Tag Archives: Gospels

down, but not out

The tomb was sealed. The Roman government sealed the tomb and placed guards outside to ensure no one messed with it. His opponents believed they had gained the victory. He was in the tomb, it was sealed, guards were posted, and it didn’t seem a dead man would want to get out anyway. They didn’t have the victory though, he did!

The Bible teaches Jesus rose from the tomb. The tomb couldn’t hold him as he is more powerful than death’s grip. He may allowed death to hold him down for a moment, but he certainly wasn’t out.

Jesus says in John 16:33, 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Life may push you and me down at times. The checking account balance may have us pushed down, but Jesus says we are not out. The lack of employment may have us pushed down, but Jesus says we are not out. The medical issues we’re facing may have us down, but we are not out. With Jesus, we may be down, but we are not out.

Jesus says we will have trouble, but we can have courage because he has overcome this world’s trouble. We may get knocked down for a moment or two, but we are not out. The next time life pushes you down, remember, you can have courage because Jesus has overcome.

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the vine

A good gardener knows how to care for a garden. She knows when to tenderly care for her plants. He knows when and how much to trim away. The plants in the garden are healthy, and they produce good fruit and beautiful flowers. A good gardener’s work is obvious when we look at a garden.

The Bible teaches God is the gardener of our life. John 15:1-3 says, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.” As the gardener, God compassionately cares for our lives so they become a beautiful part of his creation.

And, the source for our lives, according to John 15:5, is Jesus. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” It is in Jesus life is found and turned into a beautiful part of God’s plan.

As our life comes from Christ, the gardener trims away all of the unattractive parts to give room for the fruit of the Spirit to grow. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us what fruit will be growing. 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

A life in Christ is a beautiful creation. That is not to say as it grows, it doesn’t have its ugly parts. We all know life is not perfect every day, but in Christ, it ends in the beautiful perfection of Heaven. How is the Lord making your life a beautiful creation?

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resurrection and life

Jesus was close to Lazarus and his sisters. Lazarus was ill, so the family sent word to Jesus requesting he come and help Lazarus. Jesus does go and help Lazarus, but the Bible teaches he waited before going.

We know Jesus waited until Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days before helping. At this point, all hope had been lost. No one believed there was a chance Lazarus could be brought out of the tomb. However, the Bible records that is not the case.

John 11:23-25 says, 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus is getting ready to display his power over death. Life and death battled, and life won. Death’s grip could not hold Lazarus in the grave because of Jesus.

Because of Jesus, death’s grip cannot hold us in bondage. Jesus says he is the resurrection and the life. Ephesians 2 says it is in Christ we are made alive by grace. Jesus question to Martha is the same one he asks us, “Do you believe?”

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the gate

The sheep would graze all day, and when darkness fell, the shepherd would lead the sheep to the safety of the pen. It was usually an enclosure with rock walls and perhaps some thorn bushes across the top to keep predators from crossing the rocks. There was no gate on the enclosure; that is where the shepherd came in. The shepherd would serve as the gate blocking the opening. No one could go in or come out of the pen without going through the shepherd. The shepherd was the gate.

In John 10:7-10, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth. I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely, and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

The Bible teaches man longs to have a deep communion with God. There is nothing else capable of filling the void in one’s life except the Lord. There are many things which promise a rich and satisfying life, but they fail. Money taunts that it can buy happiness, but it doesn’t. The excitement of popularity and fame is soon replaced with weariness of always being in the spotlight. Chasing after a “perfect body” leads only to stress and anxiety. All promise to bring a rich and satisfying life, but the promise is hollow.

The emptiness left in one’s life without the Lord can only be replaced by the fullness of life he offers. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have a rich and satisfying life.” This life is not measured in material possessions, popularity, or good looks. It is measured in the fullness of life we experience by fulfilling our God-ordained purpose. It is measured in allowing the grace and mercy of the Lord to work in one’s life. The way in is Jesus.

As he says, “I am the gate.” He is the entry point to a rich and satisfying life, and he welcomes all who desire to walk through the gate.

