Easter…continued!

We all love to celebrate Easter but do we really talk much about it after Easter Sunday? The 40 days that Jesus appeared to people AFTER His resurrection were arguably the MOST valuable days He spent on Earth. So many things happened because of His death and His resurrection and His ascension (going back into Heaven)!

Upon His death, Mark 15:37 reports that the veil which separated mankind from God was torn apart! This was so important! Since the institution of tabernacle in Exodus 26, we knew that God had to intentionally set Himself apart from the sin of mankind with a curtain that was intricately woven and more than 6 inches thick! This would not have torn easily, but Jesus’ death caused this to happen. This made it possible for us to approach God again because Christ’s blood covered over our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21)!

After this, Jesus appeared to His disciples (among hundreds of other people) to do two very important things:

  • Luke 24:45-53 “He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”
  • Matthew 28:16-30 He transferred His authority and told them to go into the world and spread the word.

Finally, His ascension meant that we could have the Holy Spirit with us at all times! (Remember that this was impossible before His death.) The disciples would definitely be jealous of us; as we are able to access His glory any time we want! They had to wait for Jesus to be with them in person but we don’t!

The Holy Spirit gives us 25/7 access to the following:

  • An advocate who comforts us (John 14:26 says He is a “parakletos” in Greek, which means one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant)
  • A supreme teacher of God’s Word (John 14:26)
  • Conviction of sin, which is a good thing! (John 16:8)
  • Intercession on our behalf (Romans 8:26-34)
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Forgiving Ourselves…and moving on (part 2)

We see an interesting comparison between the lives of Judas and Peter. They both followed Jesus and knew Him personally. They both betrayed Him. Yet the stories end very differently. Judas realized he sinned and kind of tried to make it right by returning the silver but still took matters into his own hands instead of forgiving himself and moving on. Peter, on the other hand, wept after he realized his sin but continued serving God; and the resurrected Jesus restored him!

Do not let your mistakes define you! You can always, always repent and turn back to God and be used by Him again! That is the beauty of grace and forgiveness!

Forgiving Ourselves…and moving on!

When you think of King David who famously defeated Goliath and wrote most of the Psalms, it is easy to forget the terrible sins he committed with Bathsheba and having her husband killed (recorded in 2 Samuel 11). Fortunately, he had a friend named Nathan who confronted him about this and he repented. Psalm 51 is where David repented of this. Three things that stand out to me in this prayer of repentance are:

  1. that he understood his sin was against God alone (verses 1-4)
  2. he seems to forgive himself as he asks God to restore his joy (verse 13)
  3. he asks God to help him use this to help others (verse 14)

Not long after this, we see David extending kindness where many would agree that he had the right to deliver vengeance (for further reading, look up 19-Shimei, Mephibosheth, and Barzillai). Did you know that Goliath wasn’t the only giant? David and his army went on to defeat Goliath’s son and three brothers (2 Samuel 21:15-22)!

David did not let his failure and sin define his future!!!

The Revelation

We don’t talk about Revelation much but I’ve been studying some of it recently. Revelation chapters two and three are where Jesus gave a final message to seven churches. I find it very interesting that He says to them that He sees them and knows them. Jesus knows what you’re going through and is there to guide you.

In Revelation 2,  Jesus talks about providing manna and a white stone to whomever listens to His word. We see manna all throughout the Bible used as miraculous provision for God’s people. It is what rained down from heaven when the Israelites were on their journey in the wilderness (see Exodus 16). The white stone is even more interesting. In the Hebrew culture, a white stone was used as a ticket to a banquet, a sign of friendship, evidence of having been counted (for citizenship/census), or as a sign of acquittal in a court of law. When someone gave a white stone with your name on it, it was a sign of acceptance. Jesus extends a personalized invitation to His people who persevere through the trials!

The Three Little Pigs

As we continue the “Fables to Faith” series, I used The Three Little Pigs as an illustrated message this past Sunday. The first two pigs didn’t really take the wolf too seriously. They did not put in the proper effort required to ensure that their house was built properly.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-25, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

As believers, we must be diligent about the house we are building for ourselves. I spoke largely about the story of Nehemiah. He worked to repair the walls of Jerusalem and he could not do that on his own. If the three pigs had worked together from the beginning, they would have had no problems. The book of Nehemiah, chapter one, verses two through four tell us that, upon hearing of the need in Jerusalem,  Nehemiah immediately prayed for wisdom. He then gathered people together to ensure the work was done safely (chapter three). They encountered opposition (4:7-9) but they didn’t let it stop them (4:20-23).

Three important things to remember are:

A safe structure keeps the wolf out. Stay in the Word of God and meditate on it often to keep your spiritual guard up against attack.

A safe structure provides protection for those within. As you keep that guard up, your faith will grow and your worry and fear should fade.

A safe structure encourages others to confide in you. This is how we can be the light on the hill. Our friends should think of us when they need someone to confide in.

The Power of Good

Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that, “The tongue has the power of life and death…” We have the power of good within us and we owe it to ourselves to use it in every situation.

Are you speaking life into your situation? It’s easy to accept things the way the are and feel you have no options, but God’s solutions to life’s difficulties often do not come in the ways we expect. He regularly uses the unexpected to show His goodness in our lives in a way we never could have imagined. 

I would like us to look at the story of Joseph and his brothers after their father’s death (Genesis 50). Verses 15-21 paint a picture of a man who has decided to use the power of good over what his brothers expected to be very bad: “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. 18His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

If you see that story from the perspective of the brothers; can you imagine the relief that must have come as they watched Joseph weep and reassure them that their seemingly soon-to-be bad situation would actually be no big deal?

This speaks largely to the characteristics of goodness in the God we serve! He is truly a good, loving Father!

Christmas (continued)

If you continue reading Luke chapter two (after the shepherds leave), you will see two more additional figures that are not represented in the traditions Christmas story. Simeon and Anna both were in position to receive the newborn King. They were listening to the Holy Spirit and waiting at the temple to see Him. It is not known exactly how long they waited for Jesus but they clearly did not move until God confirmed His promise to them.

Be encouraged by this. God’s plan is perfect in His timing and we should not move from where He has commanded us to wait until He gives release.