Peace in the Middle of the Storm

Reading:  Acts 27

Key verse: “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.” (v.25)

The Holy Spirit gives peace and encouragement in the midst of storms.

Last week, many people in the southern part of the United States experienced a strong category 4 hurricane. Many experienced damage to their homes, properties, and roads. Thousands lost electricity and experienced flooding. We saw on live TV news the strong winds due to the hurricane. Almost at the same time, in the Far East on the other side of the Pacific, a powerful typhoon hit some parts of the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Perhaps some of you are experiencing some kind of storm in life, too.

In the Bible, a man named Paul also experienced all kinds of storms in life. Here is the story from the book of Acts:

Paul was falsely accused by some religious leaders in Israel and was put in jail (Acts 23). He was transferred from a prison in Jerusalem to Caesarea. For two years he went through court trials and testified before two governors and the king of Israel, Herod Agrippa (Acts 23-25).

He remained steadfast in his faith and plea for innocence.   

Paul was granted his request to appeal to Caesar. “Then Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.’” (Acts 26:32 NKJV)

Paul knew and was certain of the Lord’s will for him to go to Rome to witness for Him: “‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.’” (Acts 23:11 NKJV)

Preparations were made and logistics lined up for Paul and other prisoners to be transferred from Caesarea to Rome. They were under the care of Julius, a Roman official centurion ( a commander of 100 soldiers). “And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment.” (Acts 27:1 NKJV)

They all sailed from the port of Caesarea to Sidon, Cyprus, Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia, and Crete. As they set sail from Fair Havens, Crete they encountered strong winds and stormy seas. The captain of the ship and the crew did everything they could to keep sailing in the midst of the storm. (See Acts 27:2-21 for the full story.) In the meantime, Paul kept praying and encouraging everyone: 

“And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.”  (Acts 27:22-25 NKJV)   

The situation was dire with the strong winds and storm beating the ship. Most of the people in the ship were fearful and did not know how they would survive the strong storm in the middle of the sea. They even stopped eating. But Paul was at peace, as he trusted the words of God that were given to him by the angel (Acts 27:23-24). The Holy Spirit gave Paul peace and calmness during the tempestuous storm that threatened their lives. He even encouraged everyone in the ship:

“Therefore, I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” (Acts 27:34 NKJV)

Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” ( John 14:26 27 NKJV)

Conclusion:

The Holy Spirit gives the followers of Jesus peace and calmness even in the midst of the storms of life, so we can encourage others.

Prayer:

Dear Father, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to us as our Comforter. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving us Your peace and calmness in times of distress amidst the storms of life. Please give us your strength, courage, peace, and comfort so we can encourage others who are going through storms in life. In Your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen!

Your Thoughts:

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The Morning Dew

Image by Pixabay

Reading: Lamentations 3:19-26

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness

Lamentations 3:22 NRSV

When the weather is fair, David and I enjoy walking around our neighborhood for exercise after a days’ work. On some weekends, we do our walking in the mornings. As we walk and stretch, we bask in the warmth of sunshine and blue sky. Sometimes we see white fluffy clouds. We also hear birds chirping and see squirrels running up and down big oak trees. At almost every corner we turn, we see huge, tall oak and pine trees. There are also some Crepe Myrtle trees with clusters of purple, pink, or white petals. During spring and early summer, we see lush green grass that carpets the neighborhood lawns. Some are covered with small white or red clover, and some with yellow and white dandelions. There are also different varieties of beautiful, colorful flowers on well-kept yards.

One morning, I noticed next to the sidewalk the green wild grass was covered with small droplets of water that glistened under the sun. At that time, it had been many days since we had rain. So, I knew the water was not from the rain; it was the morning dew. As I looked at the morning dew which moistens the thirsty and dry ground, I was reminded of today’s verse in the Bible that says, God’s love and faithfulness are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

God takes care of the wild grass, the wild trees, and the wildflowers even though they do not receive care as part of someone’s yard. Sometimes we feel dry and weary from all the cares and concerns of this world.  However, like those wild grasses that God refreshes through the morning dew, God refreshes our souls too each morning. The Spirit of the Lord blesses us each morning as we spend time with Him in Bible reading and prayer. Each morning with God is a new beginning because of His mercy and love for us.

