7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:7-9 NIV
For years, Joshua had been the faithful assistant of Moses as they led the Jewish nation through the desert. Now, that Moses was gone, the role of leadership was passed to Joshua. This would have been a very trying time for Joshua or anyone who had just lost their leader and their mentor. But God had a plan for comforting and encouraging Joshua. The Lord spoke to Joshua. Now, instead of getting his directions from Moses, Joshua got them straight from the Lord. “Be strong and courageous”, “meditate on the Book of the Law day and night”, “be careful to do everything written in it” and “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”. God has a plan for each of us, as well. When we are down in the valley after a great loss or for any reason, He speaks to each of us if we are willing to listen. He has the same message for us that He had for Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous”, meditate on the Holy Scriptures day and night. Be careful to follow the instructions given. Listen to and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Because God has given us the Holy Spirit to abide within us, He is always with us wherever we go. Jesus has been where we are now and He is already where we are going, so, let us lift up our heads and our hands and rejoice. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are assured of reaching our destination. No thing or no one can separate us from the love of God or from His protection. We can depend on God, He has never failed on any of His promises. “Be strong and very courageous”.
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.– Romans 8:37-39 NIV
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.—Romans 12:4-8 NIV
If you have ever had a problem with your big toe, then you are aware of some of the issues it can cause. Our toes, especially the big toe, help us balance and propel us forward when we are walking or running. So, when we have toe problems, our body will naturally try to compensate for that and pretty soon, it will affect the ankle, then the leg, the knee, the hip and the back. If the toe issue continues long enough, we will develop other skeletal problems. Other parts of the body have varying functions. Just try to pick up anything substantial without using your thumb. It doesn’t work so well, does it? the point is for the body to function efficiently, it needs every part doing what it is designed to do. The body of Christ, the Church, is the same way. We are each a part of the body and God has given each one of us a gift to help the rest of the body. If any of us refuse to use the gift we have been given, then, eventually the whole body suffers. If the church we attend isn’t functioning properly, is it possible that we are the malfunctioning body part? Whatever gift God has given you, the body needs it to complete the mission God has given to the Church.
1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.—1 Cor. 11:1-3 NIV
Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to continue in following the practices of Christianity just as he has taught them to do. He has lived his life in front of them, as much as it is humanly possible, as an example of how Christ lived. But there had been some reports of problems during the worship service. Paul points to the fact that we are all to submit ourselves to Christ as the head of the Church, His body. We submit to Christ because He loved us enough to die for us. So, this is the example for us to follow. Those who would be leaders in the Church must display the same kind of love that Christ did. This is what Jesus was inferring to Peter when He asked Peter three times: “Will you feed my sheep?” Jesus was talking about more than physical food, He was asking Peter if He was willing to feed them spiritually, even to the point of death, if that became necessary. This is exactly the same kind of love that a husband should show for his wife and his family. Husbands and Fathers need to ask themselves the same question that Jesus asked Peter. “Will I feed this flock that Jesus has given me? Will I not only provide for their physical needs, but also their spiritual needs? Will I remind them daily how much Jesus loves and cares for them?” If we do that, then we won’t have any problems being the “head” of the family.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.—Deut. 6:6,7 NIV
10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. 12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead. 15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.—John 21:10-17 (NLT)
They had caught 153 fish in one haul, talk about an abundance! Jesus came that we might have abundant life (John 10:10). This was the third time they had seen Jesus since the Resurrection, so they knew who He was. Now, Jesus asks Peter a simple question. “Do you love me more than these?” Peter answers “Yes, Lord, you know I love you”. Jesus then said to Peter “take care of my sheep”. It is as if Jesus is saying to Peter, do you love me enough to leave these other disciples to go and feed my sheep. The third time Jesus asks He uses a different word for love that is asking Peter how deeply do you love men? Jesus says for the third time, “Feed my sheep”. The question for us then is this: Do we love Jesus enough to leave family, friends and home to feed His sheep? We come to the same question that we must ask ourselves everyday. Are we willing to give up everyone and everything to follow Jesus? 23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.—Luke 9:23, 24 (NLT)
12 So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up. 13 First they took him to Annas, since he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.”—John 18:12-14 (NLT)
Once Jesus has been arrested, He was tied up and taken to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest. This was the same Caiaphas that had prophesied that it was better that one man should die than the whole nation. If Caiaphas had have fully understood the situation, he probably would have preferred that Jesus not die for the people. God was allowing satan to use the unbelief and stubbornness of the high priests and religious leaders to accomplish His plan. God’s plan has been in existence since before the world was spoken into existence. No thing or no one had or has the power to stop what God has decreed will be. The reason that Jesus had spoken in parables to the crowds and early in His ministry had told those He healed not to tell anyone was to accomplish the mission that God has sent Him here to do. If satan had figured it out, he would not have wanted Jesus to be crucified on the cross. 7 No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 8 But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord–1 Cor.2:7,8 (NLT)
Jesus said: 13 That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.—Matt. 13:13 (NLT)
There are still those who look but don’t see and hear but they aren’t really listening. But since we aren’t able to know the minds and hearts of others, we cannot be selective in who we witness to. We are to tell everyone the Good News and let God be in charge of the results.
