Category: Gospels

Receive the Holy Spirit

Scripture reading for November 5th: John 18-21

John’s account of the resurrection contains some information not recorded by the other Gospel writers.  John tells how Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in the morning and found the stone rolled away.  (John 20:1-22)  She found Peter and “the other disciple” (John) and they ran to the tomb.  John got there first and was looking in when Peter caught up and went right on in.  They found the grave clothes and head cloth neatly folded where the body had been laid.  John saw this and believed that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Mary stood outside crying, and as she bent to look into the tomb, she suddenly saw two angels dressed in white.  They asked her why she was crying.  She responded that she was broken because she did not know who might have taken the body away and where they had put Him.  Turning around, she saw a man standing there.  She thought it might be the gardener and asked him where Jesus’ body might have been put.  Jesus spoke her name, “Mary” and she recognized Him.  “Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.  Go instead to My brothers and tell them ‘I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” (John 20:17)  It is interesting that Jesus now calls the disciples His brothers.  He calls His Father and God, their Father and God!

On that evening of the first day of the week that Jesus rose again, the disciples were gathered behind locked doors.  Jesus came and appeared to them.  “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent Me , I am sending you.”  And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:21-23)  This was the first thing John recorded that Jesus did when He visited them on that first day after the resurrection.  Jesus wanted them filled with peace.  He wanted them to have a vision and purpose to their lives: being sent into the world for seeking lost people.  He wanted them to be empowered with the Spirit enough to personally breath on them.  What joy this must have brought after the experience of Jesus’ crucifixion!

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“Lord, Show Us the Father.”

Scripture reading for November 4th: John 13-17

Jesus did not do anything on His own; as the Son of God, He came to do His Father’s will.  His Father’s will was that none that Jesus was given would perish, but that they would all be raised up on the last day.  (John 6:39-40)  It was the Father’s will that all who looked to Jesus and believed on Him would have eternal life and resurrection of their bodies.  To that end, Jesus came to earth and ministered the Gospel message of repentance and faith, calling all to believe on Him. It was to that end that He laid His life down for His sheep, demonstrating the Father’s heart for the lost.

Jesus repeatedly told those who heard Him that He was not here on His own, but to do the will of the One who sent Him.  (John 7:28-29, 8:18-19, 42, 10:18, 12:27, 14:6-10)  In our reading today, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to die and go away.  They were downcast and He sought to encourage them by telling them that He was going away to prepare a place for them and that He would come again and take them to be with Him.  Thomas, one of the twelve, was puzzled and asked Jesus where He was going and how they could know the way.  Jesus spoke, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)  Jesus told them that if they really knew Him, they would also know the Father.  He told them that from now on they knew the Father and had seen Him.

“Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” (John 14:8)  Philip was not getting it.  He wondered when Jesus was going to show them the Father and begged Jesus to do just that.  Jesus responded, “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?  Anyone who has seen Me, has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)  Jesus told them again and again that He was there to do the will of His Father.  All the words Jesus gave them were from the Father.  All the miracles Jesus did, revealed the Father working through Jesus.  Jesus’ promised these followers, “And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” Wow!

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The Good Shepherd

Scripture reading for November 3rd: John 9-12

We are likened to sheep in the Bible.  People resemble sheep in a number of ways.  We all need a shepherd or we easily get into trouble.  Sheep are known to wander away looking for food and when separated from the flock, they are virtually helpless to defend themselves.  They also depend on the shepherd to guide them to the pastures and to tend to their needs.  Even a group of them have very little that they can do to protect themselves.  They are easy prey for predators and make tasty meals!

Jesus taught His followers that He was the gate for the sheep.  (John 10:7-10)  As the gate, all sheep who entered through Him would be saved and would find safe pasture.  Those who found this gate would find life and abundance of life.  The thief, (Satan) came to steal, kill and destroy the sheep, but Jesus would protect them in His fold.

