When Jesus Unlocks a Door

On the morning of the first Easter, Mary Magdalene and some of the disciples found the tomb empty, receiving the news from the angel that Jesus has already risen. But, some of them were still skeptical of His promised resurrection and so that Easter evening, the disciples locked themselves behind a door -- afraid, worried, and confused as to what would happen next. They were afraid that the Jewish leaders who killed Jesus would also find them. They were confused as to where Jesus’ body was. They had so many questions that none of them could answer.

 

In the story in John 20, here we find Jesus suddenly appearing to His disciples behind closed doors after He was resurrected. But He didn’t just appear, He also gave them four important things that gave them hope to open their locked doors and to once more go out to the world to preach the Good News of salvation.

 

When Jesus Unlocks a Door, He Brings a Blessing and a Revelation. 

That Sunday evening, the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.  As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! ” - John 20: 19-20

 

Peace be with you.” These were the very first words Jesus spoke to the disciples when He appeared to them that first Easter evening as they were locked behind a closed door. PEACE was the very thing that Jesus gave them after His resurrection -- peace of the forgiveness of sins, the peace that assured them He lives. It’s that blessing of peace that assured the disciples that everything Jesus said is true and validated. And even now, because of this peace, we know that everything Jesus says about Himself today is true. He is our peacemaker. He is the Prince of peace.  He is the great redeemer who not only suffered and died, but rose again to sanctify the graves of every human who has died and who will die. And as Jesus rose out of the grave, He brings to each person, to our households, the satisfaction of our souls. And guess what? Even when you don’t feel it? He gives PEACE nonetheless. These are not empty words. He backs it up because HE LIVES.

 

The next thing Jesus gave His disciples that night was a revelation. When He showed them His wounds on His hands and side, it gave them an “AHA!” moment. Seeing the physical wounds of Jesus was an eyeopener to them that Jesus really rose from the dead. They had proof of His tangible presence! What a revelation that must have been for the disciples. Without seeing Jesus’ wounds, they might have thought that they were seeing a ghost.  Jesus was physically alive and took the time to reveal to them the marks of their redemption, the payment for their sins.

 

When He Unlocks a Door, He Assigns a Mission and Supplies the Power.

“As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you. Again He said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” -

 John 20:21-23

 

After giving them the blessing of peace and the revelation of His resurrection, Jesus then gave the disciples a mission and then He breathed on them and empowered them. Specifically, Jesus was telling the disciples to keep pointing people to Him. And this is what He is telling us today too. Our mission is to help others know Jesus and help them to acknowledge that what Jesus did on the cross was enough payment for their sins. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “if you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven.” (John 20:23) We get to go and connect people to a life in Jesus. Isn’t this an amazing mission? Undeserved yet freely given. 

 

Jesus didn’t give them a mission without empowering them. He breathed on them the Holy Spirit which gave them power to do God’s will here on earth -- preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, healing the sick, setting people free, performing signs and wonders, and delivering people from sin. This is also the same power that has been given to us and to anyone who received Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Jesus opened the door for us to experience His Kingdom and His power through His death and resurrection.

 

So if you find yourself in a place where you feel locked down and locked in, be encouraged knowing that when Jesus shows up behind locked doors, He meets us where we’re at. Jesus is the only one who can unlock the doors that are keeping us in and when Jesus unlocks a door, He gives us peace, revelation, mission, and His power. As we receive these, new life is experienced. 

 
 

Walk as Children of Light

Ephesians 5:8 says,  “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have the light from the Lord. So live as people of light!”  (NLT)

 

What does it look like to, “live as people of light”?   Another version says, “walk as children of light.”  (ESV) How do we do that?   

 

If we go back to the first verse of Ephesians 5, I think we get a hint.  

 

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love…” (NLT)     And in the ESV it says, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 

 

Seems like living as people of the light, walking as children of light boils down to LOVE.  Showing love to all people like Jesus showed love to all people.  The kind of love that does not judge, the kind of love that welcomes all, the kind of love that invites conversation and listens to understand.  The kind of love that offers hope and healing and brings life.  The kind of love that speaks life giving words not words of condemnation.  The kind of love that offers a safe space to belong and question and doubt.  

 

John speaks a lot about loving one another in 1 John - in chapter 3 verse 18 he says, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”

 

Pastor Jeff wrote a Spiel article that was in the March 7th bulletin about how we need to access the light before we can shine it.  (if you missed it you can find it on our website www.livelifetogether/bulletin )  It is not enough to just access the light, we also need to let it shine so others can see it and benefit from it.  

