The Greatest In The Kingdom of Heaven

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At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”                          Matthew 18:1-5

A little child cannot influence a person’s career, cannot teach us things; give us things. It is just the other way round. A child is typical of the person who needs things, and it is our duty to find and help those in the community who need things. But this comes with a serious warning. It is easy to form a relationship with someone who can do things for us and whose influence can mean a lot to us. It is just as easy to avoid the company of someone who expects something from us. It is easy to nurture the kindness of important people and avoid the simple, humble person. It is easy to seek the company of people who are important in the community while neglecting your unimportant family member. 

Jesus is in fact saying to us not to find favor with those who can do things for us, but with those who we can do things for. In this way, we week the fellowship of none other than Jesus. It is a different way if interpreting our Scriptures verse above and this is our duty as Christians from day to day. 

Prayer: Beloved Savior, keep me humble in my relations with other people.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

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Even To The End Of The Age

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Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

This Scripture gives us the assurance of the holy and continuous presence of the living Christ. Our Savior makes sure there is no doubt about it. Christ appears to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. These apostles were the founders of the universal church. Would this small group be able to carry out such a challenging task? To found and expand the church? Not if it depended on their own abilities, but it was possible with the omnipotence of the Master, who said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Christ rules His church through His Word and leads it through His Spirit. Our task is merely to contribute towards it. When is Jesus with us, in the church, and in the hearts of His believing children? Our Scripture says “always”! His promise is that He will always be present in our lives with His Spirit and with His grace, an enduring and uninterrupted Presence. 

We know that all days are different: There are sunny days, but also ominous and dark days; there are days when our hearts sing with joy, but also days when our hearts sob with misery and grief. There are days of firm and unshakable faith, but also days of doubt and stumbling, when we need to plead, “Help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) In His supreme wisdom God broke our lives up into pieces that we call days. the days all differ, but Christ promised, “I am with you always!”

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for the promise that you will always be with us now and forever.                        Amen

Grace and Peace To You My Friends

God’s Not Dead!

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So then woman hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”                    Matthew 28:8-10

As we recently celebrate Easter Sunday we remember the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The women after they had gone to the tomb left with great joy knowing that their teacher, friend, and Lord had risen from the dead, and could not wait to share with His disciples what they had learn. As Christians how many of us can not wait to share the Resurrection story with our family and friends, perhaps not many of us. It is okay to talk about at church on a Sunday morning but as followers of Jesus are we doing what he has called us to do and telling others about Him.

For myself, I grew up as a Christian, always going to church on a Sunday and being involved, but can I truly call myself a Christian. Let me take the time with all of my readers to share my own story and why I want to shout to the world that God is Not Dead! He is truly Alive. A couple of years ago as I was searching the scriptures for a sermon that I was going to share, I began to have a dream. I have the same dream more than once and I truly thought that it was only a dream and it never happen to me at all. After I have shared the dream with my oldest daughter she mention to me that I should google it and so I did and what I thought was just a dream, it was something that I did experience and that I witness. 

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Growing up there was a train that I went on called the Freedom Train, and on that train in all the different cars that I visited was about the history of America. However, except this one car as I followed all the other visitors this particular car had a huge class case that set down on top of something on the floor. This glass case had the Burial Cloth (Shroud of Turin) of Jesus Christ. You can see that this man was very tall perhaps close to six feet, and he also had a beard. On the top of his head you can see that their were some kind of crown that laid there, where their was drops of stain blood going down the face. The nails were not in his hands but the wrist (because the flesh couldn’t hold him up if the nails when through his hands). As I continue to walk slowly I can see that his side was pierced with something. His feet were together with holes through them, because of a huge nail that had gone through both of them. I continue to walk slowly and on his back you can tell that this man was whip many times,  (a whipped of leather thongs, which was used in Biblical times, with bits of metal or bone attached) The words from Isaiah 53: 4-5 came to my mind Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his strips we are healed. For whatever reason unknown to myself I somehow forgotten what I had seen until that one day while asking God for directions in sharing a message that I remember. Every time I think of that one day when I saw the Burial Cloth of Christ tears forms in my eyes and down my cheeks, as what is happening as I write down these words. My God, My Lord and My King you did this all for me, I didn’t deserve it, I am a sinner and I am unworthy for Jesus to suffer for me like that. And yet because of His great love for me even before I was ever born he died at Calvary in my place. As I read the words in Ephesians 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us , God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For all who have read these words I did see the Burial Cloth of Christ in 1976 here in America