Jesus taught His followers that He was the good shepherd of the sheep.  (John 10:11-18)  As a good shepherd, He would  lay His life down for the sheep.  A hired hand runs away when the wolf comes because he really doesn’t care for the sheep, but for his own life.  Jesus knew His sheep and they knew Him.  His sheep would not follow another stranger, because they knew His voice.  Jesus, as the good shepherd, had other sheep outside of the flock at Israel.  He was their shepherd too!

Jesus told his followers that He would voluntarily lay His life down for His sheep.  But after He lay it down, He would also take it up again.  He said this to indicate the resurrection that would occur on the third day after laying His life down.  We who follow Jesus know that His death was on our behalf.  He took our sin and bore it’s penalty so we could be free.  He faced the wolf, and won by giving Himself!  What a Savior!  What a Good Shepherd who really loves His sheep enough to die for them!  He now lives to pray for us and has given us the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us through this life to the green pastures and still waters of the Kingdom!  Do you know His voice?  Are you one of His own sheep?  Today is a good day to surrender!

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The Father’s Will

Scripture reading for November 2nd: John 6-8

After the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, Jesus drew a great number of followers.  They followed Him across the lake, and Jesus confronted them with their true motive:  they had eaten the bread and been filled. (John 6:26)  He warned them not to work for bread that spoils, but to seek the food that endures to eternal life, which only He could give them.  The miracle was a sign that God the Father had placed His approval on Jesus the Son.  This prompted them to ask Him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” (John 6:28-29)

Jesus spent a great deal of time telling His followers about the Father.  Jesus was the Son of God the Father, and knew Him well.  Part of Jesus mission was to reveal the Father to those made in His image.  The miracle of the bread and fish had impressed these followers and brought them the remembrance of the story of Moses and how bread was provided in the desert wilderness.  Jesus pointed out that it was not Moses who gave them bread, but His Father who gives the True Bread.  Jesus Christ, Himself, was this true bread that came out of heaven from the Father.  The True Bread gives life to the world.  These followers had a hard time grasping what Jesus was saying and asked for some of this bread again. “Jesus declared, “I am the Bread of Life.  He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.”” (John 6:35)

Jesus declared to them His Father’s will, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40) Our Father is merciful and draws all men to salvation through His Son.  He has provided true Bread and an eternal thirst quencher!  All we must do is believe on the One He has sent!  It is so simple, yet so profound!  Are you doing the work that provides the Bread of Life?

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Do You Want to Get Well?

Scripture reading for November 1st: John 3-5

Healing of sickness and disability is an interesting subject.  Some Christian people believe that miracles stopped with the days of the Apostles and Jesus.  Others fervently believe that miracles are for today.  Some people who are afflicted or disabled, have prayed for years and still not been healed.  In Jesus’ time, it was no different.

Jesus visited Jerusalem and walked by a pool called Bethesda where many sick and disabled people gathered daily.  Tradition said that when an angel troubled or stirred the waters, the first person into the water would be healed.  At that pool Jesus saw a man that was paralyzed, and upon inquiring, found out that he had been that way for 38 years.  Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6b)  The man did not directly answer Jesus’ question, but told Him that he had no one to help him get in when the water was stirred.  At that, Jesus said to him, “Get up!  Pick up your mat and walk!” The man was instantly healed and able to walk and carry his mat!  (John 5:8-9)

As we look at this miracle, we note that Jesus was concerned with the crippled man’s desire to get well.  Some people seem to enjoy being sick and like the sympathy or excuse that they have for avoiding life.  It takes faith to want to get well after 38 years of the paralyzed life!  Jesus was trying to get him to express his faith and believe.  It worked!

The religious Jews, however, were concerned that this man was carrying his mat on the Sabbath, for the healing took place on that day.  They tried to get the man to tell them who healed him and authorized him to break their law!  He could not tell them who it was.  Later, Jesus found him at the temple and spoke one more time, “See, you are well again.  Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (John 5:14)  Jesus was not only concerned about this man’s healing, but also about his soul.  Paralysis may cripple a body, but sin will destroy a man’s soul!  The wages of sin is eternal death and damnation!  (Romans 6:23)  We must want to be healed from sin as well as disabilities!  Do you want to be made whole?