 

Jesus talks about this idea of shining like a city on a hill.  (Read about it Matthew 5:13-16) And we sing about it in the children’s song, “This little gospel light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.. All around the neighborhood, I’m gonna let it shine, hide it under a bushel, NO, I’m gonna let it shine,  don’t let Satan poof it out, I’m gonna let it shine!”  (are you singing it?)  Jesus tells us the why behind shining brightly for the world, “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”   

 

Any light that we shine, any good that we do, any love that we share, comes from Jesus with the purpose of people giving praise and glory to God our Father.  It isn’t about us at all. It is about living in a way that shines and shows love to others so they get a glimpse of the love of God. There is another hint about how to do this in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  

 

I am sure you can think of many ways to show kindness to those around you.  Offer to babysit someone’s children so mom and dad can have a break, pick up groceries for a neighbor, take someones child to school for them, drop off a meal, send a written note of encouragement, compliment someone on a job well done, thank a teacher, go on a walk with a friend and listen, really listen to how they are doing, offer to pray for someone in the moment, drop off flowers just because…. What would you add to the list?  How will you shine today?

 
 

An Interview with Patrick and Michelle Tsai

Recently one of our families at the Church, Patrick and Michelle Tsai had the idea to offer a small group study called, Vertical Marriage. As a household WELL, that Welcomes in Jesus, Engages with Neighbors, Listens to Others and Loves to Try after going through the 5 weeks study once they asked if they could open it up and offer it again.   I asked them a few questions about leading the study and why they wanted to do this. Enjoy reading their answers.

  

What made you want to host a study about marriage? 

It's so easy to focus on our kids, jobs, house projects, hobbies and really easy to not spend any time focusing on our marriage.  We wanted to spend devoted time with God focusing on our marriage.  Some friends mailed us this study a while ago so we decided to try it.  It looked fun, meaningful and did not require a ton of time.  We considered doing the study on our own, but thought it would be a great blessing to invite others to join us (and it definitely was)!

 

How many people participated in the first round and then the second round?

 In the first study, 4 other couples joined us. In our current study, 11 other couples have joined us. 

 

What has been your biggest take away from Vertical Marriage? 

This is a tough question because there are a lot of take aways.  I'd say two of the biggest for us were:

We need to have a relationship with God in order to show up in a healthy way in our marriage.  Our marriage and how we treat our spouse speaks volumes to those watching us -  how are we representing Christ?  

 

What is something that you have learned from leading this study? 

There are many times in the study where Dave (the husband) explains what is going on in the husband's head/heart and where Anne (the wife) explains what is going on in the wife's head/heart.  When the video would get done and we'd come back to discuss what Dave and Anne had just shared, the wives would ask the husbands in the group if what they said was really true for all of them (and vice versa).  And it was!  It was encouraging to know that other men/women are experiencing the same things we are.  These topics were able to help us learn a lot about what the other spouse is thinking so we can show up like they need us to show up.

 

  If you could give an engaged couple advice about marriage what would you say? 

Michelle:  Be humble and willing to forgive.  Speak life to each other.  And you can't truly do either of those well unless you understand how God continuously forgives you and how much He cherishes you AND your spouse.

 

  Patrick:  We need to exercise our marriage muscles on a constant basis.

  Daily = practice patience and love your spouse as Christ loved the church

  Weekly = grow deeper together with some special reserved date time alone

  Yearly = recalibrate and educate by seeking out a marriage conference or class to refocus your        priceless relationship with God and your spouse. 

 

What questions do you wish I would have asked?  (Or what would you like those who are reading this to know?)  

How do we learn more about Vertical Marriage?  You can go to https://www.familylife.com/verticalmarriagestudy/sample/ to watch a trailer for the study and go through the first session to see what it's like.  It's fun and quick but still very impactful and meaningful.  No matter where your marriage is at, this study will bless your marriage!

 

THANK YOU Patrick and Michelle for being willing to try something and for welcoming in Jesus to the conversation.  Thanks for sharing your experience with us here. May God continue to bless your marriage as you continue to represent Jesus to the world. 

 
 

Don't Miss Church! Move Your Clocks Ahead Tonight!

