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  • #258 The Party of all Parties

    The City of God overflows with music and shouts of triumph, joy, and praise, as Jesus' entourage gets close. All of heaven is waiting to welcome Jesus and those he's taking back as first-fruits--those who were resurrected with him.

    Commanders, rulers and representatives from unfallen worlds are there to welcome Him home, eager to honor Jesus and celebrate His victory over Satan, evil, and death. Man has been restored! He can come home! The universe is safe forever.

    As they approach, the escorting angels shout, "Lift up your heads you gates, you everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in."

    Joyfully the waiting group responds, "Who is this King of Glory?" Not because they don't know, but because they love hearing it.

    "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle!..." rings the answer.

    What a thought! Mighty in battle by laying down his power!

    As they sweep in through the gates the atmosphere is charged with joy, accompanied by unbelievable music, singing and shouting. A gorgeous crown and robe are brought, but Jesus, disregarding these, approaches the rainbow-encircled throne and his Father to present his gifts from earth--his friends.

    Father embraces Son as he says, "Let everyone worship Him," signifying that their covenant made to redeem man before earth's creation has finished successfully.

    They've been celebrating ever since with joyful expressions of "He is worthy!" (When they're not helping us.)

    They never get tired of praising, or whispering to us, "He's worth it. He's worth it!

    You can't imagine the glory and celebration that awaits you! --the amazing life to come!"

    Revelation 4:2-3, 5:6-13, Ephesians 1:3-10, 17-22, 3:7-20, 1Thessalonians 4:13-17, Job 38:4-7

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  • # 257 Going Home

    A few weeks later, Jesus and his eleven walk through the gates of Jerusalem, leaving the city. People watch in wonder. This same group, minus one, is walking with their leader who was crucified over a month ago! How can this be?

    The disciples don't know it's their last time with Him.

    As they walk toward Gethsemane, Jesus sees the grape vine he'd used to illustrate divine connection. He restates His words, pausing at the garden, for them to recall the lessons of that painful night.

    Jesus has been in the world for thirty-three years, and was never understood. Nevertheless, His love for them is unaffected. And now they know He is God.

    Continuing to the top of Olivet, He stops near Bethany. He gathers them around, and with light shining from his face, He raises His hands, blessing them, assuring them of His presence and protection. As He speaks, a power stronger than gravity begins to raise Him from the earth while the awe-struck disciples stand watching, listening to His tender words..."I am with you always, even to the end of the world."

    Soon a bright cloud of angels receives him with the sweetest, most glorious music they have ever heard.

    His guardian angels stay behind to give comfort, "Men of Galilee, don't be amazed at his going to heaven. Jesus will return for you again this same way." Then they joyfully join the others escorting Him home.

    Fear gone, the disciples are glowing with joy. Returning to Jerusalem, they share their unforgettable experience of seeing Jesus go home.

    Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:1-9

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  • # 256 Your Mission, If You Accept It

    Jesus' commission--to be loved and then to love-- is your mission if you accept it, and includes everyone who hears and receives His love until this world ends. To everyone, He says, "Come."

    Receive Him, and you are gifted with His marvelous Spirit's power--active in you--co-mission. Don't be afraid or worry how you will work for Him--stress debilitates. Simply accept His love daily; believe it, and say, "Come." He works.

    Jesus directed his disciples to start in Jerusalem. Though it seems crazy, His murderers were to be first to receive His offer of mercy. Many secretly believed, many more had been deceived by the priests and had rejected Him; yet these, and even the priests, were to be given another opportunity--all whose hearts would open.

    Start with you--unbelieving though you may be. Let yourself be Loved by God. Just Come.

    Link yourself to Jesus daily. Allow His life-giving energy to flow through you to others; or your love will lack, your faith grow flimsy.

    Your work may be raising children in Jesus' love. Who knows? The ripple-effect of their lives may go to the ends of the earth. He promised His presence, His protection, and His privileges to all believers to the end of time.

    Called to heal? Jesus used simple, natural methods to accomplish great healings. Let your faith focus on His favor and all the resources at His command. Work in His Power.

    Open yourself to God daily, and constantly receive a new supply of physical and mental energy--everything you need.

    Come.

    Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:20, Luke 24:46-49

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  • # 255 Here is Fulfillment

    Before his death, Jesus had set up a time and place to meet his followers in Galilee. He had been followed by a large number of people off and on, and he wanted them to see him again, risen, and hear his commission.

    The angels at His empty tomb reminded the women of this meeting, sending a message about it to the others. Spirit spread the word quickly among his followers in Jerusalem, many only there for Passover.

