“Lord, may our hearts be opened to see You!”

Lord, may not only our eyes, but our hearts be opened to see Your glory for who You are! “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,” Isaiah‬ ‭46:9‬ ‭

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“There is power in the name of Jesus!”

 

THERE IS POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS! Call upon His name today. “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Acts‬ ‭3:6‬
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“The Truly Blessed Person!”

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”  Psalm 1:1-3

“Troubles Won’t Last Always. Don’t Give Up!”

We don’t know why we often seem to be in a
holding pattern but we can be assured
that during the process, God is working
out His purpose in the midst of it all. In the end,
whatever He designed for that appointed
time, place, etc will take its rightful place in the
grand scheme of things.

Troubles won’t last always. There will come a
shift of seasons. The wintry blows that may tear
at the heart of life will eventually give way to
the blossoming of something new and better on
the horizon. The holding pattern will break and
the days of crying will give way to rejoicing.
The times of mourning must move that we
may dance. Some seasons may be harder than
others to endure, but trust God’s perfect timing
through it all and don’t give up (Gal. 6:9).

“Father God, It’s to You we pray!” | A Prayer for Today

Father God, Sometimes in this life we just don’t understand everything that’s going on around us.  We have ups and we have downs, but through it all, You remain the same.  Thank You for being our source this day and every day.  Thank You for holding our hand through the turbulent tides we face.  Thank You that You have continually kept Your promise to never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  Thank You for bringing us through.

Father God, our hearts are opened before You.  Nothing is hid from You.  We take great comfort in that because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that You know us better than we know ourselves.  You are our Lord.  You are our King.  You are sovereign in all Your majesty and power.  You are our leaning force, our shelter to run and hide in the time of the storm.  You are He who loves us beyond measure in spite of our faults and shortcomings.

Father God, we love You so much.  You are the One who deserves all the glory and honor.  Without You we are nothing and apart from You we can do nothing.  Our life is in Your blessed and mighty hands.  We are praying for Your help throughout this day.  Help with life, help with the decisions and choices that we make, help in every situation and circumstance we may face.

Father God, we are asking You to bless our homes, bless our families, and please remember the unsaved members of our families.  We are praying for hearts to be opened to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  We are praying for hearts and minds to be sensitive to Your holy call.  Thank You for the grace and mercy that You have bestowed upon each one of us this day and every day.  Thank You for another day that You have kept us.

Father God, it’s to You we pray and it’s in Your hands we commit every one of these prayers.  You are our trust and our stay.  You are our comfort through this day.  You are our peace even when we don’t know what to do.  You are where we lay each burden down and know and believe that You are just, faithful, and true.  You are the God of all righteousness, and to You be the glory forever and ever.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray, AMEN!

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“God can turn any situation around…”

GOD CAN turn any situation around and get the glory out of our lives. “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

“I will wait till my change comes!”

I don’t know God’s plans for you. And, I don’t know all that He has planned for me. But one thing I do know is He is sovereign and has control of everything pertaining to each and every one of us. It is better to wait on the Lord than to chase what is fruitless and futile. Even if we are in the valley of affliction, and don’t quite know which way to turn. Turn where He is turning. Go where God is leading. Wait on Him and trust Him to bring your change to past. “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come,” Job 14:14. The change Job was looking for may be different than the change you or I are hoping for, nonetheless, wait till it comes!

“What is Man…”

Father God, thank You that You are mindful of us this day and every day. Thank You that Your hand of mercy has raised us up this day and the power of Your Holy Spirit is walking with us through this day. Thank You for Your daily love, compassion, and faithfulness that is at work in our lives. Thank You for just being the great and glorious God that You are. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN!

Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus Empowers His Followers” John 20:19-23

VERSE DISCOVERY: John 20:19-23 (KJV, Public Domain)

“I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.”  That was the promise that God spoke through the prophet Joel, (2:28).  Ezekiel 36:26 tells us, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you…”

What God foretells through His servants, the prophecy’s that came forth, involved a part of Him (“my spirit”), coming to live on the inside (“within”) the heart of those that belong to Him.

How often had that been told to the Jewish people of old?  For generations, His promise had permeated their culture and had been passed from mouth to mouth testifying of His great promise that He wants to move into the lives of His people.

This promise of an outpouring traveled with them through wars and disobedience; through times of favor and times of disappointments.  Exile even dispelled them from their land for a time, but it could not dispel them from God’s promise.

