love but a special love that is close to His heart.  The motivation for this dear love is because I love His son.  Isn’t that like a good Father?  As earthly mothers and fathers, we love the kids that love our kids.  We cherish them and want our kids to associate with them.  Being a good Father, God loves and cherishes us with a special love because we love Jesus.   What a privileged and heart warming thought to ponder today!

I love JesusLinda

Suggestion:  Think about your love for Jesus.  How has He brought you to faith, and provided you with hope, joy, security and comfort.  Know that the things you love about Jesus makes God the Father love you even more.