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ALWAYS

I will always be with you even until the end of the age.                                                             – Jesus

 

The sky was bursting with color as the sun set over the sea. While on the shore the water gently rolled over the sand as the sandpipers looked for food. The disciples built themselves a fire and sat around it reflecting of the days gone by.

“I can’t believe he’s gone. It only seems like yesterday he was teaching us by the sea and telling us to follow him.” James recalled as he watched the sun set.

“Remember when he overturned the money changer tables at the temple? Or when he raised that man from the dead as they were carrying him to his grave!” said Thomas.

“What about the stories he would tell? Or all the miracles he did?” Matthew added.

“What really caught me was how he loved people, He never turned anyone away when they came to him!” John said as he looked around at the others who in turn nodded in agreement.

“It sure has been good to be with him these last few days. Now I understand why he allowed himself to be crucified. although the night he was arrested was the longest night of my life!” said Peter .

As Philip looked up into the sky he thought about the day Jesus appeared when they were all together at Peter’s house. It was the first time Thomas saw Jesus after he had rose from the dead.

Thomas came and knocked on the door at Peter’s house.

“Who is there?” a voice called out.

“It’s me Thomas, let me in, he responded. Andrew opened the door and let him in, as he looked around for anyone else who might have followed him.

“We have seen Jesus! He has risen from the dead!” Peter exclaimed.

“Yeah right!” Thomas said in unbelief.

“No! It’s true! Jesus is alive! I have seen him too! We all have!” Matthew joined in as he looked around at the others.

“Come on guys! Is this some kind of sick joke?” Thomas said angrily.

John came and put his hands on Thomas’ shoulders and said,

“Thomas, It is true. Just a few days ago, when Mary came and told us she had seen Jesus alive, we did not believe her either and then he appeared in the middle of the room! The door was locked when he just manifested out of the air!  He is alive just as he said he would be!”

Pulling away from John in frustration Thomas said,

“Have you lost your mind! I miss him too, but for you to say he came back from the dead is unbelievable. Don’t you remember what he looked like when we buried him?”

“Thomas, we all saw him! He even showed us the holes in  his hands and feet where the nails went through!”

Thomas shook his head in disbelief.

“Until I see him for myself, and put my finger in the wounds he received from his crucifixion, I will not believe he has come back from the dead!

Eight days later the disciples came together to discuss what to do next.  Thomas joined them even though he still had his doubts about Jesus being alive.

Suddenly the room filled with glorious light and Jesus came and stood  before them.

“Thomas, Jesus said as he stretched out his hands toward him.

“See my hands and feet? Put your fingers in them so you will believe and not doubt.”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas cried out as he fell to his knees at Jesus’ feet.

“Thomas because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Jesus said as he helped Thomas back to his feet. Then he opened their understanding so that they could know the reason he came and why he had to suffer.

Sparks went up into the night sky as Peter stirred the logs to keep the fire going.  Matthew watching the sparks fade into the darkness recalled the last thing the Lord said to them.

Jesus met them on a hillside just outside of Bethany and began to instruct them on what they needed to do.

“All authority has been given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Then Jesus stretched out his hands and blessed them. As he was speaking, he started to ascend into heaven.

“Do not leave Jerusalem until you have received the Promise of the Father which you have heard from me; for John truly baptized you with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” he said as he faded into the clouds.

As they watched him go up two men dressed in glistening white apparel stood by them and said,

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

“What do you suppose Jesus meant when he said, ‘you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit?’ Andrew asked the rest of the group.

They all gazed into the fire as they thought about Andrew’s question.

“We must go Jerusalem and wait as Jesus told us to do.” Peter said as he got up to leave. The others put the fire out and began walking toward Jerusalem, rejoicing and praising God as they went.


There are many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”                    

– John 21:25


This story is an adaptation of the events recorded in the gospels.
*John 20:24-31, Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
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DAYSPRING

“Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace”*

– Zacharia*

As the day drew to a close, Jesus’ friends and family watched as they lowered the lifeless body from the rugged crossbeam. When the guards where finished with him, the family came laid him on a linen cloth and wrapped it around him.

“I have a place close by we can take him”, said Joseph who was from Aramathia.

“It’s in the garden at the bottom of this hill. Follow me”

There in the garden the aroma of fresh flowers filled the air, and life was in abundance while they laid the body of the giver of life in the tomb, and sealed it with a heavy stone. Some of the disciples gathered at Peter’s house and barred the doors tightly, for they feared the Jewish leaders would have them arrested. The days seemed endless as the pain of their great loss overwhelmed them. After looking around the room Andrew approached the table where James and John where seated.

“What are we going to do now that Jesus is gone? ”

No response

“Where will we go?”

His questions fell into the silence. He continued,

“We can’t just sit around here waiting to die!”

Still no response, but how could they?

“With Jesus gone, death doesn’t sound so bad,” Peter thought to himself as he looked out the window.

As the darkness covered the land, the flickering light of the torches lit up the early morning sky. The Roman soldiers who were stationed at the tomb of Jesus paced back and forth trying to stay awake while the others took their turn sleeping.

“Well men, this is the last day we have to stand watch over this dead man,” said the chief officer.

“Good riddance!” another guard replied as he warmed himself by the fire. While the two men were still speaking, the ground began to shake violently.

“Hey what’s going on?”

The soldiers who were sleeping woke up while those who were standing fell to the ground. Suddenly an angel appeared at the tomb’s entrance with the appearance of lighting flashing across the sky. With little effort angel rolled the heavy stone away from the doorway of the tomb and sat on it. Overcome with fear at the awesome sight the guards passed out, laying on the ground as dead men. When they recovered and found the tomb empty, they left the garden and went to report what happened to the chief Priest.

