Holy Week, Thursday, Where’s Jesus?

As Jesus’ time on earth draws to a close, His Thursday was filled with love, encouragement, heartbreak and pain.  As Jesus celebrated the Passover supper with His disciples in the Upper Room, Judas was dismissed as he had already decided in his heart to betray Jesus.  Then Jesus spent precious hours teaching, reassuring and praying for His disciples.  Later they went to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and gained strength from His Father.  The soldiers came into the garden to arrest Jesus, and he was betrayed by Judas. They led him away to be tried in numerous trials both civilian and religious.  He was beaten, flogged, insulted and denied by Peter.

During all this time, Jesus was focused on doing the will of the Father and completing His mission on earth, the redemption of mankind.  I am touched when I consider His prayer in the Upper Room as recorded in John 17: 20-23 as he was thinking of me and you and not the ordeal he was facing.

I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.  (Message)

I was amazed that Jesus took time to pray for His mission, His disciples and All future believers that night in the Upper Room.  He wanted all future believers to be unified in faith so we can tell others that Jesus was and is real and was sent by the Father.  He says that the unity of our faith and oneness with Christ will give evidence to the unbelieving world that God loves us and truly sent His Son to redeem us.  This unity was so important to our Lord and Savior that He interceded for us.  Jesus wants us to be one in Spirit, united, telling others about Him.

What difference does it make that Jesus spend time on the last night before his crucifixion praying for you?  When you are with other believers do you strive for the unity Christ desired or are you seeking to divide and cause unrest in matters of faith with your brothers and sisters in Christ?  Are you about the sharing of your faith with others by showing kindness, love and speaking of the hope you have in Jesus?  Today, think of Jesus and what He desires for all believers.  Strive to walk in unity.  He promises it will show the world that we believe in Him and God’s love.

Prayer:  Father, I am humbled and amazed that Jesus prayed for me on His last night on earth.  He loved me so much and wanted me to be one in faith and unified in spirit with all believers.  Help me to live today with an abiding faith in You so that the people I meet will know that I love You and that You love me. Empower me to show your love to others so that you may be glorified in all I say and do. Amen.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be unified with other believers in Jesus’ name and share in His love.

Linda

What Kind of Character Are You Wearing?

I love today’s portion of scripture from Colossians 3:12-14 as Paul gives us clear directives on how to live the life we now have in Christ. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Paul’s challenges are found repeatedly throughout the New Testament. He challenges us to live like we are chosen by God and dearly loved by Him. 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Ephesians 5:1 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.”

We are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Philippians 4:5 “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

We are to live with each other upholding and uplifting and forgiving. Forgiving because we have been forgiven! Christ is our example. Ephesians 4:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

We are to love one another as that will bind us together in unity. John 13:34-35 ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 7:33 “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Paul’s familiar challenges call us to stand firmly in Christ clinging to His desires and promises for our lives. Though the power of His Holy Spirit, Christ enables us to live for Him and grow in character. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am enabled to live for Christ showing character that is humble, gentle, patient, compassionate, forgiving, loving and united with others.

Linda

Claim your Treasures!

Chapter 2 of Colossians starts with Paul showing us his empathy for the believers in Colossae and Laodicea, a nearby town. Epaphras has filled him in on the great needs and struggles of both of these churches. Paul identifies with their struggles and wants them to know he is united to them by love even if they have never met. Colossians 2:1-3 “I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” He wants them to understand the wonderful mystery that Christ reveals- redemption, forgiveness and salvation for all who believe. In Christ is life and knowledge that is a treasure for living a guided, indwelt and redeemed life.

What part of this treasure do you possess? Do you know Christ’s great love? Have you experienced the strong ties to other believers as you work, study and encourage one another in your walk with Christ? Do you have a treasure chest filled with good things Christ has given you? All of these are YES in Christ! Here are some of the benefits Paul wanted the Colossian and Laodicean Christians to experience: LOVEJohn 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” UNITY- 1 Corinthians 1:18-20 “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” CONFIDENCE- 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,” HIDDEN TREASURES of WISDOM and KNOWLEDGEPsalm 51:6 “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,  and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

Paul wanted the Colossians and Laodiceans to have all these treasures so they could live a life worthy of the calling of Christ and shine for Him in a dark world. Paul wants these things for us too, claim them today. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can claim treasures in Christ that will fill me with His confidence, wisdom and knowledge so I can be united to other believers by His love.

