“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. The Fellowship of the Believers.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” The words of Peter from the book of Acts 2:22-47
Wow! I want to be an apostle. I want to break bread with friends in fellowship…and hang out with people who share things in common with me. That sounds like HEAVEN! Wait….I break bread with friends and family in my home and in their’s…we eat together with glad and sincere hearts, and we praise God!
I think God wants me to KNOW something important…so that there can be absolutely no mistaking it! I am getting the double and triple “Wow -wee!!!” (Not to be confused with its Evil Twin Doppelganger the “Whammie”.) God is letting me know in a variety of ways EVERY day that He hears the desires of my heart…and that He is guiding my every situation… and that I have nothing to fear BECAUSE…He is in charge!
Recently I wrote a blog where I admitted that I used to have a problem reconciling my idea of a loving, merciful, forgiving Father God with the One who seemed to let Jesus be born just to die an agonizing death…who would let his own son be a sacrifice. As expressed in my previous post, I finally came to realize that it was not a death sentence carried out by Blood-thirsty Wrathful Judge at all! BECAUSE Jesus was in on it from the first. And I don’t just mean the day Jesus was born…I mean the VERY beginning – as in the “Alpha”of the Alpha and the Omega …as in Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning…”. God did not say, “I will make mankind in my image…” No! In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…”. God has existed always as God the Father; God the Holy Spirit; and God the Son. We are indeed made in God’s image too! We have a creative mind, a spirit/soul, and a body!
We are told by Jesus in John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” Jesus does not specify whether the Holy Spirit will speak what he hears from God or from Jesus…but as my study Bible states, “…it obviously does not matter, for the verse stresses the close relationship between the three.” That gives me comfort that God is going to get to me SOMEHOW!!! He will show me with a rainbow, or show me through a gracious and selfless act by a fellow human, or He will whisper it on my heart. He will get His point across to me if I am only looking, expecting, noticing, listening….basically walking through my day with my eyes, ears, hands and heart open to receive His blessings!
Jesus explains to the Pharisees that EVERYONE that is God’s child will KNOW who to follow …they will know to follow Jesus… because they are guided by the Holy Spirit! Again the three working together for US! Jesus is trying to explain to the hard-hearted Pharisees in John 10: 1-18.
“… The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice ‘ Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (underline is mine…Jesus did ALL that He did for us because it was part of his plan too. We needed tangible, visible modeling of just how to live. We needed a person with feet to show us the way, and a man with a voice to tell us exactly what to do. Our doubting selves had to witness the death and see the resurrection to believe that Life conquers death. On the physical realm our bodies will perish, but we are more than a body…just as Jesus is and was more than a body!)
God not only made us for relationships, He is a member of the first relationship! And He is also a member of the relationship with mankind…”Man” that he made in His image.
In relationships that are strong and that last God is an integral member. The Father is not the Son…the Son is not the Holy Spirit…the Holy Spirit is not the Father…they are three individuals that make up the One God. We… YOU and I are made to be in fellowship with each other and with God. All three of us. We are individuals that when bound together become …a triple braided cord (that) is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
Bette Midler sang a song when I was a teenager that I never did like or believe. It said, that “God is watching us from a distance.” Hogwash.
God is as close as we let Him be! …far away, nearby…or all wrapped up in everything that we do and all that we are. As Ecclesiastes says, if a strand of three is strong, imagine how invincible many stands of three would be! We have the opportunity to make every relationship we have be just so strong. Make a friend, be a friend and include God in all things. The devil would have an IMPOSSIBLE time making any progress dividing and conquering any souls if everyone was tightly bound to each other and to God! “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” What if we all had each other’s backs? All the time we had the knowledge that we had someone else AND God watching out for and over us. How could we ever be afraid? How could we ever be alone or worried?
Romans 8: 14-17 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Proverbs 4:11-12 “I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;when you run, you will not stumble.”
We are being guided …by the Holy Spirit…by the voice of the Good Shepherd…because we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. Wow. In the words of Keith Green…”Listen, Listen. It is finished. He has done it. Life conquered death. Jesus Christ HAS Won it!” It always WAS His…and Theirs…so He WON it, not for God’s sake, but so that we could be reunited in the type of fellowship and relationship that we were created to have! He conquered death for you and me. We are his. He is ours. We are God’s…no loose ends. We are tied up together like a bow on a Christmas package…woven together like an Easter basket. Thanks be to God.