Reflection: Like the morning dew, God’s love and faithfulness refresh my soul every morning.

Prayer: Thank you dear Lord God for your mercies and steadfast love that renew my spirit every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!

Your Thoughts:

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The King is coming, are you ready?

(The Triumphant Entry)

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Reading: Luke 19:28-40

v.38 Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

// “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9

Jesus started His journey from Capernaum to Jerusalem. After 3 years of teaching, preaching, healing sick people, and other miraculous acts of kindness in different parts of Israel, He was ready to go to the city of Jerusalem. He made some stops along the way in different cities like Jericho and Samaria, ministering to the people. He healed some blind people in Jericho and touched the family of Zacchaeus (Luke 19). However, Jesus was still focused on His final destination, Jerusalem, even though He made some stops and detours. Just before heading to Jerusalem, Jesus told His disciples the events that would take place there, His death on the cross and resurrection (Luke 18:31-33). Jesus knew what would take place in Jerusalem, His suffering on the cross, but He was determined to fulfill the call of God in His life.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem with His disciples, He instructed them to get a certain colt that nobody had ridden (Luke 19:29-34).

The disciples brought Him a colt, and Jesus rode on it as he entered Jerusalem.

And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.

Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,saying:

‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:37-38)

The followers of Jesus believed He was their long-awaited Messiah, the Savior. So, they praised and worshiped Him. Jesus also fulfilled the words of the Prophet Zechariah which were written several hundred years earlier:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,  A colt, the foal of a donkey.”  (Zechariah 9:9)

In ancient history, when a king was inaugurated as the ruler of a land, they rode a mule or a colt and were paraded around the city. When Solomon was proclaimed king in Israel after his father David, it was written:

“…Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon….And they blew the horn, and all the people said,  “Long live King Solomon!” (I Kings 1:38-40)

In fulfilling the words of God through Zechariah, Jesus made it public that He was the Messiah, the Savior and coming King. With this gesture, He gave opportunity for the people of Israel, especially the religious leaders (Pharisees, Scribes, Priests, Elders, etc.), to recognize Him as their Messiah. Sad to say, some religious people did not recognize Jesus:

And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’”     (Luke 19:39)

However, some of His followers believed and praised Jesus as their Messiah, the promised King from the line of King David. They may not have fully understood its full meaning; some of them thought Jesus would be their king to overthrow the Romans and the puppet King Herod.

But the mission and purpose of Jesus from the beginning was to seek and save the lost, to deliver people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Conclusion:

Jesus was and is indeed the King of Israel, if only they would allow Him to reign in their hearts. Jesus is indeed the Savior, King, and Lord for all people of every nation. The King is coming. Are you ready?  Is Jesus King and Lord of your life?

If you open your heart to Him, He wants to be your Savior and Lord, too. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Someday Jesus will come again here on earth and establish His kingdom. Jesus will come again to bring final justice on earth. Jesus will come again to execute justice and vengeance for the oppressed.

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war….

And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.

(Revelation 19:11-16)

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, You are my King, the King of kings and Lord of lords! I praise and thank you for your words. Thank you that you came to seek and save the lost. Thank you that you are coming back to establish Your kingdom. Judge of the earth, ruler of all nations, please come. Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

All Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV)

(https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+19%3A28-40&version=NKJV)

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Jesus prays for you!

Photo of a mural of Jesus praying in Gethsemane – Basilica of Agony, Jerusalem

Do you know that when you pray to Jesus, He also prays for you?

As a follower of Jesus, I pray to Him most of the time. I also ask others to pray for me. But today, in my study of Luke chapter 22, I learned that Jesus also prays for me. Here’s the story. For the past few months, I’ve been reading and studying the Gospel of Luke. My reading today was Luke 22:24-38. This is where Jesus is having the last supper with His disciples before the Passover Holiday. Passover is one of the most important religious holidays for the people of Israel as they commemorate the time when God freed them from Egyptian bondage. (See Exodus 12.)

