JESUS HAS RISEN!

JESUS HAS RISEN!

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven.  He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’  And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’  You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.  An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” —Matthew 16:1-4

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. —Matthew 12:40

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. —Matthew 16:21

            The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our faith.  Without the resurrection “our preaching is worthless, and so is your faith.  In that case, we are also exposed as false witnesses about God. For we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead, but He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If our hope in Christ is for this life alone, we are to be pitied more than all men.  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…” (I Corinthians 15:14-20).

            Jesus “through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:1-4).  “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve.  After that, He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  And last of all He appeared to me also, as to one of untimely birth” (I Corinthians 15:3-8).

            Yes, Jesus arose and because He lives we also live in Him who have called on His Name.  We live for Him now and forever.  Hallelujah!  Jesus rose from the dead!

Dear Father I am so grateful for what Jesus has done for me at the cross and through His resurrection.  Out of thankfulness may I be faithful and live this life in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.  May it be so!

DOUBTING

DOUBTING

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”  —Matt 11:2-6

            John, in prison, was he having doubts about who Jesus was?  Apparently so!  Difficult circumstances for the one it was said of that “he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).  Were these prison circumstances affecting his thinking?  Were they affecting the reality of what he had gone through in life up to this point?  Apparently so!  John even said of himself:

And this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?”  He did not refuse to confess, but openly declared, “I am not the Christ.”  “Then who are you?” they inquired. “Are you Elijah?”  He said, “I am not.”  “Are you the Prophet?”  He answered, “No.”  So they said to him, “Who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”  John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet: “I am a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”  Then the Pharisees who had been sent asked him, “Why then do you baptize, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”  “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands One you do not know.  He is the One who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”  All this happened at Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. —John 1:19-28

            Amazingly it is said of John— “There came a man who was sent from God. His name was John.  He came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that through him everyone might believe. He himself was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light” (John 1:6-8).  And yet as John was in that dreary prison thoughts of doubt rose up in his mind— “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Jesus did not condemn John about his doubt.  Instead He reminded John of the work He was doing.  Work only the Messiah could do.  Jesus encouraged John through His Word.

            Going through a dark time?  Let God encourage you through His Word.  Let Him remind You who He is, who you are and the reasons for why we are living and the home we will one day arrive at… that home in heaven with Jesus and all who love Him.  Until then, “let us run with endurance the race set out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).  Whatever our race entails, let us run it for His glory.  He designed our course.  Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus… the author and finisher of our faith!  Jesus endured for the joy to come… May we as well!

Dear Father please help me to run and finish the race You have designed for me.  May I do so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.  Thank You for the joy of knowing Jesus and the joy that is before me… the joy to come…

THE PARABLE OF THE FISHLESS FISHERMEN

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” —Matthew 9:37

There was a group called The Fishermen’s Fellowship. They were surrounded by streams and lakes swarming with hungry fish. They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, the abundance of fish, and the thrill of catching fish. They got all excited about fishing! The only problem was, they really weren’t fishing.

One member suggested that they needed a fishing philosophy, so they carefully defined and redefined fishing, and the purpose of fishing. They developed fishing strategies and tactics.

Then they realized that they had been going at it backwards. They had approached fishing from the point of view of the fisherman, and not from the point of view of the fish. How do fish view the world? How does the fisherman appear to the fish? What do fish eat, and when? These are all good things to know. So they began research studies, and attended conferences on fishing. Some traveled to far away places to study different kinds of fish, with different habits. Some got PhD’s in fishology.

They did assessment surveys to see if future fishermen had the competency to fish. They planted new Fishermen Fellowship communities and continued to launch additional campuses. They had droves of weekly small groups made up of fishermen.
But still no one had yet gone fishing.

So a committee was formed to send out fishermen. As prospective fishing places outnumbered fishermen, the committee needed to determine priorities. A priority list of fishing places was posted on bulletin boards in all of the fellowship halls. But still, no one was fishing. A survey was launched, to find out why. Most did not answer the survey, but from those that did, it was discovered that some felt called to study fish, others to furnish fishing equipment, and several to go around encouraging the fishermen. What with meetings, conferences, and seminars, they just simply didn’t have time to fish.

Now, Jake was a newcomer to the Fishermen’s Fellowship. After one stirring meeting of the Fellowship, he went fishing and caught a large fish. At the next meeting, he told his story, and he was honored for his big catch. He was told that he had a special “gift of fishing.” He was then scheduled to speak at all the Fellowship chapters and tell how he did it.

With all the speaking invitations and his election to the board of directors for the Fishermen’s Fellowship, Jake no longer had time to go fishing. But soon he began to feel restless and empty. He longed to feel the tug on the line once again. So he cut the speaking, he resigned from the board, and he said to a friend, “Let’s go fishing.”
They did, just the two of them, and they caught fish.

