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

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The Road To Bethlehem

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Luke 2:1-3. And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Caesar Augustus has a political platform you probably won’t hear this coming year in our presidential campaign. He announced to the Roman Empire, “Read my Lips: Lots of new taxes!” It says there in verse 1 and verse 3 that he made a decree for everyone to go to his home town to be registered. In effect, he’s saying, “I need to know how many people are in the empire so I can know how much to tax you.” Of course, the difference between Caesar Augustus and modern presidents is that Caesar was not elected by the people, nor did he have term limits. He was kind of like a king or an emperor. He could do whatever he wanted. And here, he wanted to tax people. And in order to do that, he needed them to register, to take part in a census.  Let me tell you a little bit about Caesar Augustus. His real name was Gaius Octavius. He was the adopted son of Julius Caesar, and so when Julius Caesar died, Octavius became emperor, and with it, the title of his position – Caesar O. he should have been known as Octavius Caesar. However, Octavius had quite an ego. He was very proud and arrogant. He wanted to be greater than any other Caesar before him, and so, with the approval of the Roman Senate, he dropped his name Octavius, and added the title Augustus. Augustus means “Majesty.” It’s a name of divinity. It carries the idea of being “of the gods.” Caesar Augustus means Caesar God.

In essence, he was proclaiming himself to be god. That is part of the reason he taxed the people so heavily. He figured a god should live in luxury and ease, and that the people, his subjects, should pay for his luxuries. And so he taxed them. He didn’t care how his heavy taxes placed financial burdens on the people, and he didn’t care that his method of registration caused great disruption in the lives of his subjects. He didn’t care that by forcing people to return to their hometown to be registered, he was forcing people to go on long journey’s, and possibly uproot their families, and lose their jobs. He didn’t care if people were sick; he didn’t care if people were old. He just didn’t care. It didn’t matter to him if the subjects of his empire were greatly inconvenienced by his decree, he just wanted his money. He did whatever he wanted, and if people didn’t like it, that’s too bad. If they tried to rebel, he had his vast army to deal with uprisings. And yet even through the journey to Bethlehem would be a difficult one especially with Mary being pregnant, both Joseph and Mary followed through what that had to do. So they headed to Bethlehem the town of David, because Joseph belonged to the house and line of David.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

The Birth of Jesus

Luke 1c.png                       In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. ( This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.                                           Luke 2:1-7

No one expected God to come the way he did as a baby. Yet the way he did come was every important as the coming itself. Jesus was born in a smelling stable along with the animals and then he was place in a manger that his mom Mary made it comfortable for her first born son. The Son of Man came down from his throne as a baby, a child that depend on his mom to be cared for and his father to protect him and his mother. He experienced hunger and thirst. He went through all the normal stages that we all do. He was taught to walk, talk, stand, and all the other things our own mothers taught us. As we journey through this Advent Season focus your eyes on the gift that will lay in the manger on Christmas morning which is the child. Read the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke.

Remember Jesus is the Reason for this Season

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Happy Thanksgiving To All!

Colossians 4.pngThe book of Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul while he was in a Roman prison, when he wrote to the church in Colossae. False teachers were coaching the Colossians to worship angels and follow special rules and ceremonies. Paul corrected this thinking through his letter, stressing that faith in Christ is sufficient for salvation and that nothing needs to be added to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

In chapter four Paul tells us that we need to devote yourselves to prayer being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answers everyone.                               Colossians 4:2-6

The Apostle Paul is telling all of us as Christians that we should always pray in all circumstances, in good times and in those difficult days and challenging days that we all go through, knowing that we do not journey alone in our lives. Receive God’s strength when ongoing problems require you to stick it out over the long haul. During these times we need to remember we walk by faith and not by sight. This is when you resort to grimly gritting your teeth, and try to not have a negativity mind. This is not the way that God wants his children to be and to deal with their difficulties. God is sovereign over the circumstances of your life, so there are always opportunities to be found in them. Sometimes those opportunities are so obvious you can’t miss seeing them. At other times especially when the journey is hard and seems endless, you have to search for hidden treasures. Do not be like the man who hid his master’s talent in the ground, lets us look to Matthew 25:25 “And I was afraid and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.” This man gave up and took the easy way out; blaming his hard situation rather than making the most of his opportunity. The truth is, the more difficult your situation, the more treasure there is for you to discover in it. God will gladly give you strength, it is limitless and freely available to each and everyone of his followers. It is exceedingly potent, because the Spirit himself empowers you and me–strengthening you with power in your inner being. This strength enables you to keep on enduring the unendurable. Since this strength has no limits there is more than enough of it to spill over into Joy! As I personally look over this past year and reflect on my own personal struggles I know that God has given me the strength to never quit, even when I wanted to and to remember when I walk by faith and not by sight I learn to have a victorious living in Christ Jesus, and I say ‘THANK YOU LORD”

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

 

 

Wisdom and Understanding

Colossians 2.jpg Paul who was a follower of Jesus Christ was in Roman prison when he wrote to the church in Colossae. False teachers were coaching the Colossians to worship angles and follow special rules and ceremonies. Paul corrected this thinking through his letter, stressing that faith in Christ is sufficient for salvation and that nothing needs to be added to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Jesus. So he is relevant to absolutely everything! The world is such a fragmented place, with many voices calling out to all of us-claiming to have the answers, When we are learning or experiencing new things, it is vital to stay in communication with God. He can help us understand things from His perspective, drawing on His wisdom. He wants all of us to examine everything in the Light of biblical truth. If you and I keep Jesus central to our thoughts, we can discern order and design in a chaotic world. There will continue to be things any of us can comprehend, because we live in a broken world. Acknowledging the limits of our understanding opens the way to profound worship. This will encourage our hearts, as well as the hearts of our fellow worshippers, to worship Jesus and Jesus only. To worship Jesus our hearts must be united in love, woven into a beautiful love-tapestry. As we worship, this united, we can enjoy His majestic presence together in ways that transcend our individual experience. This enables us to venture further and further into Jesus vast hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Crucifixion Cross

crrown of thorns.pngThe Soldiers Mock Jesus                                      (Matthew 27:27-31 NIV)

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus to the place called the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and they took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

At the time of Jesus death, crucifixion was considered the most painful and degrading form of capital punishment in the Roman Empire. It was considered so horrible that it was used by the Romans only for salves, those from the provinces under the control, and the lowest type of criminals. It was not to be used for a Roman citizen. This is in accord with the Biblical account of Christ’s death and with church tradition, which asserts that Peter was also crucified (Peter  believed to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to be crucified the same position that Christ was) but Paul, a Roman citizen who was to  became a disciple later was beheaded. So although Jesus was completely innocent of all sin, he suffered the most horrible, degrading punishment knows. And yet his agonizing death was not an ordinary death…since he suffered for the sins of the world and turned this apparent defeat into a glorious resurrection that would, hereafter, defeat the power of all sin and death. Indeed, through the Cross, Jesus offers salvation to all who will believe in him.

Grace and Peace to you my friends