Faithful, Fabulous Promises

Faithful, Fabulous Promises

By Patricia Knight

On Resurrection Sunday, Jesus approached two men walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. When He joined the duo, He noticed their sad countenances and detected they were raptly engaged in conversation. When Jesus walked beside Cleopas and his friend, neither recognized their Master’s resurrection body.

Jesus questioned them about their comments regarding occurrences around Jerusalem in the past few days, so the men assumed He was a stranger. The men were incredulous that the stranger hadn’t heard the news. Such a verbal exchange of current events would be comparable in our day to interrupting a conversation between two people excitedly discussing the first moon landing, while the entire world was abuzz with the chatter. So it was two centuries ago around Jerusalem: all conversation surrounded the local news of how the Jewish religious leaders handed Jesus over to be sentenced to death. They crucified Him as King of the Jews and buried Him in a borrowed tomb.

Cleopas characterized his Master to the stranger:  “‘A prophet powerful in word and deed before God and all people…we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel’” (Luke 24:19,21). It is likely Cleopas meant the Israelites were hopeful Jesus would militarily mount a coup to defeat the Romans, establishing the kingdom of God. Now it seemed all hope was dashed.

Cleopas also lamented that women who were at the garden tomb early that morning found Jesus’ tomb empty, with the stone at the entrance rolled away. They met angels there who reported their Master was alive. Though other disciples confirmed the women’s story, no one had seen Jesus.

If only the men had known that Jesus himself was the stranger with whom they were speaking and witnessing in the flesh!  “Then Jesus said to them, ‘You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?’ Then Jesus took them through all the writings of Moses and all the prophets explaining from Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27,NLT).

The two men invited the stranger to dine with them that evening. As Jesus “took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them, then their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24:31). Their recognition was more than mental recall: their eyes suddenly developed spiritual sight to discern what divine intervention had previously prevented them from knowing. Their hearts were suddenly on fire with the familiarity of their Master’s characteristic love and divine authority. When a mortal interacts with the immortal, a change of heart naturally occurs.

At the moment the men’s hearts and minds acknowledged Him, Jesus disappeared from their presence. Immediately the duo walked back to Jerusalem to announce to the eleven disciples that they had met their Savior after His resurrection. When the two men finally arrived to join the other disciples, “while they were still talking, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (Luke 24:36).

Imagine the advantage of having a camera mounted inside the Emmaus Café to record body language, the utter wonder and amazement registered on the men’s faces when they suddenly discerned Jesus’ true identity. Or if Jesus had been equipped with a listening device in his tunic pocket, their entire conversation would have been captured for all posterity.

But wait! There was no need for modern technology to preserve the interaction of the resurrected Savior and His devout followers. God has equipped us with his written Word filled with inspired dialogue and prophecies. The Old Testament is interspersed with myriad covenants promising a future Messiah. The Magi who followed the supernatural star in the east were apprised of an ancient prophecy that the King of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The prophet Isaiah described the Savior’s humble beginnings, His divine ministry, and His amazing triumph over sin and suffering as the Lamb of God, centuries before Jesus’ incarnation on earth (Isaiah 53).

Our heavenly Father is faithful, sharing His most vital plans with His children. His integrity is impeccable; what God promises, He delivers, even when a covenant is established centuries in advance. Every detail is meticulously followed with no last minute changes. Many prophesies have already come to pass, exact in every detail as the Lord specified through His prophets. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

With such numerous promises from Almighty God, we need only open our Bibles to access the prophecies that assure us of a marvelous future spent in heaven in the presence of our Savior. Although we anticipate the grandeur of heaven, worshipping our Savior face-to-face, we need not wait until then to celebrate a daily walk with Jesus.

Consider the staggering reaction of Cleopas and his friend, whose downcast spirits were suddenly exalted to a pinnacle of emotional triumph when the truth of Jesus’ identity was revealed. Take heart; God still promises unsurpassed victory to believers today. “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). A new age of grace and mercy was initiated when Jesus suffered and died for us. All of God’s plans for His Son, who willingly accepted His role in the salvation of mankind, were carried out as prophesied.

