Thanks to God for His wonderful Word!

The Joy of His Presence

A belated (yet timeless) Easter Message


The School of Joyful Endurance


     "When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
    "Jesus therefore said to them again, 'Peace be with you; As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'  And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, 'receive the Holy Spirit.'
   "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any they have been retained." (John 20:19-23)



Knowing well that His disciples felt inadequate as they faced their beloved -- and now resurrected -- Lord, Jesus began preparing them to "follow in His steps." In the midst of their fear and uncertainty, they would begin to learn the essential tasks that called for total reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Such reliance is not a common trait among most Christians today.  Nor was it central to the disciples before His crucifixion. So, to prepare them for the challenges ahead, the risen Christ suddenly appeared in their midst and spoken the words they needed to hear:

"Peace to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you." Then He "breathed on them and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 

Did the disciples catch that wonderful message? 

We don't know God's exact timing, but we do know that He gave the disciples the grace needed to truly understand and obey this new assignment. It almost sounded too simple: "He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit!"  In that glorious moment they were transformed!  And from then on, they would gladly follow their beloved Master anywhere -- even unto death!

Would we be so bold?  Are we confident that we are truly "born again" and filled with His Holy Spirit?  Would we -- as God's Spirit-filled people -- be ready to serve and die for Him and His people? 

If so, how blessed we are!  For what a joy it is to walk and talk with Him each day -- no matter what challenges we face -- always confident that the victorious breath of His Spirit abides in us!

I love the hymn : “I am His and He is mine!” Here is the last verse:

His forever, only His, who my Lord and me shall part?

Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!

Heav'n and earth may fade and flee, First-born light in gloom decline.

But while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.

Today's increasingly corrupt world is fast sinking into an ever-darkening spiritual blindness. What, then, can we do to bring seekers to Him? The answer may or may not be simple, but we can surely pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us!  God knows the needs of His people, and He will show us the way according to His perfect plan for each of us.

Today, about 2000 years after His resurrection, He is still with those who love Him! Our Teacher, Friend and Master watches over His flock -- always ready to strengthen and guide us, to forgive and draw us ever closer to HimselfHe is in us and with us; He forgives and restores. All along the way, He guides us through difficulties and 'points' us to those who seek His Word and long for His nearness.

Earthly challenges are to be expected by His followers!  We must heed His voice and do His will -- no matter how small and inadequate we feel. Then He will send us out by His Spirit within us to gather His people and fulfill our assignments. At times that may seem impossible; at other times it’s a joy! It all depends on His plan for our training!

What a gift He has given us through His life and teaching! 

"...thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord!" (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

As the apostle Paul -- a former sinner cleansed and sanctified through the sacrifice and blood of Jesus -- reminds us,

"He [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Filled with His strength, will you take that stand?  Then...

"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
     "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
     "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance..." Ephesians 6:10-18

Remember, the victorious Christian life is not painless, but it's always victorious in Christ!

"...we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed... perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

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