Linda

God’s got this, claim His JOY!

The passage in Philippians for today is one of my very favorite. I get comfort, assurance and hope from these words given by Paul. However, he leads into this great passage with a problem. Several of the women in the church were causing problems because of their disagreements. Paul calls them to be unified and of one accord. He knows them, knows they are all believers and wants them to recognize the potential danger of their disagreements to the body of Christ. We all need to heed his words and examine our hearts lest we fall into the same trap that Satan uses to divide the body. Philippians 4:2-3 “Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.”

Paul exhorts them to put all disagreements aside and focus on what is important in their spiritual life. Philippians 4:4-6 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” What great advice Paul gives to those arguing women, to the whole church there in Phillipi and to us in the 2020! Focus on what matters in your spiritual life- have JOY! Be reasonable, gentle with everyone! Remember Jesus is going to return! Don’t be overcome with worry about things, people or places- tell God what you need with a thankful heart. Wow! What perfect advice for our day. So many times we get mired down in worry about ‘things’, people- relationships or events. Paul is saying that is worthless worry. Let God know what you need, pray with a thankful heart and claim His JOY in your life. God’s got this so pray and claim His joy!

Joy– Let your joy be real and contagious!

Joy– Be joyfully gentle with everyone in your life!

Joy– Being assured that Jesus will return = JOY!

Joy– pray with thankfulness knowing He cares for you, loves you and will attend to your needs.

Words to live by then and now!

Linda

Be All that You can Be!

Ephesians Chapter 4 begins with an impassioned plea by Paul to the Ephesians to live a life worthy of being called a believer, one who in faith decides to follow Jesus.

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”  Ephesians 4:1-3

eph-4-1Paul begins with ‘therefore’ as he wants his reader to remember all the points he has made so far in his letter about unity, love, the power of God and loving and serving each other. He sees himself as a slave or bond servant of Christ.  Paul is totally committed to Christ and to them in love.  He is willing to do what ever is need to tell other about Christ and the freedom available through faith in Him.  Paul has experienced the transforming power of Christ in his life and sees the fruits of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  He is calling all those who follow Christ to step up and be followers in name and deed.   Paul wants the Ephesians Christians to treat each other with love, patience, gentleness, humility, giving each other the benefit of the doubt, and walk and work together in unity.   It is a tall order, but one that Paul knows they can live up to through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

What about you?  Do you see yourself as one who serves others in humility with love and gentleness?   When you are involved with other believers and unbelievers,  do they see Christ in you?  Lent is a time of reflection, a time to examine our lives, thoughts, deeds, motives and heart.  Look at what Paul is asking through the lens of the cross.  He is challenging you to be worthy believers,  but not in your own power but through His.  Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are ephesians 4 2-3indwelt, empowered and enabled to act and be more and more like Jesus as we grow in Him.

‘Be all that you can be!’ is a slogan made famous by the Army.  However, it is our commander, Jesus, who empowers us to be all in Him.  Endeavor to live that way today as you seek to relate to others in Jesus’ name being all He has made you to be!

Linda

3rd Sunday of Lent, 2020 Need a place to worship? Join us on YouTube

This second week of Lent has given us important action verbs of faith from Ephesians- brought near, united as one Spirit and family,  founded in Christ, privileged in faith and having access to Almighty God.  What a week filled with truths in the midst of panic, fear and doubt due to the Corona-19 virus.   New words have occurred- social distancing and self-quarantining that seek to limit and restrain us.  The truths from Ephesians are free, open and available even in a crisis.  They will transform our lives, assure us in faith and move us forward together in Christ.  Let the truths from Ephesians 2 and 3 seep into your soul and let the Holy Spirit use them to transform your faith.  Let them replace any fears you are feeling.

