Posts Tagged ‘Peter’

The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. (John 18:17-18 ESV)

It’s easy to imagine ourselves in Peter’s place that night. In fact, it’s even easier to imagine ourselves in Peter’s place AND doing the right thing. We think that if we had walked with Jesus, talked with him face to face, seen him perform miracles time and again, that we wouldn’t have denied him. But here is the truth lurking below the situation: in that moment, for Peter to admit that he was indeed Jesus’ disciple meant probable imprisonment, even death. The truth is, we deny Jesus for a lot less every day.

Remember last week at work when your co-workers were gossiping about someone and you didn’t excuse yourself but joined in instead? Remember when you felt the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart to share the Gospel with a friend or relative when he or she had completely opened up to you, but you said something like, “It’ll all work out, don’t worry”?

Whatever your moments of denial have been it’s important to remember them, not so you feel condemned, but because they are gifts when rightly considered. They are humbling gifts because we get a glimpse of the fear that lives in our hearts and realize that at anytime we too can deny Jesus. And it’s not a fear that only rears its head when our life is in danger, it’s a fear that explodes when even the smallest part of our “reputation” is on the line. Examine your heart with the Holy Spirit today and look for those times where you’ve denied Jesus by either your words or actions and count them as a gift, because you won’t repeat them in the future.

Let’s repent of our denial and stay committed to Jesus even in our fear, as he is ever committed to us.

imagesBack in 1995, I had what I call a spiritual rebirth. I was an addict to booze or anything else that would cause a high. Then one day after a life-changing event that could have altered my future, I asked God for help in getting rid of my demons. After years of going to all kinds of meetings and people without success, the Lord took away my additions to drugs, booze, and even cigarettes. I mean I quit them all and He gave me the power to do it with an amazing amount of ease. Or so I thought.

This morning as I was looking back at how easy it was to kick the demons out of my closet all those years ago, I started thinking about it. While all the “Bad” habits are out of my life, what else took it’s place. Then I realized that Satan had gotten me. While I was no longer a slave to booze, drugs, and smoking, I certainly like to eat. No, that’s not a sin, but what if something as innocent as a late night snack turns into a food addiction? What if an occasional look at porn for someone becomes an obsession? What if a simple little swear word from a believer becomes a mouth filled with swearing. I guess what I’m getting at is that we need to take a quick “addiction inventory,” and see if there is anything that we may have allowed to become more important than prayer or takes our focus away from the Lord.

I’m going to be a bit blunt here and and suggest that there’s something that all of us have that we could possibly either cut back on, or show more appreciation for. Yip, I said it…if you are certain that it’s not an addiction then give the Lord thanks for what you are able to enjoy without having to have it. Keep a check on your actions and make sure they don’t become a sinful habit without even realizing it.

There’s nothing wrong with taking pleasure in what God has given us, but please make sure that you don’t replace God with the gift that He has blessed you with. I’ve posted some scripture from the Word of God below to help you to do some self-examination of your habits. I hope you enjoy them, and are blessed enough to see that there is nothing in your life that may require you to “Kick the habit,” if you will. Be blessed today.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

James 1:12-15 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

jesus

By Friday of this week (if you don’t know the way the story ends) it looks like the wrath of God has eclipsed the God of Love. But it isn’t so. Mercy triumphs over Judgment at Easter: love triumphs over wrath. Love is the new commandment given on this night by Jesus after he has washed the disciples’ feet …. “Love one another as I have loved you.” This is the “mandatum novum” from which the name “Maundy Thursday” comes.

But the disciples don’t fully comprehend how deeply Jesus has loved them. After all they had been through, it took a king on his knees with a towel around his waist to prove to them the loving, servant heart of God (what if our President, or a king, were to wash the feet of a bunch of fishermen today? What if it were your feet?). But even so, Peter the disciple doesn’t understand why Jesus would defile himself in this way.

If Peter finds it hard to accept that Jesus his king would humiliate himself by washing his followers’ feet, he will be even more confounded tomorrow. For there will be another demonstration of how God loves on Good Friday, when the perfect love of God in Jesus faces the wrath of God against evil, and triumphs in the end. All for the love of us.

