1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. 3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. 4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. 5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him–Hebrews 11:1-6 (NLT)
Hebrews, Chapter 11, is known as the great faith chapter. It lists those that are in God’s Hall of Fame for the Faithful. We must stay grounded in the Word and continue to ask God to make us more faithful. Our prayer should be like the cry of the Father of the boy possessed by a demon. He said, “I do believe, but help me over come my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Unbelief or no faith is the sin that caused Jesus to die on the cross for us. All of our sins are just outward expressions of our unbelief. We fear because we do not believe that God can and will take care of us. Over and over in the Bible, God tells us “do not fear”, yet, we fear anyway. He tells us “do not worry” about physical needs, yet we spend a lot of time stressing out over whether we will have enough of this or that. Think about this: “If we can’t trust God to provide the little things, how can we possibly believe that He can save our soul”? What part of “do not” do we not understand? When Jesus, while on the cross, said “It is finished”, He was serious. Our part is to “seek you first the Kingdom of God and all its righteousness”….. The rest of that verse (Matt. 6:33) is God’s business and He is always faithful to take care of His business.
7 Make no mistake about this: You can never make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you’ll harvest.8 If you plant in the soil of your corrupt nature, you will harvest destruction. But if you plant in the soil of your spiritual nature, you will harvest everlasting life. 9 We can’t allow ourselves to get tired of living the right way. Certainly, each of us will receive everlasting life at the proper time, if we don’t give up. 10 Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers.–Galatians 6:7-10 (NLT)
Jesus went about doing good deeds and spreading the good news that the Kingdom of God was at hand. He is our example to follow. With all the bad news we hear each day, we need to be diligent in spreading the good news. God gives us abundant opportunities each day to plant good seed in good soil. The majority of people that you come into contact each day are looking for something to believe in and hold onto. They are looking for something solid and secure that is not going to change. We have the answer in the good news of Jesus and His free gift of salvation. People are drowning in the sea of uncertainty and doubt. We are holding the life rope they need. Take the time to throw it out and bring them to the shore to meet Jesus.
If we focus on Jesus and spreading the Good News, He will continue to strengthen us and fill us with joy. Again, we need to follow the example Jesus set by taking time to be alone with God, meditating on the Word and praying. These times of refreshing will keep us from growing weary of doing good. We will reap what we sow. So, let us be diligent in our journey here on earth and lay up our rewards in heaven.
1 Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee.This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. 3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.–John 21:1-3 (NLT)
After some few days (at least 9, possibly more), the disciples decided to go fishing. They had seen Jesus and knew that He had risen from the grave, but the Holy Spirit had not yet come. For three years they had had a leader and a constant companion. Now, they were like sheep without a shepherd. As most of us do when we don’t know what else to do, we go back to doing what we used to do. Peter, having the strongest personality, seems to have become the temporary leader by default. They fished all night without success. “Busyness” for the sake of being busy is not usually very productive or satisfying.. They were most likely feeling very tired, alone and frustrated. When we have been with Jesus for a while and then we drift away, we have had that feeling. Kinda like you are lost at sea and just bobbing around on the waves. We may not know where we are or which direction to go, but Jesus knows exactly where we are and what we need. We have an advantage the disciples didn’t have at that time. We have God the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Unlike them, we are never alone. If you have these kind of feelings now or any time, just stop and let Jesus wrap you in His arms. He is waiting for us, just as the disciples will discover that He is waiting for them.
6 “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me. 9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you.–John 17:6-9 (NLT)
From verse one of this chapter, Jesus has been talking to the Father. He has been rehearsing to the Father all that He had done in obedience to the Father. Of course, God already knew all of this. But Jesus was specifically pointing out to His Father that the disciples had now accepted the truth of His words and the truth of who He really was. Jesus was leading up to His intercessory prayer for not only His disciples but for every person that would believe in Him from then until the end of this world. Starting tomorrow, we will be looking at THE most beautiful, powerful intercessory prayer that has ever been spoken by a human. And what makes it even more meaningful is the fact that it is only an example to show us what Jesus is doing in heaven right now. 24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.—Hebrews 7:24, 25 (NLT)
Just think about that for a minute, Jesus, Himself, is praying for us right now!
“What have we to dread, what have we to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms”?*** The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. He drives out the enemy before you; he cries out, ‘Destroy them!’ —Deuteronomy 33:27 (NLT)
***Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” words written by Elisha Hoffman, music by Anthony Showalter
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.