In times before, they experienced God’s power at work in many different ways.  Now, Jesus was ready to take things to another level in bringing His people closer to that pouring out promise; one that would bring about great power, wonders, and deliverances.  Jesus was ready to breathe on them a part of Him; moving upon and in His people, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

By the time we get to this lesson in Scripture, the deed to crucify Jesus has transpired.  He had been scourged, thorned, spit on, nailed, and pierced.  The earth shook; the body was wrapped and put in the grave, and He rose again.

Things would never be the same for His kingdom and ministry.  A new level of empowerment was on the horizon and Jesus was ready to place His stamp of approval on these men that would authorize them to work in His promise.

Jesus Appeared to His Followers

John 20:19 “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”

Have you ever had someone sneak up on you?  I mean they just seemingly appear out of nowhere and startle you.  It’s a pretty unsettling feeling of being caught unawares.

Now imagine how the disciples who were “assembled” behind closed “doors” felt when they received the surprise of a lifetime; Jesus, their friend, their teacher, their Savior – He, who days before, had been killed and murdered at the insistence of the “Jews,” now stood before them.

To say they were completely shocked doesn’t do it justice.  If it were me, I would be completely freaked out.  Can I take your mind back for a moment when they were being tossed about in the midst of the sea, and saw Jesus walking on water?  Their response: “They were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear,” (Matthew 14:26).

At that time, they had no just cause to believe He was a spirit.  They went off the basis that it was the only logical reason that allowed Him to walk on water.

Here, they would have a very good reason to spaz, so to speak, a bit over His sighting.  Not only do they know for a fact that Jesus had been crucified, but they have heard reports that He is no longer in the tomb Joseph of Arimathea donated for the cause of His burial.

Certain women went to the tomb and pondered how they would roll the stone away only to arrive and find it had already been moved (see Luke 24:1-3; Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1-4; John 20:1).  The news had spread to Peter and the rest.  Reports from the travelers on the road to Emmaus said, “The Lord is risen indeed…” (Luke 24:34).

Not only is He risen, but He is standing before them speaking, “Peace be unto you.”  Though the speaking of a greeting of “peace” was customary among the people, Jesus spoke with the intent of calming the raging storm of emotions these men were dealing with.

When Jesus appeared to them the Bible tells us, “they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit,” (Luke 24:37).  Jesus then asked them, “Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38).

So, Jesus speaks “peace” to them.  Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”  Jesus had to refocus their troubled thoughts to see the miracle that stood before them now.

Yes, they were in troubling times.  Yes, they were dealing with confusion and disappointment, but Jesus had to calm the turmoil inside of them so that they could accept the great thing that was about to take place.  Therefore, Jesus draws them toward “peace.”

John 20:20 “And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”

“And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side.”  He showed them proof!  Physical evidence that He had indeed risen was right in front of their faces.  Remember, according to Luke 24:37 they thought He was a spirit, but Jesus showed them the evidence in His glorified flesh.  Later, He invited Thomas to, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side…” (John 20:27).

If you will allow me, just look at how many of their 5 senses were involved to establish that Jesus was alive in the flesh:

  • Seeing – they saw Jesus. To many, we would assume, that this would be enough, but with fear running rampart they believed that He was a spirit.
  • Hearing – Jesus spoke and questioned them. Again, in the mind’s eye of their panic over what they were witnessing; what they were hearing could be attributed to a spirit.
  • Touching – This is where the real convincing begins. When one can physically feel the flesh; feel the bones underneath, it can’t get any more real than this. Jesus wasn’t afraid to be closely examined by them. He urged them to get in there and feel the proof for themselves.
  • And if perchance you want to add smelling and taste (no they didn’t smell Jesus or taste Him) but on the “third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead,” (John 21:14); Jesus invited them to “come and dine” with Him (John 21:12). The fire was going, and the fish were frying, Jesus was partaking and invited them to do the same.  And from there, as they say, the rest is history.

Jesus, beyond a shadow of a doubt, showed with many evidences that He was in fact risen and alive.

“Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”  When they really saw that this was, in fact, their risen Lord (minus the fish fry at this point), they were overjoyed.  Where they were feeling devastated and in deep despair, now they saw hope.  That’s something to get happy about.  When they got past the shock and really “saw the Lord” for who He is, their spirits were raised, and they rejoiced.

Don’t let despair keep you from seeing Jesus.  Even when one is suffering and feeling the burden of this world pressing on them – Jesus is there.