“I can’t believe he’s gone!” Mary sobbed. She and some the other women who followed Jesus went to the tomb to minister to him one last time.

” These past few years went so fast!” said Joanna.

As they arrived at the tomb, They noticed the stone that was in front of the grave had been rolled away. Dropping the ointment Mary was carrying, she  and the other women ran up to the entrance of the tomb and looked inside.

He’s gone! What have they done with him?”Mary exclaimed as she turned and ran out of the garden to Peter’s house to tell them the news.

“Peter, John,” Mary cried as she beat on the door.

” They have taken him away!”

“Woman what is the matter with you? Do you want to wake up the entire city?” Peter whispered sternly as he opened the door.

“They have taken the body of the Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him!”

What?!” exclaimed Peter.

John got up and ran out the door with Peter close behind. The two men raced through the garden to see the tomb for themselves. John was the first to arrive at the entrance and looked inside. While  Peter came up behind him and went on in. The linen cloth that they used to wrap Jesus’ body laid empty on the stone slab before him. John came into the tomb behind Peter and noticed the cloth they used to wrap Jesus’ head was folded up and laid separately from the other linens.

“Surely he has risen from the dead just as he said he would. But where is he?” John thought to himself.

The two men departed from the garden with more questions than answers. They returned to their own homes thinking about what they saw at the tomb.

The sky that was once filled with darkness burst forth in an array of color by the rising sun. In the garden life began to stir once again as the song of the birds filled the air, and the flowers released sweet aroma with the warmth of the early morning light. There in the center of the garden, Mary had returned to the tomb. Her heart overwhelmed at the thought of someone taking her Lord, she wept bitterly as she stood in the garden alone.

“Where did they take him? I must know where!” she wept.

As Mary wiped the tears from her eyes, she looked once again into the place where they had laid Jesus three days earlier. Inside the tomb, two angels were sitting on the slab where the body laid. Mary stood in shock when she saw them, for she thought she was alone.

“Woman why are you weeping?” one of the angels questioned her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have taken him,” She replied as she began to cry again. Unable to stay any longer Mary decided to go home. As she turned to leave a man stood behind her.

“Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for in that empty tomb?”

“He must be the gardener, maybe he took the body from the tomb,” she thought to herself as she drew closer to him.

“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will go and get him,” Mary pleaded with him as she looked back at the grave.

With a gentle voice Jesus said,

“Mary!”

At the sound of his voice, sorrow and grief fled and joy flooded her heart. She
turned and looked into the eyes of her risen Lord.

“Rabboni!”  she shouted as she ran toward him.

“Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to my Father.”

Mary stopped where she was as Jesus continued,

“But go to my brethren and tell them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.”  He said as he vanished from her sight.

“He has risen!” Mary shouted.

With inexpressible joy, she ran from the garden to tell the others the good news.

He’s alive!, Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead! My LORD lives!!” she rejoiced.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

John 14:1-3 (NKJV)

 

 

This story was adapted from the account found in the Gospel of John in the  Bible             *Luke 1:78-79

The Longest Night

… “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 

Luke 22:31 (NKJV)

 His body numb from the shock of the event that just occurred, Peter dropped his sword to the ground. Keeping their  distance, he and another disciple followed the dimly lit torches flickering against the cold night sky. The feeling of helplessness flooded Peters soul, he had always been in control of things. Knowing what to do in hard circumstances came naturally to him. But now fear gripped his heart and confusing thoughts ran through his mind like wildfire in a dry forest. As he approached the gateway leading into the courtyard, a servant girl recognized him as a follower of Jesus.

“ Are you not one of His disciples?”

“I am not,” Peter replied as he kept walking to avoid any other questions the girl might ask.

As the night went on, the cold began to take hold of him. The darkness that closed in  around them, was kept at bay by the flickering light of the fire burning in the center of the court. The angry words of the soldiers could be heard through out the courtyard as well as the murmuring of the Jews who had brought Jesus there.  Peter looked around as he stretched out his hands toward the fire in front of him, trying to find comfort in its warmth. Across from him, a woman stared intensely at him, through the flickering glow of the fire.

“This man was with Jesus!”

“Woman, I don’t know him!” he exclaimed.

“Certainly you and Jesus are together because you are both Galilean.” A man opposite of him responded.

“I don’t know what you are talking about!” exclaimed Peter.

Instantly the rooster crowed and he remembered what Jesus had told him in the upper room,

“I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” 

If one listened closely, they could hear the breaking heart of the cold and lonely disciple. The fiery questions ripped away at the man bound in fear.When the soldiers came and took hold of Jesus to bring Him before the priest, he raised his head and looked over at Peter. Unable to stay any longer, he turned and ran into the cold darkness. Guilt and condemnation flooded his heart as the sound of the rooster and the words that Jesus spoke pounded his thoughts.

“No,no,no! What have I done!”Peter cried out as he wept bitterly.

*This story was created from Luke 22:31-34, 54-62

But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”


Luke 22:32 (NKJV)

Have you ever felt like  you have failed in your walk with God? Or maybe you  felt like  “sifted wheat”?  Be encouraged! Jesus knows everything about you (Romans 5:8). Your Heavenly Father (God) did not send His Son so you would feel guilty and condemned (John 3:17). He set you free from all that! (Romans 8:1).  If  you find yourself in a situation like Peter was, ask God to forgive you and He will,  (2 Chronicles 7:14,) because He loves you! Later on we read how Peter went on to be one of the leaders of the church. In fact he preached the first message on the day of Pentecost and three thousand people where saved!( Acts 2: 40-41)

Notice Jesus:

  • Warned Peter
  • Interceded for Peter
  • Knew what Peter would do
  • Didn’t get angry with Peter when he denied Him
  • Gave him something to do while HE was away (“strengthen your brethren”)
  • Restored Peter John 21:15-19

      For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV)