Are you ready? Jesus calls us to be part of His Plan “A”.

Today’s meeting with Jesus took place on a mountainside in Galilee.  I had always associated this scene with the ascension,  but it is a separate incident.  Jesus did give the ‘Great Commission’ at His ascension but he also gave it here sometime before the ascension.

the_great_commissionMatthew 28:16-20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”    

There were 11 disciples because Judas had betrayed Jesus and hanged himself.  However, there were probably others along with them as in verse 10 earlier in the chapter Jesus had said to the women at the tomb garden, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”   Scholars think that the people Matthew is referring to as ‘doubting’ are the other brothers who also accompanied the 11 to the mountainside and does not refer to the disciples.  The heart of Jesus’ message is He wants the message of salvation and redemption to go out to all the world.  It is their job to spread the ‘good news’ to the world.  He promises to go with them (and us) throughout all the ages to come.

the_great_commissionHave you ever considered that you are God’s plan A?  There is no backup plan for spreading the news of redemption to the world- we are it!  God promises that His word will not return empty or without use, Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,  but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,  and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”   God also promises that His will cannot be thwarted, Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”  Jesus did His part- He came to earth, lived, died on the cross to redeem us and rose from the grave conquering sin and death.  We have our part to do now- tell others about marvelous, amazing, redemptive Jesus!   Since you are part of plan A, whom will you tell today?    Remember there are many ways to tell others about Jesus.  Yes, you need to be able to give a full account of the gospel which according to 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,   However, you can witness each day to the power of the risen Christ in your life by what you say, how you respond, who you help, what you do for others, how you treat them, etc.  Our lives speak for Jesus along with our mouths.  We can give a word of praise to God for little and big things in our lives and others will hear it.  We can mention a verse of scripture and how it applies to our circumstances, we can offer to pray for a colleague or neighbor who is in need or lend a helping hand without being asked.  There are many ways to show you love Jesus and that He is the driving force behind what you say and do.  All of these witness to His power of redemption.  At any point you are asked, you need to be willing and able to give words to your faith as 1 Peter 3:15 tells us- the reason for your hope.

matt 28 16Be encouraged today and mindful of the position and commission Jesus gave to me and you.  Be bold for the gospel and let the gospel drive you thoughts, actions and words today.

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

Rescued and Redeemed for Eternity Thank you Jesus!

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been rescued from Satan’s domain and transferred into the kingdom of Christ.  These truths are stated by Paul in his letter to the Colossians.  He opens the letter with thanksgiving and prayer for the state that all believers find themselves in because of Christ.  Colossians 1:13 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.”  Our state of being before knowing Christ is one of eternal darkness and sin.  Romans 3:23 tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Our sin separates us from God and Jesus tell us that He is the light in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  Without Jesus we are dead in our sins and trapped in darkness.   Following Him bring us into the light, truth and knowledge of God.  Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, a man who was seeking to know if Jesus was the Messiah.  In John 3:5 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  Jesus went on to explain we have 2 births.  The first is our physical birth given by our mothers and then our spiritual birth that is given by God’s Spirit when we accept Jesus as our Savior.  In John 3:16 Jesus tells Nicodemus why God sent him, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Eternal life in His kingdom is ours when we believe in Jesus.  He further explains the difference between His light and darkness of the world.   John 3:19 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”   Jesus wanted Nicodemus and you and me, to know and understand that being apart from Him is darkness, sin and condemnation.  With Jesus there is light, love, hope and eternal life.  He has indeed rescued us from the domain of darkness ruled over by Satan and brought us into His light and His kingdom to be with Him forever.  His death on the cross and resurrection made this possible.  Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice on my behalf to rescue me from the fate of death and condemnation.

Linda

Suggestion:  Spend some time in prayer thanking Jesus for your salvation and eternal home with Him.  Remember in prayer someone you know who does not know Jesus and pray that they will come to know Him.We can be assured that Jesus wants everyone to know and come to Him.  2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow  in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

True Freedom, only found in Christ

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have freedom in Christ.  What kind of freedom does Christ give?  First and foremost,  we have freedom from the romans-82bondage and penalty of sin.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”  Romans 8:1-2 We do not have to worry about paying the penalty for our sins as Christ paid with His life to redeem us.  We simply need a repentant, thankful, believing heart committed to Jesus.

