Matthew 28

Vs. 10, “Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”  Yesterday, I shared a message on the women visiting the tomb.  The first part of Matthew, we are reminded of the Resurrection (vs. 1-10).  Jesus’ birth on earth was a miracle and now His resurrection closes His tenure as fully man.  Jesus not only appears to the women, but over a forty day period He would make numerous visits.  While there were many testifying of Jesus’ resurrection, there were others (Chief priests & elders) conspiring to ensure that the truth stays hidden (vs. 11-15).  The whole premise of the story is not very believable given the fact that there were guards hired to guard the tomb.  The guards knew what truly happened with their fear and the earthquake (vs. 2-4).  Matthew then closes his gospel with the Great Commission (vs. 16-20).  Question: Why did the eleven doubt (vs. 17)?  There are differing views on this, but some scholars point out that the doubt here was in the context of the eleven being unsure of the future.

Regarding application…Make Disciples.  Vs. 19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Question: What is our purpose in life?  Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?  Jesus gives us a mandate and purpose to our lives.  The Gospel isn’t just for the Jews, but it is to be spread to all nations.  Question: What does that look like for us?  Does that mean that we all must be international missionaries?  The application to this is quite varied.  Not all of us are going to be missionaries, but all of us can support making disciples; financial support, material support, prayer support, etc.  Someone shared the gospel with you at some point in your life.  They were making disciples.  And now we must help in support not just a church emphasis, but the very exhortation of Jesus!

II Peter 1

Vs. 13, “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.”  Peter knew that the recipients of his letter needed an encouraging reminder of their faith.  Rather than jump straight to addressing the false teaching issue, Peter takes sometime to acknowledge the faith that got them there in the first place (vs. 3-11).  The Lord gives us every tool we need from His workshop to accomplish whatever He desires us to build.  As we grow in our faith, we grow in increasing measure this wonderful list of characteristics of a believer (vs. 5-7).  Peter knew that his time on earth was about to end (vs. 12-15), so that is why see this sense of urgency.  Unlike the false teachers who were growing in abundance, Peter was an eyewitness of Christ (vs. 16-18).  Through the Holy Spirit, God chose select people to administer this message of hope (vs. 19-21)

Regarding application…Assurance of Salvation.  Vs. 10, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.”  Earlier, Peter reminded us in his first letter of the blessed hope that our inheritance will never spoil or fade (I Peter 1:3-5).  As we grow in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, our own assurance of salvation will grow.  Our salvation was sealed when we put our trust in the Lord.  However, our emotions at times can betray us and that is why the more we know the Lord and grow, the more our confidence will soar.  My early years of faith certainly had moments of doubt.  However, the common denominator of those doubts were because I was not growing.  We are going to doubt and lack faith at times, but know that the salvation is achieved not by our own doing, but because of Jesus on the cross!

Genesis 15

Vs. 5, “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  After quite an eventful series with Abram, he takes the time to begin to ponder this promise that God had made to him earlier.  Question: How was Abram and Sarai going to have children this so far advanced in their ages?  I think it was only natural for Abram to consider his future offspring in light of the recent rescuing of Lot and the danger to his life.  The Lord appears to Abram again (Theophany) and gives him the reminder of His covenant to make him into a great nation.  Abram’s descendants would be as numerous as the dust and the stars!  In the remaining part of our chapter (vs. 7-21), we see salvation’s promise come through sacrifice.  The darkness (vs. 12) was not evil, but spoke of a Godly fear regarding the holiness of God.  We also see the omniscience and power of God as He prophecies of the 400 years of slavery in Egypt (vs. 13).  And lastly, God would grant Abram’s question for a sign through the sacrifices and the smoking firepot (vs. 17).

Regarding application…Do You Believe?  Vs. 6, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”  Abram is one of the ultimate examples of someone who believed and responded.  Remember, it is not works or anything Abram did, it was his faith and belief.  We know there are things that are good for us.  Fruits and vegetables, plenty of sleep, exercise are all good things.  In the spiritual life, reading God’s word, prayer, serving are also all good things.  Just because we know them doesn’t always translate to believing.  If we believe it, we will act upon it.  I’ve known people who after a major health problem that arose due to their habits, finally stopped their smoking or food eating styles.  It wasn’t until a crisis that forced them to believe.  If we know the truth, believe it.  Live it.  Let go of your doubts and fears.

John 20

Vs. 1, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”  It is early Sunday morning and some women with Mary Magdalene (healed of seven evil spirits) come to the tomb.  Question: What were they doing that morning?  The women came to honor Jesus by finishing anointing the body more completely.  It must have been quite alarming and disturbing to find the stone rolled away to the entrance of the tomb.  She and the women run and tell Peter and John (vs. 2).  We then see Jesus appear at different times to encourage the disciples who were living in fear of the wrath of the Jews.  First, we see Jesus appear to Mary Magdalene (vs. 10-18) to encourage her in her grief and to instruct her to tell the others!  Second, Jesus appears to the disciples (vs. 19-23) and breathes the Holy Spirit on them (vs. 22).  And lastly, we see the love and patience of Jesus with doubting Thomas (vs. 24-31).

Regarding application…Dealing with Doubt.  Vs. 25, “So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”  Notice how Thomas had missed the first meeting when Jesus appeared to the others (vs. 24).  It is not a sin to question our faith.  God gave us minds to be able to have the reason and ability to think about why we believe in Him.  It’s important to be mindful of Jesus’ loving response to Thomas.  Jesus knows we will have times of doubt, but I love how we are reminded we are very blessed for believing all the more (vs. 29).  Question: Are you dealing with doubt?  Don’t despair, some of us just need more time to connect the dots of this life.  I had a student year’s ago ask many numerous questions for two years about Christianity.  He grew up in the church and was quite knowledgeable about the Bible.  One night, he called me with a slew of questions and I was surprised when he asked me to pray with him.  That night over the phone, he accepted the Lord Jesus!