Since God help me to remember what I witness I can never remain silent any more, I must tell anyone that I meet the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The stories in the Bible are not just stories but, real accounts that took place, written by men and inspire by God. It is not an easy journey I am on now being a disciple of Christ, I have had even family members and friends disown me all because of what I believe and I know what is true, and yes I am fine with that. I do hope that someday if not from me the ones who say because of what I believe I am nuts, will come to know Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior and decided to follow him. My Lord would want me to tell others about him, that he overcame death and that the tomb is empty, because My God Is Not Dead, He is Truly Alive,

Doubting Thomas

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Now Thomas (also know as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him. We have seen the Lord! But he said to them. Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hands into his side, I will not believe. A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Thought the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put our finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, ” Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”

                                                                         John 20:21-29

There can be absolutely no doubt that Thomas loved Jesus, enough to go to Jerusalem to die with Him, while the other disciples were hesitant and frightened. What Thomas expected, happened. He was so distraught that he couldn’t bear to be with anyone. All he wanted was to be left alone in his grief. He wanted to deal with his suffering and sorrow alone. Thomas made a big mistake, he withdrew from the Christian brotherhood. He choose to be alone. Because he was not with his other brothers, he missed Jesus’ first appearance to them. We do ourselves great harm when we isolate ourselves from the Christian community. We experience things during fellowship with other believes that don’t happen when we’re alone. It is precisely when we are overcome with sorrow and pain that we need the fellowship of believers. It is also the most likely place to meet Jesus.

But Thomas did have two very good characteristics: He refused point-blank to say he believed when he didn’t, that he understood when he didn’t. Thomas honesty was admirable. He would never try to still his doubts by pretending they didn’t exist. He would not believed from someone else unless He had Jesus with his own eyes and touch where the nails were. There is more faith in the person who insists on making sure than in those who support things they don’t really believe. It is doubt like Thomas that leads to faith in the end. Once Thomas was certain, he was willing to walk all the way with Jesus, He said, “My Lord and my God! Thomas doubted before he was certain, but once he was convinced, he was prepared to give his all. Working through your doubts up until the end gives you the certainty Jesus that Jesus is Lord and God. The words of Jesus to Thomas were you believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Him. And even though we haven’t seen Jesus like we can see one another we still believe that He was and is the Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior. 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

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On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!: As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. And with that he breathed on them and said, “Received the Holy Spirit.                             John 20:19-22

On the first day of the week, the Risen Jesus appeared to His disciples. They were heartbroken, in low spirits, and afraid of the Roman authorities. The disciples must have been overjoyed at Jesus’ appearance. Amid their indescribable heartache, the living Jesus appeared to comfort them in their sorrow. His appearance also coincided with a time when the disciples lived in great fear. They didn’t want the godless world to witness their raw grief and sorrow for the loss of their beloved Master.

Jesus appeared when His disciples were at a point where deep sense of despair threatened to overwhelm them. There were countless questions in their hearts that cried out for answers: Why? Why did He have to suffer so? Why did He have to die so brutally? And in the meantime doubt was eating away their hearts. But now, with Jesus there, everything was good again. “peace be with you!” There are times in each of our lives when we are threatened by despair and doubt, but in the presence of Jesus there is rest and peace. The disciples were together when Jesus appeared to them. It is comforting when like-minded people are together to share their sorrow or doubt. It is called the fellowship of believers. Christ comforts them with the words, “Peace be with you.”

The words of Donald Bloesch: Our peace and confidence are to be found not in our empirical holiness, not in our progress toward perfection but in the alien righteousness of Jesus Christ that covers our sinfulness and alone makes us acceptable before a holy God.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Christ Is Risen! Alleluia!