The members of the Fishermen’s Fellowship were many, the fish were plentiful, but the fishers were few!

Dear Father, please help me to be a fisher of men that they might know You, honor You and be fishers of men for You as well.  May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Your Son.  Yes, may this be so.

YOU ARE UNDER AUTHORITY

YOU ARE UNDER AUTHORITY

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.”  And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.”  But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one,‘Go,’and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’and he does it.”  When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. —Matthew 8:6-10

            This centurion, this soldier that oversaw one hundred other men, came to Jesus in humility.  He did not feel worthy to have Jesus come into his house and he knew Jesus only had to”say the word” and his servant would be healed.  Jesus said of this soldier “to those who followed Him, ‘Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.’”  He was saying this to a group of Jewish followers about a Gentile soldier whose military was occupying their land.  A soldier who Jesus’ followers probably were not too fond of!

            Why did Jesus say this about the centurion’s faith?  This soldier understood from his own life that he had authority to give an order and it was to be obeyed.  He knew that Jesus had the authority to just give the command and his servant would be healed.  This centurion had no doubt about that and Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.” 

            How about you and me?  Do we have that type of faith?  Do we understand the authority Jesus has?  What He says do we believe He will do?  When He speaks will we trust Him to fulfill what He says?  Well, He has said much to us through His Word.  Do we have the faith of the centurion to believe what He says and then to be and do what He says?  Are we truly living under the authority of Jesus?

Dear Father may I be like the centurion and trust fully what You say.  May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus!

HE KNOW YOUR NEEDS… FOCUS ON HIM

HE KNOWS YOUR NEEDS… FOCUS ON HIM

…your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. —Matthew 6:32-34

            God knows what you need!  Is it your first priority to seek His kingdom?  Is it your priority to see His righteousness?  If this is the case then you do not have to worry about what you need.  He will give you what I need.  The question is “what are your priorities.  The trouble with many of us is that we want to answer our prayers for the needs we have, but we are not willing to have Him as first priority in our lives.  Other things or people take precedence over our relationship with Him.  We are more focused on temporary, worldly things than on eternal, heavenly things.  Then we wonder why our prayers are not answered.  We want God on our terms, not on His.

            There are those who worry about tomorrow.  Why worry about something that hasn’t even arrived yet?  Worry is worry because of focusing on the negative bad things that may or may not happen.  Ever see anyone worry about something positive and good happening?  It is typically about the possible bad things that may happen people worry about or about situations they cannot control.

            Years ago when my wife Elaine was overseas and I got this thought in my head that she was not coming back.  The thought seemed so real and really bothered me.  I went to a brother to talk with him about it and as I explained what I was thinking my eyes welled up.  This brother just said, “Ted, you know where those thoughts are coming from.”  That is all he had to say and I stopped worrying.  It was wrong thinking.  Wrong thinking can truly impact our lives in negative ways.  Satan truly wants us to worry and not trust our Lord God Almighty.  This is why we need to focus on God’s kingdom and on His righteousness.  He is in control and we can trust Him fully for our needs.  It is always great to have someone to talk to about it as well.

Dear Father I am grateful that You not only know my needs but that You can meet those needs.  Yes, may I fully trust You by the power of Your Holy Spirit and by the authority of Jesus.

FRUIT BEARING DEMONSTRATES SALVATION

FRUIT BEARING DEMONSTRATES SALVATION

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.   —Matthew 3:8

 I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.

            A doctor is a doctor by the evidence of his actions and not just because he says he is one.  There is an outward demonstration that he truly is a doctor.  So it is with any vocation.  A person can say they are a fisherman, a carpenter, a lawyer, a stockbroker or whatever else, but is the evidence seen in their lives that truly proves what they are.

            So it is with following our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is one thing to say “yes, I believe” and yet if there is not fruit in the person’s life bearing witness to that statement— has the person repented and truly believed?  If a person has truly repented then there should be indication of that in their lives.  A person cannot follow Jesus and over time not be transformed and desire the desires that He desires.  If an individual says they believe and is filled with their own desires… well, that is very concerning.

            How about you and I?  Is there fruit in our lives that bears evidence that we have truly repented?  Yes?  What does that fruit look like?  Am I just saying I am bearing fruit or is there visual evidence of that fruit?  What would others say about our lives?  Would they say they see fruit?  Oh, may we faithfully follow our Lord and bear much fruit for His glory (John 15:5).  In this way we prove to be His disciples (John 15:8).

Dear Father may my life bring glory to Your Name by fruit bearing.  May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.  Oh, that it may be so!   

GOD GIVES THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION

GOD GIVES THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).  When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,  but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. —Matthew 1:18-24

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.  So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. —Psalm 81:11-12

            How heart-broken Joseph must have been to think Mary had a sexual relationship with another man and now she is pregnant by him.  They were betrothed.  They were going to get married.  They had committed themselves to each other and now this?