During dinner, the disciples had a dispute about who was the greatest (Luke 22:24-27).  Jesus washed the disciples’ feet to show them that to be great means to serve (John 13:3-10). Since this was the last supper before the crucifixion of Jesus, He spent good quality time with His disciples. He loved them and encouraged them to be prepared for the time when He would not be with them physically. Jesus saved the last, but the best, teachings for His beloved disciples. The apostle John shares more details on the words of Jesus during that last supper in John 13-17.  Take note that these last teachings of Jesus were not given to the crowds but were reserved for His 12 disciples only. However, I believe these words are specifically for the followers of Jesus – both then and now – including us. Yes, you and me!

Then Jesus broke some bad news to Simon: “And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22: 31)

Simon may have looked to the left, to the right, and at his back. Using my sanctified imagination, perhaps he said, “Me? Are you talking to me, Lord?”

“But he (Simon) said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33)

But then Jesus gave Simon some good news: “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22: 32)

Most of us know the rest of the story:

 Then He (Jesus) said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” (v.34)

In this study, however, I’m not focusing on the failure and weakness of Peter. We all know that Peter denied Jesus – a big smashing failure! But again, my focus here is not on the humanity and failure of Peter, but on the love and care of Jesus for His followers.

Remember that Jesus assured and encouraged Peter: “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail…”

Jesus loved Peter, despite his weakness, and prayed for Him. But not just for Peter – Jesus prayed for all His followers. At the ‘last supper,’ the apostle John recorded these words, the prayer of Jesus for His disciples:  

-I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.  (John 17:9)

–  Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.  (John 17:11)

– I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.  (John 17: 15)

-Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  (John 17:17)

Again, these prayers are for the followers of Jesus. He is praying for us! The writer of Hebrews also says:

“Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

And even the Holy Spirit prays for us! The apostle Paul said:

“Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)

Jude, another follower of Jesus, said:

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless. Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…” (Jude 24)

Reflection:

I don’t know about you, but I’m very encouraged by these words.  Jesus is praying and always interceding for His followers.  Jesus is praying for me!  No matter what the adversary and the evil ones do against the followers of Jesus, He has already covered us, just like He did for Simon Peter.  No matter what happens, Jesus has hold of me, so there is no need for worry or fear.  While we often think that we only pray to Jesus, Jesus is praying for us – with the full backup of the Holy Spirit and the love of our Father God.

Prayer:

Oh Lord Jesus, thank you for Your words and truth. Thank you for praying for me, interceding for me, holding me tight, and keeping me from falling. I love you Lord! Thank you for this assurance, that You won’t allow me to be given over to the adversary. Thank You, Jesus, for keeping me in the palm of your hand.  Thank you for praying for me.

Your Thoughts:

Your Prayer:

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The Return of the King!

King of Kings, Lord of Lords!

Reading: Luke 12:35-56

Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (v.40)

In Philippine history, when General Douglas MacArthur* told the people of the Philippines, “I shall return,” in 1944, after almost 3 years, he fulfilled his promise. He came and liberated the people of the Philippines from Japanese tyranny.

In the Bible, one time Jesus was talking to His followers, He said;

“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning… (v.35)

He also told them earlier, not to worry about life’s concerns such as food, clothing, etc. He encouraged them instead, “But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” (v.31) Jesus was saying to His followers, if they pursue the will of God and His kingdom, then God will take care of their needs. And while serving Him and doing His will, be aware also that Jesus could come back anytime. Jesus told His followers, to be aware, watch, and wait for His return. “And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. “(v38)

“Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (v.40) What Jesus is talking about here is in the context of Jewish wedding customs. He said, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks, they may open to him immediately. “(v.35-36)

In Jewish custom and tradition, when a man and a woman are engaged to be married, the man prepares a house for the future bride. After he has done this preparation, which takes about a year, the groom gets his wedding party, friends, and family, and walks together in a procession to get the bride from her house. The bride’s family knows this will happen, but they do not know the day or hour. During those days, they did not have a telephone or social media to send messages. The groom gets ready and goes to the bride’s house. So, the bride had better be ready when he comes!

In Matthew 25, Jesus talked about the parable of the foolish and wise brides or virgins. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps “(Matthew 25: 1-13).

