Fear Turns into Rejoicing

Bible:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. Acts 16:25-34 ESV

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. I John 4:16-19 ESV

Reflection:

When two armies are at war, or if there is some other kind of violent conflict, if one side waves a white flag, everyone understands that this means surrender. A white flag means that the side that is waving it gives up and will admit to being the loser, or at least wants to stop fighting long enough to talk things over. White flags have been used since at least early in the Roman empire, and they’ve also been used for centuries in China. In China white is the color of death, and so waving a white flag might have meant that the losing side was admitting that they were in danger of dying if they didn’t stop fighting. A white flag is waved in fear and weakness, with the hope of mercy and help from the other side.

When Paul and Silas were in prison, they used the opportunity to continue to spread the good news about Jesus. At midnight they were praying and singing hymns together while the other prisoners listened to them, and suddenly there was an earthquake. The doors of the prison flew open and the bonds that held the prisoners in place all fell off. When the jailer saw and heard all this, he was terribly afraid. He had all the strength of the prison to hold the prisoners in their place, but something much more powerful than that had suddenly set everyone free. Under Roman law, if even one prisoner escaped while he was on duty, he would be put to death. So he took a sword to kill himself, but Paul called out, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” The jailer knew that he was beat. He didn’t wave a white flag, but shaking with fear he came and threw himself on his knees before Paul and Silas, asking what he had to do to be saved. Paul told him the good news, to believe in Jesus Christ. The jailer felt so happy that he washed the sore, bloody backs of Paul and Silas and brought them to his home and served them a meal. Then he and his whole household were baptized that very night. His fear had turned into the joy of knowing the love of Jesus.

We also rejoice in the love of Jesus. We were prisoners to sin and death, and we were full of fear. But Jesus came to defeat sin and everything evil by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead for us. Jesus has set us free from everything that could hurt us, and from the power of death and the devil that brought us so much fear. Jesus is much stronger than sin and evil, and we can trust him to take care of us. Instead of fear, we have love, and that gives us great joy.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for rescuing us from sin and death to be your people forever. Amen.

Source:

https://www.historyinorbit.com/history-white-flag-fascinating/

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One in Christ Jesus

Bible:

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:23-29 ESV

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations. Isaiah 61:10-11 ESV

Reflection:

Do you wear a uniform at your school? Many schools have uniforms for their students, and there are many good things about uniforms. When everyone dresses the same way, no one can tell whether a student is rich or poor, or what neighborhood they come from. Students don’t have to worry about trying to impress their friends with the latest stylish clothes. They also aren’t allowed to wear clothes that are inappropriate. Everyone is the same, and covered with the uniform of the school. All of the students can concentrate on learning and studying.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he talked about the law holding us captive until faith came. He was using the picture of children who are going to inherit a lot of money. They aren’t allowed to have that money until they reach a certain age, maybe 25, and until then they have to obey their guardians. The law was like our guardian, keeping us under its control until we came to faith in Jesus and were set free. When we were baptized into Christ, we put Jesus on the way students put on a school uniform. Everything that had made us different from each other was gone in God’s eyes. Whatever our roles in this world are–Jewish or Gentile, slave or free person, male or female–in the end won’t matter. What matters is that we have Jesus, and his righteousness covers our sin and makes us his. Belonging to Jesus makes us one with each other, not worried about what makes us different, but instead focusing on what we have together in Jesus.

Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to the law, and he died on the cross to pay for our sins. This is why he can give us his righteousness as a robe to cover our sin and guilt. When we are baptized, he gives us the gift of himself, and also the gift of other people who share in our new life. We are free from the demands of the law to live lives of love and service to God and to others.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us your righteousness and for making us one with each other in you. Amen.

Chosen for a Mission

Bible:

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:1-3 ESV

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. II Corinthians 5:18-21 ESV

Reflection:

On July 20, 1969, the first men landed and walked on the moon. There were three men on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, and two of them, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, were able to leave the rocket ship and walk on the moon while the third man, Michael Collins, was the command module pilot and stayed in orbit around the moon. How did these three men get selected for this mission? There were a number of other astronauts who could also have gone. The space missions were given on a rotation basis, and the three men who served as the backups for one flight became the lead crew of another mission three flights later. It was just the circumstances that chose these three men to be on the flight that landed on the moon.