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When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, Who, will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has Risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, and tell his disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

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According to the Scriptures, our Risen Savior appeared to different individuals before ascending to the Father. It was a random coming and going, but specific encounters to teach us certain things. This took place during the period between Easter and Pentecost, between the Resurrection and Ascension. In today’s Scripture verse, Jesus gives us some “resurrection comfort.” When the men who walked to Emmaus were back in Jerusalem with the joyful news of their encounter with the risen Jesus, the other disciples replied, “The Lord has really risen!” (Luke 24:34) Paul says, “He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve” (I Corinthians 15:5-6) All these pronouncements tells us that, firstly, the Risen Lord wants to give the remorseful sinner back his self-respect. The first apostle Jesus appeared to was the one who denied Him. (Peter) Here the greatness of Christ’s love is demonstrated. He thought about the bitter grief of the Peter who wronged him, instead of wrongs and grief He himself suffered. Put yourself in this situation. Imagine with how much trepidation Peter received this message! Could it be true? Did he hear correctly? Did Jesus really mention his name? He has been the cause of so much of Jesus’ sorrow. He had denied Him three times! But this is how Jesus treats the sinner. Wo will ever be able to fathom the depth of God’s forgiving grace?

Against the dark background of Peter’s denial, the light breaks through in the disciples’ words to the men from Emmaus: The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34) A jewel glitters so much brighter on a dark background. Likewise, the grace of God and His saving omnipotence are best seen in a deeply fallen sinner. This short extract from history should encourage even the greatest sinner to go to the Father and confess their sins.

The gospel gives us no sensational or gripping detail of the conversation between Christ and Peter. Peter didn’t tell anyone what happened between him and Jesus. In life there are intimate and personal things that cannot bear up under the harsh glare of public exposure. There are spiritual experiences that must remain private because they are part of one’s personal fellowship with God. We dare not reveal every spiritual blessings to inquisitive publicity seekers, or shout it from the mountaintops. 

Three long nights of consuming grief followed Golgotha as well as the shock of Judas’ gruesome death. The offering that God seeks is a broken heart and a downcast spirit; He will not break those who are struggling. Peter discovered what true remorse meant, being tearful, unsure of his next step, knowing he was a fallen sinner, with hands outstretched to heaven in an impassioned plea for grace. And Christ in His unfathomable love and mercy is there, a place of true repentance. He meets in quiet reclusion with the remorseful sinner.

Prayer: Dear Jesus:

I come to you with a humble heart asking for forgiveness of my sins that I have committed. I thank you for taking my place on the cross at Calvary. Help me to become more like you and to serve others in your name, as you did here on earth.    Amen

Blessings to All of You on this Easter Day!

 

Brokenness

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Jesus looked at them and said, ” With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”                             Matthew 19:26

They did not yet understand from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead.

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Could there have been a greater tragedy for Jesus disciples and his followers than that Jesus was now dead. For three years they all were following Jesus and learning what it meant to Seek God’s Kingdom. To learn to have forgiveness for others, to have compassion for others and to know what it was to love, unconditionally the way the Master had loved them. And yet, here it is the day after the death of their friend and teacher. All their all knew was Jesus was dead. The Master’s body was lifeless and was buried in a tomb, they don’t yet know about the Resurrection. If we go to the Gospel of John 11:21:26 after the death of his friend Lazarus, Jesus went to comfort his sisters.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask. Jesus said to her, Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. The one who believes in me will live, even through they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.

You are feeling brokenhearted and bound, entangled in webs of discouragement. Pick up the pieces of your broken heart, scattered all around you and bring them to Jesus. Place them on the altar that he provides and wait on his healing presence. Be still in His Holy Light while he cleanse you from binding webs of discouragement. Look into His face and see the great love he has for you. Because Jesus love is limitless, he never runs out of compassion. When you feel on the brink of giving up, remind yourself of his great faithfulness, and remember he will not give up on you. Through your disappointment is real, his presence with you is even more real. Stay close to the Master as he works on mending your broken heart. Of course, your repaired heart will not be exactly as it was before, but in some ways it will be much better. Your renewed heart stripped of its cherished hopes will have more space for Jesus than ever before. And as you remember the crucifixion of Jesus on this Holy Saturday just remember “Joy Comes In The Morning”

Grace and Peace to You My Friends