Sunday, March 26, 2023

All Believers are Important

The following day John (the Baptist) was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.

Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them.

They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).

Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. (John 1:35-42a, New Living Translation)

Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother, and unfortunately, whenever the two brothers are mentioned together, Peter’s name is first, making it seem as if Andrew is not as important. However, Andrew had initially been a disciple of John the Baptist. When John pointed out Jesus as the Messiah, Andrew immediately followed Him and introduced Him to his brother Simon as soon as he could.

As Jesus’ ministry grew, Peter and the other two brothers, the Sons of Thunder, John and James, became part of His inner circle, privy to things which the other disciples were not. There is one instance, however, where Andrew is included in this group.  

As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls.”

            Jesus replied, “Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him privately and asked him, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to be fulfilled?”

            Jesus replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. (Mark 13, 1-8, New Living Translation)

I guess Andrew was indeed pretty important to Jesus to be included in that conversation. And we are just as important to Jesus. He wants us to know what the future holds for us and what we need to watch for.

Read the rest of Mark chapter 13 to find out more. That time might be coming sooner than we realize. Are you ready?

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Celebrate Every Day

Nearly every Tuesday night, after Hubby and I eat our supper in the living room while watching an old episode of NCIS, I hoist myself off of the couch, grab our empty dinner plates, and ask him, “What should I blog about tonight?”, before heading off to my office. 
Sometimes he gives me a thought-provoking idea, but he usually offers a suggestion I could never write about. Last night, he said something like, “you could write about an old man’s birthday.” Okay, I don’t remember what he said at all, but it was something on the line of reminding it was his birthday. 
Oh, my sweet, sweet husband. I am so blessed to have you in my life. What did I do to deserve your love and devotion? I’m sorry that I don’t celebrate birthdays; I think we should celebrate every day instead. And I need to remember always to celebrate you!

 Don't hate me now, Hubby, for posting all these pictures!

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Which one died of old age?

The disciple John was the son of Zebedee and brother of James. Also known as the Sons of Thunder, these two disciples, along with Simon Peter were part of Jesus’ “inner circle.” Those three men went places with Jesus and witnessed things that the other nine did not, such as when Jesus raised a 12-year-old girl from the dead and when He was praying in the garden of Gethsemane just before His arrest.

Throughout the first three books of the Gospel, John is almost always mentioned with his brother James. It’s confusing, though, because there are multiple men named John in the New Testament, most prominently, John the Baptist.

In the book of John, however, one of Jesus’ followers is frequently referred to as the “one whom Jesus loved.”

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27, New Living Translation) 

I always thought it was a bit nervy for John to refer to himself as “the one whom Jesus loved.” Didn’t Jesus love the rest of the disciples – all people actually – the same? Or did He love John more because He trusted John to take care of His mother?

More likely, John was so confident that Jesus was his Savior that he felt total devotion and love towards Jesus. In return, he knew how much Jesus loved him.   

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. (John 21:20-24, New International Version)

 One last thought on the disciple John. He was the only one of the disciples to live to old age and die a natural death, instead of dying a martyr. Does this make him any less devoted to Jesus? Not at all. I think it was part of God’s plan from the start, just as He has a plan for us all.  


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Two Promises We Always Break

I think that there are two statements which every couple has agreed upon, maybe even more than once.

The first one. “We’re not going to let the new dog on the furniture.”

Sounds good, makes sense. I know that I’m tired of vacuuming all the cat hair off of Cheshire’s spot on the couch. Unfortunately, you can’t keep cats from doing whatever they want.

But invariably, the dog jumps on the sofa or your favorite chair. You and your spouse say, “aww,” you cuddle your pet, and the deed is done. The promise broken.

The other thing we always proclaim. “We’re not eating in the new car.”

Yesterday, Hubs and I bought a new, used vehicle. How that purchase came about is kind of crazy, but at least it was entertaining to the salesman. But maybe for another time.

We are driving away from the dealership, haven’t even gone a block, when Hubby pulls out a granola bar that he had lifted from the service department waiting room.