It was a little different in the church in Antioch. There were five men who were leaders in the Antioch church, and they were worshiping the Lord and fasting together one day when God the Holy Spirit spoke to them. He said that he had chosen two of these men for a special mission. Saul and Barnabas were the two men that God had set apart. It was time for them to leave their church and go out to tell the good news in other places. So the church in Antioch did what the Lord had told them to do. They prayed and fasted some more, and laid their hands on Saul and Barnabas and prayed for them, then sent them off to do what God had called on them to do.

God has also set us apart for his work. He made us his own through Jesus, who died on the cross for us, and brought us into his family through baptism. Each of us has a mission from God. Some people might become leaders and do exciting things, but others might do quieter work for God. They might be like the three leaders who stayed behind at the Antioch church, or Michael Collins, who stayed in the ship while his crewmates walked on the moon. Every job is important. Our job is to share the good news of Jesus with others, and to love and serve others every day through whatever we do.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making us your children and for giving us work to do for you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-apollo-program

New Brothers and Sisters

Bible:

While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. Acts 10:44-48 ESV

And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit. Joel 2:28-29 ESV

Reflection:

Catherine Bunin was adopted. She had brown skin, but her mother’s skin was white, and she had a younger sister who was also adopted. Her little sister had much darker skin than she did. When people saw the two girls together or with their mother, they would sometimes ask Catherine, “Is that your sister?” People were amazed to think that they were a family when they didn’t look alike. It wasn’t the kind of family they were used to seeing. But Catherine knew that they were truly a family who belonged together, because adoption and the love of her parents had made it that way.

The Jewish believers with Peter were amazed when Cornelius and his family and friends received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This group of Gentiles was speaking in languages they hadn’t learned and praising God just as the first believers had done at Pentecost, and there could be no doubt that God the Holy Spirit had made them his own through faith. Peter knew that they needed to be baptized, and that there couldn’t be any argument to stop them from doing that. So Cornelius and his family and friends became the first Gentile believers who hadn’t first converted to Judaism. Even though they weren’t the kind of family members that the early church expected, God’s love and grace had made them part of the family. Peter stayed with them for a number of days and taught them more about their life in Jesus.

People who believe in Jesus have an amazing family that includes members from all around the world. Our brothers and sisters in Christ come in many different colors and speak many different languages. When we meet someone very different from us who is also a Christian, we can gladly say, “This is my brother,” or, “This is my sister.” The love of Jesus given to us on the cross opened the way for all people to be God’s children, and the gift of the Holy Spirit brings people from many nations and groups of people into God’s family forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your amazing family that Jesus won on the cross and that the Holy Spirit brings to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Bunin, Catherine and Sherry Bunin Is That Your Sister?: a true story of adoption Wayne, Pennsylvania: Our Child Press, 1992.

A Changed Man

Bible:

For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. Acts 9:19b-22 ESV

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. II Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV

Reflection:

Eliza Doolittle had been a dirty, ragged young woman who had sold flowers for a living. She didn’t know how to speak or act like a fine lady, but one day a professor named Henry Higgins found her and took her into his home. He taught her how to speak and to act like an educated, upper class woman, and she was given beautiful dresses to wear. Eliza changed very much from her days as a flower seller, and when she went back to visit her old neighborhood, the people there didn’t realize who she was. They treated her like the fine lady she had become.

Saul also went through a change that made people very confused. He didn’t look or talk any differently, but the things he said were completely the opposite of what he had been saying before. In the past Saul had been an enemy of Jesus and his church, but now he was saying that Jesus was the promised Savior and the Son of God. The people in the synagogues of Damascus didn’t know what to make of this. They asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who was causing all kinds of trouble and came here to arrest people who believe in Jesus?” But Saul kept on preaching in the synagogues what he had come to know was the truth.

When we come to know Jesus as our Savior and have our sins forgiven by him, we become new people. In our baptism we die to sin and are raised to a brand new life. We still struggle with sin every day and need Jesus’ forgiveness, but the sin that hurts us doesn’t define who we are anymore. We have a new identity as followers of Jesus, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us give up our old ways and to follow him in our new lives. Our struggling lives in this world will come to an end, but the life we have in Jesus will last forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us new life in you. Amen.

Source:

Cukor, George, dir. My Fair Lady Warner Brothers Pictures, Incorporated, 1964. Film.

