The Old – The New (Part Four)

Are we even close to understanding the power of the New Covenant?  A great change took place.

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John 21:9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

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Immediately following the second draught of fish a few days after Jesus’ resurrection, something very interesting happened on the shore of the sea that we read about, but I believe, too often, simply overlook.  Take a moment and read our Text for Today again, and in addition, think about it in the light of the temptation of Jesus following His 40-days of fasting at the beginning of His earthly ministry.   

After Jesus’ 40-day fast, the Scriptures declare that He was hungry.  I understand that.  On two occasions in my life I have undertaken a 40-day fast, and I know of the hunger at day 40.  Satan’s first temptation was for Jesus to turn stones to bread.  Could Jesus have done so?  I believe He could have.  But why did He not do so?  Yes, Jesus said that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  But in thinking about that, I offer you a question.  Who owned the earth at that moment in time?  I believe the answer is critical in understanding a major part of the reason for Jesus’ response to Satan.  The answer to my question is “Satan.”  When God had made man in the Garden of Eden, He had given all His creation to Adam’s possession and ownership.  But when Adam committed high treason against God, he gave all that possession and ownership over to Satan.  So when Jesus entered into His ministry, He did so in a world that was not His.  And though He was able to turn stones to bread, to do so would have placed some dependency for His life upon Satan, and that was not going to happen.  Had Jesus turned those stones to bread, He would have used Satan’s possession, but Jesus trust was fully in God. 

But at the Sea of Galilee, immediately following the second draught of fish, something truly spectacular happened.  When the disciples came ashore, dragging the net full of great fish, they found fire of coals, fish, and bread.  At this time, the earth no longer was a possession of Satan, for Jesus had fully regained it at His resurrection.  Now the stones were His.  To that end, I offer you a second  question.  From where did Jesus get “coals of fire, fish, and bread?”  Could it be that the Lord was demonstrating His possession, His authority, and His ability for a New Covenant?  I believe that is precisely what He was doing.  You don’t need to go looking for fire.  He IS the Fire!  You don’t need to be concerned with empty nets, especially the spiritual ones.  The fish ARE His!  You don’t need to worry about food or any provision of any kind.  The “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and all that dwell in it.”  It’s a new day; a New Covenant. 

Manna for Today John 21:1-14; Luke 5:1-7; Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17; Matthew 4:4; Psalm 24:1

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The Old – The New (Part Three)

What a joy in knowing the glory of the New Covenant so far exceeds the glory of the Old Covenant.

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John 21:6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

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Today we continue our look at two draughts of fish that were miracles in the earthly ministry of Jesus; one completely under the Old Covenant, and the other after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and therefore, technically, under the New Covenant.  In our look into these two draughts of fish, let us consider today LOSSES

In both draughts of fishes events, the great catch followed a long night of fruitless fishing; nothing had been caught.  In the first draught, Jesus told them to “launch out into the deep,” as though He was sending them into ministry (fishers of men).  He told them to “let down your nets.”  This was a localized draught of fish; at this time Jesus had only been sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  He was still operating solely under the Old Covenant, a covenant far less glorious and powerful than that which was to come.  The net for holding the catch was not sufficient to hold all that was caught.  While we do not know what was lost numerically from the first draught of fish through broken nets, we do know that under the Old Covenant, 10 of the 12 tribes slipped away from what God had intended to be the nation of Israel.  I realize that a future time for their redemption will come, but many were the losses in all those years since their slipping away and the time of the New Covenant. 

But in the second draught of fish, Jesus told His disciples to “cast out their net.”  This time the term “net” was singular, just as the New Covenant is singular in Jesus, He being “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  And when the disciples had obeyed His command, already having been launched into the deep, their nets did not break, and catch was so great that it could not all be brought aboard their ship, but rather they had to drag the net ashore as they came.  This is symbolic of the New Covenant.  There may be losses from the church, the body of Christ, but never because the New Covenant could not sustain the pressure.  If one is lost from the New Covenant net, it is solely because that person CHOSE to step out of covenant on their own.  Thank God the life we receive upon entering into the New Covenant is ETERNAL life.  The life God gives us does not break.  One may break FROM that life, but the life itself will NEVER break.  It is LIFE EVERLASTING, praise the Lord! 

Manna for Today John 21:1-14; Luke 5:1-7; Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17

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The Old – The New (Part Two)

With God, things never go backward, never get worse; only forward and better.

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John 21:6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

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Today we continue looking at the covenant shift between the Old and New Covenants that is beautifully revealed in comparing our Text for Today and the Luke 5 passage dealing with the first draught of fish.  In both instances, we find that Peter, along with a group of disciples had fished all night and caught nothing.  Let us look more deeply today and consider the issue of NETS. 

