Tag Archives: John

“Just as He said….”

 

risen lordAfter the Sabbath, three women arrive at the tomb of Jesus as the sun was rising. They had come to anoint the body of Jesus and along the way had discussed and questioned: “Who will roll the stone away for us?” Upon their arrival, their discussion was abruptly ended for with eyes to see and ears to hear the scene before them brought several emotions to the surface. The stone was already removed and on it sat an illuminating man, an angel, brilliant like lightning, in snow-white garments. He had been dispatched from heaven to roll the stone away not to release Jesus but to proclaim Jesus.

As they stood perplexed he spoke: “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember… “

What were they to remember?  “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”  and the sign of Jonah:  “as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”

In fear and trepidation they left and went and told the disciples all that they had heard. Their words were received as nonsense with the exception of Peter and John who went to investigate.  Peter left wondering, John left believing.

Beloved, the tomb is empty, He has risen! Do you remember these words? Will you share them this day?

My Hope When I Fall…..

ImageMark ended his gospel message with hope but there was one disciple who still was lingering and wondering; Peter. Where is he emotionally, spiritually, physically at this time as he considers the possibilities of what may lie ahead? He recoiled at the memory of his courtyard experience where he had denied Jesus three times just as prophesied and had left weeping bitterly. From that point he returned to the only safe haven he knew; with his beloved friends, the disciples who had followed Jesus. John tells us that they were hidden behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. Perhaps they were wondering if they too would be crucified if others found them knowing that their very accents betrayed them. As they sat and mourned the loss of the one they had followed for three years their thoughts did not return to the words of Jesus: “when I am raised, I will meet you in Galilee” but rather their thoughts replayed and rehearsed the past few days and the questions of why, when, how and more. Peter of all would be wondering if ever he could forgive himself and could or would God forgive him? We too have times when we fall and wonder and at these times where we can turn. It is then that we have this promise from Psalm 37:

24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.

Did Peter recall these words? We know that John tells us that after Jesus’ resurrection Peter was fully restored…but we are not there yet. Peter yet has to walk the road of misery, mourning, wondering and questioning. But, later he will write what truly happened in his personal letter to those who are suffering. He knows the path and he knows how to encourage. Listen to his words and be encouraged if you too have like Peter experienced a time of falling away: “His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Today, if you are walking with Peter through the agony of dismay, discouragement, despondency for having fallen in some way; take heart, when you repent there is hope. Where there is hope there is joy. Where there is joy there is peace and God’s protection. It is then that the rest of Psalm 37 rings forth with words of comfort and peace: Trust in the Lord, Delight yourself in the Lord, Commit your way to the Lord; Rest in the Lord. This is our journey back to God.

 

Father Forgive….

ImageMark carries us through the drama of the last day of our Savior and reveals to us each person who has the same opportunity we have: to accept or reject the King of the Jews as The Messiah. Open your ears to hear. Open your eyes to see, but mostly listen and look into your own heart. Then stop and ask yourself: did Jesus die a needless death or did he die for our sin?

The crowd had recently shouted Hosanna now jeer and the momentum has reached a crescendo as one by one they cry “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” The religious leaders lead the chant and seek not the release of one who is innocent but one who has a heart of murder as theirs—Barabbas. Interestingly his name literally means “son of the father.” Earlier Jesus had condemned the religious leaders: “You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires” [Joh 8:44] and now Jesus will show the reality of that prophecy. He will take the place of condemned Barabbas that he might be free and He will take your place that you might be free; free from sin. In the midst of all of this He will offer the sweetest prayer to heaven: Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.

Mark shows us the hearts of true followers. First there is Joseph of Arimathea who will step out of the shadows to boldly go to Pilate to request the body of Jesus seeking what only a family member had the right to do and yet Pilate would alter the rule that Jesus might fulfill: Isaiah 53: 9 “They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully.” There is Nicodemus who joins him, according to John’s gospel, as well as the women who had faithfully ministered to Jesus in his lifetime along with one other—John, the beloved disciple. These will become the first witnesses to the truth: Jesus died on that cross and announced once and for all: It is finished! Sin has been conquered and the ransom paid.

The enemy, the father of lies, Satan himself, would have us think that Jesus did not die and yet the evidence reveals the truth. There is the centurion who proclaimed “Truly this man was God’s Son!” Later he will be called to affirm the death to Pilate while Joseph waits for permission to take down the body of Jesus. The religious leaders and false religions would say he just swooned or the body was stolen but these witnesses tell a different story. The list of witnesses includes the centurion, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, the women and John. All will die with this truth upon their lips: Jesus died that I might be free.