Saul is Baptized

Bible:

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. Acts 9:10-19a ESV

O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back. Isaiah 38:16-17 ESV

Source:

There’s an old story about the day Jesus died on the cross. The centurion who was in charge of the crucifixion was named Longinus, according to the story, and he was the one who pierced Jesus’ side to see if he was dead. Blood and water flowed out of Jesus’ side, and the water flowed over Demas, the criminal on the cross who had asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. Demas was baptized with the water from Jesus’ own side before he died, and then went to heaven. Longinus, in the meantime, had had bad eyes all of his life, but the blood of Jesus flowed over his eyes, and he was healed and able to see better than ever.

This is only a legend, but it says something that is true. The blood of Jesus brings healing, and baptism into Jesus’ death brings forgiveness and new life. This is what Saul experienced after three days of prayer. God spoke to a man named Ananias and told him to go and find Saul and pray for him so that he would be able to see again. Ananias was surprised, and said to the Lord that Saul had been doing some terrible things to the people of the church. But God said that he had chosen Saul to carry the good news to all people–kings and the people of Israel and especially to the Gentiles. God had been showing Saul how much he was going to suffer for Jesus’ sake. Ananias obeyed the Lord and went to pray for Saul. When he came to the place where Saul was staying, he called him Brother Saul to show that he trusted that God had turned his life around, and Ananias prayed for him. Saul was healed of his blindness and able to see again, and then he was baptized and became a new person in Jesus.

What Jesus did for Saul is what he does for each of us. We were all lost in sin and needing forgiveness and new life, and Jesus died to win life and forgiveness for us. When we are baptized into Jesus, everything he has done for us on the cross becomes ours. God is also able to heal our illnesses, and we can go to him in prayer and ask him for help any time. We might not know healing from all our sicknesses right away, but we have the promise of life after death and complete healing when God makes all things new.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the forgiveness and healing and life that you give us through Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

Source:

Gaer, Joseph The Lore of the New Testament Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1952, p. 218.

On His Way Rejoicing

Bible:

And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. Acts 8:34-40 ESV

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

There was once an isolated valley in Wyoming where some homesteaders were trying to make a living for themselves, but a wicked cattle baron wanted the land they had claimed. He was doing everything he could to harass them and drive them from their land. One day a man named Shane rode into the valley. He lived with and worked for one of the families who were living in the valley. In time Shane became involved in protecting the settlers from the terrible things the cattle baron and his henchmen were doing, and in the end he shot and killed the cattle baron in self-defense. Now the valley was safe for the homesteaders to live in peace, and Shane rode away. He had made a difference to the people, and it was time for him to move on. A little boy named Joey begged Shane to come back, but he kept on riding away. Shane knew that he had left a better life behind for Joey and his family and that his work was done.

This is only a story, but it’s a little bit like what happened to Philip. He spent some time talking to the Ethiopian official and explaining the good news of Jesus to him. The Ethiopian man believed what Philip taught him. As they rode along together in the chariot, the official knew that he wanted to become baptized and to become one of Jesus’ people forever, so he asked Philip if he would baptize him. He and Philip went down into the water together and the Ethiopian official was baptized. As soon as that happened, the Holy Spirit carried Philip away to another place. His work with the Ethiopian man was finished. The official didn’t see Philip again, but he didn’t beg him to come back. He had Jesus, and that was more than enough. He continued on his way, rejoicing in his new faith in Jesus.

Sometimes people we love need to leave us and to move on to other places, and when that happens we sometimes feel sad. But Jesus will never, ever leave us, and people who love Jesus know that we will all see each other again someday. When my family said goodbye to some dear friends for the last time, they called after us, “See you in heaven!” We have the joy of knowing that Jesus won a place for all of his people in heaven, and that there will come a time when we will see Jesus face to face, and all the people who love Jesus will be there with us. Because Jesus died for us and made us his own people, we will be with him and with each other forever, and there will never be any more goodbyes.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for making us your people through our baptism into your death, and thank you for the joy of knowing we will be with you and with all of your people forever. Amen.

Source:

Stevens, George, dir. Shane Paramount Pictures, 1953. Film.

Repent and Be Baptized

Bible:

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:37-41 ESV

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7 ESV

Reflection:

In the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, there are several active volcanoes. Snow-covered mountains like Mt. Rainier that might sit quietly for many, many years could begin to show volcanic activity, and even erupt. People who live near active volcanoes need to know what steps they should take if a mountain starts to erupt. An important thing to remember is to get to high ground and to shelter there, because a volcanic mud flow will follow lower ground, like a river valley. People who live on or near an expected path of a mud flow should know the evacuation route they should follow, and signs are often posted on streets and highways to direct them. When a mountain erupts, all the people who are in danger from the volcano need to get away quickly and save themselves.