You don't want to miss church, so don't forget to move your clocks ahead one hour tonight!  Worship starts tomorrow morning at 9am!  You can join online at www.livelifetogether.com/livestream or www.Facebook.com/livelifetogether.   You can also find out more information about our upcoming Holy Week Worship Services in the attached bulletin, so make sure you check that out at https://www.livelifetogether.com/bulletin.

Are you interested in attending worship in person on Easter?  In order for us to get an idea of how many people are interested in worship, we are opening the sign up early for our 9am Easter Worship Service.  This will be the ONLY service that is open longer than a week to sign up.  ALL other services will be open as they have been previously.  Sign ups are now open for Easter Worship and you can sign up by going to www.livelifetogether.com/livestream and clicking on the Easter Sign Up Button. Please let us know if you would like to worship in person and the sign up is full.

Kids Connection is in full swing!  Any kids 3-4th grade are invited to join us via zoom at 10:30am as we learn how God delights in our uniqueness.  Contact Emily at epowers@livelifetogether.com if you receive the zoom link via email. 

Record your worship in the Elexio App

Have you recorded your attendace using your Elexio app yet?  Check the easy instructions below. You can check-in before, during or after worship, as long as you are on the same day as the worship service. 

  1. Once you've logged into your app, you'll find a button on the bottom of the app that says "check-in". 
  2. Click "check-in", then choose the people in your family you're checking in to worship, and click the check-in button at the bottom of the page.
  3. Click on the Worship Event you are attending, and click done! 

If you haven't signed up for an account yet, or you need to download your Elexio app, you can go to: https://www.livelifetogether.com/elexio for more information on how to do that.  Let me know if you have any questions. 

In Christ,

Jess

 

Don't Be a Victim of Deception

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” - John 10:10

 

Since the beginning of time, the devil has always had a mission: to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to destroy the abundant and blessed life that Jesus has promised and given to us. It’s Satan’s goal to make us miserable, just as he is. One of his instruments to do this is by deceiving us and making us walk in darkness. 

 

We all know that walking safely in darkness without any light is very difficult, if not impossible. It’s almost sure that we would stumble or hurt ourselves if we don’t have any source of light to guide us on our way. This is what the devil wants. He wants us to fall. He wants us to stumble. He wants to take us into the darkness. But the good news is: Jesus wants to take us into the light. This is why He said,  “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12) 

 

But what does it mean to walk in the light? And how do we actually avoid the enemy’s trap of deception?


Follow the Light

 

What leads to a full and satisfying life? LIGHT and TRUTH. 

 

God’s Word tells us that His Word is like a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. (Psalm 119:105) If we want to avoid the darkness, we must stick to where the light is. God’s Word is the light that illuminates our dark paths and shows us which way to go. 

 

If we want to avoid getting deceived by the enemy’s lies, it is important that we only follow the light - that we do only what God says in His Word. The devil will not be able to deceive us if we know the truth - if our minds are lit with every Word that comes from the very mouth of God.  

 

God’s light is truth, and truth and light leads to life.(John 8:12) Remember: Jesus will never lead us down the wrong path. If we follow Him and His Words, we will never be deceived. If we keep following the light, we will never stumble.


Hear the Truth 

To know the truth, we must listen to JESUS. It is imperative that we give attention to the words of Jesus. Part of why we are so confused in our culture and why we are so confused as Christians is because we spend way more time listening to the news on TV, in the newspaper, or other people’s opinions and very little time and attention to the One who says, “I am the light of the world.” We’d rather listen to fake news and opinions of people who don’t even know us than spend time listening to the One who made us and knows us intimately. It’s no wonder we easily get deceived so easily.

If we want to avoid being victims of the devil’s deception, we need to spend more time hearing the TRUTH from God, rather than listening to the Iies and the perverted truth from the enemy, who as we know is the father of lies. (John 8:44)

Most importantly, we have to be able to identify God’s TRUTH from perverted truth. Perverted truth makes us think that we are on the right side, when we’re actually deceived. Much like the Pharisees, it makes us blind to the truth and makes us prone to self-righteousness and pride. This is why we need to HEAR God’s voice. The more we hear His voice, the more we get familiar with His Words and truth, the more we’ll be able to identify the lies and deception of the enemy. 

 

Challenge: Go to God’s Word and believe that as you spend time with His light and truth, He will speak a word that will help you see light and know the truth, a word that will help you to follow Him and trust Him more.