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rivers of living water

It was October, and time to remember Moses striking the rock in the wilderness. The people celebrated for a week. They slept in tents and each morning they would draw water from the pool and take it to the altar. This was done to commemorate the Lord providing Israel water while they were in the desert.

Exodus 17 records the Israelites in a waterless place and grumbling against the Lord. The Lord instructed Moses to strike a rock, and verse 6 records water gushing out of the rock as the Elders looked on. The Lord provided for Israel’s need in a big way, so a festival was started to remember the Lord’s provision.

This week-long festival ended in a dramatic way. The daily water drawing was performed seven times on the seventh day. It was here Jesus revealed where one’s desire for God could be met. John 7:37-38 says, “on the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds. ‘Anyone who is thirsty may come to me. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink. For the Scriptures declare rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”

Jesus stands and shouts to grab the people’s attention. He stands and shouts because his news is that pertinent. “Is your soul thirsting for God? Come to me! Are you longing to feel God’s presence? Come to me!” Jesus invites everyone to come to him and satisfy the desire to be with God. He invites everyone to come to him to find the peace and forgiveness for which they are longing. Jesus invites the thirsty, weary traveler to find rest in him. He can grant rivers of living water for our soul.

Do you allow your soul to drink from those waters? Is Jesus a dot on your calendar or the center of your day?

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light of the world

Night time in an unfamiliar terrain can be a scary place. With darkness all around, a traveler is not sure what lies ahead. The pitfalls of the land are unknown, so anxiety increases and nerves grow razor-thin. Have you ever been in this situation?

Israel was. As they were leaving Egypt, they found themselves in the unfamiliar territory of the desert. They were unsure what lie ahead, but the Lord gave them guidance. Exodus 13 records the Lord leading Israel by a pillar of fire. The light provided by this pillar gave Israel protection, it provided salvation, and it helped the people remember the Lord was with them.

Like Israel, life may place us in some unfamiliar territory, and the Lord will give us guidance in these moments. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Just as Israel followed the pillar of fire, we can follow him.

“here is a promise of salvation much greater than Israel experienced. For it is deliverance not just from a national enemy, but from the forces of rebellion against God that lie behind every form of evil in the world. And, this deliverance is not just a rescue from darkness and a glimpse of the light, but an ongoing life apart from darkness through possession of the light of life,” according to the IVP New Testament Commentary. Jesus is our guiding light.

It is through Jesus we find protection, salvation, and the truth the Lord is with us. He is our light in unfamiliar places. He is our light guiding us through the darkness of this world. What areas of life do you need the Lord’s light to shine?

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come and see

One day as John the Baptist and his disciples were together, Jesus came by. John pointed out Jesus was the Messiah. The one who had been sent full of grace and truth, so Andrew and John started to follow him.

“Jesus looked around and saw them following, ‘What do you want,’ he asked them. They replied ‘Rabbi,’ which means Teacher, ‘where are you staying?’ ‘Come and see,’ he said…” (John 1:38-39).

When Andrew and John heard Jesus was there, they investigated, but they didn’t just want to talk with Jesus. They asked for his address. They wanted to spend time with him. They wanted to go and see what Jesus was about. John’s Gospel tells us Jesus welcomed them and allowed them to spend time with him.

Andrew and John were not the only people who wanted to go and see what Jesus was about. The shepherds left their flocks to go and see him. The Magi traveled a great distance to go and see him. The Gospels teach many followed Jesus, and he welcomed them.

Are you interested in seeing what Jesus is about? His invitation is the same to us as it was to Andrew and John. “Come and see,” Jesus invites. He welcomes us just as he welcomed them.

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a faithful response

She was a common girl. She wasn’t extravagantly rich or excessively poor. She just belonged to the group of common folks. Life seemed to be going well. She was engaged and her wedding was coming up. Mary had no idea of the direction her life was about to go.

Gabriel’s Visit

Luke records the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to reveal her part in God’s grand plan. Luke 2:28 says, “The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you.”

After reassuring Mary his visit was to bring good news, Gabriel explained how she would be the mother of Jesus, and reminded Mary God can do anything. Mary was an ordinary girl, but she was given an extraordinary part to play in God’s plan. We know she inquired about the virgin birth, but we can only imagine what else went through Mary’s mind’ as she listened to the angel’s words.

