Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Rivers Clap

4 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
5 make music to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn—
shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
8 Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy;
9 let them sing before the LORD.

Psalm 98:4-9, English Standard Version


The Rivers Clap


We tend to think of all nature as passive. There may be many stories of fantasy that make the plants and animals speak, but in reality they are just passive. Perhaps the problem is that we just do not know their language! Of course nature does not speak to us, but it converses with God continually. When the sparrow calls out to God, he hears his voice and answers.

Many places in the Bible, imagery is given to nature. In this Psalm which calls us to praise the Lord, we are told that the rivers clap their hands and the mountains shout and sing together for joy.

Now when you really think of that, what happens when you awake in the morning and hear the birds singing in the trees? How about when you take a walk and see the early spring flowers begin to burst into bloom? Then, as you gaze upon the mountains surrounding you, observing their lofty heights and breathtaking depths, what do you think?

Take some time today to take that walk along the river and listen the the river clap for joy. Though man has done his best to destroy this earth and everything in it, God's creation still shines forth the glory of God. Listen to the birds and remember that God cares about each one. Watch those beautiful flowers bloom and think of the glorious variety of colors spilling forth from the hand of God. Stand on the mountain heights and know that even the mountains shout and sing glory to God.

It is amazing what the eyes can truly see, if they just look! So, try to look at your life today through the eyes of God, and listen to the rivers clap for joy!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

River of Delights

7 How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light we see light.
Psalm 36:7-9, English Standard Version

River of Delights

Delights. Now there is a word we like! Our culture is obsessed with seeking anything that gives delight. But, though people may attain momentary joy, it does not last. New things are continually needed to feast their thirst for happiness. Could it be that they are looking in the wrong place?

Many things delight us and make us happy, but true happiness only comes from our Lord God, who gives us drink from His river of delights. How often do we take that for granted? How often do we face the drudgery of each day with a gloomy outlook on life? No wonder the world is not drawn to Christ as we vocalize the same things they do day after day. What difference do they see in our lives because we are Christians?

Look at the things that are granted to we Christians. We not only drink from the River of Delights, but we also feast on the abundance of God's house. And, in Christ we find the fountain of life. Then, as verse 9 continues, it says, For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

So, as you drink today from God's River of Delights, pray that the light of God may be reflected in you, that others may see your light and glorify God in Heaven.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Healing River

9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean." 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, "Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, "My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
2 Kings 5:9-14, English Standard Version

The Healing River


We all like stories with a happy ending, do we not? The story given to us in 2 Kings 5 has a very happy ending. Naaman had leprosy. As the commander of the army of Syria, he was an important man to the king of Syria. After hearing that Elisha could cure the sick, the king of Syria sent Naaman in search of Elijah. Filled with his own importance, Naaman was filled with rage when Elisha did not even come out of his house, but sent a servant out to him instead.

"Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper."

Elisha did no such thing. Instead he told him to go and wash seven times in the Jordan River. Only through the earnestness of his servants did he finally go to the Jordan and dip himself in it seven times. You probably know the result, as I already told you that this story had a happy ending. Yes, he was completely cured of his leprosy.

What was in the Healing River of Jordan? Was there some special chemical that could only be found there? No, the river did not heal Naaman; only the Lord could do that. The important thing here was that Naaman obeyed the commands given to him by the Lord through Elisha. It may have been true that the Syrian rivers were much cleaner, but Naaman would not have been healed if he had gone to them to wash seven times.

How is our obedience to the Lord? We live in such a "loose" generation, that strict obedience to any law or court of law is almost unheard of. Do we let that casual attitude slip into our relationship with Christ?

We must pray today, that though the commands of God may not always seem to make sense to us, we must, like Naaman, put aside our prejudicial feelings and wash seven times in the healing river of God. Only he can make us white as snow.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, April 27, 2009

Beyond the River

3 Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac.

14 "Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Armorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:3 & 14-15, English Standard Version


Beyond the River

When I think of the usage of the term, "beyond the river" in the verses shown above, it reminds me of the phrase, "the other side of the tracks." The river of Jordan was not only the boundary of the land that God was giving to the Israelites, but it was also symbolic of their leaving their old life and worshiping and serving only the Lord God of Hosts.

