2

After Peter opens his second letter with an apostolic greeting and blessing he drops this bit of wonderful:

For by these [His own glory and excellence] He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. - 2 Peter 1:4 NASB

Peter sets forth the consequences of two kinds of promises.

The promises given by Father and Jesus our Lord, and the promises made by our flesh.

The promises of God are precious.

They are magnificent.

When we embrace and believe them they lead to an impartation of God’s own nature taking root in our lives.

The other promises mentioned are the lusts of flesh which are underwritten by the lies of this world and it’s god.

Unfortunately, we are inundated by these lies everyday from every side. If you live in the “civilized” world, these liars surround us pressing on us to embrace their promises, to live life to the fullest, to have it all, to follow your heart, achieve your dream, grab the gusto.

These promises the flesh offers, of a brief but real splash of satisfaction, lead to corruption, decay, destruction. They lead to one end. Jesus referred to it in as “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt 25:41)

The contrast couldn’t be more stark.

The promises of God conform us to the image of Christ. They take what is true in our spirit and work it out in our whole life. When you received Jesus, when you surrendered your life to Him, according to the promises of God, you became a son of God. (John 1:12, Romans 8:14)

A rabbit trail about being a son…I know it would be more PC for me to say child of God, but in the days the New Testament was written, a daughter would usually not receive an inheritance. She might take a dowry into a marriage, but her future inheritance would come through her husband. So when Paul writes to Rome and tells us we have become sons of God, it was because sons can be heirs. He knew he was writing to men and women as clearly demonstrated by his greetings at the end of the book where he mentions at least three women by name. But he called them sons, so they would understand that men and women in Christ receive the same inheritance!…end of rabbit trail.

The inheritance we receive in Him is not shared, its joint. We don’t get a portion of what the Father gave Jesus, we are joint heirs. This means that everything that the Father gave Jesus is ours by right of inheritance.

So what did the Father give Jesus? (I know you know this, but just because it is so precious and magnificent, I’m going to make it plain.) EVERYTHING!

All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He [the Holy Spirit] takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. - John 16:15 NASB

Here’s how this works.

You meditate on the precious and magnificent promises and you see what God has already done in your. Your spirit rises up and witnesses to your heart that theses things are true. Your life begins to reflect the truth in your daily walk. You look more like Jesus today because you embraced one of Father’s precious and magnificent promises.

And with each step into your true nature, that inheritance you share with Jesus, you look more like Him. Your life looks like His life. If John’s disciples sent a messenger to you, you could tell them:

the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. - Matthew 11:5 NASB

Now that looks like Jesus!

Hey - thanks for stopping by.

BenHeadshotHave a great day.

See you again soon,

Ben

3

But Peter said,"I do not possess silver and gold,
but what I do have I give to you: In the name of
Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"
Acts 3:6

Look At Us

A Supplicant

From before I can remember, my papa and I would go down to the temple at the hour of prayer. He wouldn’t close his shop for the day. He put a note on the door and left everything just as it was. Then he stopped at home to get me. Mama and the girls would stay at home getting dinner ready.

“Men are made for prayer,” my papa would tell me, when I asked him why my sister didn’t have to come.

Before the praying started, the rabbi would say a few words, to guide our petitions. Mostly I didn’t know what he was saying, and didn’t much care. But I still remember one talk.

The rabbi read from the scrolls containing the Psalms. The Psalms were always my favorite readings. That day he read from one of Solomon’s psalms.

He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save. Psalm 72:13

Then he told us that any man who gave to the poor was doing the Almighty’s work. He continued by telling us that when we put alms in the hand of the poor, it is as if we are putting our money directly into the hand of the Lord Himself.

He reminded us of the proverb:

One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed. - Proverbs 19:17

The next day when papa came to get me, I remember asking him for a penny.

“My little Gideon, what will you do with a penny today?”

“Papa, I want to give it to the lame man who sits near the temple gates. He’s there every day, and Rabbi Yosef says if we give to the poor we lend to the Lord.”

