When Paul came to a new town, it was usually his practice to preach first to the Jews, if any were living there, and then to the Gentiles. This was the case in Galatia. Of course, the newly converted Jews would be under pressure from the religious leaders to turn back to the law and the old covenant. The newly converted Gentiles would be pressured by the local leaders to turn back to their practice of worshiping idols. The leaders were zealous in trying to turn the people back to these old ways but for the wrong reason. Both the religious leaders and the local leaders were dependent on the people for their livelihood. Paul says it is good to be zealous for the right reasons, but they must be strong enough to stand even when he is not with them. Since they were not able to stand alone, he must now treat them again as babies in Christ. Today, we have the same situation because we “go and make converts” and then we leave them to fend for themselves.Jesus said to “go and make disciples”. Receiving Jesus as your Savior without any further instructions is not likely to make many disciples. Mentoring others takes a lot of love, patience, kindness, and time.
Since so many people heard the message that Jesus brought into the world, we have more than sufficient evidence to confirm His birth and His life. In John 1, we are told “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity became a living human being in every aspect except sin. The angels brought this message to the shepherds and it was confirmed by the many signs and wonders that Jesus did while here on earth. Then at the crucifixion of Jesus every sin ever committed or that ever will be committed was poured into Him. Those sins were properly punished by His death as His blood poured out from His body. After the Resurrection, Jesus was seen by many people and then His message was again confirmed by miraculous acts from God. The believers spoke the words given to them by the Holy Spirit. Amazing, awesome things happened as the disciples spoke the truth and thousands upon thousands were saved. That same miracle-working power is still available to us today. God has given each of us a spiritual gift that we are to use for His glory and the edification of His church. Our lack of faith and refusal to believe that God is the “same yesterday, today, and tomorrow” has limited God in what He can do now, just as the children of Israel limited what He could do in their wilderness journey.
Even when we sin, God still loves us. He wants to bless us all the time. But He can’t bless us if we do not confess our sins. When our relationship with God is broken because of sins that we have not confessed, His heart is broken. He leaves the 99 sheep to bring back the 1 lost sheep when we confess. We are never alone, He hears our prayers and knows our situation, but He is limited in what He can do for us because of our sins. God is always faithful to forgive us when we confess and then our relationship with Him is restored and there is joy in heaven. What amazing grace and love that God would love sinners enough to die for us!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
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?
God does not accept false worship. You know, the kind of worship where you are watching the clock and waiting for it to strike high noon. Just as he was upset with the Israelites about performing sacrifices only for tradition’s sake, He doesn’t like halfhearted worship. He wants our full attention and He deserves it. God inhabits the praises of His people. But not that shallow stuff. 3 songs, prayer, collection, sermon, prayer and we are good for the week. Not so, my brothers and sisters. God has something to say to us, give Him your time and your full attention. He is looking at your heart. Have you falsely accused? Have you caused someone else to have to carry a part of your load? Have you encouraged anyone today? Have you given any charitable donations or worked in a local ministry to feed or clothe the poor and needy? If not, then God does not consider that you have worshiped Him properly. Humble yourself before the Lord and ask Him to show you where he needs you to work in His kingdom. Practice this and you will look forward to meeting with the Lord anytime, anywhere. Then the joy of your salvation will be restored.
16 So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. 17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” 18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God. 19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. 21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.—John 5:16-21 (NLT)
Jesus used the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda to get the attention of the people, especially the religious leaders, He wanted them to understand who He was and why He was there. But, like most of us, when we first encounter Jesus, the religious leaders looked for reasons not to accept the truth of who Jesus is. We find fault with how and why Jesus does the things He chooses to do. Here is a human being, who claims to be the Son of God. He is making these preposterous claims that He can heal, raise from the dead, and even forgive sins. In their eyes, this is blasphemy. What do we see, when we look at Jesus and His claims? Do we see the love of God and His great mercy or do we see what the religious leaders saw? If we are totally honest in our search for truth, we will be drawn to this man Jesus and His love for us. He will not force you to accept Him, but He is standing at your heart’s door asking you to invite Him into your heart and life. If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment and ask Him in now.
11 Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. 12 Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 13 Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. 15 Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.—1 Timothy 4:11-16 (NLT)
We should not only teach the Word, we should live the Word, so that those around us will want to know Jesus. Our age, be it young or old chronologically, should not be a handicap to our living a Holy lifestyle. There are people who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior but they make little or no progress from that point. We are to focus on studying the Scriptures and using the spiritual gifts that God has given to each one of us. If any of us refuse to do our part as a member of Christ’s body, then the body is not whole and it is weak. As Paul told Timothy “give your complete attention to these things and throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see our growth”. For our own sake and the sake of those around us, we must stay true to what we know to be the truth. Our walk and our talk should be holy. As Francis of Assisi said “Preach the Gospel, even if you have to use words.”