How do we plan to respond to Jesus? As Cleopas and his friend did, with wonder, amazement and action, or do we shrug Him away with disinterest, thinking matters of the world are more important? Jesus is patiently waiting for you to seek Him. Let us follow the disciple’s example, who upon learning of Jesus’ true identity, prayed with Him, loved him, served Him, and sought every opportunity to tell others that their Messiah had come. In light of Jesus’ sacrifice and the fulfillment of His faithful, fabulous promises, how can we offer any less than our love and our lives to Him?

Sunday Praise and Worship: At the #Cross (Love ran red)

Our Lord Jesus Christ is always faithful and trustworthy. No matter what is going on in your life, you can always lean on Him for comfort, peace, help and support. When the things of this world get you down—and they will!—turn to Jesus. He loves you beyond measure. How do I know this? Because He chose to take the punishment for our sins on Himself. His death on the cross is evidence of how much He loves us. And His resurrection from that death on the third day attests to a fact we can always count on:

Jesus made a way for us to be in heaven with Him for eternity.

The song “At the Cross,” by Chris Tomlin, attests to the faithfulness of Jesus. He deserves every bit of our thankfulness, praise and worship. Yes, and all glory should go to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for us.

This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia.

Grace and peace to you from the one who is,
who always was, and who is still to come;
from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne;

and from Jesus Christ.
He is the faithful witness to these things,
the first to rise from the dead,
and the ruler of all the kings of the world.
All glory to him who loves us and has freed us
from our sins by shedding his blood for us.

He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father.
All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
    And everyone will see him—
    even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
    will mourn for him.
Yes! Amen!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—
the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God.
“I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—
the Almighty One.”

—Revelation 1:4-8, NLT

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#Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

Holding a small mustard seed in the palm of a hand.

As long as we have unsolved problems,
unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith,
we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life. 

—John Ortberg

Mustard seed faith is sometimes a difficult concept but one that is very important to understand. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds found in the Middle East, but that smallest of seeds grows into one of the largest plants. Jesus therefore used this illustration several times to show us that even the tiniest grain of true faith can do very great things.

14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus,
falling on his knees before Him and saying,

15 
“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill;
for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.

16 
I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”

17 
And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation,
how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?
Bring him here to Me.”

18 
And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him,
and the boy was cured at once.

19 
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”

20 
And He said to them,
“Because of the littleness of your faith;
for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move;
and nothing will be impossible to you.

—Matthew 17:14-20

We see here the central need of faith, without which nothing can happen. When Jesus spoke about removing mountains he was using a phrase which the Jews knew well. A great teacher, who could really expound and interpret scripture and who could explain and resolve difficulties, was regularly known as an uprooter, or even a pulverizer, of mountains. To tear up, to uproot, to pulverize mountains were all regular phrases for removing difficulties. Jesus never meant this to be taken physically and literally. After all, the ordinary man seldom finds any necessity to remove a physical mountain. What he meant was: “If you have faith enough, all difficulties can be solved, and even the hardest task can be accomplished.” Faith in God is the instrument which enables men to remove the hills of difficulty which block their path. —William Barclay

Beloved, having and holding onto true faith is difficult in hard circumstances, but it is possible. In our own physical strength we cannot move mountains. We can’t make something from nothing. We cannot by ourselves change someone’s heart and mind about something. These are under God’s care and control.

What it does mean is that if we rely on the fact that God knows what is best for us, we can rest on the assurance that His ways and means are perfect. And if we believe—have true faith—in that fact, we will be able to pray with a faith that will steadily grow.

Just like that tiny mustard seed.

We will then understand that what we may regard as unanswered prayers are actually part of God’s grand design to mold us into becoming who He wants us to be—completely and absolutely trusting that His ways are best.

This is Impossible for God to Do

This is from another of my favorite blogs, Radical, which:

exists to serve the church in accomplishing the mission of Christ…making disciples who make disciples who make disciples throughout the world – from our neighbors across the street to the unreached people groups across the globe – all for the glory of God.

Read on!
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in hope of eternal life,
which God, who never lies,
promised before the ages began.
—Titus 1:2

This is Impossible for God to Do

By David Burnette

It may surprise you to learn that there’s something God can’t do.