In Matthew 24:27-28, Jesus spoke to His disciples about His return and the ingathering of His followers: “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

Paul also says, “For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)

For the past 2000 years, followers of Jesus have been eagerly waiting for His return. Paul also said, “…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:52)

This is our blessed hope, the return of our kings, the king of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

“Now, I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war…And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS
.

(Revelation 19:11, 16)

Peter also said, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9-10)

Conclusion/Reflection:

The Lord Jesus promised His followers 2000 years ago that He would return. If General MacArthur fulfilled his words, “I shall return!”, how much more reliable are the words of Jesus! The words of Jesus are trustworthy, reliable, and sure. What He says, He will do. Jesus will come back again. Moreover, being ready to meet the Lord is also personal. Anytime, anywhere, death can happen to anyone. The question is, “Am I ready to meet the Lord Jesus anytime?” “Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:40)

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your promises. I believe You. I believe Your words, and I look forward to Your return. Holy Spirit help us, Your Church (Your followers), know how to get ready. Help me, Holy Spirit, to get my oil lamp trimmed and ready. Lord, how do I get ready? How do we get ready for Your return?

*https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/macarthur-returns

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Fear God, fear nothing, fear no one!

Reading: Luke 12:4-12

Title: Fear God, Fear Nothing and No one!

Key verse: “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.” (v.7)

Jesus continues to teach and exhort His disciples: And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has the power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (v.4-5)

God loves and takes care of His creation – animals, flowers, especially people. Jesus said to His followers, “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.” (v.6-7)

Therefore, do not worry and fear to confess Jesus before people. Do not fear false accusations on account of Jesus’ name because the Holy Spirit will give power and strength in times of persecution. Jesus said, “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (v.11-12) The Holy Spirit gives wisdom about what to say. And the Holy Spirit gives power, strength, and courage to withstand against all kinds of threats and intimidation.

Reflection:

Therefore, Jesus is saying, do not fear people but fear God only. Do not worry about life because God sees everything, and God cares for those who choose to follow His Son, Jesus. God loves Jesus, and God loves those whom Jesus loves. So, we are secure in the arms of God as we follow Jesus, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no need to worry, no one to fear – fear God alone!

Prayer:

Dear Lord God, thank You for that because of Jesus, I am secure in your arms. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for your power, wisdom, and strength to follow Jesus – to fear nothing and no one, but God. In your powerful name, Jesus, I pray, amen!

Your Thoughts:

Your Prayer:

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Friendship and love-relationship

Title: Friendship and a love-relationship

Reading: Luke 5:33-39

v.38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

Ephesians 4:23-24   and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24)

Tired of religion? I remember when I was a small child, around six or seven years old, when I knew I did something wrong, like other children, I did not want my parents to know. So, I hid and did not tell them. One time, I accidentally broke a drinking glass and was afraid to tell my mother. I felt bad, so to punish myself, I took a handful of salt, laid it on the floor of the upper room in our old house, and knelt on it. I prayed and asked God to forgive me. Then growing up, in middle school, I learned I could go to church and confess to a priest. Later on, I learned from the Bible that, Jesus is the Way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father but by Him. (John 14:6). So, when I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I thought I found the right religion! However, the more I read the Bible, and the more I got to know God and His love, I realized, it is not really a religion. It is a relationship and not a religion. Jesus became my BFF, my best friend forever!

The people in Israel when Jesus was still on earth also got confused with tradition and religion. In the story in Luke chapter 5, some people asked Jesus why the disciples of John and the Pharisees fasted and prayed, while His disciples did not. (Luke 5:33). The people in Israel in those times watched and observed religious people. Some followed John and his teachings, perhaps some followed the Pharisees, and others listened and watched Jesus too. Perhaps some people wondered who to follow and emulate. While the Pharisees and scribes were experts in studying and practicing their tradition and law according to Moses, Jesus was introducing new ways of worshipping God. Jesus said, He did not come to change the law, but to change man-made traditions. (See Matthew 5:17-18).