Truths:

  •  we are brought near to God through the blood of Christ.   Ephesians 2:13
  • we are one in Spirit.   Ephesians 2: 14,18
  • we are united in Christ as He is our foundation and chief cornerstone.  Ephesians 2:19-23
  • we are part of God’s family plan that is filled with His blessings in Christ.  Ephesians 3:6
  • we are privileged to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus to the world.   Ephesians 3:7-11
  • we have access to the Father in prayer.  Ephesians 3:12

Blessings as you worship today- in most places virtually,  as we practice social distancing due to the Corona-19 Virus.  Our church service will be live streamed on YouTube today-you can tune in at 10:30 am PST to hear our worship band and Pastor Aaron Gonzenbach preach from the Word.  You simply type:  wearecrossroads  into Youtube and it should take you there.

Blessings as you seek to live fearlessly for Him,

Linda

 

The Cross = unity for all believers

Paul concludes this Chapter 2 of Ephesians with very persuasive words for the Ephesian Christians.   They are all indeed part of the family of God!   Gentiles are no longer considered aliens but full members in God’s house.  This house of God is built on Jesus, as the builders would say, He is the chief cornerstone of the church and it is filled with His Holy Spirit. The faith of those before us, the apostles and prophets, are solidly at the foundational level of this building called God’s church.   All believers in Jesus add levels to the ‘building’ God is building with us.  Paul also wants us to know that no one is without family, all belong with the Father through faith in Jesus.

ephesians 2 20Ephesians 2:19-23  “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.”   

I am sure that Paul’s letter was a great relief to the leader’s of the Ephesian church as Paul tried to settle the issue of differences, entitlement, arrogance and snobbery.  We are family of Godall one in God’s church and Jesus is our foundation.  Praise God!  I love this message and have been a part of several Interdenominational Bible Studies for many years.  I love the community of believers and the strength of the gospel message that we are all believers in the same cross, the same Lord and the same Spirit.  Paul’s message brings unity to believers and open handedness  among believers.

Who can you reach out to today with an open heart of love and acceptance?   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are united in Christ as He is our foundation and chief cornerstone.

Linda

Cross of Christ = peace and equal access through the Holy Spirit

Paul continues to speak to the Ephesians about their disconnectedness and hostility towards each other, and their great need to see themselves as one in Christ.  wall of hostilityEphesians 2:14 “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.”   He concludes in verse 18, “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”

How often do you see differences in the practices of faith as divisive?  On matters of baptism, dress, communion, music, worship styles, we can and do differ.  On matters of the heart of Ephesians 2-18the gospel- the saving power of Jesus and His death and resurrection, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His transforming power there should be no division.  As Paul says we are united and can approach God or have access to God through His Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.  Jesus has brought us peace and equal access to God the Father. 

ephesians-2-14Let the heart of the gospel guide you as you connect with other Christians and unbelievers,  so that the truth of His Spirit will shine through your life.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are one in access to His Spirit and can have His peace.   Praise God for His powerful Holy Spirit that allows us access to God and His peace.

Linda

I am a member of Christ’s body.

Because I believe Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead, I am a member of Christ’s body.  This biblical truth is spoken of many times in the Bible.  Believers are considered to be part of Christ’s body, which is the church.  Paul explains 1 corinthians 12 27this amazing unity with Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12 “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”  verse 27 “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”   In Romans 12: 4-5 Paul also speaks of this unique blending of believers into a body that functions to support each other in Christ.  For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”  The idea of us working together and supporting one another as a body committed to Christ is also expressed in Ephesians 4:11-12 “ And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,”

The-Body-of-Christ-Open-1So what does this mean for you and me?  Do you consider yourself a member of Christ’s body, the church?  “The Church” is the body of believers throughout the world that believe that Christ is their Lord and Savior.   Together, whether local or within the world, we are to work to spread the good news of Christ and His redeeming work.  Not all of us are preachers or teachers but we all have a special gift and are equipped by God so we can contribute to the body and support each other in faith.  Are you using your gifts to encourage other believers?  Christ suffered and died for each of us and desires that we all work together as members of His body to reach a needy world.

United in Christ we stand,

Linda