Jesus Breathed on His Followers

John 20:21 “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”

“Peace be unto you.”  Jesus again speaks “peace” to His gathered disciples; words repeated to bring comfort to the disciples confused hearts.  Yes, on the night of His arrest they fled and left Him on His own.  They abandoned Him, but He has not forsaken them.

Now, He stands before them speaking “peace.”  Once Jesus speaks “peace” over you, don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.  One way the enemy will try to stop us is to keep us in a state of feeling like a failure, of feeling there’s no possible way Jesus can use us now.  We have messed up is what we claim, and we can’t see beyond our own faults and shortcomings to do a mighty work for Him.

Their failures were not hidden from Jesus.  Do you know how I know?  He died on the cross alone and they fled just as He said they would.  He knew it ahead of time.  But their job wasn’t to die on the cross.  And, despite their previous failures, Jesus still had a mission for them.  He said, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” 

Please Note: Sometimes we may feel too gone in our mess, but if you are here and alive today you still have purpose.  God can still use you to make a positive impact for His kingdom.  Stop focusing on the failures of yesterday!  Start focusing on the mission of today!  Jesus wants to “send” you!

The “Father” sent Jesus with a purpose; with a mission.  Now, Jesus says, “So send I you.”  In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus further defines their “sending;” their mission and their purpose.  He says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”

At other points during His earthly ministry Jesus sent the disciples out on mission trips, so to speak, to heal, set free, and preach the kingdom of heaven (see Mark 6:7; Matthew 10:1 and Luke 10:1).

Just because Jesus won’t physically be with them anymore, they are to still be men on a mission.  Their lives are not to be filled with mindless idleness.  They must work the purpose wherewith he “sends” them; as do we.

We are all called to go out and get involved with His ministry and “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15).

What is Jesus calling you to do to help the kingdom of God?  Where is it He wants to “send” you?  Don’t ignore the call or cower in fear.  He will empower you, as He did with these original followers, with what you need to make a difference, as our next verse tells us.

John 20:22 “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:”

“He breathed on them.”  What is the significance of Jesus breathing on His disciples?  In both the Hebrew and Greek, the word “breath” is the same word for “spirit.”  Jesus is the only one with the authority to impart the Spirit in such a way, for Matthew 28:18 tells us, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

“Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”  After Jesus spoke to them, He wanted them to “receive” what was necessary to carry out their sending tasks with power.  Think of it this way, different vehicles are designed different ways, but one thing they all have in common is they need a source of power to run on to make their “going” successful.  For some, the power may come from gas.  For some, diesel.  And for others, their power source may be electric or a combination of several sources.  But none will move or function the way they were designed without receiving power.

The same is true for Christ’s followers.  The “Holy Ghost” is our power source.  He steps in our life and fills it from the inside out.  He leads us, guides us, strengthens us, and empower us to do the works of God.  When we “go” into the mission and purpose He has designed for each us, we need Him fully working on the inside of us in order to do it the way He wants us to.    

Therefore, Jesus “breathed” on them to empower and anoint them.  Most believe this was just a partial filling, or in preparation of, or a symbolic act to what would occur fully and completely at Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4.  Jesus was bestowing on them a great gift that would enable them to work mightily for Him.  Without the Holy Ghost, the task ahead would be fruitless and without power.  Zechariah 4:6 plainly declares, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  Man can try to operate in his own power but won’t have the effect for God’s kingdom Jesus did.  This mission must be infused with power from on high!

Before His ascension, Jesus spoke to those gathered around Him, and said, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence,” and “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth,” (Acts 1:5, 8; emphasis mine; compare Luke 24:49).  They needed to be fully immersed in Him, fully filled with His Spirit to operate fully in the ministry He was sending them into.  One cannot work the Spirit’s work without the Spirit.

Later in Acts, when the events of Pentecost were unfolding, Peter, during his sermon, boldly spoke, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.  Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed for this, which ye now see and hear,” (Acts 2:32-33; emphasis mine).  The very promise of the Holy Ghost which Jesus spoke to them to receive, Peter said, we have received.  They have been empowered by His Spirit and it was shown before all there that day.

John 20:23 “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”

The Gospel message they and us carry is powerful: it’s the Good News that Jesus saves.  Those who believe and accept this message, and are saved, can find joy in knowing they are forgiven, their “sins” are “remitted unto them.”

