God sighted on the Road to Emmaus, did you see Him?

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Friends walking towards Emmaus.

One of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is the encounter of the two on the Road to Emmaus.  Overcome with grief over Jesus’ death and disbelief over what the women said about seeing Him alive,  these two followers of Christ were walking along the Emmaus Road discussing all these things.  Jesus joined them on their journey without disclosing his identity.  As they walked they were surprised that this man did not know about all the events that had just occurred in Jerusalem.  They shared their hope that Jesus, the one crucified,  had been the long awaited Messiah.   Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

IMG_0692Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there and listened to Jesus explain all about Himself?  A little later in the story when they were sitting down to eat, Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread and began to give it to them.  Right then, their eyes were opened  and they recognized Jesus.  He then disappeared from their presence.  Even though it was late they quickly returned to Jerusalem to tell the disciples about their encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.

Jesus came to these two when they were in grief, despair and confusion, and He cleared up their thinking, encouraged and enlivened them.  Can you remember a time when Jesus came to you in prayer or through the actions or words of another believer to give you hope and encouragement?  Jesus promises that He will be with us wherever we go.  Just like these two, we need to look and recognize His presence with us and the hope that He brings.

Thank you JesusI pray that my Lenten Blogs have brought you hope and encouragement these past 6 weeks.  I have been mightily blessed by being with you and in the scriptures each day.  I am still pondering the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice and all the truths I have gleaned from the book of Ephesians.   I will continue writing on the post-resurrection appearances leading to Pentecost (40 days after the cross).  Christ appeared many times, before His ascension, to many individuals and groups.   They are affirming and touching encounters that teach us more about the depth of His love and care for us.

Be on the lookout for God sightings this week.  Be assured He is with you!

Linda

Are you using your Sword effectively? Take a lesson from Jesus.

Ephesians 6:17 lists two weapons – the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.  As Paul reminded us in verse 16 these weapons are to be ready in all circumstances.  The helmet of salvation is an offensive weapon like the breastplate of Ephesians 6-17 Swordrighteousness, shoes of the gospel and the belt of truth.  However, the sword of the Spirit is our only physical weapon that can be used both offensively and defensively.   “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,”   

The Sword of the Spirit or the Word of God is a weapon for close combat one to one or for group warfare.  The Word of God includes the physical words in the Bible, the message of the Word, their intended meaning and the actual saying of the words out loud.  Jesus gave us a perfect example of the use of God’s Word in combat when He was confronted by Satan in the wilderness.  Jesus did not try to reason with Satan or argue with him.  He simply used God’s Word and its truth to thwart him.  He answered his questions with the Word of truth. (See Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13 for the account of Satan confronting Jesus in the wilderness.)

We can take a lesson in how to use the Sword of Spirit from Jesus.  We need to learn to use God’s Word when we are confronted with indecision, confusion, difficult circumstances, temptations, fears, etc.  The reason Jesus was able to use God’s Word to rebuff Satan was because He knew the Word of God.  That should lead us to the conclusion that we need to hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we will be ready.  Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Memorizing scripture has eternal value as once you put it into your mind, the Holy Spirit will use it to shape and mold your mind so that you will be stronger in faith, less led into sin and confidently face situations.    We also need to study and immerse ourselves in God’s Word to know more about who God is and what He has for us. Jeremiah 29:11 reveals God’s heart towards us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Studying God’s Word is essential for growth towards maturity as a believer.

Hebrews 4:12 describes God’s Word  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  hebrews 4 12God’s Word is active and alive, remember saying or using the words of God has power to effect lives for Him.  God’s Word helps us to discern God’s truth and discover our hearts intentions.  God’s Word has power and should be treated with reverence as it is God’s defensive gift to us for use in our struggles here on earth.  Know it, use it  and be transformed by it!  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead I have access to the living Word of God that can and will defeat the enemy.

Wield your sword in battle today.  Have God’s power in your hand and on your lips.

Linda

Holy Week- Thursday was the day of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples.  He spent considerable time comforting them and praying for them.  They went to Gethsemane where Jesus prayed,  arrested and led off to trials throughout the night.  Matthew 26:17-46, Mark 14: 12-42, Luke 22:7-46, John 14:1-16:33

Truth and Right Living, Armor up with Christ

Do you suit up properly for life’s battles?  Here are the first pieces of armor in Paul’s list- the belt and  breastplate.   Ephesians 6:14 “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness”,  The first things we are to put on involve our godly ephesians 6 14-beltcharacter- the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness.  The root of the believer’s strength is the character he/she has in Christ.  Godly character is based on the truth of God, who He is, and how you are bound to Him through faith in Christ.  Jesus is truth and knowing Him brings truth into your lifeJohn 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  His Holy Spirit brings believers truth “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:13 and His Word is truth “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”  John 17:17.   The truth of godly character is base on Christ, the Holy Spirit and His Word and are the essential building blocks for godly character in our lives.