We live at a time when our "river boundary" seems to be rather indistinct. Maybe the river is just at a continual flood stage. Where is the river that separates you, as a Christian, from the non believing world around you? Is there truly a visible distinction between your life and that of the culture surrounding you.

One of the tricks of Satan is to "muddy" the waters so that our lives lose that distinctiveness. He does not have to totally destroy us; as a matter of fact, it is often much more beneficial to him to cause us to lose our faithful testimony to the world around us. In muddy waters, it is much easier to see any hypocrisy that exists in our lives, thereby convincing the world that we are no different than they are.

We are certainly no more worthy of Christ than the world around us, but by the grace of God, there should be a definitive difference in our view of life than that of the world. Where they have despair, we have hope. Where they have tension and strife, we have the peace of God. Where they lack purpose, we are focused upon the glory of God and our future home with Him. Where they have grief and sadness, our grief and sadness is turned to joy.

Think about your status compared to the river. Which side are you on? Or, are you in the middle just muddying the waters.

May Christ strengthen and keep you this day.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rivers of Blessing

5 How lovely are your tents, O Jacob,
your encampments, O Israel!
6 Like palm groves that stretch afar,
like gardens beside a river,
like cedar trees beside the waters.
Numbers 24:5-6

Rivers of Blessing


The Bible verses shown above were spoken by Balaam, when Balak called him to curse the Israelites. Instead, Balaam could speak nothing but blessings to the Israelites because God's hand was upon Him, preventing him from issuing curses.


Rivers are often used in blessings; the imagery given above is truly beautiful. Four comparisons are made. The Israelites camps were:


*Like palm groves that stretch afar.
*Like gardens beside a river.
*Like aloes that the Lord has planted.
*Like cedar trees beside the waters.


Did you notice that two of these blessings involve rivers or water? I can just imagine the beautiful gardens beside the river, can't you? The ever present water will keep the leaves and blossoms from withering or dying, producing beautiful blooming shrubs and flowers. Can you also see the thriving cedar trees shooting their great trunks up to heaven in praise to their creator?


Just as God blessed the camps of the Israelites, so, too, does he bless the "camps" of His children today. As we think of these picturesque settings, we are reminded that God has placed such beauty in the world to remind us of the beauty of the the new heavens and new earth to come.


Sometimes, it is good just to sit down and reflect upon God's creation, which thrives in beauty, totally oblivious to the problems of life we seem to face every day.


God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, April 25, 2009

River of Treachery

And the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, so that they may become blood, and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'"
Exodus 7:19

And the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!'"
Exodus 8:5

River of Treachery

As we travel a few chapters more in the Bible, we find that the river is now a river of treachery. What has happened to the river? In yesterday's devotional we spoke of the river as our refuge, and today it has become a river of treachery. How can that be?

The answer does not lie in the river! The answer lies in God, Himself. Just as God used the river as a refuge for Baby Moses, He is now using the very same river to bring judgment upon the land of Egypt. God used the wickedness of Pharaoh to drive the Israelites from the land of Egypt. But, because of Pharaoh's tyranny against the children of Israel, God would bring the land of Egypt to its knees.

I think it is significant to note that we are talking about the very same river. It is easy for us to become attached to something or someone and to view them as the reason for our salvation or our happiness as a Christian. Or, we may even have a "lucky charm." But that same "lucky charm" for us may be the source of evil for another. How important for us to understand that our focus must always remain on the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is true that God gives us many comforts in this life, which give us great enjoyment. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as we remember that everything good in our lives is given to us by the hand of God.

Often, we want more credit for the good we do. But, there is no room for pride in the life of the Christian. Who were we that we deserved our salvation? We should pattern our life after the Lord Jesus Christ. Though He was truly God and truly man, when a man called Him, Good Master, Christ replied, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." (Mark 10:18)

Go today, to this Good God, and thank Him for all He has given to you, and praise Him for His grace and mercy.

"Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?"
Exodus 15:11

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scripture is from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, April 24, 2009

River of Refuge

1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3 When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrews’ children." 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, "Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?" 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, "Go." So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages."
Exodus 2:1-9, English Standard Version

River of Refuge

I am sure that most of you are familiar with the story of Moses in the Bulrushes. What importance did a river play in this situation? Not only is this story true, but it is filled with lessons for the Christian life. I would like to answer three questions from this Bible passage in Exodus 2. First, what part did Moses play in this story? Second, what part did the river play in this story? Third, how can we best apply this story to our lives today?

What part did Moses play in this story? Moses was just an infant, only a few weeks old; in spite of the terror around him, he was totally oblivious to his situation, and powerless to do anything about it. God, however, had plans for Moses. In desperation to save his life, Moses' mother made a waterproof basket and placed Moses in the river, charging Miriam, Moses' sister with watching him to see what would happen.

What part did the river play in this story? The river became, for Moses, a river of refuge. It was no longer safe for him to be at home where the Egyptian soldiers were putting all the male babies to death in obedience to Pharaoh's plan for population control for the Israelites. His mother saw the river as Moses' only hope for survival.

How can we best apply this story to our lives today? As Christians, we are babes in Christ. Though we think we have complete charge over our own lives, it is truly God, our Father, who leads and guides us in the way He would have us to go. Truly, we are as clueless as Baby Moses when it comes to ordering our future. God, just as Moses' mother, places us in our own rivers of refuge. Oh yes, adversities do come and rock our boats, but we are never out of the grasp of our dear heavenly Father's hand.

As you go about your duties of this day, remember that God is watching over you in your own river of refuge!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

There is a River

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
Genesis 2:10-14, English Standard Version

There is a River

There are over 100 Bible passages which use the word, "river" in them. I guess that is not so hard to imagine when one thinks of the importance rivers have played in history and commerce. As westward expansion occurred in the USA, cities were built beside rivers, allowing a connection to others by boat and a good water supply for the people.

We have always seemed to have had an attachment to rivers; think of the songs about rivers: Moon River, Way Down Upon the Swanee River, The Red River Valley, etc. Growing up near Lake Michigan, on the shores of Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin, I developed a great love for bodies of water (especially the ones where you cannot see the other side). Though I love Iowa, I must admit I really miss the water.

I think it will be interesting to see how rivers played an important role in Biblical history. As a matter of fact, the passage above shows us that a river flowed out of the Garden of Eden and then separated into four main rivers. So, even at the very beginning of our world, rivers were shown to be important.

As we shall learn in later devotionals, the River of Life flows from the new Jerusalem. That really is the important river, is it not? Will you be on the River of Life? Only as a new creature who has repented of your sins and cast yourselves at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, will you take from that River of Life.

Yes, there is a river, that flows from the throne of God.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, April 20, 2009

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

22"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it."
Acts 2:22-24

18 "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."
John 10:18

18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.
1 Peter 3:18

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

We have looked at the many sightings of Christ after His resurrection from the eyes of many different people. But, did you know that we also have the witness of the Godhead? Each of the three persons of the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were noted to be involved in the resurrection. In Acts 2 we are told, God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. Christ, Himself, states in John 10, I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. And the Holy Spirit's involvement is given to us in 1 Peter 3, . . . being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

It is hard, if not impossible, for us to truly understand the aspect of the Godhead being three separate and unique persons, and yet, together, being one God. It is significant to note that God chose to let us know in His Word that each one of the three persons was involved in the resurrection of Christ. With such a wide array of witnesses how can people deny the resurrection of Christ?

Why do many Bible scholars refuse to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the the God-man, and not just a wonderful person or a good prophet? The truths of the Bible are often difficult to understand because we are confined to this finite world. Our sins tether us to this earth where, without a saving knowledge of Christ, we will do anything to fight against the truth of the Word.

This same Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are living and active on the behalf of each Christian today. No matter where we are and no matter how alone we may feel, God's army is encamped around us, and we have access to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No power on earth below or in heaven above can shake or diminish the power of God. Oh, it may not seem that way at this time, but when Christ deems that time is ended, not one being will be spared from His final victory.