She would have to explain this to Joseph. A pregnancy can’t be easily hidden, and people would speculate about her as they would not understand what the Lord was doing. This would have been a lot for Mary to process, and she may have not fully grasped it.

Mary’s Response

In spite of these thoughts, Mary listened intently to God’s plan, and note her response in Luke 2:38. “I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered, ‘may your word to me be fulfilled.”

Because of her faith, Mary was willing to offer herself as a servant. She realized fulfilling her purpose would have rough parts, but she trusted the Lord to be with her during those times. There were rough parts, and the Lord was with her during those times.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us Joseph had in mind to quietly divorce Mary when he found out about the pregnancy. It was only because the Lord stopped Joseph in a dream that he did not continue with his idea of divorce. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Mary’s family had to flee to Egypt to save the young child. It was the prompting of the Lord which caused the family to go; it was the work of the Lord which kept Mary’s family safe. Being Jesus’ mom certainly had its rough parts, but the Lord stayed with Mary.

Our Purpose

Our purpose may not be in the spotlight like Mary’s, but our lives do have a purpose in God’s plan. Like Mary, we may encounter rough parts to fulfilling our purpose, but the Lord will help us. His grace has given us favor. The Lord is with us. Are we with him?

Ask God to help you discover your purpose and to give you the courage and strength to pursue it. Try responding like Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May his word be fulfilled.”

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baby brings forgiveness

Anna speaks of forgiveness.

It was an exciting day. Eight-day-old Jesus has been brought to the temple for his circumcision to fulfill the law, and much has occurred. Simeon and Anna have been waiting for this day, and Simeon has spoken about the comfort and peace Jesus brings. Now, it is Anna’s turn.

As Mary and Joseph are still pondering Simeon’s words, Anna comes along. Luke 2:38 says, “Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” While Simeon sees comfort and peace in Jesus, Anna sees forgiveness.

The idea of redemption for Anna pointed to the captivity of the Old Testament. Especially to the Egyptian bondage and Israel’s redemption through the Passover. Ultimately, Passover points ahead to Christ redeeming Christians from the slavery of sin. When Anna saw Jesus she gave thanks to God, and spoke to anyone who would listen about his redemption. Here, at last, was the one who would save his people from their sins. Here, through Jesus, was forgiveness.

Perhaps 2020 has been the year of mistakes. You beat yourself up daily because past mistakes constantly fly up in your face. Jesus offers forgiveness and freedom from those mistakes. Forgiveness came on the first Christmas. “Today in the town of David,” the angel reported to the shepherds, “a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Take time today to allow and reflect on the forgiveness offered through Christ.

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baby brings comfort and peace

New parents learn of the impact their child will have on the world.

Just a week ago, these parents found rest in a stable as there was no room in the inn. Today, their son turned eight-days-old, so it was time for his circumcision. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to fulfill the law, and while there, Simeon came up and scooped the baby from Mary’s arms. He took the child in his arms and praised God.

“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon grabs Jesus from Mary’s arms and begins praising God for good reason. From their perspective, things were not exactly going well for Israel. They hadn’t heard from God for about 400 years and were living under Roman rule. They had lost their political independence and were living under the rule of the capable, crafty, crazy, and cruel king Herod. Many were waiting and wondering if the Messiah would ever come.

Moved by the spirit that day, Simeon went to the temple to see the Messiah. Simeon understood this baby in his arms was the Comforter. The need to be comforted is a universal human need. We all struggle with emptiness, loneliness, insecurity, and desperation. It seems depression spikes this time of year, but here’s the comforter. This young baby in Simeon’s arms. Simeon sees the one who has come to make it alright. The one who has come to bring comfort to the world.

Simeon sees the one who has come to bring peace. Life is always in an uproar. Circumstances are always arising in an attempt to steal our peace, yet this baby brings peace. Paul asserts this peace transcends all understanding. Christ, Christmas, brings peace.

Can you relate to Simeon? Are you hurting and uneasy? 2020 has been filled with much hurt and great anxiety, but Christ can provide comfort and peace. Take a moment to find and reflect on the comfort and peace you have in Jesus Christ.

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