“Well then, that’s just fine, Gidi, we’ll both give the Lord a loan today.”

He went back into his room where his coin purse hung on a hook on the wall.

“Here you go Gidi my boy, you can carry them both, one for you and one for me.”

I can still remember how cool the copper felt in my tiny hand. From that day on we never went to the temple without two coppers for the lame man there. Papa told me he had been there as long as he had lived in the city.

I’m twenty now, and my papa and I still close up shop for the hour of prayer every day. I’m married and have a boy of my own, but I still work in my father's shop. It won’t be long before my little Josiah starts working with us too. We still grab a few coins to give the beggar as we head out of the shop.

One day, as we neared the temple there were some men standing over our beggar. We thought of him as our beggar, since we had given him money for more than fifteen years. We rarely stopped as we walked by. We just tossed our coins into the hat that sat before him.

I’m not sure I had ever seen his eyes. His eyes are always on the dust of the path. It may have been shame that kept his eyes from meeting ours, or perhaps he simply found people more generous without the tacit confrontation of his gaze. In any case, we never stopped there, but dropped our coins and kept moving.

These two men were standing right there and talking with him. As we approached I heard the beggar repeat the words I had heard a thousand times.

“Do you have a coin for this cripple.”

The words were so familiar to me. They were a part of me, like our meal time prayers, or my sisters giggles. I think it was those words that kept the memory of Rabbi Yosef’s message about giving to the poor so fresh in my mind.

One of the men gave a sort of shrug as if to say, we have no coin to share, but then the other reached out his hand, not as though he was going to give something, but as if he was going to pull him up out of his cot.

At this point our lame friend didn’t see what was going on, because he was still looking down.

As this stranger reached his hand out, I heard him say:

“Look at us!”

The crippled man raised his head, tentatively at first, but once he got a look at this man’s eyes, he began to look—I don’t know how to say it—with his whole face. The eyes I’d never seen, and the face I knew only by profile, now looked directly at this man—he sounded like a Galilean—with his outstretched hand.

"I do not possess silver and gold,”

At this the lame mans gaze wavered with an edge of disappointment.

“but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"

His hand hung there for what seemed like minutes, until finally the lame man grabbed it and they both pulled, the Galilean pulled up and the lame man held on with both hands. Then he was on his feet.

As I stood staring it started to dawn on me how impossible this was. I may have never seen this man’s eyes, but his feet and legs sat out there in the dust and grime of the temple courts every day. They were shriveled and useless. The man had to be forty years old, and he had never used those legs for anything.

And now he was standing just a few steps away from me.

He bent over at the waist and reached down with his hands and felt his legs. I could see that they were no longer the tiny twigs that lay beside him yesterday. These were legs, with flesh and muscle.

He took a cautious step or two—feeling for his balance—testing his new legs, getting a feel for this unfamiliar sensation. Then he was walking, then leaping, then walking and running and leaping, all the while shouting praises to the Almighty, and praises to Jesus that Nazarene who was crucified just a couple months back over on skull hill.

The crowd was growing now, and the beggar—everyone knew him—was leaping and shouting praises—and shaking everyone’s hands.

The one who had lifted the lame man off his bed called for silence, and a hush came over the crowd. We all wanted to hear what this man had to say.

I later learned this was Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples. He began to preach to us about how God the Father had sent Jesus, His servant, and how we had crucified the Lord’s holy and righteous Son. This fisherman began to open our eyes to the words of the prophets and of Moses himself, and show us how in our ignorance we had killed the very Son of God.

As he preached the temple priests saw the ruckus and called the temple guards, who arrested Peter and his companion John, but not before Peter led thousands of us to faith in Jesus.