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He now showed the disciples the full extent of his love. It was time for supper, and the Devil had already enticed Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to carry out his plan to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him. When he came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, why are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now why I am doing it; someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never wash my feet!”Jesus replied, “But if I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you are clean, but that isn’t true of everyone here.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because it is true. And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. You know these things —now do them! That is the path of blessing. (NLT)

Mark 11.1-10

As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them, “and as soon as you enter it, you will see a colt tied there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.'” The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside a house. As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it. Many in the crowd spread their coats on the road ahead of Jesus, and others cut leafy branches in the fields and spread them along the way. He was in the center of the procession, and the crowds all around him were shouting, “Praise God! Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Bless the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!” (NLT)

Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you. I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.

Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you. By this shall the world know that you are my disciples: That you have love for one another. (BCP)

Prayer

Wash me clean Lord. I want to receive all you have for me. I am blessed and honored when you serve me; I am humbled by your humility. Help me remember your healing and cleansing. Don’t let me forget my salvation. In darkness help me call on your name, Jesus. In darkness, be the light of my heart; may I never be afraid. I am longing for your sunrise, Jesus. In your mercy, give me the gift of hope. And by your love, help me to love others. Teach me your way in the coming days. Help me to understand how you have loved me, and how you love me still.

doubtWhat is Webster’s definition of doubt?
To waiver in opinion. Someone who is not consistent. Unsettled in opinion or belief. Inclined to disbelieve. Fearful, apprehensive, or suspicious of.

Do you see yourself in one of the words above? If so, you may know why your prayers are not getting answered. All Christians have doubt from time to time. It is the strongest weapon of the Devil. With doubt, he can cripple you. When doubt comes, fear comes. When fear enters, faith leaves. When faith leaves, Jesus can no longer help you.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. (James 1:6-7)

So what are we going to do to combat doubt? We are going to keep our eyes on Jesus. As a creature of this world, before we became Christian’s, all we have ever experienced was the natural, which is the world around us. The Bible says that the world belongs to the Devil and he is constantly trying to keep us away from the Lord. But with Jesus you are stronger than the world.

Lets look at a passage where Jesus and Peter confront doubt.
(Matthew 14:25-31) 25) During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26) When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost” they said and cried out in fear. 27) But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28) “Lord if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29) “Come”, He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30) But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord save me!” 31) Immediately, Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?”

Peter was in trouble right from the get go. 28) “Lord if it’s you” Peter replied, Peter had been with the Lord for three years still he doubted. “is that you?” And Jesus replied “it is I”. Jesus was somewhere Peter did not expect. Walking on the water. We have to know Jesus well enough to know when He is talking to us. To do that, we have to spend time with Him. But just like Peter, we can be fooled if we find Jesus in a place that we feel is not fitting for Him. When we ask Jesus if we can come to Him, sometimes we are going to have to be ready to follow Him even into the water. Peter did. Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” Now is where the rubber meets the road. When we are following Jesus, we must have faith that what He tells us is right. No matter what the natural circumstances. Simply we must keep our eyes on Jesus and His words. Let’s watch Peter. “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. He walked on the water. He walked on the water. Peter walked on the water! Does that give you any idea what we are capable of if We have faith in Jesus? But here comes the rub. 30) But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord save me.” Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the natural. He saw the wind and the waves and became afraid, and with fear, faith leaves. But notice when Peter began to sink. He still had time to call to Jesus and Jesus had time to pick him up. So Peter had some faith left.
31) Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” Jesus didn’t say Peter had no faith. He said “You of little faith why did you doubt?” I think that here is one of the greatest lessons in the Bible. As we are sinking with heart disease or cancer, if we have little faith and call out to Jesus, He will be there to carry us out of it.

Even when our faith is weak, Jesus will save us, as long as we call out to Him. You must keep your eyes on Gods unchanging word, no matter the circumstances. God, through Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit, is greater than the circumstances. But, if you allow the circumstances to control you, you are going to sink.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. ” (John 16:33)

suffOne of the  greatest contradictions and injustices of the Bible is that righteous people – those whose lives are pleasing to God – are allowed to suffer and face hardships in this world.  But one thing that’s clear is that God does allow the righteous to suffer – unjustly from a human perspective.