In the Luke 5 passage, the fishermen were ashore washing their nets after the nights failed fishing.  After Jesus had used one of Peter’s boats as a teaching platform, He instructed Peter to “launch out into the deep.”  You see, at this time, neither Peter nor any of his partners had been engaged in ministry at all.  They had not gone into the “sea of humanity to become fishers of men.”  Note closely in the Luke 5 passage that Jesus, upon instructing Peter to “launch out into the deep,” also said “let down your NETS.”  What is so significant about this command is the fact that Peter only let down ONE NET.  Is it possible that Peter’s failure to be fully compliant here caused the problem of “broken net” and fish getting away?  When you consider that in the Old Covenant, there were more than 600 laws to be obeyed, and how easy it would be to fail in one of them, thus causing broader failure, it certainly seems so.  Note, too, that Peter was commanded to “let down” his nets, not cast them out as in the John passage.  At the time of the first draught of fish, Jesus had not been sent unto the world, but only unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel; thus, a very limited scope of what the net of the Old Covenant could encompass.   

But in the John passage, things were different.  The boat in question was already about 100 yards from shore; this AFTER the resurrection of Jesus.  Peter and his companions had already been engaged in the work of being “fishers of men.”  Note, too, that on this occasion, Jesus commanded them to “cast the net.”  To “cast” goes far beyond “let down.”  No longer was the message to the house of Judah alone, but is now to “all the world” and “every creature.”  And look once again at the “broken net” of the first draught, but a net that held under that load of the second draught.  What a beautiful example of the power of the New Covenant that surpasses the power of the Old Covenant.  Where the Old Covenant could not hold safely and for eternity those who entered into it, those who will come into the open net of the New Covenant can rest assured of being held safely, eternally, and with full blessing. 

Manna for Today John 21:1-14; Luke 5:1-7; Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17

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The Old – The New (Part One)

With God, the second time may be similar, but check the differences.  The second is always better.

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John 21:6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

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In our Text for Today, we see the second occurrence of a draught of fish that came forth at obedience to the command of the Lord.  It will benefit one greatly to compare the two incidents, and closely note, not only the similarities, but especially the differences, and that in light of a change in operational covenants.  Let’s take a closer look. 

In Luke 5, the first draught of fish came under the Old Covenant. In that Covenant, men lived under the law of Moses, and Satan was the legal owner of the earth and its inhabitants, all that having been placed into his hands at the fall of Adam in the garden of Eden.  But the draught of fish in John 21 comes at a different Covenant place.  Jesus had defeated Satan, having been raised from the dead.  He had already cleansed heaven with His Own blood, and was now in an interim time between covenants.  The law of Moses no longer held sway in heaven, but at this precise moment, neither had the church been birthed to take its rightful place in the earth.  However, JESUS HAD ALREADY DEFEATED SATAN, BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD, AND WAS IN POSSESSION OF THE FULL POWER AND AUTHORITY OF GOD IN BOTH HEAVEN AND EARTH.  And that, dear reader, is what set the stage for all the differences of value, volume, and vitality of the circumstances surrounding the two draughts of fish.  Let’s examine these issues. 

FISHING – In both incidents, Peter and a number of disciples had fished all night, and in both cases, they had taken nothing.  In the first incident, Jesus borrowed one of Peter’s boats to launch out a short distance from the shore to teach, and in the second, the boat from which they were fishing had not yet come to shore.  The issue of “fishing” must not be lost here.  Remember that Jesus had told His disciples to follow Him and He would make them “fishers of men.”  In both incidents of draughts of fish, the imagery is pointing to that very calling.  Under the Old Covenant, the range of fishing was limited to the people of Israel.  While outsiders could choose circumcision and come into the faith of Israel thereby, only those born into the house of Israel, and in the days of Jesus, into the nation of Judah, could be considered part of the covenant.  But even with that restriction, it seemed that the Old Covenant was insufficient to hold them, as many of them often followed after strange gods.  Consider this is the light of the first draught of fish in which the net broke, being insufficient to hold all that was caught.  But at the second draught, the net was strong and held all the catch, this being a preview of the New Covenant. 

Manna for Today John 21:1-14; Luke 5:1-7; Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17

Prepare for Meat

Is there something the believer/church can do that will bring meat to the table?

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John 21:5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.

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As I travel about out globe (in six different countries outside the USA in 2018), I witness a great need for “meat” to be served in our lives and houses of worship.  Is there something that we, as believers, and we, as the church, can do that will bring meat to the Lord’s table to feed His people?  I am convinced there is.  Allow me to share my thoughts on what is necessary to bring meat to the table in God’s church. 