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Sunday Rest and Reflection:Taken Up Into Heaven!

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ!  Another week has passed so quickly and the first day celebration is upon us!  We celebrate the resurrection of our Lord on the first day of the week.  It is something to celebrate because without Jesus’ resurrection, we would have no guarantee of resurrection.  He is the first to be permanently resurrected from death and the grave.  Elijah was picked up by a chariot and Enoch was taken up living as he walked with the Lord. Please join others in worship, prayer, and study of the Scriptures this celebration day!

As I look back on this past week, I want to comment on Jesus’ ascension to heaven as recorded by Luke.  Jesus led his followers out to Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus as well as Simon the Leper.  He lifted up His hands and blessed them.  As He was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  (Luke 24:50-52)  In Acts, Luke records Jesus’ answer to the disciples question about if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel.  Jesus told His followers to wait in Jerusalem until they received power to be witnesses in Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. (Acts1:6-11)   A cloud hid Jesus from their sight as He ascended to heaven.  Luke records two men in white apparel who told them that Jesus would return in the same manner as he went into heaven.

These records of the ascension bring hope to us.  Jesus left His followers with a clear command and mission.  He encouraged them to wait in Jerusalem for the promised gift of power.  He also informed them that He would be  back, but did not leave a date or time.  He did this so that every generation would seek to be ready.  We know God’s word is true and Jesus did not lie.  He is waiting for all who will be saved by the obedience of His followers.  He is watching us exercise our faith and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  What an exciting mission!  What amazing power in the Holy Spirit!  What hope we have of Jesus return!  It could be today!

In His Love,

Pastor John

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Revealed Glory!

Scripture reading for October 30th: John 1-2

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him nothing was made that has been made.  In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:1-5)

John’s Gospel account of the life of Jesus begins like that of Genesis.  Instead of “In the beginning God”, we have “In the  beginning was the Word.” Jesus Christ is the final Word of God from heaven for us.  He is God and was with God in the beginning of all things.  Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things and the giver of all life.  His life is the light of all mankind.  Mankind is in darkness because of sin and struggles to understand this “Light” from heaven.

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)   This Word became flesh and was incarnated as a human man, born of a virgin woman.  This Word, who is God, pitched his tent in our midst and lived with mankind.  As He lived among the Jews of His day and time, They beheld His glory, the glory of the One and Only Son of God.  This Son of God was full of grace and was truth.  He did not come to condemn the world, but to save it.  He did not hate the world, but loved it’s people enough to come and dwell with them.

This Word, who came from the Father, revealed God’s glory to mankind.  This glory was revealed by the life He lived which was full of grace and truth.  He performed miracles of grace, like the turning of the water into wine at the wedding in Cana.  John records that “He thus revealed His glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him.” (John 2:11b)  He healed the sick, cast out demons, fed thousands, walked on water, calmed the sea, and even raised the dead, revealing His Glory to draw men in darkness to it!  His own resurrection was the ultimate demonstration of His Glory to mankind.  Have you beheld His glory and put your faith in Jesus?

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What Will Happen When the Tree Is Dry?

Scripture reading for October 29th: Luke 22-24

Today, we are going to look at a short passage that I have never heard preached on nor have I preached on it.  As Jesus was carrying His cross, He was followed by a large group of women who were weeping and mourning for Him.  “Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me; weep for yourselves and for your children.  For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!'”  For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:28-31)

Simon of Cyrene had just picked  up Jesus’  cross as He had stumbled under the load.  His back was beaten and bloody, his brow was pierced by thorns and He was headed for Golgotha to be nailed to the cross.  The women who were wailing caught His attention.  He told them not to weep for Him!  Jesus was not thinking about Himself, but about Jerusalem and her inhabitants!  This is a touching thought that reveals His heart for the lost of His own people.

