5 But when I could stand it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I was afraid that the tempter had tempted you in some way, and that our work had been a waste of time.– 1 Thess. 3:5 ISV
Paul continues to show his love and concern for the new converts in all the places he has been preaching and teaching. He does this not only by sending letters to several of the churches with instructions to share them with others, but also, by sending Timothy and others back to encourage them and check on their welfare. It seems to have become a tendency for us to only talk about the love of God for us. Unlike Paul, we do not stress the fact that the road is not always smooth. In our lives as Christians, we will experience difficulties of various sorts and we will be offended, We need to be sure that new converts understand this while assuring them of the love of Jesus. We will be tempted over and over but God always provides a way out. Jesus promised us that we would have troubles, but at the same time, He reminded us that He had overcome the world.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
— John 16:33
Not only did Jesus overcome the world, but he made it possible for us to be conquerors and overcomers as well.
4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.— 1 John 4:4
After we have taught new converts John 3:16, let us not forget to also teach them another verse, so when duty calls they will be ready to answer.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.— Luke 9:23, 24 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
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
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
The very moment that we repent and turn to Jesus for salvation, we are saved. Don’t let anyone deceive you, if you died the very moment you accepted Jesus, you would go to heaven. But for us who live, we are continually being saved as long as we walk on this earth in these tents of flesh. We are looking for the day when we will be completely saved. That is our hope and His appearance is what we are waiting for. God has given us His Spirit to train us to live godly lives so we can live self-controlled, moral lives today. Jesus died to cleanse us from all sin and make us a special people for His glory.
However, you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.– 1 Peter 2:9 (GW)
This is our belief and our hope. We are called to stand firm, encourage and correct others. If they choose to ignore our words, they are ignoring God’s words and they do so at their own peril.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.–John 17:20, 21 (NLT)
As we continue to listen in on this prayer, we find that all the things that Jesus asked our Father to do for the disciples, He asks Him to do for us as well. It is the very heart of Jesus that we be holy and that we full of peace and joy. Earlier, He had told us that He would send another to replace Himself. 26 “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.—John 15:26 (NLT)
This Advocate, this Counselor, Comforter, Teacher, Encourager guides us into all truth. Jesus was God in the flesh and as such, He could not physically enter into us, but this Advocate is God in Spirit. He could, would, and does dwell inside each believer reminding us of what Jesus did and said. He is our internal guidance system, installation charges prepaid by our Big Brother, no monthly fees, no interruptions and worldwide coverage with no breaks. Maybe that is why we say those that don’t have it are lost. It is our duty to tell the lost about this free guidance service. And like any good plan, you get a reward when they allow it to be installed! You get a blessing here and now! But, wait, there’s more! You get a reward when you get to heaven!
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”.
37 Though Jesus had done many miracles in front of the people, they still did not believe in him. 38 This was to bring about what Isaiah the prophet had said: “Lord, who believed what we told them? Who saw the Lord’s power in this?” 39 This is why the people could not believe: Isaiah also had said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes, and he has closed their minds. Otherwise they would see with their eyes and understand in their minds and come back to me and be healed.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. 42 But many believed in Jesus, even many of the leaders. But because of the Pharisees, they did not say they believed in him for fear they would be put out of the synagogue. 43 They loved praise from people more than praise from God.—John 12:37-43 (NCV)
Isaiah had prophesied many years earlier that the people would not believe or receive Jesus. Because their traditions and praise from men had come to mean more to them than God’s law and God’s approval, God had chosen to blind their spiritual eyes and close their minds to spiritual understanding. Many of the people did believe in Jesus but were afraid to say so. They were fearful that they would be put out of the synagouge. If this happened they would be ridiculed and treated as outcasts in the villages. Their fleshly desires outweighed their faith that Jesus was who He said He was. Jesus had told the people earlier that they would have to confess Him before men. 32 “All those who stand before others and say they believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they belong to me. 33 But all who stand before others and say they do not believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they do not belong to me.—Matt. 10:32, 33 (NCV)