There are those who would insist that God is too good to allow the righteous to suffer without a cause.  They believe that Christians only suffer if they commit some sin or somehow open the door to the devil.  However to believe this dismisses Peter’s discussion in 1 Peter 3:19-23.  Even Jesus suffered unjustly.  Certainly He did not sin, and He is our example in suffering.  If they persecuted Him they would do the same to His followers (Matthew 10:25).  Although it is true that many people suffer as a result of personal wrongdoing, it cannot be denied that many believers undergo hardship through no fault of their own.  The Bible clearly allows for such a possibility, and God definitely permits it.

Some would even suggest that the reason Job suffered is because he allowed fear into his life (Job 3:25) therefore opening the door for Satan to come in.  However it must be noteed that God had a completely contrasting verdict on Job (Job 1:1,8; 2:3; Ezekiel 14:14).  Besides such fear is not uncommon to any normal human being, including Paul, the apostle (2 Corinthians 11:3) .  One wonders, if Job had really opened a door to the devil, why Satan still needed permission for God to remove the hedge of protection, which obviously was still there.  People who accuse Job of such atrocities aptly fit the description of his “miserable comforters” than diligent students of scripture.  Job was a righteous man who suffered for no direct fault of his own – only because a sovereign God allowed it to be so.  The important question is not “if” or “whether” the righteous suffer, but “why”.

Why Do They Suffer?

A search of the scriptures reveals a number of answers to the above question.  They are as follows:

1.                  God sees eternally whereas we see presently.  Although God is interested in our earthly welfare, He is much more concerned about our eternal well being.  His greatest act of love was to offer salvation to men, not health, wealth and honor – although it sometimes includes the latter three.  This would explain why He allowed the apostles and early Christians to be martyred and to suffer such loss.  From an earthly perspective, it would seem that God forsook them, but from an eternal perspective, they are in heaven safe in the arms of their Lord – a much better standing than the best enjoy on earth (Philippians 1:21).  God has a much different outlook on this life than we do.  He is alpha and omega, we are here and now. So a lot of what we call suffering is not the same from God’s eyes.

2.                  God uses suffering and hardship to produce in us godly character.  Job was not perfect in the sense of being sinless before God, but rather blameless before men.  God, through Job’s suffering, exposed to him a lot of pride and self-dependency that was hidden in his heart (Job 42:3-6).  Although this was not the direct cause of Job’s misery, God did use his hardship to make him a better person – one who would be much more capable of handling that with which He wanted to bless him (Job 42:10,12).

It is a New Testament fact that God uses fiery trials to purify us (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6,7).

3.                  Suffering keeps us dependent on God.  Judging from some of Job’s statements, it would seem that human nature tends to forget rather quickly that all of man’s good eventually comes from God (James 1:16,17).  Man eventually sees himself as the source of these blessings and subconsciously begins to depend on his own ability and possessions.  He is in need of constant reminder that it is God who gives him the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:17,18).   What better way to remind him of that than for God to keep him in a state where he has no choice but to trust his Creator?  Hardship is one way of accomplishing that.

4.                  Our personal sufferings are a source of encouragement to others.  God, being eternally minded, is concerned about every generation of human existence.  Man is only concerned about his own.  The essence of Hebrews 11 – the faith hall of fame – which climaxes in 12:1, is that the faithfulness of the Old Testament saints during suffering was to be an  example and encouragement to us.  Through similar reasoning, Jude 3 exhorts us on the basis of the sufferings that the apostles and early Christians went through.  We have also been greatly blessed by the stories of Christian martyrs throughout the centuries.  It would seem that from God’s perspective, much of our suffering is intended to be a source of edification to others as well as future generations who would name the name of Christ. And what a rebuke to the devil it was when he tried to get Job to renounce God, but instead, not only did Job prevail, but now Christians everyday are being encouraged and strengthened by Job’s perseverance (James 5:11). Our sufferings could have similar effects on other believers.

Our Attitude

So as righteous people, our attitude to suffering should not be one of complaining, bitterness or resentment.  If it were the result of personal sin, we should be repentant.  Otherwise, our prayer should not just be, “Lord let this cup pass from me”, but rather, “Thy will be done”.  God’s answer would be, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

imagesRepent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted outActs 3:19

Peter is here addressing the very people who had helped to crucify Jesus, but his words are appropriate to anyone who denies the claims of Christ upon their lives, or who just want to change their sinful habits when they feel trapped by them.