What does your heart affirm? Does it say: yes, Jesus died and paid my debt? Do you hear: Father forgive me for it was for my sin that Jesus died?

From the Inside Out

ImageContinuing on our journey to the cross we stop today on top of a mountain and learn a valuable lesson in transforming power. In this account, the scribe Mark records Peter’s recollection of this amazing story of Jesus’ Transfiguration.

Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John and is supernaturally metamorphosed from his humanity to his divinity thus giving them and us a picture of our heavenly reflections that we will one day receive. 1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Until then we live in our humanness as Jesus did and yet, once we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit we should also be in the process of being transformed from the inside out that the world may see a new “us.” 2Co 3:18 And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Before this process can begin we must repent of our sins and turn from our sinful ways to He who has the power to change us from the inside out and then live in this way: Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

Beloved, how does the world see each of us …as we “were” or as we “are becoming?”

Photo credit: allyouhavetogive.com

 

Acts 8 “Persecution Leads to Powerful Proclamation”

ImageOn Jan 8, 1956 five missionaries were slain upon a riverbed in a small jungle area of Ecuador. The world wept and many asked why. Jim Elliot was one of those five and his words “he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” became the rallying cry for missions around the world. The truth of what Joseph said in Gen 50 “As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people,” fanned the flames of missionary hearts. So too in Acts 8 what Satan desired to accomplish God used to bring the gospel of salvation to men, women and children to those whom the Jews had rejected—the Samaritans.

The Jews prejudice was clear and profound. We recall the words of James and John, who had prejudicial hearts in Luke 9, asking Jesus if they should call down fire upon the Samaritan village that did not welcome them. And yet Jesus walked and taught and prepared the way for just such a time as this. The Samaritan woman at the well and the parable of the Good Samaritan were his lessons to the disciples to open their eyes to their perception and their heart of prejudice. Yet Jesus saw them as kingdom people. Do we see others in this frame of reference?

 As the waves of persecution swept over Jerusalem God touched the heart of Philip, one of the seven servants of God from Acts 6. He would become the instrument God would use to cross the barriers of prejudice to bring the message of salvation to the Samaritans. As the news traveled back to Jerusalem, Peter and John’s heart of prejudice would be challenged. Could it be that God will open the doors to these? Jesus had said: you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth” but the church had been slow in their progress to accomplish this. Did God allow this to move the church beyond the Temple, beyond Jerusalem? We may never be able to answer that question but we can see how God will use the evil intentions of Satan to bring about good thus once again teaching us this principle: Jer 29:11 “For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.”  

 God does not let us rest but opens our eyes to see His marvelous message of salvation is offered to all. The Jerusalem church sent Peter and John to see. They may have come with hearts of doubt, perhaps unbelief but the evidence was clear: salvation had come to these Samaritans. It was such a profound lesson for them that as they journeyed back to Jerusalem they proclaimed the good news to many Samaritan villages. The words of Gamaliel were  ringing forth…”but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found fighting against God.”

Where do you find that you are asking “why would God choose them?” instead of “why would He not choose them?” Are you hindering the work of the Lord God Almighty because of your heart of prejudice?  Are you still in Jerusalem or have you moved to your Samaria so that His Word can ring forth the truth of His saving love and power?

Acts 8 “Persecution Leads to Powerful Proclamation”

ImageOn Jan 8, 1956 five missionaries were slain upon a riverbed in a small jungle area of Ecuador. The world wept and many asked why. Jim Elliot was one of those five and his words “he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” became the rallying cry for missions around the world. The truth of what Joseph said in Gen 50 “As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people,” fanned the flames of missionary hearts. So too in Acts 8 what Satan desired to accomplish God used to bring the gospel of salvation to men, women and children to those whom the Jews had rejected—the Samaritans.

The Jews prejudice was clear and profound. We recall the words of James and John, who had prejudicial hearts in Luke 9, asking Jesus if they should call down fire upon the Samaritan village that did not welcome them. And yet Jesus walked and taught and prepared the way for just such a time as this. The Samaritan woman at the well and the parable of the Good Samaritan were his lessons to the disciples to open their eyes to their perception and their heart of prejudice. Yet Jesus saw them as kingdom people. Do we see others in this frame of reference?