How many of us have felt that little nudge from the Holy Spirit to speak out but we have remained silent? We were afraid of being ridiculed by society and our flesh wanted acceptance from our little clique. How did you feel after that happened? Guilty? Don’t let satan beat you up because you failed. We can take a lesson from Peter. If we feel condemnation, it is from satan. If we feel conviction, it is from the Holy Spirit. 1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.–Romans 8:1 (NLT)
God is still in the forgiving business no matter how many times we fail Him. 8 If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9 But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.—1 John 1:8, 9 (NCV)
17 The Father loves me because I give my life so that I can take it back again. 18 No one takes it away from me; I give my own life freely. I have the right to give my life, and I have the right to take it back. This is what my Father commanded me to do.” 19 Again the Jews did not agree with each other because of these words of Jesus. 20 Many of them said, “A demon has come into him and made him crazy. Why listen to him?” 21 But others said, “A man who is crazy with a demon does not say things like this. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” —John 10:17-21 (NCV)
The decision for Jesus to be the perfect Lamb sacrificed for our redemption was made long before the world was spoken into existence. 18 You know that in the past you were living in a worthless way, a way passed down from the people who lived before you. But you were saved from that useless life. You were bought, not with something that ruins like gold or silver, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, who was like a pure and perfect lamb. 20 Christ was chosen before the world was made, but he was shown to the world in these last times for your sake. —1 Peter 1:18-20 (NCV)
Jesus the human did not want to die on the cross any more than you or I would want to die such a cruel death. But Jesus as the second Person of the Trinity knew from time immemorial that He was going to do just that. Since Jesus was the Word and the Word was with God, Jesus was there when the decision was made and was in full agreement with the plan. So, He could truthfully say that He had the right to give His life and to take it back. Taking His life back was a reference to His resurrection that the Jews did not understand at that time. Being spiritually blind, they thought Jesus must be crazy or demon possessed. Before we accepted Jesus, we had no understanding of what Jesus was doing and why He was doing it. But, now that we know, it is our responsibility to carry the Good News to others. The New Year has begun, wouldn’t it be great if all of our friends and neighbors could begin a New Life by accepting Jesus? Let us freely give our time in spreading the Gospel so that others may have life eternal.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. 12 The worker who is paid to keep the sheep is different from the shepherd who owns them. When the worker sees a wolf coming, he runs away and leaves the sheep alone. Then the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. 13 The man runs away because he is only a paid worker and does not really care about the sheep. 14 15 “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, as the Father knows me. And my sheep know me, as I know the Father. I give my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not in this flock, and I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.—John 10:11-16 (NCV)
A good shepherd will not allow any of his sheep to be harmed. Someone who is paid to keep sheep or is just tending the flock for his own benefit might run from the dangers and leave the sheep alone. David was an example of a good shepherd, he fought the bear and the lion and literally took the sheep from their mouth. 34 But David said to Saul, “I, your servant, have been keeping my father’s sheep. When a lion or bear came and took a sheep from the flock, 35 I would chase it. I would attack it and save the sheep from its mouth. When it attacked me, I caught it by its fur and hit it and killed it. –1 Samuel 17:34-35 (NCV)
Jesus is a better shepherd than David. He loved us so much that He gave up His glory in heaven to come to earth so that we could be redeemed. He became human and dwelt among us. He came so that we would know His voice and choose to follow Him. He died to redeem and reconcile us to God. He is still in the reconciliation business. He fights every battle for us and yes, He even pulls some of us from the mouth of hell. Jesus hates the sin but loves the sinner. He expects us to have that same attitude. There are those God has put in our paths that He has chosen for us to shepherd. Be a good shepherd and love them into the fold just as Jesus did for us. 22 Show mercy to some people who have doubts. 23 Take others out of the fire, and save them. Show mercy mixed with fear to others, hating even their clothes which are dirty from sin—Jude 22 (NCV)