“No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.” (Luke 5:36)

Jesus came to set people free from the burdens of old traditions and old ways of religion. Religion teaches rituals, practices, traditions, and a system of beliefs to come to God. But Jesus was introducing a new way to come to God, through relationship. “And He said to them, ‘Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?’” (v.34)

Jesus was saying that God the Father wants a relationship, not a religion. God wants a relationship with us like the relationship of a bridegroom and his bride – one based on love and intimacy. God desires a friendship between the bridegroom (Christ) and the friends of the bridegroom (us) which means hanging out, celebrating, eating together, and caring for one another. It’s not about following rules and regulations. It’s about a love relationship – grieving together when one is hurting, celebrating successes, talking about anything under the sun, etc.

It’s like our relationship with close friends. For example, I recall with fondness my relationship with friends in seminary and at church. After class or work, we spent time hanging out, just talking, sharing about life, etc. Another example is the relationship I had with friends when I was in the mission field. We worshipped and studied the Word together, shared concerns, and prayed together. After Sunday morning fellowship, we ate meals together, played games, watched movies, and just talked. That’s what Jesus wanted to introduce to the people of Israel and His followers. Jesus wants to be our friend. God and Jesus want relationship with His people and not religion. (v.37-38)

Jesus is giving “new wine” to refresh souls. He is life, sustains life, and wants to connect His people to the Source of life, God the Father. New wine and new life in Jesus are to know Father God, the Giver of life and source of eternal life.  New wineskins mean new ways of thinking, a new heart, and a new mindset – to get rid of old ways, old traditions, and old ways of thinking like those exhibited by the Pharisees and other religious people. The religious people cared more about keeping traditions and man-made rules and regulations than about a relationship. Jesus gives new wine – new ways of worshipping God in spirit and in truth.

Reflection:

It’s not about religion, nor denomination; it’s not about following rules and regulations; not a system of beliefs, rituals, and ceremonies, but a love relationship. We can come to Him anytime. He wants us to hang out with Him and talk with Him – not just perform a ritual of prayer. Talking or praying is sharing our concerns and burdens with Him, sharing our joys and triumphs (thanksgiving), sharing anything and everything in our hearts.

We need a fresh revelation of who God is – compassionate, loving, caring, and fun! God wants a love relationship with His children through Jesus. Know the Holy Spirit as our Teacher and Guide. Ask Him questions anytime about anything or share your deepest thoughts with Him. Talk to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Share your sorrows, pain, grief, and fears. Celebrate with God your successes and joys. It’s about friendship and a love relationship. Similar to a bride to her bridegroom, it’s about romance, love, intimacy, friendship, etc.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You desire a love relationship with us and not a religion. Help me, help us to have a new wineskin – a new spirit, a new heart, and new thinking to worship You in spirit and truth.

Your Thoughts:

Your Prayer:


Other readings:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Romans 12:2 NKJV

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4: 23-24 NKJV

Jesus has the Power to Heal and Forgive!

Title: Jesus has the power to heal and forgive!

Bible Reading: Mark Chapter 2

But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”

Jesus Christ- Mark 2:10

Other Refences: Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 1:18; John 17:23,29

Jesus healed a paralytic who was brought by his friends. We do not know why the man was born with paralysis. In that time in Israel, the people had the belief that a person is sick because of sin. Jesus wanted to release the blessing of God’s forgiveness and healing to the paralyzed man.  “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’” (verse 5)

The religious leaders knew well their Scriptures, too.

“And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (v7)

In the Old Testament God spoke through the prophet Isaiah. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)

In the time past, the people of Israel knew that only the Lord God in heaven could forgive sins. There were men of God like the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, and great leaders like Moses and David, and priests who prayed for them. However, ultimately only God (Yahweh) could forgive sins. When Jesus came to Israel, many people saw Him as a normal Jewish man. However, Jesus was also fully God. The Father God in heaven gave Him authority to forgive sin because Jesus was His manifestation here on earth. God sent Jesus so the people of the world would know who God in heaven is – so that they might know His love, His mercy, His kindness, and His forgiveness. Jesus showed and demonstrated to the paralytic the heart of God to forgive sins and to show compassion.

As the man was healed, he also received forgiveness of his sins which was the healing of his soul. God’s heart to heal is not just physical healing of bodies from infirmity, but to heal their souls and spirits. And to be set free from the power of evil, to be whole, healing of body, soul, and spirit. This is the power and authority Jesus has from the heavenly Father.

