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!
I believe God is sovereign in all things. This means He supremely rules over everything that happens in our universe. Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” (NIV)
There are many other places in the Bible where we see the same kind of language. However, it is important to remember that He is not Lording over us waiting to punish us for failure. Instead, He is lovingly watching us with a plan in mind to bless us and redeem us. If we truly believe that He is sovereign, we would not want to step outside of His will for our lives.
It takes work to enter in and live a lifestyle of participation with His blessing. Many of you are doing the work. However, many stand on the outside and scoff, thinking that nothing will ever change. They are the ones missing out; who will slide down a slippery slope and continue to miss out, they will not see God do anything, they will become angry with God…and the whole time, He is waiting right there for you to return to Him.
Hebrews 4:16 tells us to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
I was just reading through Exodus again where the guidelines were laid out for the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant. There was a lot of emphasis given to the mercy seat. This has not changed. It is important that we understand God’s grace that has been extended so that we may receive mercy!
You are not doomed because of the mistakes of your past. Grace is presently available because of Jesus Christ. RUN TO HIM!
Galatians 2:16 reminds us that “a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ…” Simply put, we are justified (declared as righteous) by our faith in Jesus, not what we do.
Leviticus 20:7 tells us to “consecrate yourselves and be holy.” Setting yourself aside to act holy is something you choose to do (or to not do).
Second Corinthians 5:17+18 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
This one works in two parts, it is cyclical. We are being reconciled to God but also we are called to be His ambassadors and encourage others to be reconciled to Him.
It’s awesome to take solice in the fact that we are made righteous through what Christ did on the cross, but the real work is just beginning at that point. We must actively consecrate ourselves so that we can be used by Him to call others into this relationship!
On Sunday I attempted to detail, as much as possible, all the things that Jesus did AFTER His resurrection and BEFORE His ascension. This would have been 40 days, as noted in Acts 1:1-3
“The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God”
It’s difficult to be exactly precise with these details as the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) record things differently based on the perspective of the authors (and likely based on their memory, as these books were written 30-60 years after Christ’s death). The following is a list (by no means exhaustive) of some of the things Jesus did during those 40 days.
- Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18) (756)
- He appears to two other disciples and has communion with them (Luke 24:13-16, 28-31) (This was Cleopas and either his wife or Simon Peter or possibly someone else–see Luke 24:33-35 or John 19:25)
- He appears to the disciples (John 20:19-23)
- He appears to Thomas 8 days later (John 20:26)
- He did more miracles (John 20:30 and 21:25)
- He appears at the Sea of Tiberias and has breakfast with the disciples (John 21:1-14)
- He restores Peter (John 21:15-19)
- He blessed them and ascended (Luke 24:50)
A few things worth noting include:
- If Jesus appeared to Peter after Mary Magdalene (as Luke 24:34 makes the assumption that Jesus had already appeared to “Simon” who was most likely Simon Peter). There is however, no other mention of this story anywhere. Regardless, I love the fact that Jesus clearly forgave Peter for denying knowing Him. He apparently spoke over Peter that he would be the first missionary.
- It is also important to note that Jesus “breathed on” the disciples (John 20:22). Obviously God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7) and God breathed life into the bones in Ezekiel 37.
- There is outside historical evidence of these things. For further reading, click this link https://bible.org/article/ancient-evidence-jesus-non-christian-sources
Happy Easter! Before I get into my Easter presentation, let’s remember what Jesus Christ represented: Matthew 1:21-23 “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.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”
This signified God coming down to be with His people; He would no longer be limited as being God above.
The life of Jesus upended the ideology that God was in some sort of box and could only be approached through a certain specialized manner. If you look at the miracles Jesus did in the book of John (specifically, the ones notated as the Book of Signs), you see that Jesus did things that directly confronted what was customary, legalistic, and expected. He healed in various manners (no recipe) and gave a nod to some Old Testament stories by doing updated versions of those miracles. These were never coincidental.
Christ’s death and resurrection allowed for a transfer of authority so that we could walk with this same kind of authority and be His message bearers (Matthew 28:16-20). We celebrate Easter to remember that Jesus is no longer on the cross or in the tomb. HE IS RISEN and we must live our lives in a way which represents that He is alive in us.
My favorite verse is Matthew 4:20 “At once, they left their nets and followed Him.”
I love the simplicity of the wording and the power of what it represents. In a single moment, these disciples left their nets and their livelihood (the only lifestyle they had ever known) to follow Jesus.
On Sunday, I expanded on this story to include what happened leading up to this verse.
John 1:35-39 tells of a few guys seeing Jesus walk by for the first time. They decided to seek Him out and stay with Jesus for the remainder of the day.
In Luke 5:1-3, we see that Jesus had to get into Simon’s boat so He could continue teaching the crowd. At this point, these disciples decided to welcome Jesus into their everyday lives.
Finally, Luke 5:4-11 shows that Jesus did something miraculous in that boat which led to other fishermen being blessed with such a large catch of fish. This is when the disciples decided to follow Jesus.
Friends, these are the three steps of faith: seek, welcome, and follow. As we learn to do that, we will also learn to expect more from God!