Repent of your obstinate rejection of Christ. But more than that, Peter says, be converted. Peter is not just looking for these guilty men and women to confess their past mistakes; he wants them to change, to turn to the Lord.

It is not dhard to find individuals, from many different walks of life, who are willing to admit that they have made mistakes, even sinned, in some of their life choices. Almost everyone will admit that they have done some wrong, even bad, things.

However, it is another thing altogether to actually be willing to turn from a past mindset and way of life, to turn from sin and to God. Therefore, Peter did not just insist on the need for repentance in the form of an apology or confession. He desired to see true repentance, which is displayed in a change of direction and action.

To those who repent and are converted to the ways of Christ, Peter gives this assurance: your sins will be blotted out. Have you submitted to the divinity of Christ? Have you turned away from sin in order to serve Jesus as Lord?

dead churchA new Pastor in a small Oklahoma town spent the first four days making personal visits to each of the members, inviting them to come to his first services.

The following Sunday the church was all but empty. Accordingly, the Pastor placed a notice in the local newspapers, stating that, because the church was dead, it was everyone’s duty to give it a decent Christian burial. The funeral would be held the following Sunday afternoon, the notice said.

Morbidly curious, a large crowd turned out for the “funeral.” In front of the pulpit, they saw a closed coffin, smothered in flowers. After the Pastor delivered the eulogy, he opened the coffin and invited his congregation to come forward and pay their final respects to their dead church.

Filled with curiosity as to what would represent the corpse of a “dead church,” all the people eagerly lined up to look in the coffin. Each “mourner” peeped into the coffin then quickly turned away with a guilty, sheepish look.

In the coffin, tilted at the correct angle, was a large mirror.

How Does your reflection look?

 

Acts 20:28 (#1 of 10 Bible Verses about the Church, the Body of Christ)
28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

Romans 12:3-5
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God- 33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

1 Corinthians 12:12-26
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Ephesians 1:18-23
18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Ephesians 5:25-32 (#5 of 10 Bible Verses about the Church, the Body of Christ)
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church- 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Colossians 1:17-20
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 3:14-16
14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Ephesians 2:19-22 (#10 of 10 Bible Verses about the Church, the Body of Christ)
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

loadAfter hearing some famous pastors lately, reading contemporary Christians authors, viewing popular Christian Facebook Fan Pages, and attending some new churches for informational purposes, I have seen one common thread in a lot of contemporary teaching: the messages are not insightful or challenging, and often feel watered down intellectually or theologically to the point where they are “acceptable” or popular, but they do little to bring people to spiritual maturity

I do not mean this in a negative way, but I am making this observation based on years of knowing Christians friends who do not have relationships with God that are truly life-changing and vibrant, which leads them to struggle with crippling emotional issues, latch on to crutches of all types rather than trust God, and pursue him as if he is an after-thought rather the primary focus of their lives

Jesus died so that we could have freedom, not live as those crushed under the weight of the world and our own sin

Part of being a light unto the world means Christians should be living examples of freedom, not living as contradictions, bound in slavery

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery

2 Peter 2:19
…for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
You are not your own; you were bought at a price

In no way am I critical of other people’s relationships, but the result of not having an intimate, mature connection to God is that even though people go to church, read the Bible, listen to praise music, and do their best to be “good”, they have not come to a place where their relationship with God changes them to the point where they are healed emotionally, become spiritually mature, and start producing a righteous crop as Jesus intended, but most importantly, they do not enter into an intimate relationship with God on a personal level

Doing “all the stuff” does not make us close to God, it just makes us religious

I do not say this to condemn anyone as we are all on a journey towards greater righteousness and wisdom, but after looking at a large number of popular teachings, music, theology, blogs, Fan Pages, etc…, it is easy to see that Christians are not being fed messages of deep wisdom that reveal intimate parts of God’s character and righteousness

By making messages “seeker friendly” and geared towards the masses, this often results in causing them to be watered down, resulting in a “feel good” faith that does not accurately reflect God’s personality and character in key areas (especially on resisting sin and gaining godly wisdom), and usually focuses on “Christian cheerleader” type messages that pump people up but do not leave them with long-term wisdom or growth

Here are some examples:

“Like this if you think Jesus is awesome!”