That was the day the Lord fulfilled His promise to me. For years I had lent Him my pennies, and today, He paid me my interest. He gave me an inheritance far beyond the value of copper, silver or gold. He gave me new life.

~~~

To read the original story, see Acts 3:1-4:4.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2015 - all rights reserved.

Encounters With JesusIf you enjoyed this brand new Encounter With the Holy Spirit, you might like my book, Encounters with Jesus. It is a collection of forty stories told in similar fashion, from the conception of Jesus through His resurrection. It's available now in paperback or kindle versions.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by

See you again soon.

Ben

2

640px-Miracle_Fishes
"Miracle Fishes" by Alexander Bida - WCG. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 

It’s been a couple weeks since we found the empty tomb and things are just not getting back to ‘normal.’ After that first night, when Jesus just appeared in our midst, James and John started talking about heading back to Jerusalem. They wanted to put Jesus on a warhorse instead of a donkey this time, and march into the city. What could stop Jesus from taking His rightful place in the temple, or in the palace for that matter?

But then a few days passed. Thomas returned and we couldn’t even convince him that Jesus had risen from the dead. We hadn’t seen Jesus in days. We got together every day in the same room where He appeared to us that first night. At first we had met there to avoid capture by the Jewish leadership. After watching the way they got rid of Jesus, we were afraid for our lives.

Since that first appearance we met there everyday, always expecting that Jesus would show up again. I wasn’t sure everyone would be back after the Sabbath, but we all know what we saw. We hoped He would join us again.

Finally, after eight long days Jesus appeared again, and this time Thomas was with us. Jesus offered his hands and His side to Thomas. But again, no word about what was next.

Of course Jesus never gave us much warning about what was next. It always seemed like He knew just what to do and when. But we never had the week’s itinerary before hand. We’d get up in the morning and Jesus would say we have to go to Samaria, or let’s head over to Cana, or sometime it was “head across the lake, I will catch up with you in Capernaum.”

In the last three years, I can’t remember any stretch of eight days when we weren’t off doing something.

But now, silence.

Yesterday morning I was pretty frustrated as we sat and waited. It was past midday and I had to do something. I said, "I’m going fishing” and about half of the guys followed me out the door. We left the rest of them there waiting, but I could not stand another day of doing nothing.

Fishing has always been what I do when I don’t know what to do. It’s been like home to me since I was a boy. I used to go out with James and John on their father’s boat. There is so much there that’s familiar. It lets my mind work out problems. It’s where I screwed up enough courage to ask for my wife’s hand in marriage. It’s where I learned to pray. It’s where I met Him, on the shores of the lake.

The others who came along, did so not because they loved the idea. It was more likely they, like me, just didn’t know what else to do.

It was a long night, and it was not helping. Usually out here in the calm of the night, under the patchwork of stars and clouds, my mind and heart opened up. But this night it was shut up tight. Something was weighing on me. I’m not even sure what it was, but there was a pressure building on my inside.

Besides all that – not one fish – every net – every cast – empty. Even Andrew, who loves to drop a line off the back of the boat while we work the nets, was coming up with nothing.

It reminded me of the first time I met Him. We had been out all night – just like tonight, and like tonight caught nothing. As we sat cleaning our nets, He just walked up with a huge crowd of folks pressing in on Him. He walked right up to me and asked if I would take Him just off shore so everyone could hear and see him.

Well, the crowd spread out on the hillside, and we put out a couple dozen cubits. Then He taught them. At first I kept busy with the cleaning of our nets, so they would be ready for the next day, but as He spoke, His words drew me. They had a force, a pull, that I couldn’t resist. I noticed James and John sat on the shore, nets in their laps, listening too.

I have no idea how long He spoke, but after a bit He turned to me and said:

“Let’s go get some fish. Take us out a ways, will you?”

I remember thinking, “This young zealot may know everything about God, but He doesn’t know much about fishing. If there were going to be fish, they would have been there last night. Now it’s the heat of the day, and we won’t be seeing any fish till evening.”

Still, I was so impressed with His speaking, it would be a chance to spend another hour with Him, even if nothing came of it.

So I cast off and headed out. I can remember John making some mocking remark as we headed back out to fish, and Jesus and I just laughed. There was such joy in Him. He could be so serious at times, but the joy was always there, like bedrock at the core of His being.

Then I let out my net, and this part I remember like it was yesterday. First I heard a patter against the side of the boat. When I looked over the gunwale, it was as if the water was alive, more fish than water. And as we started to draw the net back, I thought our little boat was going to capsize. Then the nets started to tear.

I signaled back to James and John who were just loading their nets back into their Father’s boat, and they headed out to help us. I think we got more fish in that one afternoon outing, than we had taken in the last month. That was the moment I fully grasped that He was indeed Messiah. That was also the day He told us He was going to teach us to catch men.

As I thought back, some of that tension I was feeling lifted, but then I saw that the horizon was beginning to brighten. It was morning. We were out doing what we did best, and had nothing at all to show for it. My funk, which had lifted slightly, slammed down with such force I thought I felt the boat shake.

It was then that I heard Him. From the shore I heard Him calling, at least I thought it was Jesus. I couldn’t tell for sure, but there He stood on the shore, beside a roaring fire, signaling for us to come in. I looked at Andrew, Thomas looked at John, and all at once we said “It’s Him! Is it you?” we all called.

“Drop your nets on the other side.” He called from the shore. As we did, there it was again. That patter on the side of the boat. The fish were jumping into our nets before we even got them into the water. It was like the only reason they were alive was to find their way into our nets.

As soon as I saw what was happening I hit the waves. As I swam toward shore, I can remember thinking “I should have asked Him to let me walk again.” I got a mouth full of water as I laughed at that.

When I got to shore, I figured it out. As soon we embraced, I realized what was dragging me down, what kept haunting my days and leaving my bed empty at night.

I had denied this One whom I loved more than I had ever loved anyone. This man who had given me three years of His life, stood alone before the Roman Empire and the Jewish power system, and I couldn’t – wouldn’t – even admit that I knew Him.

We ate fish for breakfast. Some of the fish we caught, and some that He already had on the fire. It seemed everyone around the fire that morning was exploding with joy, but I was quiet.

Jesus caught my eye and said,

“Simon”

He had given me another name, “Peter,” but in tender moments He would still call me my given name.

“Simon, let’s walk.”

As we left the group He put His hand on my shoulder and asked,

“Do you love me more than these?”

What was He asking? Did He want to know if I loved Him more than my fishing companions? Was He offended that we left the upper room and headed to the boats?

“Yes Lord, You know I love you,” I said, with a defensive tone.

He said, “Tend My lambs.”

We walked along the beach in silence for a few minutes.

“Simon, son of John, Do you love Me?”

“Yes Lord, You know I love you.”

This time He said “Shepherd My sheep.”

We walked along and came to a large driftwood log, and He sat down and gestured that I should join Him.

This time He almost whispered the question.

“Simon, son of John, do you Love Me?”

“Yes Lord, You know everything. You know I love you.”

“Tend My sheep.”

It was then that I realized the last time we talked one on one was when He told me I would deny Him three times. Now He gave me three chances to acknowledge Him, three times to declare myself for Him.

Three failures redeemed. Three wounds healed. Three chains holding my heart, broken off and thrown into Galilee. Jesus would never speak of these three failures again. The evil one could never use these three denials to accuse me. These three sins were GONE, and I was free.

As we walked back to the others, we talked of other things, but just before we reached them, He said, “Follow me.”

My heart cried out, as it did the first time He said those words to me, “I will follow You.”

A few minutes earlier I would have been afraid to make any promises, after my last failure, after my last promise ended in such disaster. But everything in me knew I would be following Him till my last day. And this time, if need be, I would die with Him.

I will gladly take up my cross and follow Jesus.

===

Copyright - 2014 -  Benjamin Nelson

If this retelling of Peter's story ministers to you, would you please share it with a friend.

If you would like to read more stories from the gospels retold in this way check out:

What Am I Lacking? - A rich young man's encounter with Jesus.

What I Found at the Well. - A Samaritan woman's meeting with Jesus.

Blood in the Sheets. - A moving account of the woman who touched the hem of His robes.

 

Fictionalized John 20 and 21 and Luke 5

 

 

53

“I Shall Be Whole” { The Woman with an Issue of Blood } Painted by Al Young http://alyoung.com/art/work-hem.html
“I Shall Be Whole”
{ The Woman with an Issue of Blood }
Painted by Al Young
http://alyoung.com/art/work-hem.html

“If I can put a finger on his robe,
I can get well.”
Mark 5:28

Blood in the Sheets

Woman with the Issue of Blood

At first I thought it was my time of month.

Blood in my sheets.

I am so tired of blood in my sheets, but now I am too weak to even care.

My little one was only three then; now she is a young woman, and she is probably finding her own blood in the sheets. It’s strange to think of my daughter in that way, but to me it is always blood.

I have not been able to live with her in over a decade. She and my husband live in town, in our little home right down from the market. Oh how I miss the market!

I was selling my olives there when I first noticed the twinge of pain I now know is my hemorrhage. It was the first night of thousands strung together to make up who I am, who I have become.

I was Gilda the olive girl. I sold olives in the market. I was beautiful. People always remarked about the color of my eyes. They said my eyes matched my olives.

I can’t remember the last time anyone even looked at my eyes.

Now I am forgotten.

This blood—this hemorrhage—has robbed me. It’s as though a thief broke in and took everything.

Not my silver, and linen, and fine china, though those are all gone, too. We sold it all to raise money for the doctors. The doctors couldn’t do a thing. I went to doctors in six villages. I even went down to the hospital in Capernaum, but I returned much as I’d left, only bruised and penniless.

The thief I speak of did not walk away with my possessions; he stole my family, my dignity, my humanity, my identity. I was Gilda the olive girl. Now I am no one. I am invisible. I am a scar on the roadside, to be stepped around, avoided. Who am I? I don’t have an answer.

Not long ago, some lepers were talking about a man. This man, I overheard, was wandering all over the region of Galilee, doing things I’ve never heard of before except at the storyteller’s. Jesus, they call Him. He was opening the eyes of the blind, healing all manner of sickness, and even cleansing some lepers.

Oh that name! Jesus! The LORD is salvation. O how I need a Savior!

When I heard the stories, I felt something deep in my chest, something I had not known for ages. I felt hope. After twelve years of blood on the sheets, after a decade alone, an outcast, forgotten, I felt hope.

My first thought was to go to Him. I must have Him put His hands on me and command this blood to stop. But my own husband was unwilling to touch me. The last time he came and held my hand, they would not let him back in the congregation for a week.

The stories kept coming. He healed everyone in town, laid hands on the sick folk there. I even heard He forgave a man’s sins just a few days back.

Who is this Jesus?

I began to wonder if I could get to Him through the crowds that are always thronging Him. I wondered if I could get close enough to touch Him. I remembered a story from my childhood of the day they threw a dead soldier on the corpse of an old prophet, and the soldier came back to life.

If this Jesus is anything like the old Elisha, I bet just touching the hem of His cloak would be enough to stop my bleeding. As soon as this thought entered my mind, I felt warm all over, like the healing had already started, like the LORD Himself was telling me to do it.

I knew what I had to do. He was walking by, and the crowd, as always, spread around Him like a river flowing through the street. So I went for it. I wrapped my tattered robes around me, covering as much of myself as I could. I kept my eyes to the ground and edged my way into the mob.

I could not see Him yet, but I knew He was only a few paces ahead of me. I kept saying to myself the words I’d heard deep inside my soul: “Touch the hem of His cloak. Touch the hem of His cloak.” It was all I could think, all I could hear.

Then I heard a voice right in front of me.

“Master, where did Jairus say he lived? Do you think it is much farther?”

“Patience, Peter.”

That voice! The heat in my body doubled, and I knew it must be Him. I dove to the ground, my outstretched hand barely brushing the fringe of His robe.

Everything stopped. I could hear my heart pounding in my chest.

The Master stopped. The crowd stopped. My heart stopped.

To my horror, Jesus turned around and said:

“Who touched me?”

Peter laughed. “Who touched You? Everyone touched You. Maybe You should ask who didn’t touch You.”

“Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.”

I knew I was caught. I knew He was talking about me. I had broken the law. I had come into the crowd, making them all unclean like me. I had touched Him, and not only was I not allowed to touch anyone, but to touch this man who was not my husband . . . They could arrest me, or excommunicate me, or even stone me.

I was already on the ground, so I found my way to my knees, buried my face in my hands, and blurted out the whole thing.  I waited for His verdict. What would He do? What would He say?

Then there was that voice again.

“Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

Then I understood. The heat I was feeling was right at the source of the bleeding.  As the heat faded, the trickling of blood I’d felt for twelve years was gone. I knew right then and there my nightmare was over.

That was yesterday.

Today I awoke on my cot, and there was no blood.

Today I will return to my home, my husband, my beautiful daughter.

Today I will return to my life, my identity.

When Jesus healed me, He didn’t just stop my bleeding. He restored everything the thief had taken.

What manner of man is this?

