Friday, April 17, 2015

4/18/15- The Resurrection and Fellowship

33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.  (Luke 24) 

1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tonguesa as the Spirit enabled them.
5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,b 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2)

Thoughts: When the arrest of Jesus happened, the disciples scattered.  Peter and John tried to follow, but then Peter denied knowing Jesus three times- and then went out into the night.  John managed to stay at the foot of the cross with some of the women followers.  They were gathered later in the upper room with the door locked- but even then, Thomas was out.  It was only after Jesus rose that they were brought together with a purpose.  The eleven were together when the women brought them the news of the resurrection.   The Spirit works best when the believers are together.  Pentecost came when they were "all together in one place."  When the Spirit came, it brought people together by enabling them to understand the same message in different languages.  I have often seen images of the UN assembly with different headphones and interpreters- bringing people together in their understanding.  Google translater does a similar thing.  The Resurrection and the Spirit represent the power of God over death and the power of God to help us really live.  Both events bring people together. 
There is an illusion and a false teaching that says that religion only divides.  The faith may be divisive.  Jesus even said that the faith can divide son and daughter from parents- when one has faith and another does not.  Even churches can divide and bicker.  But the ideal of God is that the church be alive and united.  Without the resurrection- there would be no alive or gathered church.  Without the Spirit there would be no alive or gathered church either.

Prayer: Lord, may our faith in you, the living Lord, and the power of the resurrection and Spirit give us life and keep us united in you.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

4/17/15- The Resurrection, Prayer and Forgiveness

15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” (John 21)

Thoughts: The Resurrection also means that Christ calls out to us to answer Him.  He is alive and listens to us- but he also asks us, as He asked Simon, "Do you love me... do you love me more?"   Simon's answer should also be ours- "Lord you know that I love you."  Simon was asked three times responding to his three denials of Christ before His crucifixion.  The resurrection, see, also means that when Christ says you are forgiven then you really are.  Our sins died with Him and forgiveness lives with Him.  

Prayer: Lord, may my love for your grow and be alive as you are alive to me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

4/16/15- Luke's record of the Great Commission

Luke's great commission- in his gospel:

45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24)

Thoughts: There are four parts to this great commission found in Luke. 
1) The Gospel message- Jesus suffered, died, and rose on the third day.
     Just going and doing mission without the basis for that mission is not enough.
      Jesus was really human- suffering and dying; He was really God- rising from the dead; It was really real- happened in history- in time- three days. 

2) The Gospel applies- repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all.
      This makes a difference in that we can have forgiveness.  Forgiveness means an escape from our shame and guilt but also a restoration of relationship and innocense.      

3) The Gospel reminder- you are witnesses.
       We share this because we have, as John said, experienced it with our eyes and touched it with our hands.  It is because of this experience that the love of Christ compels us to witness. 

4) The Gospel power- the promise of power from on high- the Holy Spirit
       We do not speak on our own- the Spirit reminds us (Jn. 16); We do not go with our own direction- the Spirit leads us; We forget much- but the Spirit reminds us.  We are not motivated on our own- otherwise we common folk would be afraid.
       The Gospel is worth sharing.  Luke reminds us the content, the context and the call. 

Prayer: Lord, remind me of my need and call to go.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

4/15/15- The First Witness of the Resurrection

9When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. (Luke 24)

Thoughts: The first witnesses to the resurrection were women. They were the first ones to tell the good news that Jesus is alive.  That women were allowed to speak the best news ever is an uplifting thing to their gender.  It did not bode well for the disciples that they did not listen to the women.  They were doubtless excited, and hard to understand.  But Peter (and John) ran to the tomb.  Later they would see for themselves.  
     The point of the story is not who gave the message.  Nor is it important exactly how they said the message- apparently they didn't say it well.  But that they said it, and the message began to spread.  The ripple that began the spread of the Gospel started.
     The women could have been so nervous that they wouldn't say anything.  But they did.  They could have thought (rightly) that they weren't trained or good or worthy of speaking this very important news.  They are to be admired for not letting their fear or their pride get in the way of just about blurting out the greatest news ever.  

     We are called to speak for Christ.  None of us are worthy to do so.  There is always someone who could do it better and with more training.  Yet, we are called nonetheless by the risen One to speak. 

Prayer: Lord, give me words to say and a heart to say them.  Bring people to me to listen. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

4/14/15 Fish for People

6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (John 21:6)

Thoughts: This was a reminder of the call of Jesus at the beginning to witness for Him (Luke 5:1-10).  At that time Jesus told them where to find the fish; they did so and then he called to them to follow him and fish for people.  But after the resurrection Jesus intensified His call to His disciples to witness.  His call here is to listen to Him to find a fruitful witness of fishing for people.  God shows us where to bear fruit.  If God calls you to cast your nets on the other side- to try a new way- do it in faith.  Do it in faith that, even though you fished all night, God will provide fruit. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to witness for you and listen to you.  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

4-13-15 Fish for People

 Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.  (John 21)

Thoughts: This passage reminds us of when Jesus first asked his disciples to leave their nets and follow Him.  He asked them to cast their nets on the other side and they caught fish then.  Jesus is the One who blesses what we do.  Fishing is a noble good profession, but when the Lord calls us to fish for people, it is even more important a call.
     Another question this passage raises is, why did Jesus let them fish all night before He tells them where to find the fish.  Perhaps it is because He wants us to see the limits of our own strength.  When we come up with nothing- He tells us how to find productivity.  Christ helps us to live fruitful lives. 

Prayer: Lord, show me how to produce fruit for you.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

4/12/15- Go to Galilee

32But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Mt. 26:32)

5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28)

Thoughts: Some ask the too linear question- "was Jesus in Jerusalem or Galilee?"  But the risen Christ can be wherever He wants. The forty days of resurrection appearances are not restricted to one place (like some say ghost appearances are).  He sent them back to the place where it all started.  He later told Peter to fish on the other side as he did when he first called them- and Peter remembered the power and might of the Lord.  Peter was not embarrassed to come to Him, but He was a bit ashamed.  Jesus was seen in the upper room and ascended from Mt. Olive.  Yet he appeared and disappeared in many places.  

Prayer: Lord give me eyes to see and a heart that will listen to your commands.