Oh death where is your sting? Oh grave, where is your victory?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scripture is from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Paul Sees Christ

3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" 5 And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
Acts 9:3-7

8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
1 Corinthians 15:8

1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 9:1-2, English Standard Version

Paul Sees Christ

After the resurrection of Christ, one of the first orders of business for the eleven disciples was to choose another disciple to take the place of Judas Iscariot. I have often thought that the disciples were a little premature in their decision. It was Christ who chose each of them to be His disciple, and though He was in heaven, it was Christ who would choose another Apostle, named Paul.

As with many of the disciples, Paul was one of the most unlikely candidates. Paul was a religious zealot known throughout the region for his persecution of Christians. Yet, Christ chose this unlikely man, and what a ministry he would have!

You are probably familiar with the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus, where he was intent on capturing more Christians and bringing them to Rome for judgment.

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."

What are the requirements for being called to salvation by Christ? Is one person more "savable" than another? Were any of us called because we were more intelligent, more wealthy, or even just a good person? No!

Only those who understand their total depravity, and therefore understand they have no hope in and of themselves will truly be called by Christ. Christ is looking for the lost sheep, not those who believe they have no need of a savior.

Think about that as you go about the duties of this day. Every single life is precious in the eyes of the Lord. Because we are all made in the image of God, we, too, are to value and give respect to those around us.

Pray, today, that God would use you to reach the "un-savable" sinners you mingle with each day. And pray that God would help you to respect every living person, no matter what their intelligence level, state of health, or state of wealth may be.

Paul sees Christ. Do we see Christ?

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Resurrection Commission

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."
Acts 1:6-10

Resurrection Commission

What now? That is exactly what the disciples were asking Christ. He had ministered for three years, teaching them the Word, He was crucified and buried, and now He was resurrection.

"Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

After all, that is what the Jewish nation was waiting for; finally, it was time for them to be their own nation again with no Roman rule over them. Yet, Jesus answered rather strangely.

"It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Instead of restoring the kingdom as they had hoped, Christ gave them a Resurrection Commission--a new plan of action. Christ would send the Holy Spirit to them, and they would continue to spread the Gospel in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Were they successful? We live in a time when the Gospel has spread to the ends of the earth. Does that mean that their job (and ours) is finished? Not at all! Our "job" will not be finished until the time that God proclaims that time shall be no more.

We Christians are under this same Resurrection Commission. So as you go through the activities that this day brings upon you, do not just stand, looking up to your resurrected Christ, but rather, ask the Lord to use you to spread His Gospel this day.

Brighten the Corner where you are!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, April 17, 2009

Resurrected Christ

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
1 Corinthians 15:1-8, English Standard Version

As we continue our series, "What is in a Word," we find a very interesting passage in 1 Corinthians 15, which tells of an appearance of the Resurrected Christ to more than 500 disciples, most of whom were still alive at the time that Paul wrote this 1st epistle to the Corinthian church. Though Christ did not appear in public daily as He had before His death He appeared to more than just a small handful of people.

Why was this fact important to Paul? Remember, the soldiers were paid by the Roman leaders to say that Christ's disciples had come at night and had stolen His body away. That was the common story told among the non-believers, so Paul decided to confront this error right at the beginning of his first letter to the Corinthian believers.

In a court of law, a person can be found guilty by the testimony of two people, and yet the testimony of hundreds did not sway the unbelief of the people. Though the people of that day were alive when Christ walked upon the earth, their unbelief hardened them from the obvious truth.

Is it no wonder that we find unbelief so rampant in our world, along with the doubt that Christ, if He truly existed, was ever God. He may have been a good man or even a prophet, but not God!

There is the heart of Christianity! We Christians have no doubt that Christ is God; as a matter of fact we also have no doubt that He is alive because we have a living relationship with Him.

As you go about the duties of this day, take some time to focus on the Resurrected Christ, your Savior, your Friend, your Hope, your Guide, and your God.

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gather Some Fish!

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, "Children, do you have any fish?" They answered him, "No." 6 He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
John 21:4-8, English Standard Version

Gather Some Fish!

After the resurrection of Christ, He apparently did not walk continually with the disciples, but made appearances to them. Such was the case in this Bible passage from John 21. It seems that the disciples did not immediately recognize Him. After admitting that they had not caught any fish, Jesus told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. There were so many fish that they were not able to haul them all in. Peter shouted, "It is the Lord," and dove into the sea and swam to the shore (they were about 100 yards from the shore.) This was the third time that Jesus had revealed himself to the disciples.