Let’s begin with the words of Malachi.  “Bring the tithes to the Lord so there may be MEAT in My house.”  I don’t know how much more plainly it could be stated.  For there to be “meat” in the church, thieves must repent, turn, and “bring their tithes into the storehouse.”  A believer who does not tithe is a thief.  That’s Jehovah’s judgment, and I will not be fool and disagree with Him.  My friend, the servant of the Lord can be bringing the finest of spiritual meals to the church banquet, but the thieves in the congregation will never taste the meat.  While mankind has developed devices that can make adult food compatible for small children, he has never been able to create a device that will turn “milk” to “meat.”  Think on that. 

Then I offer you one more necessary element that will bring meat to the people of God.  The Word clearly states, that “strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, who have exercised their senses to discern between both good and evil.”  In short, if you want meat, GROW UP.  That means starting with milk that you may grow thereby, but one MUST come to the place where he/she begins to act like a mature, adult believer, and the demonstration of the development comes when they give clear evidence that their senses (the five senses that comprise in input gates of the flesh, and even to some degree, the soul), have been so groomed by the Word of God that they discern between both good and evil.  And that, dear believer, is no small feat.   

And all this rises from the wisdom of God; not wisdom as the world understands it, but the wisdom of God that is clearly defined by being seen in the person who “hears His (My) sayings, and does them.” In the eyes of God, that is a wise man/woman.  How about it, dear reader; where do you line up on these three Biblical premises/directives?  Are you a tither?  Do you truly live as a spiritually mature believer?  And are you, in the eyes of the Lord, a true son of His Wisdom?  If so, get ready.  Meat cometh. 

Manna for Today John 21:1-14; Malachi 3:6-12; Hebrews 5:12-14; 2 Kings 4:1-7; Matthew 6:25-34

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Have Ye Any Meat?

SECOND MILER with text 2017Is there meat in the house of the Lord today?  Is it time for inspection?

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John 21:5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.

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When we speak of meat as it is presented in our Text for Today, it is talking about more than having natural meat on your table at meal time.  Yes, in the context of our Text for Today, Jesus was greeting seven of His disciples in the early morning after they had fished all night and taken nothing.  The question Jesus asked, in the broader sense, was inquiring as to whether they had any success in fishing.  And of course, we know the answer.  It was, “No.”  And by reading the contextual setting, we see that Jesus already had a fire built, and had bread and fish for them when they came ashore.  In that imagery alone, a dynamic truth is revealed.  Though you may not be able to put meat (natural and/or spiritual) on the table, by looking to the Lord, you can be assured of being well supplied, spirit, soul, and body. 

An oft quoted Scripture is Matthew 6:33.  The “these things” mentioned in that verse is “food, clothes, and shelter.”  God has promised us that if we would put Him first, seek Him first, we would never lack food, clothes, or shelter.  That is a promise to the individual covenant believer, and it is likewise a promise to the body of Christ, not only at the collective level, but I believe also at the local church level.  And at the church level, both collective and local, the “food” issue is a matter of spiritual food that is provided to the body of Christ.  Then when we look at the tithing issue as addressed in Malachi 3, we see clearly that it is surely the will of Father that there be “meat” in His house. 

At this point we come to the question of the day, “Children, have ye any meat?”  And I offer this question, not concerning the natural food you have on your table in your home, but to the issue of having meat to serve in the church, locally and at-large.  At this time in my ministry, my bride and I travel internationally, and in the period of a year have the privilege of being in many churches.  Please pay close attention to the fact that I am NOT referring to the message brought from the pulpit, though that can be an issue.  I am referring, rather, to what I see in the body of Christ.  Like the Apostle Paul, I see many people who need “milk” when they should be desirous of “meat;” meat that belongs to those “who are of full age.”  This is for your personal consideration – what is your spiritual age factor? 

Manna for Today John 21:1-14; Malachi 3:6-12; Hebrews 5:12-14; 2 Kings 4:1-7; Matthew 6:25-34

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After the Dark

It’s amazing how differently things appear after the darkness is gone.

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John 21:4 – But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

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Read our Text for Today again.  Now note its placement after the resurrection.  At the time of this happening, Jesus had, of course, already been resurrected.  He had appeared to Mary Magdalene, to His disciples (minus Thomas), to two disciples on the road to Emmaeus, eight days after the resurrection, to His disciples again (this time with Thomas present), and likely to many others.  After all that, Peter and six other disciples decide to go fishing, which to me seems strangely odd after so many encounters with the resurrected Lord.  Then after fishing all night and taking nothing, the disciples see a man standing on the shore, yet, once again, after all the post-resurrection encounters, did not recognize Him.  It is to that point I desire to speak today.