Reflection:

God gave Jesus authority to heal and forgive. Jesus still heals today. The healing Jesus offers is not just healing of the physical body, but the healing of soul and spirit, and the forgiveness of sins.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to earth and forgiving me of my sins. Thank you for healing my body, soul, heart, and mind. Please help me to share your healing power and forgiveness with others, like the friends of the paralytic man who brought him to Jesus.

Your Thoughts:

Your Prayer:

All Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New King James

http://The Bible Gateway

peacewithgod.net

The Call of Jesus

Sea of Galilee, Israel

Reading:  Mark Chapter 1

Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)

Jesus began His public ministry in obedience to the will of God His Father. His obedience began when He stepped down from His heavenly home, stripped off Hs kingly robe, left eternity, came to earth, and became a helpless babe. Jesus chose to enter humanity and became like one of us – in human flesh, with human emotions. He became a child and then a teenager, subject to the authority of his earthly parents – Joseph and Mary.  Jesus followed the tradition and culture of His land, spoke the language of the Jews, and worked with His earthly father as a craftsman/carpenter. Maybe when He was little, He also played with His brothers and sisters.

Just before Jesus was known to the public as a prophet of God, John declared His coming:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’” (Mark 1:3)

To follow the tradition of the priests’ purification, Jesus also came to John for baptism.

“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up [c]from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:9-11)

After John baptized Jesus, John was put in prison, and just in time Jesus started His public ministry.

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God [g]is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (V. 14-15)

Jesus began preaching and teaching the Words of God to the people of Israel. Jesus also knew His time on earth was limited, so as He proclaimed the Words of God, He also chose and called other men to come along and learn from Him.  He asked Simon, Andrew, and other men to follow Him. (v. 15)

17 Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (v.17)

Jesus knew those men and their hearts.  Even though they were ordinary men, their hearts were longing for the coming of the Messiah, or Savior.

 Why did Jesus not call the priests or the Pharisees? I don’t know, and I am not sure why.  The twelve disciples believed Jesus was their Savior, and they were not close-minded like the priests. The disciples learned from Jesus. They saw Him heal many sick people, cleanse lepers (v.40), and perform other signs and wonders. They had experienced the power and wonders of Jesus, especially the manifest, physical presence of God on earth.

What does it mean to be “fishers of men”? As fishermen catch fish for living, fishers of men catch people for the Kingdom of God. There are many people who are lost in the ocean of life. If no one catches them, they will drown in sin and die at the bottom of the ocean. They will perish forever in hell, away from the presence of our Creator God. (See Revelation 20: 12-15). Fishers of men are followers of Jesus who chose to do what Jesus did – preach the Good news of salvation and forgiveness of sins, to receive the love of God and to be part of His Kingdom.

 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

Reflection:

Jesus is still calling men and women to follow Him. The call of Jesus is still the same to those who believe Him,“Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 

As the first disciples and followers of Jesus experienced His manifest power to heal the sick, deliver the oppressed from demons, and preach the Good news of salvation. Jesus still gives the same power to those who will follow Him to be fishers of men.

Prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your call and invitation to follow You to be fishers of men. Help us, Your Church, the Christians, to follow Your call to be fishers of men, to preach and teach the Good News of Salvation, and to make disciples.

Your Reflection:

Your Prayer:

Bible verses from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+3&version=NKJV

https://peacewithgod.net/

The Coming Power

The Holy Spirit, like Jesus, is Truth and Helper.

Reading: Acts 1:1-8

Key verse : “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5)

Other references: John 14:16, John 15:26

//Matthew 3:11& Luke 3:16- I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

The Lord Jesus spent 3 full years with His disciples. He ate with them, traveled places with them and did ministry together. The disciples studied and learned from Him directly, as they listened to His teachings and preaching. They witnessed and saw miracles He did firsthand. Jesus trained them to be teachers of the Word of God, to be preachers, prophets, and evangelists. However, Jesus had to go back physically to His heavenly home to be with His Father. Jesus had fulfilled His mission and primary purpose when He gave His life as a sin offering for the world. Jesus died on the cross for the sin of the world (John 19), then rose after 3 days. He showed Himself to His disciples and others for 40 days. During this time, He gave them His last words and re-commissioned them. (Acts 1:1).  Jesus encouraged the disciples one more time (but not the last time).

