Today, as we finish up our 2014 reading plan, we find Jesus appearing to the disciples with His final instructions. I found it interesting that in the beginning of this final chapter in John, Peter went back to what he knew; fishing. It was there that Jesus first found Peter and it is there that Jesus shows Peter that He was the same from before the crucifixion. After an entire fishing trip with nothing to show for it, Jesus commands them to put down their nets on the other side; just like He did when they first met. And like the first time, they experience amazing results. While our circumstances may change, Jesus is the same now as He has ever been. We can count on the stability He brings no matter what this life throws at us. We must all try to remember this as we begin 2015. Happy New Year!!!
Call me sappy, but I just love watching videos of family members being surprised by the return of military service men and women. The joy they experience when they encounter their loved ones after a long time away. Similarly, as we read John 20, I cannot help but imagine the emotions going through Mary’s mind as she realizes it really is Jesus. John 20:16, Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). The picture of this scene reminds me of what our first moments in heaven will be like. We hang on tightly to the things of this world because we simply cannot imagine what is waiting for us when we see Jesus for the first time.
While the disciples were thrilled to see Jesus, He had to remind them that He had already told them how things would play out. In fact, all of scripture leading up to Christ was fulfilled in the process of His life and death and resurrection. Luke 24:44, He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” We often forget that the entire Bible, including the Old Testament, points to the Messiah. When we allow ourselves to see the truth as God meant for it to be, we see the whole story unfold before us and we see the purpose of Christ, our Savior, in our lives.
As we approach the end of 2014, most people will review their accomplishments of this past year and plan for the next. The most important thing to remember is that it is never too late to start. It is never too late to strive for greatness. But greatness does not come easy. There will be struggle and obstacles along the way and it comes down to how we handle these obstacles that make a difference. We either stick to it and fight through the pain, or we give up.
A few of the best quotes from this video are, “Greatness is a lot of small things done well… day after day, workout after workout, obedience after obedience, day after day.” and “You will never be successful until you turn your pain into greatness and you allow your pain to push you to where you need to be. Stop running from your pain and embrace your pain.”
It’s never too late to start. But you can never give up and you must push through the pain.
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There has been a lot of talk over the last several years about whether there really is a hell. Mark 16:16 plainly shows there is, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Jesus Himself showed His disciples and, in turn us, the way to salvation and the consequences of not believing. If we believe the Bible and believe in the words recorded in scripture, we know the truth about salvation and hell. The only alternative is to believe that scripture is not accurate and therefore we make up our own conclusions.
Jesus’ final command before He left this earth, Matthew 28:19-20, 19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus’ command to His disciples back then is no less of a command to us today. He saved us so that we could in turn bring glory to the Father by serving Him. He is with us now and forever.
Jesus showed boldness and authority even knowing His life was coming to an end. When Pilate asked Jesus if He knew how much authority he had, this was Jesus’ reply in John 19:11, Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” While earthly men may have had power over Jesus’ human body, they did not have control over His authority given to Him by His Father. When life takes us to a point where we feel out of control, we must remember that nothing Has authority over our Creator and Heavenly Father.
Jesus never once shied away from the truth or the fate set before Him for His life based on that truth. John 18:37 says, “You are like a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” It seems to me that even Pilate recognized Jesus was telling him the truth. Unfortunately, it also seems as though Pilate chose to reject the truth. When we reject the truth and choose to follow our own desires, we fail. We must always look to the truth and act according to what is real and what is right.
Hanging on the cross with two criminal, Jesus showed all of us that when we believe, we are given eternal life regardless of our past sin. Luke 23:43, Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” If the criminal hanging on the cross who, unlike Jesus, deserved to die was granted entrance into heaven, how much more are we? Jesus does not care about our past sin. He cares about our changed lives that can only come through Him.
When Jesus was crucified, Mark 15:26 says, The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. While the sign was meant to describe why Jesus was being crucified, it was also meant to mock Him. In the end, however, the sign could not have been more accurate. The only reason they chose to kill Jesus was because He WAS the king and this was His purpose. Nothing that God ever does is an accident. This includes everything that happened in the Bible and it also includes everything that happens in each of our lives. Trust God for His plan and doing all things according to His perfect plan.