Jesus saw into the future, and spoke prophetically to those distraught women.  He spoke of a time in the future when greater distress would be upon their children.  The distress would be so great that women would be thankful to be barren so that their children would not have to experience it!  The distress would cause men to call for rocks and mountains to fall on them.  This distress was described by John:  “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.  They called to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on  us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)   This will be the distress when the tree is dry!  Jesus was the green tree who was with them and they crucified Him!  May all take heed and be prepared!

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Coming in a Cloud with Great Glory!

Scripture reading for October 28th: Luke 19-21

Luke also records a discussion Jesus had with His disciples about what conditions on earth would be like when He would return.  This discussion took place as they were leaving the temple during the last week of Jesus’ time with them.  Jesus made the comment that not one stone would remain upon another; all would be thrown down.  (Luke 21:5-7)  The disciples asked Jesus when this would happen and what the sign would be that this was about to take place.

Jesus told them some signs of the end that are a repeat of Matthew 24 and Mark 13.  Jesus warned them about possible deception by false teachers and false Christs.  He warned them about wars and revolutions in various places.  He told them of nations in conflict and great earthquakes and natural disaster occurring .  These were to happen right before His return.  (Luke 21:8-11)  But before all of this, Jesus warned them of persecution in their personal lives.  His followers would be taken before kings and governors because of the name of Jesus and some would be imprisoned.  This would give these disciples the opportunity to be witnesses for Jesus.  They were not to worry about what to say, but would be given the words when the time came. (Luke 21:12-17)

Jesus told these first followers that they would see Jerusalem surrounded by armies and know that its desolation was near.  They were to flee and not look back.  Jerusalem would be given over to the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles was fulfilled.  God was in charge of all things and knew the end from the beginning.  Jesus revealed to these close friends what would happen, and in recording it what the future also held for those at the end of the times of the Gentiles.  (Luke 21:20-24)

The very end of the age would bring a time of anxiety and terror upon the earth.  Great signs in the sun, moon and stars would add to the concern.  “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27-28)  Jesus will return.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Luke 21:33)   Are you ready for this great event?

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Vultures Gathering!

Scripture reading for October 27th: Luke 16-18

Vultures are birds of prey that feed off dead flesh.  These birds were used by God to clean up dead remains of fallen animals.  Vultures circle over dead or dying animals and then drop down to feed.  It’s easy to tell where dead flesh is by looking at the vultures circling.  Jesus used them to teach about the last days–that His disciples need to be ready when the end comes.

The Pharisees had asked Jesus a question about when the kingdom of God would come.  He told them it would not come with their careful observation because the kingdom of God is within each person.  This discourse caused Jesus to teach His disciples about the time of the end.  (Luke 17:20-25)  He warned them about people claiming to know where Christ was or to have seen Him.  They were not to go off after them because the Son of Man would appear suddenly and gloriously, like a flash of lightning.  This would not happen soon, because Christ must first suffer and be rejected by His generation.

Jesus warned them that the world situation at His return would be like the days of Noah.  (Luke 17:26-27)  In those days, life seemed to be going on as always right up until the day that Noah entered the ark.  God sent a sudden destruction through the flood that destroyed all who were not on board!  It would also be like the days of Lot.  People were busy living for themselves, doing normal things, unaware that sudden destruction awaited them before the sun went down.  Lot left Sodom, and fire and sulfur rained down destroying them all!

They were also encouraged to “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32)  Trying to save your life in this world will result in losing your life and soul eternally!  The day of the Son of Man will be a day that divides people from one another.  You won’t be able to tell by looking at people, for the kingdom of God is within them.  Those that believe in Jesus Christ and are holding fast to Him will be saved.  Those who do not possess saving faith, will be left behind and destroyed!

“Where Lord?” they asked.  He (Jesus) replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:37)  The destruction will be widespread and vultures circling will mark the flesh of those destroyed!

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