“Like this picture of a puppy if you think God’s Little Helpers are adorable!”

“You will go to heaven no matter what you do, yay!”

Aside from being generally pointless, and often alienating to our friends when they appear in our news feeds, these teachings and snippets tend to anchor themselves in the promotion of God’s promises and blessings rather than revealing his actual character, and they rarely discuss the conditions necessary to actually receive the blessings they promote

Most of all, these messages do not help people achieve intimacy or spiritual strength–this means people focus on what they want, rather than being taught, let alone follow, the steps it takes to have a life-altering relationship with God

I mean honestly, I do not remember anyone’s life changing because they read puppies were cute, and people typically do not stop themselves from sinning when they think there are no consequences and instant forgiveness waiting for them regardless of whatever choice they make

Sin hurts God’s feelings tremendously, but if people are stuck in the place of “God will always forgive me no matter what I do”, it will be very difficult for them to suddenly understand they are hurting God and pushing him away through sin, because they will be constantly focused on their own guilt (the enemy loves playing people like yo-yos with their own guilt and shame)

Isaiah 59:2
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear

I will not argue that a “bright outlook” message here and there has its place, but this type of “promises first” approach to faith ends up, intentionally or not, “baiting” people into becoming Christians. In these cases, it is very difficult for people to mature past wanting God’s promises and blessings, which leads their prayers and relationship to be about what they want from God, not about drawing near out of love and a genuine desire to know him intimately

Ecclesiastes 5:1
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice offools, who do not know that they do wrong

Another aspect of this, is that some people try to make their teachings and messages accessible to the largest possible audiences

For example, people teach that salvation is for everyone who says “Jesus is Lord” and believes he exists, and that they will go to heaven regardless of how they live their lives

…seriously?

If this were true, Jesus would be a liar

So would Paul, Peter, etc…

Read the verses below and judge for yourself whether these are messages spoken by shepherds who are eager to please their congregation by sharing a message of “you get into heaven no matter what happens, yay!”

Matthew 7:21-23
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. any will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

(Note that Jesus is not talking about “fake” Christians who just act religious, he is talking about people who have gifts of prophecy, can drive out demons, and also perform miracles–this means they have a relationship with God and did great things, but it did not mean they were guaranteed a place in heaven as a result!)

1 Peter 4:18
If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

Hebrews 10:26-27
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God

To be fair, even though some people distort the word of God for their own benefit, others mean well, but since they are not mature themselves, they still lead people astray with inaccurate teachings all the same

2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear

Luke 6:39-40
Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher

Hosea 4:6
…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge

The last verse is especially important, as if people’s faith is based on “feel good” promises, it will do little to carry them through difficult times–making them easy targets for the enemy to take down through trials or temptation

Guidance on developing an intimate relationship with God involves the “standard” encouragement to study the Bible and live righteously, but it also means eating food meant for the mature, and evolving past “seeker friendly” messages that do not line up with God’s Word–no matter how uncomfortable they sound at first

Rather than react to things we do not like with statements like “that’s not *my* Jesus!” and get offended because something sounds “outrageous”, we should have an ear to hear, and make sure our points of view are grounded in scripture, not just our personal preferences for who we want God to be

To get close to God in terms of spiritual maturity and wisdom, I have found no replacement for studying the Bible eagerly as it reveals so much about God’s character and personality–the perfect love we should be modeling ourselves after!

And of course, living righteously is key

Hebrews 5:14
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil

1 Corinthians 2:6
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing

2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth

Isaiah 66:2
This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word

Religious Leaders Plot to Kill Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 26: 1-5 (NLT)
. … (Jesus) said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover celebration begins in two days, and I, the Son of Man, will be betrayed and crucified.”

At that same time the leading priests and other leaders were meeting at the residence Caiaphas, the high priest, to discuss how to capture Jesus secretly and put him to death. “But not during the Passover,” they agreed, “or there will be a riot.”

A Woman Anoints Jesus with Perfume
FROM MATTHEW 26:6-13 (NLT)
Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had leprosy. During supper, a woman came in with a beautiful jar of expensive perfume, and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste of money,” they said. “She could have sold it for a fortune and given the money to the poor.”

