Jesus Conquered Death!

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Paul continued speaking God’s message in the synagogue of Turkish Antioch (284).

“My fellow Israelites & you Gentiles here who worship our God, this message of salvation through Jesus has been sent to us.  The people who live in Jerusalem & their leaders didn’t know that Jesus is the promised savior; they didn’t understand the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath.

“They actually made certain of the prophets’ words come true by condemning Jesus. Even though they could find no reason to have him executed, they insisted that the Roman governor, Pilate, put him to death.

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“After they had done everything that the inspired scriptures foretold about Jesus, he was taken down from the cross of execution & placed in a tomb. But God raised Jesus from death!

“For many days he appeared to his chosen witnesses, who now testify about him to the people of Israel.  We are here to bring this good news to you also.  What God promised our ancestors that he would do, he has now done for all of us — by raising Jesus to life!

“It is written of Jesus in the inspired scriptures, ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’  And about raising Jesus from death, God said through Isaiah: ‘I will give you holy & sure blessings, as I promised David.’  And David himself says in another passage, ‘You will not allow your faithful servant to decay in the grave.’

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“King David served God’s purposes in his own time.  Then he died, was buried with his ancestors & his body has decayed in the grave.  But this did not happen to Jesus.  Instead, God actually raised Jesus from death!

“All of you, my fellow Israelites, must know that it is through Jesus that forgiveness of sins is preached to you.  You must know that everyone who believes in Jesus is set free from all sins, which is something the law of Moses could never accomplish.

“Take care, then, that this saying of the prophets may never apply to you: ‘Beware, you scoffers! Perish in your faithless astonishment! What I am doing today is something wonderful — that you will not believe, even when someone explains it to you.'”

LORD, please help us  love the new life You give.

(284) Acts 13:26-41

Invasion Of The Spirit

 

The day of Pentecost came about 50 days after Jesus had risen from death & about 10 days after he had returned to heaven (249).  On that day, the believers gathered in Jerusalem to remember Jesus & to worship God & to draw close to him in prayer.

Suddenly, the Holy Spirit of God invaded each member of their fellowship — with the sound of a strong wind & the appearance of flames flickering over every person there!

As the Spirit gave them power, all the believers began testifying boldly about how Jesus had changed their hearts & changed their lives — speaking in many different languages & dialects!

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When a large crowd of people gathered to learn the cause of this uproar, every one of them was able to hear testimonies about Jesus in their own language & dialect.  They were amazed that this common testimony about Jesus was being shared by so many different people at the same time!

But there was also confusion.  It was well known that many of the believers were from Galilee, which was a fairly isolated area of Israel.  So how  were they able to speak in so many languages & dialects?  Many kept asking, “What’s going on here?”  Predictably, some people in the crowd made fun of the believers, saying, “These people are drunk!”

Then all twelve chosen witnesses for Jesus stood up as Peter addressed the crowd.

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“People of Jerusalem, let me tell you what’s going on here.  None of us are drunk at nine in the morning.   What’s happening here is just what God foretold long ago through the prophet Joel:

“‘In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

  • Some will learn what I expect by proclaiming my message.
  • Some will see what I’m doing through dreams & visions.
  • Some will witness my miracles in the sky & my wonders on the earth.

“‘Finally, at the day of my judgment, there will be blood, fire, & thick smoke; the sun will be darkened, and the moon will be red as blood.  But I will save anyone who calls on me for help!'”

LORD, please help us to love calling on You for help.

(249) Acts 2:1-21

Home

 

Before going home to heaven, Jesus led his remaining chosen witnesses from Jerusalem to Bethany for their final meeting (247).  He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift that God promised. John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

His closest friends then asked Jesus, “Master, does this mean that you are now going to restore Israel to power as your independent kingdom here on the earth?”

In reply, Jesus said, “The time for that is determined by God, and it is not for you to know when that will be. But, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After saying this, Jesus was taken up to heaven as they watched.

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A cloud hid him from their sight, but still they fixed their eyes on the sky.  Suddenly, two men dressed in white stood beside them & said, “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but he will come back to the earth in the same way at the right time.”

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Then the  witnesses worshiped Jesus and went back to Jerusalem from Bethany by way of the Mount of Olives.  All of them were filled with great joy.

The remaining 11 witnesses included: Peter (originally named Simon), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James (a son of Zebedee), John (James’ brother), Philip, Bartholomew (also called Nathanael), Matthew (the tax collector, also called Levi), Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Judas (also known sometimes as Lebbaeus & sometimes as Thaddaeus), and Simon (the Patriot from Canaan).  Of the original 12 chosen witnesses, only Judas Iscariot was missing.