Of course, Jesus tells us that with God “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), and we certainly don’t want to deny that God is all-powerful or that he has all authority. No one can thwart his purposes (Daniel 4:35). Still, according to Scripture, there is something that God can’tdo, but it turns out that it’s actually for our good—he cannot lie. This attribute of God, his faithfulness, is the last of several snapshots we’ve taken of his character (see also God’s holiness, mercy, and wrath). To know that God “never lies” (Titus 1:2) should change the way we think about and respond to him.

Lies and Truth

It goes without saying that human relationships are often marked by unfaithfulness. Marriages, friendships, and businesses suffer as a result of dishonesty and deception. When it comes to our political leaders, we don’t even expect them to fulfill their campaign promises. Sometimes our unfaithfulness is intentional, but often we simply forget to do what we said, or else we are unable to keep our word due to circumstances or limitations. Whatever the case, we are often wary of placing too much confidence in people or institutions. Thankfully, we don’t need to be skeptical when it comes to God.

Read more here, and please spend some time looking around the awesome Radical site.

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Great is Your Faithfulness

Great is Your Faithfulness

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Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:21-23

How often do we do things that disappoint the people in our lives?

Maybe we’ve made a promise that later we found we can’t keep. Perhaps we raise our voice in anger again even though we don’t mean to. And how about the times when a friend or family member tries to sympathize with our pain? They mean well, but you’re certain they just don’t understand. I’m sure you’ve wanted to tell them, “You have no idea what it’s like to be in this kind of pain every day.”

At this point, we have two choices: to dwell on our misery or get on with the business of life.

We can moan and groan about our circumstances so everyone is aware of how much we are hurting, or we can demonstrate God’s presence in our lives by rejoicing in the knowledge that He is faithful to be with us through our tough times.

I have a very close friend (you know who you are!) who is a good example of one who lets God shine through her in spite of her constant pain. She once shared her feelings about pain with me this way:

“It is just pain. It could be worse. I could be suffering with pain and dying. It is only pain. I can still live and make the most of my life, to extend myself as far as I can go, to reach for the stars, to do the unimaginable. The pain will still be there. So, why not celebrate?”

This dear friend is such an encourager. Her positive attitude is a beacon of light in the darkness of pain. Quite simply, she makes me smile no matter how awful I’m feeling.

Beloved, the Lord is our only hope! He knows exactly what our pain is like and He will help us through it “every morning; great is [His] faithfulness.” He understands how constant pain can undermine a positive attitude and make us feel hopeless. But He’s always with us, ready to offer His love and comfort: “therefore I have hope.” Won’t you please pray with me?

Heavenly Father, sometimes it’s so hard to be cheerful and hopeful when I’m feeling so rotten. It’s easier for me to just give up and let the pain take over. But, Lord, I know that You love me too much to let me feel this way. Thank You for what You are teaching me through these trials and for being with me always. Help me to let Your joy flow through me to touch the lives of others who may also be suffering. You are great and greatly to be praised! Amen.

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Faithfulness

Today I have another wonderful devotional by Patricia Knight to share with you. This one is from her book, Pure Joy.

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In my garden are many flowers. Oh, it is a beautiful sight, encompassing the whole back yard in the summertime. But, right now, in the deepest of winter cold, there is no evidence of any life under the deep snow and layers of protective mulch. But, I know the flowers, in their dormant stage, are there. I have faith that when warm weather arrives, the snow melts, and the mulch is removed, all of the glorious blooms of last year will return. I don’t understand the cycle. God certainly breathes life back into the seasonally dead flowers.

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“Faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Though we have never seen God, we believe in Him because He has given us evidence of His presence. All around us we are surrounded with His creation. Modern science has yet to duplicate many of His sophisticated creations.

As Christians, we don’t assign amazing happenings in our lives to luck. There is no luck, but only God talking with us and walking with us.

Faith is blind. God has a perfect plan for our lives, but He only reveals the details a little at a time. I wonder how many of us could be trusted with the weight of knowing what will happen in our lives in the future? I am predicting, not many of us. That is why faith is so important. God knows what routes and curves our lives will take in the future, but saves us from the burden of knowing. What a marvelous God is He! Each day, He gives us a bit more knowledge, and builds upon it with every succeeding day.