    When the time comes, about 500 believers are gathered in small groups on the mountainside, eager to hear from those who had seen Him.

    The disciples go excitedly from group to group, sharing what they have seen and experienced of their risen Lord. Thomas shares his unbelief and how it was swept away.

    Suddenly Jesus is there!

    They recognize him, and yet His face is as the face of God. He shows them His hands and feet--the marks of His crucifixion. He reviews the prophecies about him, ending with a triumphant, "All power in heaven and on earth is given to Me."

    Seeing and hearing Him who was dead is thrilling, giving force to His words.

    His commission reaches into each heart: "Go and teach everyone everywhere, sharing what I have taught you! Baptize them into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And know that I am with you always to the end of the world."

    Rejoice in the assurance of His continual Love and Presence! Here is his will for you! Invite others into His arms and His heart. Here is fulfillment.

    1Corinthians 15:6, Matthew 28:16-20

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  • # 254 The Only Qualification

    Peter was naturally self-sufficient and impulsive, and Satan had taken advantage of these characteristics to ruin him. But Jesus gives evidence of Peter's transformation to himself and six other disciples.

    Before His death, Jesus had warned Peter, assuring him that He had prayed for him so his faith wouldn't fail. "When you are converted, strengthen your brothers, "Jesus had added.

    So what is conversion? Peter already loved Jesus. But he didn't trust Him more than himself.

    Jesus' repeated question demonstrates the change in Peter. Not one self-important, impetuous word is answered. He still has zeal, but regulated by the graciousness of Jesus. Now he is calm, self-possessed and teachable--gained through his failure and facing himself. Now he is ready to minister.

    Jesus asks one question, "Do you love me?" He shows the essential qualification to work for God--the only condition of discipleship and service.

    After breakfast they walk down the beach. As they walk, Jesus reveals Peter's future to him, privately, in order to strengthen him for it. "When you were young, you dressed yourself and went where you wanted, but when you are old others will undress you, stretch out your hands, and take you where you don't want to go." Looking into his eyes Jesus says, "Follow Me."

    Peter is not disheartened, he really could die for Jesus now. But seeing John walking behind, he says, "Lord, what about him?"

    Jesus answers, "If I want him to live until I come, what's that to you? You follow me." Jesus is good with boundaries. How God leads someone else is none of our business.

    John 21: 18-25

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  • # 253 Miracle of Restored Hearts

    It's Peter's nature to be impulsive--and he's been forgiven most so shouldn't he love Jesus most? The other six bring in the boat and the catch, and find Jesus with a fire, bread, and fish.

    "Bring some fish, come and eat breakfast," invites Jesus.

    Peter helps drag the net with 153 big fish. When finished, they sit down, in awe. Jesus breaks and distributes bread and fish as usual, but no one asks where He got the fire or food.

    They remember the miracle from before when Jesus promised to make them fishers of men. Jesus wants to make sure they know that anyone staying connected with him cannot fail. Regardless of appearances, He will provide.

    He also wants to make them sure about Peter. So while eating, Jesus turns to Peter, "Simon, do you love me more than these?" He asks, giving him opportunity to regain the confidence of the others.

    Peter had boasted of his greater loyalty in front of them. Now he says simply, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

    Jesus replies, "Feed my lambs."

    It's quiet, and a few minutes pass. Again, Jesus asks, "Simon, do you love me?"

    Peter is free from bravado, "Yes, Lord, you know I love you."

    "Feed my flock," says Jesus.

    A bit later Jesus asks yet again, "Simon, do you love me?"

    Peter is sad, thinking Jesus doubts him. Heart aching, he answers, "Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You."

    "Feed my sheep." Jesus says.

    Personal failures can be admitted to God alone; public failure needs public forgiveness and restoration.

    John 21:8-17

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  • # 252 More Surprises

    At the end of Passover week, the disciples gladly head home, exhausted and ready for rest after all the trauma, anxiety, and excitement.

    Seven of them are hanging-out, passing time until Jesus' specified meeting in Galilee. It's evening when Peter says, "I'm going fishing!" The others eagerly agree, and off they go.

    So many memories are connected with this lake: being terrified, Jesus calming storms and fears, Jesus walking on water, (and Peter too), helping feed over ten thousand people with a few loaves and fish.

    They are so different now, three years later. Not rich and honored as they'd imagined and hoped, but none-the-less changed. They have been mentored by the greatest teacher ever. They have become refined.

    But they still love fishing. And besides, they are in need of food and clothes which a good night of fishing would supply.