28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going, but I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you should be happy that I am going back to the Father, because he is greater than I am. 29 I have told you this now, before it happens, so that when it happens, you will believe. 30 I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me, 31 but the world must know that I love the Father, so I do exactly what the Father told me to do. “Come now, let us go.—John 14:28-31(NCV)
Jesus is telling the disciples and us that He must leave but He will return one day. If Jesus doesn’t go to the Father, then the Holy Spirit will not come to abide with us. Jesus knew and understood that the time was swiftly approaching when He would not be able to see and talk to all the people that needed to hear the Good News. But the Father already had a plan in place, His Spirit would come and abide in each of us, so that none of us would ever be alone again. The Holy Spirit will teach us, lead us and prepare us for the return of our soon coming King. Jesus is also telling the disciples and us that satan is not defeating Him, but still, He must do what He must do. It has been the plan since eternity that He would be the perfect, sacrificial Lamb that would redeem fallen man. The time was quickly approaching for Jesus to complete His mission here on earth. He needed to return to the Father because He had work to do in heaven. 24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.—Hebrews 7:24, 25 (NLT)
31 When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man receives his glory, and God receives glory through him. 32 If God receives glory through him, then God will give glory to the Son through himself. And God will give him glory quickly.” 33 Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and what I told the Jews, I tell you now: Where I am going you cannot come. 34 “I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. 35 All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.” —John 13:31-35 (NCV)
Knowing the coming events, Jesus was starting to prepare His disciples for HIs departure from them. Jesus tells them that He won’t be with them much longer and they cannot follow Him where He is going. Jesus stresses to them the importance of showing love for each other. We are told by the experts that boys join gangs because they feel like a part of the “family”. We have something much better to offer them. So, why are they attracted to the gangs and not to the Church? The important questions for us to consider are these::
Do we show enough love for each other to attract the attention of the lost? When they look at us do they see anything that would make them want to be a part of our group? If not, why not? What about ourselves or the church as a group do we need to change to attract them to Jesus?
16 I tell you the truth, a servant is not greater than his master. A messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you will be happy if you do them. 18 “I am not talking about all of you. I know those I have chosen. But this is to bring about what the Scripture said: ‘The man who ate at my table has turned against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now before it happens so that when it happens, you will believe that I am he. 20 I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send also accepts me. And whoever accepts me also accepts the One who sent me.” 21 After Jesus said this, he was very troubled. He said openly, “I tell you the truth, one of you will turn against me.” 22 The followers all looked at each other, because they did not know whom Jesus was talking about.—John 13:16-22 (NCV)
When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we are freed from the bondage of sin, but if we are serious about our repentance, we become bond servants to Jesus Christ. A bond servant is not a slave, he is one who chooses to serve his master because of his love for the master. We should serve Jesus not out of bondage or fear, but simply because we love the One who chose to give His life for our redemption from sin. Jesus had set the example of being a servant to those around Him. He expects us to follow that example because a servant is not greater than His master. It should give us joy unspeakable to serve a risen Savior. Again, Jesus lets us know that He is aware that He will be betrayed and that He knows which one will betray Him. The disciples could not imagine that one of them was the betrayer. If we accept Jesus then we accept the one who sent Him and that is God the Father. He was also telling the disciples and us that we will be accepted when we are sent out by Him. Jesus fulfilled His mission, the disciples fulfilled their mission and the Church has carried on since then. Now, it is our turn. Let us not be the generation that fails to continue to spread the Word of God. When Jesus sends us out, He has already prepared the way. We might not get to see the results, but God’s Word never fails. 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.—Isaiah 55:10, 11 (NASB)
10 Jesus said, “After a person has had a bath, his whole body is clean. He needs only to wash his feet. And you men are clean, but not all of you.” 11 Jesus knew who would turn against him, and that is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and sat down again. He asked, “Do you understand what I have just done for you?13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that is what I am. 14 If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash each other’s feet. 15 I did this as an example so that you should do as I have done for you.—John 13:10-15 (NCV)
Jesus was referring to their custom of bathing in the nearest stream and then walking home on a dusty road. The physical body was still clean except for the feet, The rich of that day kept jars of water inside the home that were used only by the servants to wash the master’s feet after the walk home. That is why Jesus said, you are clean except for your feet and you need only to wash them to be totally clean on the outside. But, as usual, I believe that Jesus was using a well-known custom to convey a deeper message. Notice that Jesus said, “”And you men are clean, but not all of you” referring to Judas who He knew would turn against Him and betray Him to the religious leaders. I believe that Jesus was telling the disciples that once they were washed by the blood of Jesus that they were completely clean on the inside. Since we still have to live in the flesh in this world, there are times that we will need to come back to the stream of living waters, not to be saved again, but to repent of the times we fail and come up short of the mark. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.–1 John 1:8,9 (NCV)
Even though Judas was with Jesus and the disciples, it does not appear that he ever accepted Jesus as the Messiah since Jesus said that “not all of you are clean”.
32 If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people toward me.” 33 Jesus said this to show how he would die.34 The crowd said, “We have heard from the law that the Christ will live forever. So why do you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” 35 Then Jesus said, “The light will be with you for a little longer, so walk while you have the light. Then the darkness will not catch you. If you walk in the darkness, you will not know where you are going. 36 Believe in the light while you still have it so that you will become children of light.” When Jesus had said this, he left and hid himself from them.—John 12:32-36 (NCV)
When Jesus used the words “if I be lifted up” the people seemed to understand that He meant He would have to die. They immediately respond that they thought that the Christ would live forever. So, to them if He were going to die, He couldn’t be the Messiah for whom they had been looking . They do not grasp the concept of the resurrection and eternal life. 1 In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were made by him, and nothing was made without him. 4 In him there was life, and that life was the light of all people. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.—John 1:1-4 (NCV)
After the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit, we now have the light living inside of us and we are the light of the world. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth as we study the word of God. So, we have the light interanlly with the Holy Spirit and we have the light externally with God’s Word. 105 Your word is like a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.—Psalm 119:105 (NCV)
There is no reason for us to walk in darkness. Every where we go, we should dispel the darkness. “You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden.—Matt. 5:14 (NCV)