They went to the rooms where they were staying, where they often gathered for prayer with close friends & family members of Jesus.

LORD, please help us to love Jesus on earth as it is in heaven.

(247) Mark 16:19, Luke 24:50-52, Acts 1:1-11

Servants Of Jesus

 

For forty days after his execution & resurrection, Jesus appeared to his closest friends many times (243) in ways that proved beyond doubt that he really was alive! They saw him, and he talked with them about the kingdom of God.

One time in Jerusalem, Jesus suddenly appeared to the eleven remaining chosen witnesses as they were eating in a locked room! He encouraged them to have faith & to believe the reports of other people who had also seen him alive.

Then Jesus gave them this job: “Go throughout the whole world & preach the good news about God to all mankind. Whoever trusts in me — and begins obeying what I have taught by being baptized — will be saved.  Whoever does not trust & obey will be condemned.

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Jesus continued, “Some believers will be given the power to do amazing miracles because of their close relationship with me:

  • They will expel evil spirits from people.
  • They will be able speak in languages they have never learned.
  • If they pick up snakes or accidentally drink any poison, they won’t be harmed.
  • They will lay their hands on sick people, who will get well.”

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Jesus, please help us to love doing whatever You ask.

(243) Mark 16:14-18, Acts 1:2b-3

Thomas

 

Thomas, one of the twelve chosen witnesses, was not there when Jesus came (242). When he joined them later the other witnesses told him, “We have seen Jesus!”

Thomas said to them, “Unless I touch the scars on his hands & the wound in his side, I cannot believe that!”

A week later the witnesses were together again behind locked doors; this time Thomas was with them. Again, Jesus appeared suddenly among them & said, “Be filled with peace.”

Jesus turned to Thomas & said, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then put your hand in my side. Stop doubting & believe.” Then Thomas did believe & exclaimed, “My Master & my God!”

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Jesus replied with this promise: “Do you believe because you see me? Many people will believe without seeing me & they will be blessed by God for their faith.”

John the Witness wrote down many accounts of events in the life & ministry of Jesus.  He wanted his readers to believe that Jesus is the Messiah of God.  He wanted you to have new life by believing in Jesus.

At the end of his account of the life & ministry of Jesus, John also testified that Jesus did many other miracles which were not written down.

LORD, thank You for sending Jesus to give us new life.

(242) John 20:24-31

Living Ambassadors

 

After he had eaten the fish, Jesus began to teach his friends (241).  “All these things that have happened are the very things I told you about before I was executed.  Everything inspired by God to be written about me — in the law of Moses, the writings of the prophets & the psalms — had to be fulfilled.”

Jesus went on to open their minds to understand the inspired scriptures, saying, “This is what is written: the Messiah must suffer & must rise from death three days later.”

Then Jesus told them, “As my living ambassadors, you must preach the message of repentance & forgiveness of sins to all nations, beginning here in Jerusalem. You are my chosen witnesses.

“I will send you the power promised by God so you can do this.  Wait here in Jerusalem until God’s power comes upon you.”

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Finally, Jesus said to them again, “Be filled with peace.  As God sent me, so now I am sending you.”

Then Jesus breathed new life into them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Let him fill your heart & take charge of your lives!

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“Tell people everywhere that God will forgive their sins against him!  And warn them of the danger of rejecting God’s forgiveness.”

Jesus, please help us to love being Your living ambassadors.

(241) Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21-23

Alarming Reunion

 

After Jesus had left them, the two friends began speaking excitedly to one another (240). “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in our hearts when he talked with us on the road & explained to us the inspired scriptures?”

They got up at once and hurried back to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven chosen witnesses gathered together with other friends of Jesus.  Before they could say a word, the witnesses told them, “Jesus is risen indeed! Peter & John have seen the empty tomb!”

Then they told the witnesses what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how they had recognized Jesus when he broke the bread.

While the two were telling their story, suddenly Jesus stood among them all!  He said simply, “Be filled with peace.”  But his friends were anything but peaceful, thinking they were seeing a ghost!

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Jesus said to them, “Why are you alarmed? Why are these doubts arising in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet; it’s really me. Feel my body, and you will know.  A ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones like me!”

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He showed them his hands and his feet, but they still couldn’t believe their eyes; they were amazed!

So Jesus asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of cooked fish, which he then took & ate before their eyes.

At last, his friends began to calm down . . .

Jesus, please help us to love being amazed by You.

(240) Mark 16:13, Luke 24:32-43, John 20:19-20