When Peter told the people that their disobedience and unbelief had put Jesus on the cross, many of them were terribly upset and afraid. They asked Peter and the other disciples what they should do, and Peter said that they should repent, or turn away from their sins, and be baptized. When they would be baptized, everything that Jesus had won on the cross would become their own, and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter told them that they were in danger of God’s judgment for their sins, and that running to Jesus for forgiveness was the way to save themselves from the punishment that would come to sinful, rebellious people. Three thousand people believed in Jesus and were baptized that day.

We also are in danger of God’s judgment because of our sins, but Jesus died on the cross for us, too. When we believe in Jesus and are baptized, we receive the forgiveness of our sins that he won for us on the cross. God the Holy Spirit comes to us, giving us faith and new life in him. We are safe from God’s judgment, and instead have life with him forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross so that we could have your forgiveness and be saved forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo/immediate_action.html

Wind and Fire

Bible:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 ESV

As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:15-17 ESV

Reflection:

Have you heard the fairy tale, “Beauty and the Beast?” A handsome prince was enchanted by an evil witch to become an ugly, frightening beast, and the enchantment would last until some young woman promised to marry him. Beauty came to stay at his castle after her father stole a rose from the Beast, and in time she came to love the kind person inside the horrible beast, and promised to marry him. When she did, the Beast became a handsome prince again. At the moment the enchantment was broken, there were amazing fireworks bursting in the air and lighting up the evening sky. The fireworks showed that something wonderful had happened, and the old things had become new and lovely again.

Jesus’ followers had been staying together in Jerusalem since Jesus’ ascension. Jesus had told them to stay there and to wait until he would send them the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, the day the Jewish people were celebrating the Feast of Weeks for the early harvest, suddenly the God the Holy Spirit came. He came in a rush of mighty wind which filled the place everyone had gathered, and flames of fire came and rested on the head of each follower of Jesus. The wind and the fire were signs that something wonderful was happening. The Holy Spirit had come to begin new things and to give power to his people to spread the good news of Jesus.

Sometimes God comes with awesome signs like wind and fire and earthquakes and thunder. He showed signs like these when he came to Mt. Sinai to give the law to the people of Israel, and also at the end of Good Friday and on Easter morning. But most of the time, God comes in quiet, ordinary ways. He was born in Bethlehem as an ordinary baby, and he comes to us, not with wind and fire, but in his word and in the waters of Baptism. When we hear God’s word and are baptized, God the Holy Spirit comes to us also. Just as he helped Jesus’ first disciples, he gives us the ability to trust in Jesus and the power to share our faith with others.

Prayer:

Dear Holy Spirit, thank you for coming to us and making us God’s people. Please help us to be strong witnesses for Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

The Great Commission

Bible:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 ESV

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. II Corinthians 5:18-21 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story that, while Jesus lived on earth, he got a letter from the king of a city called Edessa. This king, named Abgarus, had heard about Jesus and that he could heal the sick, and the king believed that Jesus must be the Son of God. King Abgarus was sick, and he invited Jesus to come and visit him and heal him. The king said that he would welcome Jesus into his city. Jesus answered King Abgarus’ letter and said that he had to do what God had sent him to do and then return to heaven, so he couldn’t come to Edessa. However, he said that after that he would send one of his disciples to the king, who would cure him of his disease and give life to everyone in the city.

This story may not be true, but it tells something that is true. Jesus completely finished the work his Heavenly Father had given him to do. He died to pay for the sins of the whole world, and then rose again from the dead to defeat death and win eternal life for everyone who believes in him. But Jesus also left work for his people to do. When he met again with his disciples in Galilee, he told them that they should go to all the people from all over the world and make disciples for him. They should teach people everything that Jesus had taught them, and give them the gift of new life by baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus gave a wonderful promise. He said that he would be with them until the world and time would come to an end.

Jesus continues his work today through his people. We are part of what he told his first disciples to do. We share the good news of his love and forgiveness with people we meet as we go through life, and we also send and support missionaries to take the Gospel to people from other parts of the world. Not only do we have the privilege of having Jesus work through us, but we also have the promise that he will be with us always, no matter what.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for sending us to share your good news with others, and for being with us and working through us. Amen.

Source:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/lbob/lbob09.htm