“Are we going to eat in this car?”

“No,” I practically shout, reaching into my purse to retrieve the bar I had pilfered.

“Can you open mine?” he asked, because he was driving and struggling with the wrapper.

“But this is all. We’re not eating anything else in here.” Sure, Chris, you know how that’s going to work.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Cost to Believe. 2023 Lenten Post #4

James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them "Sons of Thunder. (Mark 3:17, New Living Translation)

The verses above introduce two of Jesus' disciples, James and John, who Jesus sometimes referred to as "Sons of Thunder." No one is quite sure why. Were they loud or forceful? When they weren't fishing, were they fighting? We'll never know, but Jesus had His reasons; all we can do is wonder.

Nearly every verse that mentions James includes his brother John. Because James' name is always first, I assume he's the older one, but I don't think anyone knows for certain. One thing to note is that there is another James in the New Testament; he was one of Jesus' brothers. The book of James is believed to be written by that James and not the disciple.

The only time the apostle James is mentioned without his brother John is in the book of Acts.

About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John's brother) killed with a sword. (Acts 12:1-2, New Living Translation)

The experts who have studied the apostles over the centuries generally agree that all these men were killed as martyrs except one. John is the only one believed to have died of old age. However, James is the only one whose death is recorded in the Bible.

Historians believe that James died about fourteen years after Jesus and probably was the first disciple to be martyred. We're not sure how exactly that sword killed him, but he was likely beheaded.

Many other early Christians, besides the apostles, were brutally murdered because they preached that Jesus Christ had risen from the tomb to save them all. Even today, Christians are martyred around the world, and even here in the US, they have been persecuted.

How about you? Would you share your belief in Jesus as your Savior with others if it meant harassment, punishment, or possible death? Or would you deny Jesus to save your earthly life at the risk of losing your eternal, heavenly life?

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

What Time of Year is it?

Do you know what time of year it is? Just look at the weather. Yes, it' still chilly, especially at night, and we have two to three feet of snow on the ground. But that sun is getting higher in the sky and the days are getting longer. 

Hubby and I have been camping for eleven years now, and we're on our third camper. 

But it never gets old. I can't wait to hit the road in only two months or so. 

Of course, it won't be the same without Dino, the wonder dog, but we will always take him camping in our hearts. 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Fishing for Men. 2023 Lenten Blog Post #3

18 As Jesus was walking by Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the lake because they were fishermen. 19 Jesus said, “Come follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20 So Simon and Andrew immediately left their nets and followed him.

21 As Jesus continued walking by Lake Galilee, he saw two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus told them to come with him. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and they followed Jesus. (Matthew 4:18-22, New Century Version)

This year, during Lent, I’m writing about some of Jesus twelve disciples. If you read last Sunday’s blog post, you may remember that when Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector, Matthew got up and followed him. Same thing happened when Jesus chose several fishermen.

“Follow Me,” Jesus said.

They dropped what they were doing and followed Him.

From the above text, we know that at least four of the disciples were fishermen. It was probably a very common profession anywhere along the Sea of Galilee.

But I love how Jesus changed their occupation from fishing for fish to fishing for people. How exactly does someone do that? You surely can’t cast a net into a group of men and women and think you are going to capture anyone that way.

When the fishermen did as Jesus told them, they caught so many fish that the nets began to break. They called to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats so full that they were almost sinking. (Luke 5:6-7, New Century Version) 

However Jesus intended the disciples to “catch people”, don’t the lines above paint a beautiful image? Picture so many men, women, and children hearing the word of God that they fill our churches to the point the buildings can’t hold them. Picture Jesus casting His Father’s net over the crowd and saving them all from their sins.

Maybe you don’t have a big, old fishing net. But I bet you can find a rod, reel, and some bait. Or at least prayer, faith, and grace. Trying casting towards one person at a time. See if you can’t at least get a nibble.

And after you've read my unworthy words, click on this link to see the scene from The Chosen where Jesus calls Andrew, Simon, James and John.