For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (v.5)

Jesus promised this to His disciples even before He died on the cross.

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

Jesus had to go back to heaven, leaving the earth, but He did not abandon His followers, disciples, and friends.

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (v.18)

He already made plans for them, to send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He speaks the Truth, which is the Word of God, to enlighten peoples’ minds and to convict of sin.

 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.  (John 15:26)

The Holy Spirit is also the Helper. Like Jesus, He helps in time of need. Like Jesus, He promised to stay with the disciples forever. As Jesus promised His disciples, I will not leave you orphans (John 14:18)

The Holy Spirit, like Jesus, is Truth and Helper. He continues to do the work of Jesus – to speak the truth of God’s words. The Holy Spirit is the Helper, our help in time of need, whatever the situation, whatever we need – healing of bodies, healing of emotions, healing of minds, providing for financial needs, giving guidance, protection, comfort, etc.

Reflection:

Jesus is back in heaven, but He is still with us, as His followers, through the Holy Spirit. He provides for us, meeting every need we could possibly imagine. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us into Truth – to be our Teacher and Helper in times of need. The Holy Spirit abides or stay with us forever.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to us Your followers. Thank You Holy Spirit for helping me in time of need, and for guiding and teaching me the Truth of God and His words. Amen!

Part 2: The Holy Spirit gives power to do the works of Jesus!

Reading: Acts 1:8-26

Key verse: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

//Luke 24:49 – “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

One of the last things the Lord Jesus told His disciples before He returned to heaven was,

“For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (v.5);  And “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (v.8)

His disciples thought Jesus was talking about physical power.

“Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (v.7).

The disciples knew and believed with all their hearts that Jesus was their long-awaited Messiah or Savior. However, their definition of Messiah was different from Jesus’ kingdom’s definition. Perhaps in the minds of the disciples and other people of Israel, they thought the Messiah or Savior was like Moses or David. Moses was their physical ruler who freed them from slavery in Egypt (See Exodus). Later, David led the people of Israel into battles and established his kingdom throughout Israel (See 2 Samuel). Perhaps, the disciples and other people were thinking, Jesus would do the same, delivering them from oppression and tyranny of the Roman rule. However, as the Word says in Isaiah 55:8

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.”

The mind of Christ and the plan of God was far greater than the thinking of men – temporary relief. Men like the people of Israel thought of physical deliverance from hardships, taxation, violence, and other physical oppressions. From the beginning, when Jesus was born on earth, God’s plan was to deliver people from the bondage of sin. 

For He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NKJV)

The plan of God was not just a temporary relief from hardships and oppression, His plan of salvation was far greater than temporary earthly relief. His plan of salvation was eternal – to deliver people from sin.  God’s plan of salvation for the people of Israel is the same for everyone in the world. (John 3:16)

So, when Jesus told His disciples, “You will receive power…” (Acts 1:8), He meant the power to preach the Gospel, the power to heal sick people, to perform miracles, so people would believe in Jesus.  When Jesus was with His disciples on earth, He did the Father’s will – preaching salvation, teaching the people the words of God, healing the sick, and delivering people from demonic oppression. Jesus’s focus and mission were to set people free from sin, from hell and eternal condemnation. The same power Jesus received from the Father, He passed on to His disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit so they could be witnesses in all places starting in Jerusalem and then moving to other cities, other places, other countries, and to the ends of the earth.

Reflection:

The same power Jesus gave His disciples is available to all His followers even to this day – the power to preach the Gospel, teach the Word of God, heal the sick, deliver people from demonic oppression, set people free from sin, hell and eternal condemnation.  As followers of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit is made available to us all.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for sending Your Holy Spirit to us. Thank You Holy Spirit for coming. Please fill us with your power – Your spirit of strength and courage to be witnesses for our Lord Jesus to everyone, in every place you send us. 

Your Reflection:

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Your Prayer:

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