Another element of godly character that we are to put on that provides for our defense is His righteousness as ephesians 6 14-breastplateour breastplate.   The breastplate covers the heart and protects our vital organs. Since we cannot be righteous on our own because of our sin nature, we have to depend upon Christ and His righteousness.  Romans 3:21-24 “ But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”   Jesus made the way for us to be righteous before God and give us (imputes) His righteousness to us.  We are renewed through this righteousness from Christ as Paul reminded us in Ephesians 4:20-24 in The Message translation, “But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.”  Righteousness is a key to a life filled with godly character and can only be obtained through Christ.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, only through Him can we have His character.

ephesians 6 14Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have godly character that is based on His truth and righteousness.  These first pieces of armor are crucial to living a life for Christ. Put them on then stand firmly rooted and grounded in Christ.

Linda

 

 

 

Back to the light, shine for Jesus

Do you ever wake up some days and feel like you missed a day?  Somehow I wrote on Ephesians 5:15-20 before writing on Ephesians 5:9-14.   So today I’m going back to our discussion of light and dark and Paul’s admonition to us to be ‘Children of the Light’.     In verses 9-14 Paul gives us more information about what living in the Light of Christ means and what we can expect in our lives because of the light He gives us.

For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    rise up from the dead,
    and Christ will give you light.”

ephesians 5 14Paul instructs us that right living pleases God and that we should expose,  avoid  and to try not to take part in anything ungodly.  The light of truth in Christ will expose the things of darkness and make everything visible.  He concludes with a common hymn of the day to illustrate his point.  The Ephesians (us too) were dead without Christ but coming to faith in Jesus brought them (us) into His light.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, His light can be seen in me.

Strive to do what is good, right and true in the name of Jesus knowing that those behaviors, deeds and actions are pleasing to God and will shine His light into the world around you.  Be that light today!

Linda

Don’t be a victim of the winds, going to and fro!

In Ephesians 4:14-16 Paul expands on the truth from yesterday, we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him.   But what do we do if new ideas come along that seem to contradict what we know about God?   We are reminded in James to look out for doctrines that would sway us away from the truth of the gospel and lead us astray.  James compares our vacillating on truth to the effect of the wind, “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 1:6   Likewise, Paul concludes in Ephesians 4:14-16 that being grounded and rooted in God’s Word will keep us stable and lead us to lives that contribute to the body of believers. 

ephesians 4 14Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

If we desire to move towards maturity in Christ, we need to be grounded in the truth of the gospel, knowledgeable about what scripture teaches  for righteous living and willing to stand firm on God’s Word of truth.  Paul says that this grounding in truth will lead to fuller, richer lives that ephesians 4 16will build up the body of believers and help the whole body of Christ (the church) be stronger.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can mature into Christians that support and love one another.

What are you doing to grow in maturity?  Do you attend church regularly and mediate on what your pastor is preaching on?  Are you in a Bible Study group at your church or elsewhere?  Growing and maturing in Christ does not happen by chance but requires attention to the Word and study.  Be growing in Christ and open to the Holy Spirit’s leading when He presents you with an opportunity for growth.

Linda

Here are two International Bible Study organizations that have classes throughout the world.  Check them out and see if they are near you.  Right now all classes are on-line due to the virus, but they are still going strong as our God is unstoppable.

Bible Study Fellowshiphttp://www.bsf.org

Community Bible Studyhttp://www.cbs.org

 

I AM…the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Jesus spoke these words in comfort to the disciples as He was preparing them for His death and departure.  Some of the most comforting words Jesus spoke come in John 14:1-4 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”   Jesus wanted them to know He was leaving but for them not to fear and know He was going to get a place in heaven ready for them.  Thomas did not understand and questioned Jesus in verse 5, “Lord, we do not know where you are John 14-6 I Am The Way The Truth And The Life blackgoing. How can we know the way?”  Jesus’ answer is profound and complete.  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6    He went on to tell Thomas and the others how He and the Father were one and if they had seen Him then they also had see God the Father and knew Him to be true.