In the Old Testament, there are many “if/then” agreements between God and His people. There was an action, which produced a reaction. “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commandments, I will send you rain in its season”— (Leviticus 26:3). There were conditions to most of God’s promises so that He could build a personal, responsive relationship with His people.

Since Jesus died on the cross to absolve our sins, God commands that we live by faith. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1,2).

By exercising our faith in God, we become faithful, or we make faith a reality in our lives.

We become dependent, obedient, and joyful in our daily walk with God. It is not easy to be faithful. Without God’s help, it is impossible. But, we are told, with God’s help, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God is the standard against whom we measure all our thoughts, words and actions. We learn faithfulness from God because God is first faithful to us. When God does what He promised, He is demonstrating His faithfulness to us. When we do what God requires of us, we are showing faithfulness in return. Our relationship is on a personal basis because the sacrifice of Jesus bridged the gap between sinful man and His Creator. If we accept Jesus into our lives to be our Savior and Lord, He only asks for our faithfulness. No other conditions are attached.

As if God weren’t faithful enough Himself, He gives us human examples to demonstrate how faithfulness works among our peers. Think about the faithfulness of Abraham. I still don’t understand how Abraham could even come close to offering Isaac upon the altar. But, he was faithful. He trusted God that He would show a love and mercy greater than Abraham’s would right at that moment. And, God didn’t disappoint him. You know the story (Genesis 22). It rings in our ears of a living example of what a man can do when energized with the power of God.

DanielLionsDen--AMPOr, how about the odds that Daniel faced? In spite of the new law restricting prayer, one really designed to trip up Daniel, he remained faithful to his God, and prayed as he always had. As a result, Daniel was thrown to the lions for his faithfulness. The hungry lions were powerless against his God. Still, he trusted. He remained faithful to God and witnessed to His glory among a savage people. And, God made him a great man.

To be abandoned by his brothers, sold as a slave, graduated to serve the king, and entrusted with a kingdom, only to be falsely maligned and thrown into prison, Joseph remained faithful. God, who had a plan for Joseph’s life, never forsook him. In the end, God rewarded Joseph’s faithfulness.

Do we have any more temptation today than those men of old did? I think not. The temptations were different, but there are no fewer of them. Everyday, we are bombarded with alluring come-ons. We are told to be faithful to our God, and He has promised to give us the power to resist temptation so that “we can flee the devil” (James 4:7).

One of my favorite Bible characters is Job. If anyone endured horrific losses, it was he. I am wondering if I could ever summon Job’s amount of strength? He gives me a challenging example. God gives me the strength. Pain, death, sorrows all plagued Job for no apparent reason. Reading of his triumph over all of it is an inspiration to me. Job remained faithful. I am commanded to do the same. Job was rewarded for his steadfastness when God returned all his losses, plus more worldly riches than he had before.

I know someday I will live in a heavenly home with streets of gold and fertile fields and prolific fragrant flowers. I will be in the very presence of God Himself, if I remain faithful. A pastor friend of mine frequently uses a haunting phrase: “Few Christians finish well.” I don’t want to be one of the casualties. I want to be faithful to the end. “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). May God give you the strength to remain faithful, no matter what the temptation.

“O Lord God Almighty, who is like you. You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you” (Psalm 89:8). No longer does law bind us, but we live by faith. Oh, that someday God will say to me as He did to the servants in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:23), “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!”

Wow! To hear those words at the end of my days is a wish and a dream. May those words of Jesus also spur you on to a greater faith, with a closer daily walk with Him.

…..

PureJoyThank you again, dear Pat, for allowing me to share your heart here!

 

 

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Love in Action

 

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Love in Action

Love must be sincere.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
 
Be devoted to one another in love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
 

Never be lacking in zeal,
but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord
.
 
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,faithful in prayer.
 

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
Practice hospitality.


Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
 
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
 
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited.


Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
 
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone. 

Do not take revenge, my dear friends,
but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
 

On the contrary: 
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
 
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. 

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”


Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.
—Romans 12:9-21

 

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