Each of us has, at some time in our life, encountered events and situation that were devastating to our emotions, dreams, and hopes.  Despite the times of encouragement that can come after such spiritual and emotional trauma, the effects seem to last on and on.  That is what seems to have happened here.  Yes, Jesus had been crucified, died, and buried.  But NOW He was alive, in a glorified body that had been manifest to the disciples on numerous occasions by the time this event occurred, and seen by per-haps hundreds of people.  Yet with all that proof, for whatever the reason, they had not fully embraced the truth of His victorious resurrection and the truth that His promises and prophecies about Him would indeed be fulfilled completely.  And herein is the point of today’s Second Miler.   Regardless of the truth we have heard, the witnesses we have received, and the proofs set before us, unless we keep our focus on faith in Him, the darkness of the world will affect our perceptions.

What have you faced?  What devastation, destruction, or deception has come your way?  How long have you found yourself laboring in darkness at what you naturally do, and in doing so, lost sight, and perhaps even the ability to recognize your restoration, restoration, and revelation when it stands so near to you?  You know the story surrounding our Text for Today, and it didn’t take long for the disciples to come to the realization that the man they didn’t recognize was, in fact, their Lord.  Here is the really great news.  Though Jesus had faithfully revealed Himself to His disciples, and despite that they failed to recognize Him on this occasion, He still loved them.  Out of His love for them came the miracle of the second draught of fish, the miracles of fish and bread awaiting them on the shore, and His work of relieving guilt in Peter for his three denials.  Jesus hasn’t changed.  Where are you today.  Are you with Him in the light, or are you perhaps finding it a bit difficult to recognize in the encroaching darkness that presses upon you?  Know this; HE IS THERE FOR YOU!

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Manna for Today – John 21:1-14; Psalm 119:105; Psalm 119:130; 1 John 1:7-9; John 9:5; Matthew 5:14

 

Gone Fishing

Aspiration without inspiration leads to frustration and desperation.

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John 21:3 – Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

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When what we aspire to do, especially when our aspirations are great, seems to be failing, the great tendency of man is to return to the familiar.  That is precisely what Peter did after the crucifixion of Jesus.  And interestingly, his decision to go fishing was even after Jesus’ resurrection; after Peter had seen Him alive.  Perhaps like so many of us, when our aspirations seem to be failing, or possibly just coming along too slowly, not happening as quickly as we thought they should, or in the manner we thought they should, Peter chose fishing over waiting on the Lord.

But let us not isolate Peter as the only one with failed aspirations.  He had a lot of company when he went fishing.  And think about who they were; Nathaniel, Thomas (who had put his fingers in the holes in Jesus’ body), James and John, and two other disciples (not named).  That is a total of seven disciples who went fishing.  Peter, James, and John were all professional fishermen; partners, in fact, in the fishing industry on the Sea of Galilee.  Though their success on two occasions would not indicate it, in truth, they were experts in their field, knowledgeable of their industry, and comfortable with those surroundings.  And it all points to what I shared earlier.  When that great aspiration does not seem to be bringing about desired results, it is so easy for one to fall back on the familiar elements of life, especially those with which one is comfortable.

Now think of this.  When healing seems to be slow in coming, when the salvation of a loved one seems to be slow in happening, when the needed financial blessing seems to be overly delayed in its arrival, how easy is it for the Christian to fall back on natural means.  Taking a pain reliever is no indication that one has stopped believing in divine healing.  Attempting to apply gentle force to move a loved one to come to Jesus does not mean one does not believe that the Word of God works.  Going to a banker does not mean one has stopped believing in God’s ability to provide.  All these simply mean that the Christian is not content with what appears to be happening; that the believer is under greater influence from circum-stances than they would like to admit.  It is, in fact, a symptom of double-mindedness, and it DOES ultimately work against our faith.

But rejoice, my friend, for even when you’ve gone fishing, and like Peter and his friends, gained nothing, Jesus knows precisely where you are.  He knows how to find you, show you what you need to change or correct, and walk you through the process to put you back on track to your aspirations/dreams.  So, if you’re fishing today, keep your eyes on the shoreline.  Someone who loves you supremely may be walking there for you right now. 

Manna for Today – John 21:1-14; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17

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Whose Church Is It?

Does any believer have the right to verbally take sole ownership of the church?

