7 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? 8 It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.– Galatians 5:7-8 NLT
The new converts had started off “on fire” but now they were being hampered by those around them. Let each of us think back to the time that we accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Now, let each of us compare our enthusiasm and boldness for telling others about Jesus then and our enthusiasm and boldness for doing that now. Who or what “cut in on us” or kept us from spreading the Good News about salvation. Was it the mocking of “friends” or the cares of this world that hampered us? Are we more concerned about other people’s opinions of us than we are about what Jesus thinks about us? Does it even matter if we tell others about Jesus and His mercy? Do we think that Jesus isn’t watching? Or do we do the things we do and act the way we act because we know that Jesus will forgive us but our family, friends and neighbors might not? That kind of thinking does not come from the Holy Spirit.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.–Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. — Isaiah 61:1-2 NLT
Yes, these verses apply directly to Jesus, but they also apply to us as well. Jesus did this work while He walked on this earth. Now, since we are His living temple and He abides in us, it is our duty to carry on this work. This is the good news that He commissioned us to carry to a lost and dying world. His Spirit indwells us and gives us power, boldness, and the words to speak to those He puts in our paths each day. It is not necessary to go on a mission to a foreign country to do this. We live in a foreign country (we are aliens here) and our neighborhood is our mission field. The secular workplace that God has put you in is your mission field. We are all ministers of God’s saving grace and as such, we should minister to people as we go. Our pastors and teachers are responsible for equipping us to minister to the world around us, but it is our responsibility to do the hands-on ministering.
7 Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received! — Matthew 10:7-8 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
We have no strength of our own to accomplish the work God has called us to do. Just as God instructed Joshua to obey all the instructions Moses had given to him and to not deviate from them, so we must follow the instructions God gives us through the guidance of His Holy Spirit. This guidance comes to us after we have studied the Bible and while we are meditating on it. Meditation is more than having a passing thought, it is deeper and requires us to focus on what God’s Spirit is saying. It is concentrating so totally that our bodies are almost groaning and moaning. Not with complaint or pain but with intensity. The Bible is the only book that we can read and the author will speak to us. With God, all the things that He has ordained are possible, so be strong and courageous. Speak with love, wisdom and boldness. We are never alone, God is with us wherever we go.
The council meeting in Jerusalem consisted of all the rulers, elders and teachers of religious law. It also included the high priest and several of his relatives. They wanted to discredit Peter and John but the miracle of healing the lame man had been seen by too many and was too well known. They would have preferred some harsh form of punishment but they were afraid that any such action would start a riot. So, they decided to just command them to stop talking about Jesus and never to speak to anyone again in the name of Jesus. After telling Peter and John this and warning them of more harsh punishment in the future, they dismissed them. Peter and John told them they could not stop talking about everything they had seen and heard. As soon as they were dismissed, they returned to the other believers and told them the whole story. As soon as they had heard the story, all the believers lifted their voices and began to pray. They asked God for boldness to preach His Word and that the preaching of the Word would be confirmed with miracles, signs and wonders. When they had finished praying, the building where the meeting was taking place shook and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. They went forth and preached the Word with boldness.
When we are rebuked or offended because we mentioned Jesus, what do we do? Do we react with anger and unkind words or do we pray and respond with the love of Jesus? If we take the time to whisper or even just think a prayer, the Holy Spirit will guide us, giving us the Words to speak and the boldness to speak those words.
19 This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” 20 He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “No.” 22 “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” 23 John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness,
”Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”—John 1:19-23 (NLT)
John the Baptist stayed faithful to His calling. He was sent to prepare the people to receive the Messiah. Because of the message he was preaching, people would ask, “Who are you?”, his answer was “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, clear the way for the Lord’s coming.” John’s boldness in standing for the truth eventually got him beheaded. The same thing is happening, on a daily basis, to our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. If we were confronted with the choice: “Deny or die!”, what would our answer be? Would it be: “I am a follower of Christ, I have come to tell you about the Lord’s return”? Or would we hang our head in shame? 32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. 34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.—Matt.10:32-34 (NLT)
Hebrews 10:19-25 (NLT) 19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Because God loves His Son so much and Jesus gave His life for us, we can boldly go before God at any time and talk with Him about the things that are on your heart. Don’t just give Him a laundry list and head out, take the time to let Him talk to you. God always answers our prayers in the way that is best for us and is consistent with His purpose. He doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we expect Him to, so be alert and watch for His answer. The smallest thing in our lives is important to Him. He does not ignore the requests of His children. He cares for us and gives us everything we need for life here and in eternity. Cast all your cares on Him. He will guide you on your path today. He may choose not to tell you anything about tomorrow. He expects us to walk by faith. That is hard to do at first, but as you practice walking by faith, it becomes easier. It is quite an adventure to walk by faith trusting Jesus to provide everything you need.