Do you think it was significant that the disciples had returned to fishing? Now that Jesus was gone, had their ministry ended? It is important to understand that no matter what our vocation may be, our responsibility to be a faithful witness for the Lord never ends. The disciples did not know that their ministry had not ended, it had only just begun!

Does it seem as though your life has no affect on those around you? Does each day just seem to run into the next, one day no different from the other?

How small our vision can be; we do not see as the Lord sees. Pray today, that you will live your life in a manner pleasing to the Lord in obedience to His Word. The fruit that is born from our testimonies is wholly the Lord's; He will use us in ways we could never imagine.

What an amazing God we have? Cast your net on the other side of your boat this day, and go gather some fish!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, April 13, 2009

Doubting Thomas

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." 28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
John 20:24-29, English Standard Version

Doubting Thomas

We are often quite hard on Thomas because he did not believe that the disciples had actually seen Jesus.

"Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."

How like our Lord, then, when he again appeared to the disciples eight days later to go directly to Thomas and say, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe."

Now, look at Thomas' response. "My Lord and my God!"

How often do we slink back into doubt when things are not going so well in our lives? How often do we seem to live as unbelievers who have no hope? I know that it is not reasonable to paste a permanent smile on our faces. As my husband often says, "We are not stones!" We should respond appropriately to circumstances around us, but in the end, when all is said and done, what is our conclusion of the matter?

This is a question I ask myself; it is so easy to have a "pity party" and make everyone around me miserable. May God forgive me for such an attitude; the resurrected Lord is my only Hope and Guide. God sends what He does for a reason.

So, as we ponder these things today, let us remember the joy of our resurrected Lord, and may we, like doubting Thomas, fall on our faces before Christ and say, "My Lord and my God."

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Appearance to the disciples

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."
John 20:19-23, English Standard Version

The Resurrection of Christ
Appearance to the Disciples

We really have the advantage over the people of Jesus' time, in that we have the entire Scriptures at our disposal. Sometimes, however, we are so familiar with the life of Jesus and His resurrection that we miss the significance.

So, for a moment, let us put ourselves in the position of the ten disciples. What were they to do? It is the evening of the day of Christ's resurrection (Easter Sunday!). Christ has been crucified; their leader is dead. Trembling in a locked room, ten of the disciples (minus Thomas) are trying to decide what to do. Word of Christ's resurrection and consequent appearances has been reported throughout the day, but is it true?

In one way, it is hard for us to understand their reaction because Christ told them that He would rise from the dead. Yet, when it happened, they did not believe it was true.

I love the Charlie Brown cartoon strip. When adults (which we never see) are talking, the only thing the children seem to hear is, "Blah, blah, blah." How like we believers! How often do the words of Christ just seem to go over our heads in a meaningless chatter? We know that is true of unbelievers, but because of our sin, it is also true of Christians.

While the disciples are pondering these things, Christ suddenly appears in their midst. I am amused by the wording of verse 20. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. That seems to be somewhat of an understatement, don't you think? Yes, they were glad, overjoyed, amazed, astounded, grateful, humbled, filled with awe, and the list goes on.

Let us take some time, this Easter Sunday, and put ourselves in the place of the disciples. Let us, too, be glad, overjoyed, amazed, astounded, grateful, humbled, and filled with awe.

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er his foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.

He arose!
He arose!
Hallelujah, Christ arose!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Emmaus Road

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19 And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25 And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Luke 24:13-35, English Standard Version

Resurrection of Christ
On the Emmaus Road

This devotional originally appeared on this Daily Bible Devotions blog on November 15, 2008. I have made a few changes so that it will better correlate with our current topic of "What is in a Word, where we are looking at the word, "Resurrection."

All of Jerusalem was in a stir over the events of the last few days. That is why the two men walking on the Emmaus Road were shocked to know that this stranger they met did not seem to know of the recent events. We are told, But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Even when the stranger (who was actually Christ) explained in great detail, beginning with the law and the prophets, all of the things foretold about Jesus Christ, they did not know they were talking to the Lord.