    As they work, they remember and talk about their memories, but become sad as they question their future. What is going to happen to them? No dreams of glory now. And all night they've caught nothing. Discouragement takes over.

    At dawn, they're a hundred yards out and someone on shore calls, "Friends, do you have any fish?"

    When they answer "No," he says "Try the right side of the boat." (His side.)

    They do it, (without objection or wondering?) and the net is so full they can't bring it in.

    "It is the Lord!" half-whispers John.

    Elated, Peter forgets fish, friends, and work, and putting on his tunic--he dresses for Jesus, dives in and swims to Him.

    John 21:1-7

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  • # 251 Choice is Power

    When Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room, Thomas wasn't there.

    When he hears they have seen Jesus, he is bitterly disappointed, and determined not to believe until he sees Jesus alive for himself. He is wounded that everyone but him has seen his Lord, and broods for a week. He repeatedly tells them, "Unless I see the wounds, and touch his hands and feet and side, I won't believe."

    Many disciples are using the upper room as their temporary home, and at evening all, except Thomas, gather here.

    One evening he determines to meet with them, and that night, though doors are locked, suddenly Jesus is there.

    "Peace to you," says Jesus, just as before, and then turning to Thomas, "Reach out your hand and put your fingers in my scars and on my side, and don't doubt, don't choose unbelief, but believe."

    Thomas realizes Jesus came just for him. His heart leaps and he falls at Jesus' feet, joyfully exclaiming "My Lord and my God!"

    "Thomas," Jesus reproves gently, "you believe because you've seen. Happy are those who believe without seeing."

    If you wait for your doubts to be removed, you could get stuck in unbelief. Thomas chose doubt--Jesus allowed it only a week. Doubt trains your brain to look for the negative--the downside of life. And then when confidence and faith are required, you find yourself powerless to believe. You haven't built in the structures for faith.

    Start now. Choose to believe. Choose to see the good. Choice is power.

    Luke 24:33-48, John 20:19-29

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  • # 250 Peace

    The two from Emmaus reach Jerusalem late at night. Knowing the eastern gate is left open on holidays, they hurriedly go to the upper room where the disciples have stayed since Thursday night. These two know that no one will sleep until they find out what has happened to Jesus' body. They find the doors barred, and knocking brings no answer or sound.

    They give their names and the door is unlocked and opens. Unseen, Jesus enters with them.

    Ten disciples overflow with excitement, saying, "Jesus is risen! Simon has seen Him!"

    The two travelers, still catching their breath, tell about walking to Emmaus with Jesus, but not recognizing him. They tell how their hearts sparked with hope as he shared scriptures, and how they recognized him.

    They've just finished, when everyone realizes someone else is in the room with them. No one knocked, no one came in, but they see Jesus, and are startled.

    "Peace to you," He says. They recognize his voice, but they are afraid, thinking he's a ghost.

    "Do you have anything to eat?" He asks, showing them his hands and feet. After he eats fish and honeycomb they're convinced it's really Him! And celebrating begins

    Then he explains the scriptures speaking of his suffering, death, and resurrection the third day, and he commissions them to receive the Spirit and share his forgiveness.

    We, too, are often afraid Jesus isn't real; but He will speak peace to us, also, (It's really Him!) if we open our hearts, and ask, "Stay with me."

    Luke 24:33-48, John 20:19-23

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  • #249 Joy Heals

    On the way to Emmaus, their traveling companion, the "stranger," shares prophecy after prophecy. Cleopas and his friend look at each other. They can see hope rising in the other. Their hearts are throbbing with it as Jesus talks. Could it be Jesus' death was supposed to happen? Had been planned before creation?

    They reach their home, but Jesus acts as if he will continue; he waits, not assuming he will be invited in.

    They beg him to stay with them, pointing out that it will soon be dark and unsafe to travel. Though they don't yet know him, they love his words, wanting to hear more.

    He goes in with them and sits down to share their simple evening meal of bread.

    As He raises his hands to bless it, suddenly their eyes clear and they recognize him--especially the wounds from the nails. "Jesus!" they cry. And He vanishes.

    Now they jump up, forgetting all about eating, and their fatigue, "Didn't our hearts burn as he talked with us on the way?" they say to each other, and they set out for Jerusalem.

    Back they go, over the same eight-mile mountain road. It's dark now and sometimes they slip, not seeing. Once they lose their way and find it again, talking constantly in wonder. All the while, they have an unseen companion, protecting them and enjoying their joy. Their hearts leap with it. The world seems all new.

    They can't get there fast enough! Can't wait to say we have seen Him! He is alive!

    Luke 24:27-33

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