Somehow, somewhere, it seems that we have gotten the idea that it is not necessary for us to be careful of the words we speak and the tone of voice we use when we speak those words. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I become frustrated and/or angry, I hear myself speaking unkind words in a tone that I should not be using. I am always convicted of the words and the attitude that caused me to speak those careless words. Not always immediately, but the Holy Spirit does not leave me alone until I agree with Him and confess my sin. I am so grateful that God loves me enough to discipline me, no matter how long it takes. The passage of scripture quoted here in 1 Peter (originally from Psalm 34:12-16) reminds me that as a Christian, I should not be guilty of speaking words in that tone of voice. If I truly “love life” and want to “see good days”, I must “keep my tongue from evil and my lips from deceitful speech”. I must “seek peace and pursue it”, then God’s eyes will be on me and He will hear my prayers. If I continue to rebel against God with unkind words and a bad attitude, I have no basis to expect Him to do anything for me. God seems to be teaching me a lesson that “bad things happen to good people” sometimes because He disciplines His children. The obverse of this is that He doesn’t discipline those that are not His children, but they will receive the full brunt of His wrath in the fullness of time. Our part, then, is to remain obedient and faithful and He will do His part. As the Psalmist puts it:
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. 9 For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. 10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. 11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. — Psalm 37:8-11 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
As we all know not everyone that speaks to us has the Spirit of God abiding in them. There are those sent from satan who masquerade as “angels of light” but are actually false prophets.
13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.–2 Cor. 11:13-15 (NLT)
We must always test the spirit and see if it acknowledges the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The devil knows that God exists and he knows the Scriptures better than we do. The Spirit that dwells in us will witness to us if a person has a kindred Spirit to ours. But if you are in doubt, you can always ask if they believe that Jesus shed His blood on Calvary for our sins. If they acknowledge that this is true and they acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus, then we have assurance that it is not a false spirit.
3 So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.—1 Cor. 12:3 (NLT)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Lazarus was wrapped head to toe with graveclothes and a headcloth, yet, when Jesus called him out, he came forth. Not walking or seeing, but transported by the power of the words that Jesus had spoken. Regardless of how seemingly impossible the task may seem, when Jesus speaks, things happen. God created the universe and everything in it by speaking them into existence. His words bring with them the power to create. Jesus said ” I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. His words bring light and life to a world of darkness and death. We are told this many times in various ways in the Bible. In Romans, we are told that God speaks of things that are not as though they were.
Why would He do that? Because when He says they are, they become whatever He says. The lame walk, the blind see, the dead arise filled with new life. So, when we read all of the many precious promises that Jesus has made to us through His word, why do we still doubt it? When we have access to the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of the Father, why do we live in fear of what tomorrow might bring? When we are persecuted, why do we cower and remain silent? Let each of us speak the Word and God will provide the power and the oucome will be to His glory.
41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 43 So the crowd was divided in their opinion about him. 44 And some wanted him arrested, but no one touched him. 45 The Temple guards who had been sent to arrest him returned to the leading priests and Pharisees. “Why didn’t you bring him in?” they demanded. 46 “We have never heard anyone talk like this!” the guards responded..—John 7:41-46 (NLT)
Although Jesus spent a lot of time in Galilee, He had fulfilled the prophecy by being born in Bethlehem, as well as being born in the lineage of King David. While the crowd continued to discuss whether or not Jesus was the Messiah, the leaders and the Pharisees sent the temple guards to arrest Jesus. They wanted to silence Him because more and more people were beginning to believe His story. But the guards came back empty-handed. When they were questioned as to why they had not arrested Jesus, their reply was that they “had never heard anyone talk like this”. The guards had been touched by the words that Jesus spoke, so much so, that they refused to follow the orders they had been given. The Temple guards, which were the ones that the leaders and Pharisees commanded, were Jewish.They realized that this man was different from any they had heard speak. They would also have been familiar with the Old Testament and would have known about the powerful prophets, such as Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and others. Still, nothing they had heard affected them like the words of Jesus. The words were so powerful, it required them to make a difficult decision.
It is still the same today, when the name of Jesus is mentioned, we have to make a decision. It is “I accept” or it is “I reject”. There is no middle ground. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”–Acts 4:11, 12 (NLT) What decision have you made? Who do you say Jesus is?
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)
16 ”After a little while you will not see me, and then after a little while you will see me again.” 17 Some of the followers said to each other, “What does Jesus mean when he says, ‘After a little while you will not see me, and then after a little while you will see me again’? And what does he mean when he says, ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They also asked, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” 19 Jesus saw that the followers wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking each other what I meant when I said, ‘After a little while you will not see me, and then after a little while you will see me again’?—John 16:16-19 (NCV)
The last few days before the crucifixion of Jesus must have been very perplexing to the disciples. They had expected that Jesus might set up an earthly kingdom. Instead, He keeps talking about leaving and they won’t know where He is going and they can’t come with Him now. What could Jesus possibly mean that they would not see Him for “a little while” and then they would see Him? What could He mean by saying they couldn’t come now, but they would come to Him later. Jesus could have been referring to two events. “A little while” could be the 3 days He will be in the grave. But since God is not bound by the way we measure time and since He said that He was “going to the Father”, the little while could be from then until each of them arrived in heaven. Either way, it was a disturbing and sad time for them. A time that we will never have to endure. Since God has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell each of us that accepts Jesus as our Savior, we will never be without Him.
We will never be alone. I am reminded of the old hymn “Have Faith in God”
Have faith in God when your pathway is lonely.
He sees and knows all the way you have trod; Never alone are the least of His children;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.
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)
1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Teacher,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?” 3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. 5 But while I am still here in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and smoothed the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing!—John 9:1-7 (NLT)
In those times, the people thought that physical ailments meant that you or someone in your family had sinned and the problems were God’s way of punishing them. This was why the disciples asked the question, “why was this man born blind?”. Jesus explains to them that his blindness is not caused by a particular sin of either the man or his parents. After all, how could a person sin before they were even born? This blindness was another evil thing that occurred because sin was a still in the world. But Jesus used the evil for good to demonstrate the power of God against such things. People are still asking the same question today, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The answer is the same, sin is still at work in the world. But Jesus can still use those situations to show the power and the glory of God. All of us are born spiritually blind and we still need Jesus, “the Light of the world” to open our eyes. But rejoice! The day is soon coming when all these evil and bad things will be gone! That day could be tomorrow! 4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies
He is coming to save you”.
5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6 The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.–Isaiah 35:4-6 (NLT)
1 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the person who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.2 The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The one who guards the door opens it for him. And the sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he brings all his sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger. They will run away from him because they don’t know his voice.” 6 Jesus told the people this story, but they did not understand what it meant.—John 10:1-6 (NLT)
It is often heard that sheep are dumb,stupid animals. That statement is, of course, up for debate. Sheep are gregarious and are natural followers, this is for their own protection and it also makes them easier to herd. They do have an excellent sense of hearing which could explain why they know their shepherd’s voice. They will follow the shepherd because they know his voice. Without a shepherd, they will follow the lead sheep wherever he goes, even unto death. Where there is only one sheepfold, all the shepherds put their sheep into that holding area for the night. It is guarded by a gatekeeper who allows only the shepherds to go in the next morning and call their sheep. Only that particular shepherd’s sheep will follow him because sheep will not follow a stranger. Jesus wanted the people to understand that there was more than one shepherd in the world. Would they follow the voice of the True Shepherd or the voice of the deceiver? At birth, we humans are all in the same sheepfold and hear those same voices today. Which voice will you learn to recognize and follow?