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Finally, when they reached the village and invited Him into their home, their eyes were opened when he took bread, blessed it, and gave some to each of them.

It is often amazing how blind even believers can be about the teachings of the Word of God. This also brings up another very interesting point. The men were kept from recognizing Christ until their eyes were opened when Christ prayed.

As we have seen in so many Scriptures, there is no room for pride in the heart of a Christian because they are "smart" enough to accept Christ as their Savior and Lord. Look at the pitiful reaction of all of the disciples when Jesus was put on trial! Then, look at the extent of their unbelief when they heard news that He had risen from the dead.

Do you desire a closer relationship with Christ? How about a better understanding of the Word of God and how it applies directly to your daily life? Go to the Lord; cry out to Him for help and He will answer your prayer. Your growth and sanctification as a Christian comes directly from the Lord Jesus Christ.

What an amazing time it was in Jerusalem! Can you imagine the great joy of the Jewish Christians when they understood that Christ was resurrected from the dead?

If you are a true believer, then yes, you can understand, as it is just like the joy you experienced when you first believed. You can also understand the importance of the resurrection of Christ. Through Him, we, too, look forward to the day we will be resurrected from the dead to live with Christ forever.

The songwriter calls it, Joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Maybe it is time for you to take a walk on the Emmaus Road!


God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Greetings

1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you." 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."
Matthew 28:1-10, English Standard Version

Today we are looking at the appearance of Christ after His resurrection as recorded in Matthew 28. Look at the details that Matthew recorded in this chapter. As Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" are on their way to the tomb, we are told,

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.

What a sight! Imagine being there!

Then the narrative continues as the angel speaks to the women with these familiar words,

"Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you."

If you were one of the two Marys, how would you react? The Bible says they departed quickly with fear and great joy. Now that is probably the understatement of the year! Notice, there was no hesitation in their response; they immediately ran to tell the disciples.

But, what happened as they were on their way? Jesus met them and said, "Greetings." How did they react to Jesus? They came up, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him.

That was the correct response! As a matter of fact, that should be our response as well. How would you live differently this day if, before you began any of your daily duties, you simply bowed, took hold of Jesus' feet (figuratively of course), and worshiped Him?

Try it!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Christ with Mary Magdalene

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." 14Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 16Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"—and that he had said these things to her.
John 20:11-18, New English Standard Version

As we continue our study of the resurrection of Christ, we will look at the appearances Christ made after His resurrection as recorded in the Bible. In the first recorded appearance of Christ after the resurrection, we see Christ with Mary Magdalene.

Mary was devastated; her Savior was dead. Now that the Jewish Sabbath has ended, she quickly made her way to the tomb so that she may lay some spices at His feet. Imagine her surprise when she arrived at the tomb and found two angels sitting in the tomb, but no body!

They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."

Then, turning, she saw Jesus, but did not recognize Him; thinking him to be the gardener, she asked, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."

Jesus answered with one word, "Mary."

What was her response? "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).

And so begins a remarkable time in the life of the new church. As Christ makes His appearance to more and more people, the light dawns upon them. They begin to understand the significance of who Christ really is and what His resurrection means to them.

Think about that as you go about your duties of this day. What does the resurrection of Christ mean to you personally?

Let us respond, as did Mary, "I have seen the Lord."

Oh, yes! When we have seen the Lord, nothing in our lives is ever the same again! We have new life, new hope, new joy, and new promises of things to come. Meditate upon that as you think of Christ with Mary Magdalene.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Resurrection of Christ

13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
1 Corinthians 15:13-14 & 20-24, English Standard Version

As we approach Easter Sunday, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the resurrection of Christ. Why is this such an important day to remember? For the church, two observances seem to stand out among the rest, Christmas and Easter. If people do not go to church any other time of the year, they will often not dream of missing church on these two religious holidays.

One of the clues is found in 1 Corinthians 15:14, shown above.

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

The Gospel of Christ can be summed up in three events: Christ's virgin birth, His death, and His resurrection. If any of these are missing, then what Gospel do we have? If Christ was not born of a virgin, then His Father was not God. If Christ, the God-man did not die for the sins of His people, then no payment has been made, and no one will be saved. If Christ was not resurrected from the dead, then there is no hope that we will be resurrected as well.