But Jesus replied, “Why berate her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but I will not be here with you much longer. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I assure you, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be talked about in her memory.”

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 26:14-16 (NLT)
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. From that time on, Judas began looking for the right time and place to betray Jesus.

Disciples Prepare for the Passover
FROM MATTHEW 26:17-19 (NLT)
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover supper?”

“As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The teacher says, My appointed time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.'” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover supper there.

Jesus and the Disciples Share the Last Supper
FROM MATTHEW 26:20-30 (NLT)
When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the twelve disciples. While they were eating, he said, “The truth is, one of you will betray me.”

Greatly distressed, one by one they began to ask him, “I’m not the one, am I, Lord?”

He replied, “One of you who is eating with me now will betray me. For I, the Son of Man, must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for my betrayer. Far better for him if he had never been born!”

Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Teacher, I’m not the one, am I?” And Jesus told him, “You have said it yourself.”

As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and asked God‘s blessing on it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which seals the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus Again Predicts Peter’s Denial
FROM MATTHEW 26:31-35 (NLT)
“Tonight all of you will desert me,” Jesus told them. “For the Scriptures say,

‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you into Galilee and meet you there.”

Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”

“Peter,” Jesus replied, “the truth is, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”

“No!” Peter insisted. “Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

Jesus Agonizes in the Garden
FROM MATTHEW 26:36-46 (NLT)
Then Jesus brought them to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go on ahead to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he began to be filled with anguish and deep distress. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me.”

He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with me even one hour? Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!”

Again he left them and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away until I drink it, your will be done.” He returned to them again and found them sleeping, for they just couldn’t keep their eyes open.

So he went back to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Still sleeping? Still resting? Look, the time has come. I, the Son of Man, am betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. See my betrayer is here!”

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
FROM MATTHEW 26:47-56 (NLT)
And even as he said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a mob that was armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent out by the leading priests and other leaders of the people. Judas had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I go over and give him a kiss of greeting.” So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Teacher!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have came for.” Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. One of the men with Jesus pulled out a sword and slashed off an ear of the high priest’s servant.

“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him, “Those who use the sword will be killed by the sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous criminal, that you have come armed with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the temple? I was there teaching everyday. But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Caiaphas Questions Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 26:57-68 (NLT)
Then the people who had arrested Jesus led him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and other leaders had gathered. Meanwhile, Peter was following far behind and eventually came to the courtyard of the high priest’s house. He went in, sat with the guards, and waited to see what was going to happen to Jesus.

Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, there was no testimony they could use. Finally, two men were found who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'”

Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God that you tell us whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say. And in the future you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God’s right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes to show his horror, shouting, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”

“Guilty!” they shouted. “He must die!”

Then they spit in Jesus’ face and hit him with their fists. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?”

Peter Denies Knowing Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 26:69-75 (NLT)
Meanwhile, as Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.”

But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he said.

Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath: “I don’t even know the man,” he said.

A little later some other bystanders came over to him and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.”

Peter said, “I swear by God, I don’t know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went away, crying bitterly.

The Council of Religious Leaders Condemns Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 27:1-2 (NLT)
Very early in the morning, the leading priests and other leaders met again to discuss how to persuade the Roman government to sentence Jesus to death. Then they bound him and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

Judas Hangs Himself
FROM MATTHEW 27:3-10 (NLT)
When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and other leaders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”

“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the money onto the floor of the Temple and went out and hanged himself. The leading priests picked up the money. “We can’t put it in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it’s against the law to accept money paid for murder.” After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,

“They took the thirty pieces of silver—the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel—and purchased the potter’s field, as the Lord directed.”

Pilate Hands Jesus Over to Be Crucified
FROM MATTHEW 27:11-14 (NLT)
Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the King of the Jews?” the governor asked him.

Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say,”

But when the leading priests and other leaders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear the charges against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus said nothing, much to the governor’s surprise.

Jesus Stands Trial Before Pilate
FROM MATTHEW 27:15-26 (NLT)
Now it was the governor’s custom to release one prisoner to the crowd each year during the Passover celebration—anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious criminal in prison, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (He knew very well that the Jewish leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone, because I had a terrible nightmare about him last night.”