This was the climax of all Jesus sought to do on the cross: to save mankind from their sins, to restore them back to fellowship with God.  Those anointed, filled, and empowered by the “Holy Ghost” have the privilege to pass on this eternal-life saving message.  They have no power of their own to forgive sins, but they can open the word of life and lead others to the One who can.

At the same time, those who refuse will “retain” their “sins.”  If they refuse to let Jesus wash away the impurities of this world that stains their soul, it will remain with them into all eternity.

Despite popular beliefs, there are NOT many roads to heaven.  Jesus very clearly stated, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me,” (John 14:6).

I cannot overemphasize those two words “NO ONE!”  That means no exceptions.  That means no matter how good one thinks they are, if they have not gone through Jesus, if He has not cleansed them from their sins, they will not walk those dirty feet on His heavenly streets.

The disciples, as well as we, are empowered with the Holy Ghost to get that message across.  We all need to be empowered with His Spirit to do His work!

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Jesus Empowers His Followers

Suggested Activities:

Draw the Scene: Jesus Empowers His Followers Draw the Scene

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages Use these blank Adult and Kid’s journal pages to emphasis or bring out any portion of the lesson for your specific class or audience.

Memory Verse: Jesus Empowers His Followers Memory Verse

Word Search: Jesus Empowers His Followers Word Search  Answers: Jesus Empowers His Followers Word Search

Crossword: Jesus Empowers His Followers Crossword  Answers: Jesus Empowers His Followers Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Jesus Empowers His Followers Word Scramble  Answers: Jesus Empowers His Followers Word Scramble Answers

How Many Words: Jesus Empowers His Followers How Many Words

“Blowing Tube Craft” A simple craft to demonstrate breathing or blowing.  Simply roll up a piece of construction paper long ways and tape.  Cut the top and bottom off to make even.  Attach ribbon, tissue paper or I used cut up streamers and tape on the inside of your tube.  Some should be longer than the tube to help with blowing.  Decorate with crayons or stickers. 

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Bubble Play: Hit up your local dollar store or make homemade bubbles for students to demonstrate Jesus breathing on His followers.  What fun!

Confident in God!

There is always something about the stories where the underdog comes out on top, where the least of all becomes the greatest that sends chills of inspiration up the spine.

The story of David and Goliath has long evoked a sense awe at the victory won and the hope of possibility in the soul still in the fight facing his/her own giants. The fact of the matter is that many things in this life which we face day to day can at times seem too much to bear.  Our worries don’t necessarily have to be against the biggest guy around.  Just the struggle of making it one more day, another try at giving it your best shot, can make it really hard for some people.

That’s why this article is not going to focus on the beast Goliath was or how David brought him down with just a stone and slingshot.

Nope. I want us to focus on the confidence that David had in God.

To me, it doesn’t matter if what you face is big or small. Sometimes the hardest stuff is the routine, small stuff that gets on your nerves every single day and makes you want to throw in the towel and quit.

Yes, David did the impossible in the name of the Lord. But, what I have found out in my own life is when we evoke that same confidence in God in every area of our lives, big or small, God tends to step in and work it out for us.  And, you know it was Him because that very area in life that used to be a source of hardship and frustration now becomes a place of peace and productivity.

David, before confronting Goliath, declared, “The LORD delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine,” (1 Samuel 17:37, NKJV. emphasis mine).  I want us to focus on “He will” of that statement.  David expressed in those two little words the amount of confidence he had in the God he served.

Confidence in God the key no matter what. Many of times we misplace our confidences in the things and the people we see around us, allowing them to become our focus and control, when God should be at the forefront of the battle with us.  Over and over again we are told in His Word, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man,” (Psalm 118:8, NKJV); yet, man seems to always get more of our attention and we wonder why we falter in the battle and don’t end up standing as victor over the giants and circumstances we face.

We have to rely more on God than anything else in this world. He truly is the only one who can get in there and fight with us and for us and bring us to a victorious end on the other side.

Below are some reminders to trust God and have confidence in Him no matter the size of anything we face. Knowing this will improve our day to day struggles in life and turn them into day to day victories.

  • “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
  • “Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” – Isaiah 26:4
  • “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” – Psalm 37:3
  • “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17
  • “Never be afraid to trust in unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie Ten Boom
  • “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” – Martin Luther
  • “So many of us limit our praying because we are not reckless in our confidence in God. In the eyes of those who do not know God, it is madness to trust Him, but when we pray in the Holy Spirit we begin to realize the resources of God, that He is our perfect heavenly Father, and we are His children.” – Oswald Chambers