 As the waves of persecution swept over Jerusalem God touched the heart of Philip, one of the seven servants of God from Acts 6. He would become the instrument God would use to cross the barriers of prejudice to bring the message of salvation to the Samaritans. As the news traveled back to Jerusalem, Peter and John’s heart of prejudice would be challenged. Could it be that God will open the doors to these? Jesus had said: you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth” but the church had been slow in their progress to accomplish this. Did God allow this to move the church beyond the Temple, beyond Jerusalem? We may never be able to answer that question but we can see how God will use the evil intentions of Satan to bring about good thus once again teaching us this principle: Jer 29:11 “For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.”  

 God does not let us rest but opens our eyes to see His marvelous message of salvation is offered to all. The Jerusalem church sent Peter and John to see. They may have come with hearts of doubt, perhaps unbelief but the evidence was clear: salvation had come to these Samaritans. It was such a profound lesson for them that as they journeyed back to Jerusalem they proclaimed the good news to many Samaritan villages. The words of Gamaliel were  ringing forth…”but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found fighting against God.”

Where do you find that you are asking “why would God choose them?” instead of “why would He not choose them?” Are you hindering the work of the Lord God Almighty because of your heart of prejudice?  Are you still in Jerusalem or have you moved to your Samaria so that His Word can ring forth the truth of His saving love and power?

“The Lion-like Lamb and the Lamb-like Lion”

ImageJohn, in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day,  continues to share with the reader his vision of heaven and its activities. In Rev 1 John saw : “Jesus Christ – the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood,” and now in chapter 5 John saw the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Lamb of God as John the Baptist had declared. The Apostle John writes “You [the Lamb of God] are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation.”  In both chapters John reminds the reader that it was his precious blood that paid the ransom. Heb 9:22 Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Now notice what John tells us beyond those descriptions. The Lion-like Lamb/Lamb-like Lion is standing. He has finished his work and now is worthy to take the scroll of judgment and to open it. No one else is worthy and thus John is found weeping at this realization. Secondly, he has 7 horns symbolizing strength and power. He has conquered sin, death and Satan not just because he was a Lion but because he was a Lamb-like Lion who was willing to allow man to take his life that he might redeem them from the jaws of death and sin and the power of Satan.

To those who have bowed the knee and accepted this gift of the Lamb’s blood is given a promise which John repeats in ch 5 as he had written in ch 1:  “has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father/You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Our Savior is both Lion and Lamb and he is waiting for us to stop and with the angels, living creatures, elders, whose number was then thousand times then thousand, thousands times thousands sing: “Worthy is the lamb who was killed to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!” 

 Have you bowed the knee and are thus able to join the chorus today?

Where Were You…The Apostle John’s Reflections….

ImageWe all have times when we can recall “where we were” when something of significance happened. As we read John 19, the Apostle John shares with us his recollection of the day when holiness was triumphant over evil. John shares with us “where he was” on that fateful day when the words of Simeon must have come flooding back to the heart of Mary: Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, [Luke 2]

As we read John 19 and see the ugliness of sin in all of its horror we recall these words of Jesus: “hated by everyone because of my name….yet a time is coming when the one who kills you will think he is offering service to God.” The religious leaders fulfilled those words when they cried: “crucify him, crucify him.” But, what man plans for evil God turns to good. Jesus endured that we might see God’s plan and purpose for the redemption of man. Act 2:23 this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles…thus fulfilling John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”…so that the truth of Acts 4:12 might be ours to claim: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

In the midst of this horror, John focuses our attention on Christ, and along with the other gospel writers, shares the last words heard from the lips of our Savior:

Father, Forgive them, they know not what they do…

[to the thief] Today you shall be with me in paradise…

[to Mary] Woman, behold your son and [to John] behold your mother…

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?…

I thirst…

It is finished…

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit…

From there, John turns our attention to the small band of persistent faithful followers as they and he become witnesses to this scene. It was this tenacity, this indefatigable belief in Jesus as THE CHRIST that carried them to this point in time. John 19:25 “Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene…and the disciple whom he loved standing there,” This scene would be forever etched in John’s memory as the turning point of his faith, the turning point of seeing God’s plan fulfilled…but as of yet he did not understand the full scope.

And then John turns our attention to the two secret disciples who stepped out of the darkness into the light. They had not been strong enough to stand in life but Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus became the ministering servants to the body of our Lord in his death. What they paid in the earthly price for their stand against the Sanhedrin is not known but it was a small price for what they gained in eternal rewards. “Whoever, then, acknowledges me before people, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before people, I will deny him also before my Father in heaven.” [Matt 10]                         

 Where were you when you realized the price paid for your sin?

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