Meanwhile, the leading priests and other leaders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So when the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?” the crowd shouted back their reply: “Barabbas!”

“But if I release Barabbas,” Pilate asked them, “what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

And they all shouted, “Crucify him!”

“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the crowd only roared the louder, “Crucify him!”

Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this man. The responsibility is yours!”

And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”

So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to crucify him.

Roman Soldiers Mock Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 27:27-31 (NLT)
Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire battalion. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They made a crown of long, sharp thorns and put it on his head, and they placed a stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery, yelling, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him, and grabbed the stick and beat him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

Jesus Is Led Away to Be Crucified
FROM MATTHEW 27:32-44 (NLT)
As they were on the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. Then they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Hill). The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.

After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A signboard was fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Two criminals were crucified with him, their crosses on either side of his. And the people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “So! You can destroy the Temple and build it again in three days, can you? Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

The leading priests, the teachers of religious law and the other leaders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him! He trusted God—let God show his approval by delivering him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” And the criminals who were crucified with him also shouted the same insults at him.

Jesus Dies on the Cross
FROM MATTHEW 27:45-56 (NLT)
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Leave him alone. Let’s see whether Elijah will come and save him.”

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead after Jesus’ resurrection. They left the cemetery, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and Zebedee’s wife, the mother of James and John.

Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb
FROM MATTHEW 27:57-61 (NLT)
As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea, who was on of Jesus’ followers, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance as he left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting nearby watching.

Guards are Posted at the Tomb
FROM MATTHEW 27:62-66 (NLT)
The next day—on the first day after the Passover ceremonies—the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will be raised from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing the body and then telling everyone that he came back to life! If that happens, we’ll be worse off then we were at first.”

Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted the guards to protect it.

Jesus Rises from the Dead
FROM MATTHEW 28:1-7 (NLT)
Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now go quickly and tell his disciples he has been raised from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember, I have told you.”

Jesus Appears to the Women
FROM MATTHEW 28:8-10 (NLT)
The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to find the disciples to give them the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them. “Greetings!” he said. And they ran to him, held his feet, and worshiped him. The Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

Religious Leaders Bribe the Guards
FROM MATTHEW 28:11-15 (NLT)
As the women were on their way into the city, some of the men who had been guarding the tomb went to the leading priests and told them what had happened. A meeting of all the religious leaders was called, and they decided to bribe the soldiers. They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you and everything will be all right.” So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread among the Jews, and they still tell it today.

Jesus Appears to Two Believers Traveling on the Road
FROM LUKE 24:13-35 (NLT)
That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles out of Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. Suddenly, Jesus himself came along and joined them and began walking beside them. But they didn’t know who he was, because God kept them from recognizing him.

“You seem to be in a deep discussion about something,” he said. “What are you so concerned about?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days?”

“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did wonderful miracles. He was a mighty teacher, highly regarded by both God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders arrested him and handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had thought he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. That all happened three days ago. Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, Jesus’ body was gone, just as the women had said.”

Then Jesus said to them, “You are such foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his time of glory?” Then Jesus quoted passages from the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining what all the Scriptures said about himself.

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus would have gone on, but they begged him to stay the night with them, since it was getting late. So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took a small loaf of bread, asked God’s blessing on it, broke it, then gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts feel strangely warm as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem, where the eleven disciples and the other followers of Jesus were gathered. When they arrived, they were greeted with the report, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter!”

Jesus Appears to His Disciples
FROM LUKE 24:36-43 (NLT)
Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” But the whole group was terribly frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost. “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why do you doubt who I am? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do!” As he spoke, he held out his hands for them to see, and he showed them his feet.

Still they stood there doubting, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples in Jerusalem
FROM LUKE 24:43-49 (NLT)
Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must all come true.” Then he opened their minds to understand these many Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day. With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’ You are witnesses of these things.

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas
FROM JOHN 20:24-31 (NLT)
One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among. He said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.”

Jesus’ disciples saw him do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life.

Jesus Gives the Great Commission
FROM MATTHEW 28:16-20 (NLT)
Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them still doubted!

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Jesus Ascends into Heaven
FROM LUKE 24:50-53 (NLT)
Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. They worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.