~~~
To read the original story, see Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, and Luke 8:40-56.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2015

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

The story above is a chapter from my book Encounters With Jesus, which is a compilation of forty such stories. It takes the reader from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon. If you want both you can get the Kindle version for only 99c when you buy the paperback on Amazon.

We have been poking about the edges of 1 Corinthians 15, gleaning some wonderful gospel truth.

Today I want to do a quick rescan of the passage and notice the “proof” Paul offers for the gospel, and specifically for the resurrection, since that is where he is planning on spending the rest of what we call Chapter 15.

Proof #1 ~ The transformation in the lives of the Corinthian believers:

the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

We have looked in-depth at these effects of the gospel already, but they also act as proof, a validation of the veracity of the Word. The gospel was received, and now the Corinthian believers stand, they are saved, and they hold fast.

They have been transformed, and this is the first proof, the power to change man’s life. I am not the man I was, and by this I know that Jesus lives.

There is a schmultzy old hymn we used to sing when I was a kid called “He Lives.” Though I never much like the music, I love the words. Here is the chorus.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and He talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He live, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart. ~ Alfred H. Ackley

I know Christ is alive because – well – He lives!

Proof #2 ~ Hundreds of fulfilled prophecies:

...according to the Scriptures ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3 & 4

We looked at a few yesterday, but I would refer you to a couple of my Christmas posts if you want to dig a little deeper.

My post “One more Christmas Gift” list more than 25 Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in the Life of Jesus.

My post “GF Handel’s Messiah – Lyrics” has the entire libretto for Handel’s “Messiah”  the text of which is 100% scriptures, and I have tagged it with references for easy access.

Proof #3 ~ Eye witnesses:

and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:5-8

1)    Cephas (a.k.a. Peter) ~ I love that Peter is listed first. He says, "first Peter," and clearly this is talking about after Christ met Mary in the garden and went to the Father to present His blood, but the fact that Peter is touched, since Peter was left hurting after the last week’s events.

I suppose it may be that Paul was not counting women at all, since in courts of the day, women were likely not considered. (sad)

2)    The 12 ~ Well – I would assume the name “The 12” was more of a moniker than an actual count, since Peter we already know about, and Judas was dead.

3)    Greater than 500 at one time. Hard to deny this testimony. And Paul points out that many of these are still alive at the writing of this letter.

4)    James ~ This was referring to His half-brother, not the son of Zebedee. This James always interested me. We know that Jesus’ half brothers didn't follow Him during His ministry, but now, risen from the dead, these are guys who could not be moved. James and Jude were both New Testament contributors, and we learn in the book of  Acts that James became the main leader of the early Church.

5)    Apostles ~ It interests me that Paul gives us Apostles in addition to “the 12.” Pretty clearly (to me anyway) demonstrates that Apostleship was not dependent on being a disciple.

6)    Paul ~ Finally talks about His own meeting with Jesus. The story of His meeting on the road to Damascus is told and retold (3 times total) in the book of Acts, but I believe those 1,000 days in the wilderness of Arabia, Paul was receiving from the Lord the gospel that he never did stop preaching.

Proof #4 ~ The Graces or gifts given to Paul:

For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

In particular we see Paul’s transformation from Christian killer to in his own assessment (which was sponsored by the Holy Spirit) the hardest working apostle to walk the earth.

Pretty compelling proof! Any lawyer would love to defend a case like this.

Christians, I hope this stirs up your confidence. The gospel stands incontestable.

Do not fear

Go and preach it today.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon.

Ben

Rembrandt: Christ in the Storm

“Wind and sea at his beck and call!”
Mark 4:41

Hush

Matthew

The strangest thing happened yesterday. I have to tell you this story. I would never have believed it if I had not been right there on the boat.  Every day with Jesus is just amazing, but today . . . I’m not even sure I can make you believe this. I’m still running through it in my head. Thomas and Andrew and I compared notes all the way back from the docks tonight.

It all started this morning as we left the synagogue. Right in the middle of the crowd, a leper walked up, and Jesus healed him on the spot. Then a Roman soldier stopped us and talked with the Master about his servant. When we got to Peter and Andrew’s house, Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. She’d had a fever for months, and just like that, she was back to serving us Sabbath dinner.

We spent a few blessed hours around the table, laughing and talking and always learning. Somehow, Jesus managed to teach us about the kingdom of Heaven even when He was just playing around with us.

As we left the house, we found a multitude of people pressing in at the door. The sick and infirm covered every inch of yard and street. There were beds and stretchers and people lying in the dust. Here and there were men and women who looked possessed.

Mind you, it was already after sunset, but Jesus went to each one. He asked what they needed, and He ministered, touched, loved, and cared for every single one of them. He spoke their names. He touched their wounds. He held their hands. He rebuked the demons. He didn’t leave until every single person was whole.

What an amazing day it was! Right? But there was more to come! I thought we would spend the night at Peter’s house, but Jesus headed down to the docks. He climbed right on Zebedee’s boat—the one James and John brought up a few days ago.

Jesus asked John to head for the other side of the lake, and then He went to the stern and lay down on the cushioned bench across the back. He was asleep in minutes.

Suddenly, the wind picked up, as it often did on the Sea of Galilee. Before I knew it, the waves went crazy, crashing over the sides of the boat. The water rose to my knees in minutes.  Peter, Andrew, James, and John ran bow to stern, port and starboard, yelling words I didn’t understand. After all, they practically lived on boats.

They told me to grab this, haul that, crank the other thing. I’m a tax collector! What do I know? They shouted to me to wake Jesus before He drowned.

We all screamed to Jesus, while two of the boys tried to ready the lifeboats. The sea opened wide, threatening to swallow us whole. I thought we were going to die.

Finally Jesus awoke and dropped His feet down into the water on the deck. He stretched as He rose slowly to His feet, like He wasn’t quite awake yet. We continued to shout:

“Master, save us! We’re going down!”

“Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

“Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

At that moment, the most astonishing thing happened. He looked over the port side of the boat, just noticing the storm crashing around us.

“Hush! Quiet down,” He said.

In an instant, the sea was as flat as glass. It was as though the smallest ripple would shatter the perfect reflection of holiness that surrounded us on every side.

He turned to us, and I could not read the look on His face. Was He angry? Amused? Was He just exasperated with us? Honestly, I’m still not sure. I was in shock.

“Why were you afraid?” He asked. Then I looked down and noticed the deck was dry. “Where is your faith?”

I looked over at Thomas, and I think we said in, unison, “Who is this? What kind of person can talk to the wind and the sea and they obey?”

I’m still trying to figure out what He meant. He asked us where our faith was. He wanted us to see that waking Him shouldn’t have been necessary; we should have been able to deal with the storm ourselves.