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John 20:27 – Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

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I have heard it so often in my life, and especially in my almost five decades of ministry.  Wherever I travel; locally, in our nation, or internationally, I have heard it.  In every culture and within every ethnicity where I have ministered, I have heard it.  I have heard it in churches, ministers’ meetings, prayer meetings, on social occasions, or just over coffee.  So, what is it I have heard?  I have heard people, especially pastors, calling the church they serve “my church.”  I understand how personal a pastoral ministry is.  I served as the pastor of one church for 28 years.  You can rest assured, it was very personal.  I knew and loved the people, watched the people grow and grew with them.  I dedicated the babies, married couples, ordained leaders, led boards and leadership teams, cast vision, cried with them, laughed with them, labored with them, fought battles with them, and buried them.  It was personal.   To the degree that the church I served was the focal point of my ministry, and that only the Lord and my family had priority over that church, I understand the sense of taking ownership of that local church.  But somehow, in nearly three decades, in all I face, in all I did, in the laughing, in the crying, in the good times and in the struggles, I could never really bring myself to call it “my church.”  That thought often came to my mind, but every time it did, I would take a moment and look at my hands, and for the life of me, I could never see any holes there.

Once again, I understand the responsibility that befalls the pastor.  As the pastor of the church, the pulpit was mine.  While I served as pastor, I was in control of who stood in that pulpit to minister.  The church board was mind.  It did not represent the body of believers to me, as in a democracy.  Rather, it represented me to the body as we served together in leadership.  They were invaluable in their loving service to the church.  BUT!  BUT!  BUT!  The church was NOT mine!  The church belonged, and still does, to the Lord!  I can tell you truthfully that in my 28-year pastorate, I did not call the church, “my church,” for it was not.  Speaking as a member of that congregation, I would often refer to the church as “our church,” as it was the body of our belonging.  But as pastor, it was NOT “my church.”

Note that I do not take offence when I hear others call the church they pastor, “my church.”  This is a point of choice to which I have given myself.  I simply choose to hold dear the ownership of the church as belonging to ONE, and His Name is Jesus.  He is the One with holes in His hands and feet (holes that are still there in His glorified body).  It is His church, and I am deeply honored to have been trusted by Him to stand in leading service in His work.  To God be the glory!  Just a thought on my part. 

Manna for Today – John 20:19-31; Ephesians 5:23

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Don’t Despise the Latecomers

Eternity is a long time.  Better late than never, but never let it be too late.

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John 20:26 – And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

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The day of Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His disciples in a room where they had concealed them-selves.  We don’t know how many were there.  Jesus had many more than just twelve disciples; we know He had an additional seventy under specific assignment.  But we DO know of a conspicuous absentee; Thomas.  He was one of the twelve.  So, imagine with me what may have been transpiring in Thomas’ heart.  For eight days, he had been hearing all this talk about Jesus being alive from those who said they had seen Him.  But like so many people today, talk alone is not enough.  Emotion alone is not enough, and I’m sure those who head seen the resurrected Lord were excited.  But Thomas wanted to see for himself.  And my friend, that is not always a bad thing.

So, eight days after the resurrection, as a group of Jesus’ disciples were once again gathered in seclusion, Jesus appeared to them for the second time.  As before, His first words commanded peace in the room.  Allow me a bit of a side-bar here.  My friend, you can be assured that if Jesus comes to you, His words will ALWAYS command peace in the room, even if He has come to make corrections.  Settle your heart on that NOW!

But on this occasion of His appearing, it seem Jesus’ presence was directed at Thomas, who for eight days, had wanted to SEE Jesus, not just hear of the resurrection.  Still, Jesus begins by bringing peace to the occasion.  Then He spoke directly to Thomas.  He called upon Thomas to examine His body, and not be faithless.  Look at it again.  He brought peace first, and then reproof, rebuke, and exhortation.

Of course, from Thomas there was immediate repentance and belief.  But what must we take from this occasion?  Once again, peace always arrives first.  Secondly, we must never be offended if your words are not believed.  As Jesus said, those who hear and believe are blessed indeed, but the truth of our testimony will surely stand under the rigors of any investigation.  You see, Father ALWAYS confirms His Word with signs following.  Never be reluctant to speak the truth of God’s Word.  Have peace about yourself in every situation.  When people hear and believe, confirmation will come TO them.  When people choose not to believe, the Lord knows how to care for His own, and in some way, confirmation will come FOR those who dare to speak the truth.  Regardless of whether one believes your words, or the confirmation of those words, don’t despise the latecomer.  As it has been said, “better late than never.”  Eternity is a long time. 

Manna for Today – John 20:19-31; John 12:12-14; Mark 16:15-20

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