            Joseph was a righteous man and even in his pain was not willing to react and “put her to shame.”  No, he was not going to publicly expose her.  Instead, he was “resolved to divorce her quietly.”  And so this was the counsel he decided he was going to take.  With the evidence he had this was his decision. 

            But then… “as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’”  Ok… this changes everything about the situation.  Joseph did not have all the information he needed to make the correct decision about Mary.  But when God sent and angel to tell him what he needed to know, then Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”  This child Mary was carrying was “conceived in her from the Holy Spirit” and “would save his people from their sins.”  This child to be born of Mary was actually “Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” 

            Unlike the people of Israel in the past, Joseph did submit to God and do what He desired and it was not an easy situation.  God may be calling you to an uneasy situation, but with the limited information you have at this time you might be thinking the opposite of God’s intent.  Be patient.  He may want you to have some more information before you make the decision you need to make.  But when the information comes then act upon it as Joseph did.

Dear Father help me to be patient and expect You to give me the information I need to make the decisions You desire me to make.  May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus and for Your glory.

BE FAITHFUL AND TRUST GOD

BE FAITHFUL AND TRUST GOD

But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy. —II Chronicles 36:16

            It is a dangerous thing to mock the messengers of God.  How treacherous it is to despise His Word and to scoff at those sent by Him.  To reject them is to reject Him!  There is a point when the wrath of the Lord will act on a people or individual.  When He does act in wrath there will be no remedy… none…

            Brother and sister let us be faithful in proclaiming His message and trust the results with Him.  Let us warn people of the wrath to come  There will be those who mock and scoff, but there are those who will call on His Name as we did.  So, just be faithful. 

Dear Father may I be faithful in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.  Yes, may I share Your Word with whoever will be receptive.

PAY ATTENTION AND LISTEN TO THE LORD!

PAY ATTENTION AND LISTEN TO THE LORD!

The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention.  —II Chronicles 33:10

            The Lord sought to get an ear from the king and his people, but they would not listen to Him!  Can you imagine the Lord speaking to you and you pay no attention?  You turn from Him and ignore Him.  What is He saying to you?  Will you pay attention?  Not only will you listen, but will you obey?

            Are you and I not even taking the time to listen?  Is the business of life crowding out your time with the Lord?  How could the Lord speak to you if you are not even lending Him an ear?  Who or what is more important than He is?  What does your calendar tell you?  What does your checkbook tell you?  What does your life’s focus and priorities tell you?  Are you listening…listening… listening to Him?

            Is the Lord speaking to you as a leader?  Is He also speaking to your local church body?  What is He saying?  How will you respond?  Oh, that you and I would be and do what He desires!

            There is truth in the saying, “Sin will keep you from this Book or this Book will keep you from sin.”  We could say, “Sin will keep you from listening, but listening will keep you from sin.” 

“Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER ME! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” —Psalm 19:13

“Establish my footsteps in Your word, And do NOT let any iniquity HAVE DOMINION OVER ME.” —Psalm 119:133

“For sin shall NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER YOU: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” —Romans 6:14

            Before we knew Jesus we had no choice but to follow fleshly, sinful desires.  But now that we know Him, let our prayer be “Lord, please keep help me to live according to Your Word.  Help me to listen and obey to what You say.  Please do not let sin have dominion over me and keep me from great transgression.  Thank You that I live under Your grace.  In gratitude may I live faithful to honor You.  May it be so!”

Are you listening?

Dear Father may I truly be listening to what You are saying.  Please help me to hear, be and obey Your desires.  May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of my Lord Jesus.  So be it!

LORD, BE PLEASED TO WORK QUICKLY AMONG US!

LORD, BE PLEASED TO WORK QUICKLY AMONG US!

Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly. —II Chronicles 29:36

            Hezekiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” and acted according to what the Lord placed on his heart.  Temple worship was restored.  The priests and Levites returned to their service in the temple and purified the temple and everything in it.  Sacrifices and offering were once again taking place as well as singing accompanied by instruments. 

            King Hezekiah knelt and worshipped.  He encouraged the people to bring “sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings” (II Chronicles 29:31).  All of this took place quickly because it was God who did it.  Yet, the people did their part as the Lord had put it on their hearts.

            Hmmm… can this happen today?  Of course it can.  It takes one or more to be doing “what is right in the eyes of the Lord” and then to encourage others to do the same.  Then, in God’s purpose and plans, He could bring about revival quickly.  So, let us be what He desires us to be and to be doing what He desires us to be doing and He may bring about revival quickly and impact many!  Yes, may hearts be yielded to His will!

Dear Father may this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus!  Help me to be and do what You desire and leave the results with You.  But please help me to be faithful and do what is right in Your eyes.  Yes, so be it!