He was so calm. I think He actually went back and finished His nap, but I’m not sure I will ever be able to sleep again. With three simple words, the peace that let this man sleep in a storm silenced the wind and the waves.

What manner of man is this?

~~~

To read the original story, see Matthew 8:1-27, Mark 4:35-41,
and Luke 8:22-25.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2015

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

The story above is a chapter from my book Encounters With Jesus, which is a compilation of forty such stories. It takes the reader from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon, or for your Nook at BN.com If you want both you can get the Kindle version for only 99c when you buy the paperback on Amazon.

And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES, AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” ~ Matthew 8:16-17

Let me recap:

It’s is the Sabbath (we know this from Luke 4.) I said the other day that it was the same day He made His declaration, but I must correct that. This was actually the day He cast out a demon in Church (OK Synagogue.)

He and some of the boys headed over to Peter and Andrew’s house and Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law.

Next we see this:

When evening had come

Or as Luke puts it in

While the sun was setting ~ Luke 4:40

The folks in these good Jewish communities waited till the sun was setting, until the Sabbath was over and then they got to Jesus just as quick as they could.

Luke tells us:

all who had any sick with various diseases brought them to Him ~ Luke 4:40

So in the town of Capernaum when Jesus left, if I am doing the math right, there was no one left in the city either sick or demon possessed! They brought them all to Jesus, and He healed them all.

Do you have someone to bring to Jesus today?

Don’t wait for the sun to set – let’s carry them to Jesus now!

Lord, I am so glad that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. We bring our sick, our broken, our lost to You today, and ask that You touch, You speak the word, You do what You do!

Ben NelsonThanks for coming today.

See you soon

Ben

I came across this amazing poem at Bread for the Bride

 

bloodcross

What can I say about that infamous night?

How weary we were

As we followed Him to the garden

He prayed, we slept, He woke us,

Again we slept

While we dreamed, He wept

Then came torches, voices, soldiers,... (Read More)

Featured Poem for July: Silent Encounter | Bread for the Bride.

 

14

Jesus just made His stunning announcement in the synagogue that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, He was the Messiah and He was here to:

...PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN,  TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD. ~ Luke 4:18-19

And believe me the place was astir. Here are the three accounts of what happened next from Matthew, Mark and Luke.

And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick in bed with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her, they made request of Him on her behalf. And He came to her and He touched her hand and raised her up, taking her by the hand, He rebuked the fever and the fever left her, and she immediately arose, and she waited on them. ~ Mash up of Matthew, Mark and Luke's telling of this event - for original NASB text see below.

I love how Jesus deals with both Peter's mother-in-law and the fever. You will notice he treats both the person and the sickness. Matthew and Mark speak of His touch, which, I am convinced, is the touch of compassion for Mom. Then Luke tells us, He rebukes the fever.

I have seen people attack sickness with such anger and aggression that the person inside feels abused. This can happen when we offer to pray for someone and start shouting out the sickness, with no regard for the sick. In the end they go away feeling like the sickness is somehow their fault.

Right on the other hand, I have seen folks coddle sickness like it is a favorite pet. We do this with our words - I can't run because of my asthma, my arthritis is acting up - like that.

We must find a way to get more like Jesus. He expresses love for the woman, and simply took command over the disease.

Another small observation here. He speaks directly to the disease, in this case to the symptom. How often do we complain about our plight, rather than address it. He rebuked the fever and it left. [Tweet This] He did not pray for her. He did not call a special meeting. He just loved her and rebuked the sickness.

Lord, I so want to be like you. Give me eyes to see what the Father is doing, ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, hands that touch with compassion, and a mouth to say what I hear you saying.

BenThanks for stopping in.

See you again soon.

Ben

Here are the full texts that make up the mash up above.

And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and waited on Him. ~ Matthew 8:14-15

And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. ~ Mark 1:29-31

And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever; and they made request of Him on her behalf.  And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately arose and waited on them. ~ Luke 4:38-39