Another freedom we have in Christ is we will not suffer eternal death but live eternally with Him.  the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”  Romans 8:21  and John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Heaven will be a place where there will be no more tears, no more death, and we will not suffer the decay caused by sin and death.”

The last freedom I want to mention is found in 2 Corinthians 3:17. “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”   The indwelling Holy Spirit brings within us freedom that is from the Lord.  He unleashes our full potential and puts us on a course to do great things for Him.  I love the benediction the author of Hebrews gives in Hebrews 13:21 when he reminds us that God is equipping us to do good works for His glory and our good.   “may he equip you with all you need
    for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

freedom in christIn Christ we are free from sin’s penalty, free to live eternally with Him and free to do His work.  May you feel His freedom today!

Linda

Suggestion: Choose something to do today for the Lord.  As you do this task, thank God for the freedom to choose to do this in His power and for the ability to perform this task.  He has equipped you so that you can exercise your freedom to choose to work for Him  bringing Him glory and yourself contentment.

Happy Valentine’s Day with a Thankful Heart

The cynic might say Valentine’s Day is the day for florists, candy and card makers to earn a great deal of money.  I walked into a local supermarket yesterday, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of flowers, cards and candy that were on display.   On the love side, Valentine’s Day is a day when we can express our love for one another freely and not be thought of as sentimental or mushy.  How about God?  How does God express His love for us?   Here john 3 16is a familiar verse that gets right to the heart of God.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For He did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3:16-17  

How much more love could God show towards us than sacrificing His only Son on our behalf?  He loved us that much.   He sent Him so that through faith in Jesus we could be saved and not condemned.  Only sinless Jesus could erase our sin and present us whole and perfectly clean before our Holy God.

valentineWhen you say ‘thank you’ today for a Valentine gift you receive, a card, note, flowers or someone simply saying ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’, think about thanking God too.  Thank Him for sending Jesus.  Thank Him for making a way for your salvation and eternal life with Him.   That is the best Valentine I can think of that is filled with all of God’s love for now throughout eternity.

Blessings on this Valentine’s Day.

Linda

 

A Purpose-filled Coming

lamb-of-God-535x360Part 2 of the Messiah begins with John 1:29.  “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  God sent Jesus into the world that Christmas night to save us from our sins.  When the angel had appeared to Joseph he said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-22.  God’s plan of redemption was to send Jesus to bring us to redemption and reconciliation with God.  1 John 1:5 “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.”  Being sinless, he was the perfect sacrifice.  It did not have to be repeated againHebrews 10 10 and again like the Old Testament sacrifices, as His death paid for all sin.  Hebrews 10:9-10 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”   As Jesus said from the cross ‘it is finished’, His death was the ultimate and complete sacrifice and finished it.  His perfect sacrifice paid the price for our sins.  He came to earth and gave up His place in glory to establish a way for us to become righteous and reconciled to God.   I love Paul’s reasoning in Romans 6:8-10 where he tell us that through Christ’s death and resurrection we are raised to life and that sin has been paid for in full. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Praise Jesus today for His coming, His sacrifice on the cross and His victory over death  by which we are saved through faith in Him.  “for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13   This is a Promise we can trust and live by.

Linda

This is a moving presentation of the Chorus with visuals to point you to the meaning of the words.

Joy of the Redeemed

The words of the Messiah now begin to focus on Jesus’ time here on earth and what he accomplished.   Isaiah 35:5-6a gives us a glimpse of the future of the babe that came that Christmas night.

joy of the redeemed“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.”

This prophecy appears in a chapter subtitled Joy of the Redeemed.  These actions prophesied hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth speak of the people who encountered Jesus.  They would see, hear, jump and shout for joy after their meeting with Jesus.  This was fulfilled and recorded in the gospels.  Matthew 15:31 “The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.”   The direct fulfillment was in Matthew 12:22 “Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see.”