What did Jesus mean with His I AM statement?   I am the way– the way to heaven and eternal life,  the way to a relationship with God.   I am the truth– He is the truth of God, the gospel.  He is the Life-He is the giver of life-both physical and spiritual, the one who brings eternal life through faith in Him, the one who provides fullness of life here and now.   The way to God is only through faith in Jesus.   Jesus was God and knew that men would doubt, men would seek to earn their way to heaven, that men would claim they knew another way to get to heaven through faith in another person or things.  Jesus knew what was coming and His answer leaves not room for those thoughts.  He is the only way to God and He knows that way perfectly.   He is the truth of God, the Life giver for now and eternity and the pathway to reach full relationship with God is through Him alone.   Martin Luther had it right in His 5 Solices- Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, Christ 5 solicesAlone, Grace Alone and Glory to God Alone.  Our faith in Jesus rests on His Word, His person and His Work on the Cross on our behalf.  Thank you Jesus.

Have a blessed day as you ponder the narrowness of the Way to God but also the broadness of it’s extent.  Not one is excluded from coming to Him.  All can come to Him in faith and will be saved.  His arms are wide open to everyone of faith.

Linda

Freedom isn’t free, there is always a cost

Freedom-DaysI want to wish each of you a Happy 4th.  The 4th of July is a favorite holiday filled with BBQ’s, games, swimming, picnicking, corn on the cob, apple pie and fireworks.  But as you know, the 4th is more than that to each of us.  The freedom we enjoy in America was bought with a price.  The cost to those that came before us was filled with sacrifice, hope and struggle.  It continues to cost those who labor daily in the military to ensure our freedom.  Our struggle over the centuries has been to secure, defend and maintain freedom of religion, peace, prosperity and hope for us and our children.  We desire to live in an unbiased, loving and accepting society.  Is this possible? Actually,  I believe it is NOT possible without Christ.  He is the one who can make all things right and gives us the power to love and live in harmony with others.

Today’s thoughts of freedom bring me to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Galatians 5:1.  Paul was teaching the Corinthians how to live together in harmony and purity.  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own: you have been bought at  price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”   Paul was reminding the Galatians what they had in Christ and that it should be their desire and ours to honor God in all we say and do.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  Christ  died for us so that we might be free from sin and its bondage and have the ability to live lives that honor Him.  The cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  He bought us with a price, his life.  He redeemed us from sin’s ultimate consequence-death.  My freedom in Christ was bought with the price of His life on the cross.

I have FREEDOM in Christ- freedom from my sins, freedom to live for Him, freedom from eternal death and freedom to live with Him for eternity.   Just as we are thankful for those who died to secure the freedom we have in America, we need to be thankful for the freedom we have in Christ alone.  He is the one who secures it all and brings us to the place where we can enjoy freedom.

freedomToday as you are thankful for America, think also of the greater freedom you have though Christ and say a prayer of Thanks to Jesus.

Thankful today,

Linda

SALVATION- Thank you Jesus!

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have salvation.  This is a wonderful message filled with hope on this Good Friday.  Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf accomplished what nothing else could.  He was the perfect sacrifice that was wholly accepted by God the Father.  Jesus told us that He was the way to salvation.   Here are a few verses to ponder in your heart as you consider your own faith in Jesus.

acts 4 12John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  The way to salvation is clearly through faith in Jesus.

Acts 4:12 “ And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Salvation can only come through Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”   God’s plan to redeem us from the punishment of sin was through Jesus.

solasTitus 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,”   God’s grace, undeserved favor, was fully shown in sending Jesus.  It is His plan for salvation for everyone who believes and He desires that none should perish but all come to repentance.

Jesus is our salvation, our only hope in this sin-filled world.  He alone can SAVE us!

Linda

Suggestion:  This Good Friday spend time in prayer thanking Jesus for His sacrifice on your behalf.

 

Love, where does it come from?

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have love for others. Jesus was very emphatic that as Christians we are to show love for one another. First we are to love God then others. Matthew 22:37-39 “Jesus replied, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Jesus also spoke of loving others in John 15:12, 15 “My commandment is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” “This is my command:Love each other.”

Why is loving others so important? It shows we strive to be like Jesus. His character and love are perfect and He desires that we grow to reflect Him. Jesus said in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” What is this love supposed to look like? Romans 12:10 gives us direction. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Hebrews 10:24 tells us it is to be a continual thought in our minds, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.

Where does this loving and honoring attitude come from? Since Jesus commands it, when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior His spirit indwells us and empowers us for right living! Paul eloquently wrote to the Ephesians in 3:17b-19 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Being filled with the love of Christ leads us into a life filled with love and good deeds towards others.

Linda

Suggestion: Ask God to send you someone special to love with His love today.

Promises, do you know any to claim?

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

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

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

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

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

Linda

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

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