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked. 5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” 9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.” 10 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. 11 But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”—John 18:4-11 (NLT)
When Judas had led the Roman soldiers and the Temple guard to Jesus, Jesus asked them who they were looking for. When they replied that they were looking for Jesus the Nazarene, Jesus said “I AM HE”. His words were so powerful that all the soldiers and guards fell to the ground, After all, this was the same voice that spoke the world and everything in it into existence. 1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created. –John 1: 1-4a (NLT)
Jesus could just as easily have spoken words of death to them, but because of His love for man, He did not do that. Instead, He spoke words that gave His disciples life and liberty. This fulfilled His earlier words that He would not lose any of the ones that God the Father had given Him. Even when Peter took out his sword, Jesus admonished him to put his sword away. There are times to fight, there are times to stand and then there are those times when we must drink from the cup of suffering if we are to be counted as a child of God. We each have a cross to bear. Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.–Luke 9:23 (NLT)
13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.—John 17:13-19 (NLT)
We have the privilege of listening into a personal conversation between Jesus and our Father. As we read through the prayer that Jesus is praying for His disciples, we get a little glimpse of His love and compassion for them. Jesus is not asking God to remove all the bumps, He is asking Him to keep them safe as they travel the rocky road. He is also asking our Father to teach them the truth. Jesus, as the oldest of all God’s children, is taking the responsibility of being sure that the family is being taken care of while He is separated from them. Of course, He knows that our Father is going to take good care of the disciples, but His compassion demands that He set the example for them to ask. Not only that, but He is paying in advance for their care by giving His life on the cross. Jesus is the perfect example of a servant, a brother, a friend and a Redeemer.
1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began—John 17:1-5 (NLT)
Jesus had given up all His glory when He left heaven to become our Redeemer. That mission was soon to be completed. He had not lost a single soul that the Father had given Him. (Yes, Judas was lost, but he obviously was never a true believer) Now, Jesus is asking His Father to bring Him back home to be returned to that glory. He will have accomplished everything that they had planned before the earth was formed. He, once again, tells us the way to eternal life is to know Himself and His Father, the only true God. Now, it is our turn to bring glory to the Father by living the same lifestyle that Jesus lived. 35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.—Matt. 9:35, 36 (NLT)
As we go, we should always be telling the Good News about the Kingdom, but there are those that Jesus puts in our path that He wants us to talk to about Him. Our lifestyle and actions should be such that people notice a difference between us and the world. If we allow the Holy Spirit that abides in us to do His work through us then we will produce the fruits of the Spirit and that will draw people to Jesus.
12 “I have many more things to say to you, but they are too much for you now. 13 But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth. He will not speak his own words, but he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come. 14 The Spirit of truth will bring glory to me, because he will take what I have to say and tell it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take what I have to say and tell it to you. –John 16:12-15 (NCV)
Jesus has many more things to tell us as well and like the disciples we are not spiritually ready to hear some of them. God opened up the “mystery” of the Gospel in the first century, Paul uses the word mystery seventeen times in his writings. (In the KJV) 6 However, I speak a wisdom to those who are mature. But this wisdom is not from this world or from the rulers of this world, who are losing their power. 7 I speak God’s secret wisdom, which he has kept hidden. Before the world began, God planned this wisdom for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this world understood it. If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.–1 Cor.2:6-8 (NCV)
The eighth verse gives us a clue as to why God has mysteries. If the world had known the great plan, they would never have crucified Jesus or killed Him in any other way for that matter. But the Holy Spirit has so much more that He wants to tell us. So much more that He wants to accomplish through us. 20 With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. 21 To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen–Eph. 3:20,21 (NCV)
If we walked in the Spirit, without doubt, God could accomplish so much more through each of us. He is able! It is worth repeating! 20 With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. 21 To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen–Eph. 3: 20,21 (NCV)
He is able!
26 “I will send you the Helper from the Father; he is the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father. When he comes, he will tell about me, 27 and you also must tell people about me, because you have been with me from the beginning.–John 15:26, 27 (NCV)
Though the disciples don’t know or understand at this point, this is the 2nd greatest gift that God has promised. His best gift was His Son, Jesus, giving His life for us. Now, that Jesus is leaving, God the Father is sending us a Helper. The Helper will tell us more about Jesus and our Father. Jesus has been telling the disciples what the Father says and He has been showing them what the Father is doing. Now this Helper will do the same for each of us. Our job is to tell others what we are told. These are exciting times to be alive! With all the junk that is going on in the world, God is still in control and our Helper will show us the way home. Not only that, but He will teach us how to live and how to pray. Just as the disciples learned when they received the Helper, so are we learning now. Their sadness turned to joy and so should our lives reflect the joy of the indwelling Helper.