But, 1 Corinthians 15:20 does not leave us in despair.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Christ is our first fruit; He has been raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God making intercession for His children. There rests our hope! True believers will also be raised from the dead and will live forever with the Lord in His kingdom on heaven and on the new earth.

That should put a song in your heart, and a bounce to your steps. What an amazing God we have to plan such a thing for a people so unworthy.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Vindictive Justice

5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,
2 Thessalonians 1:5-6, English Standard Version

No one likes to be punished. We learned very early in life that wrong deeds brought consequences we did not like. Sometimes we even like to accuse God of unfairness when we see judgment meted out.

This concept is so ingrained in our way of thinking that often justice is not served. The criminal may be brought to trial and found guilty, but what then? It seems as though the criminal's rights are more protected than those of the victim.

God would not be holy and righteous if He allowed sin to remain unpunished. Even though our sins, as Christians, have been forgiven, payment was made for them. Without the death of the Lord Jesus Christ as payment for the sins of His people, there would be no salvation!

God our Father is totally without sin; He cannot even look upon it. Remember the words of Christ on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" God could not even look upon His own Son as Christ bore the weight of sin upon Himself.

Why is this so important to understand? Because we have always lived in a world filled with sin, we cannot imagine a world without sin. Even the plants and animals have been affected by the sin of man!

As Christians, we must keep our eyes focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought us to a new plateau; one that will include eternal life in a perfect environment. Sometimes that thought seems so far away from us as we are absorbed by the duties of our life here on earth.

Take a moment today; reflect on the perfection of God, who brings vindictive justice as well as giving rewards when justice is served. Ask God to bring you a spirit of yearning for Him; a longing to be with the Lord, forever!

Remember, we are in the world, but not of the world.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Justice and Rewards

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:8

There are two aspects of justice which must both be present so that true justice is served. The first one we understand quite well, and have no problems accepting. We all understand and appreciate receiving rewards for the good things we do. But in true justice, there is also vindictive or punitive justice when punishment is meted out to wrongdoers. Today we will focus on justice and rewards.

In the verses shown above, Christians are encouraged to note that no matter what their life on this earth is like, faithful servants will be rewarded at the end of their life here on earth. As a matter of fact, it is not the end of their life at all, but rather the ushering in of a new life with the Lord forever.

Imagine what it would be like if what you see around you is the best you will ever get. Is it no wonder we see the desperate lives people live in order to better their circumstances? What would the lottery be if people understood that money really cannot buy them happiness. Who would play?

What about career choices? How does one determine the best road to follow? Are they looking for the jobs that make the most money, or have the most power, or are they looking into areas in which they have the best aptitude and the most interest?

Christians should be focused on the purpose God has for them in this life. It may not be glamorous; as a matter of fact, the twists and turns in their roads of life may often be quite tragic. Does that bring them despair and hopelessness as it does to those of the world?

Yes, we are not stones; we are affected by the difficult things in life we experience. But, in the end, we must all come to the realization that this world is not our home. The best is yet to come. Our God, who is a true God of justice, will reward us in the life to come. With that in mind, we can live this life without despair.

As we think of the relationship between justice and rewards, let us remember to thank God for the gift of eternal life He has granted to us, because, even in our service to God, God alone is to receive the glory.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scripture is from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Justice

14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. 15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face, 16 who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted.
Psalm 89:14-16, English Standard Version

What is justice? We talk about it; we complain when our courts do not deliver justice, but how do we really define it? One of the difficulties in understanding this term is that we, as creatures born in sin, cannot truly understand or mete out justice. Instead of beginning with man, we need to begin with God; only God is truly just.

The Psalmist begins with the phrase, Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Just think about that for a moment. What is the natural consequence of serving a just God?

Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted.

Compare that to cultures such as the ancient Greeks and Romans who served many gods, none of whom were truly just. Their gods were of the same natures as man: showing vengeance, anger, retribution, etc.

As you go about your duties of this day, think about the just and holy God you serve. Through His justice, Christians live in the light of His face where joy and peace abound forever.

God Bless You,
Linda