This prophecy of visible change either mentally or physically or both can also apply to us.  When we have an encounter with Jesus our eyes are opened to His truth and we can hear and believe the gospel message.  Romans 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”  When we hear and believe, we are transformed and our reaction is like those who saw Jesus.  We shout His praises, leap for joy and see the reality of His truth.  Ephesians 1:13-14 describes our transformation.  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”   His indwelling Holy Spirit brings joy, peace, knowledge, wisdom, hope, and so much more into our lives when we accept Jesus as our Savior.  I have a needle point on my wall psalm-107-2-verse-28reminding me of the truth of what I have in Christ.   Psalm 107:1-2 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!   Let the redeemed of the Lord say sowhom he has redeemed from trouble.”

blessed by GodMay your day reflect His joy and may you shout out His praises.  Let others know of your joy in the Savior that redeemed you.

Linda

 

Sorry no audio of these verses in the Messiah  was available on the Internet.

1st Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40-5 The Glory Of The Lord Shall Be Revelaed redOn this first Sunday of Advent, our scripture is Isaiah 40:5.

“And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

What is the glory of the Lord?  God’s glory is the sum total of His attributes.  We see His glory displayed in the beauty of the earth and His creatures.  We have seen God reveal His power , mercy, grace, judgment, holiness, love and every other attribute in the Bible.  However, the complete revelation of God’s glory is in His Son Jesus Christ.  When Jesus came to earth, He revealed God’s great glory for all of mankind to see, touch, reason with, and behold in the flesh.  God’s plan of redemption for man was to show His glory to us in His Son Jesus.  John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Hebrews 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”   Jesus, the complete revelation of God’s glory, came to redeem us.

Let us praise and thank God for His glorious plan that sent Jesus to redeem and save us.

Blessings as you worship Him today.

Linda

Glorious Profit on the Blackest of Friday’s

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

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

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

As you venture out today to do some shopping, think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ.  Praise Him as you do.

Blessings,

Linda

Why the tears?

Psalm 119:129-136 opens with praise and awe over the amazing depth of God’s Word.  Your laws are wonderful.
    No wonder I obey them!
130 The teaching of your word gives light,
    so even the simple can understand.   So many times I have heard people say that the Bible is too hard to understand.  Here the psalmist is declares that even the young or less trained can understand.  How is that possible?   Understanding comes from God, so with prayer, meditation, the right translation and through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit believers can read and understand that which God has for them in His Word.  
131 I pant with expectation,
    longing for your commands.
132 Come and show me your mercy,
    as you do for all who love your name.   The psalmist looks with great expectation into God’s Word.  He is looking for mercy and love.  These are tangible confirmations of faith for him.  When you read God’s Word, do you read with expectation?  Do you look for His mercy and love?  Think back, when you read the Bible do you find that you are filled with peace, understanding and hope?  Have you ever opened its pages seeking advice or help or comfort?  The psalmist has faith that God will answer his needs and then provide him with direction.
133 Guide my steps by your word,
    so I will not be overcome by evil.
134 Ransom me from the oppression of evil people;
    then I can obey your commandments.   He trusts in the guidance of God and knows titus 2 14that the Word will lead him to victory.  He claims God as his guide and redeemer!  He refers to being ransomed or bought back from evil.  This is what Christ did for us.  In Paul’s letter to Titus he puts it this way, “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.” Titus 2:14
135 Look upon me with love;
    teach me your decrees.    The psalmist trusts God to look upon him with love.  He knows that God is immutable and will always be loving, slow to anger and filled with compassion.  He looks for teaching from God as he trusts God.
136 Rivers of tears gush from my eyes
    because people disobey your instructions.  The last lines of this section of Psalm 119 really spoke to me.  The psalmist is proclaiming to God that he is distressed to the point of tears over those who disobey and reject God’s Word.  I asked myself, does the psalm 119 136rejection of the truth of God’s Word and His ways bring me to tears?  Do I sorry for those that do not believe or those that profess to believe and do not live by the standards God desires?  If I am  brought to tears, then my response should be one of love and restoration not condemnation.  Pray, pray, pray for the light of God to be made known to them.  God has ways of  reaching those who we consider unreachable.  Look what He did to confront Saul, the chief persecutor of early Christians. He brought him to his knees and to faith in Jesus.  Read his miraculous story in Acts 9.   Lift your tears up to God and ask Him to work on the person who you are concerned about, to bring them to faith and change their life.  Many times I have heard stories of people praying for individuals for years and years before they came to faith.  God calls us to be persistent and filled with hope at their redemption. 

God’s Word fills us with expectation, hope, love, and guidance as He points us to His truths that are eternal and filled with redemption.

Linda