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.
We have the privilege of listening into a personal conversation between Jesus and our Father. As we read through the prayer that Jesus is praying for His disciples, we get a little glimpse of His love and compassion for them. Jesus is not asking God to remove all the bumps, He is asking Him to keep them safe as they travel the rocky road. He is also asking our Father to teach them the truth. Jesus, as the oldest of all God’s children, is taking the responsibility of being sure that the family is being taken care of while He is separated from them. Of course, He knows that our Father is going to take good care of the disciples, but His compassion demands that He set the example for them to ask. Not only that, but He is paying in advance for their care by giving His life on the cross. Jesus is the perfect example of a servant, a brother, a friend and a Redeemer.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. — Hebrews 13:1-3 NIV
Keep on loving each other! Some of us have a real problem expressing our affections in words and actions. We may have to overcome some hurts from the past before we are willing to open up to other people. It helps if we realize that all of us need love. If God had not loved us enough to send His Son to die for us, we would never have been able to experience the joy of loving others. So, let us show others the love and kindness of our God by showing our concern for them. We can do this by praying for others, starting at home and praying for our families Then for our brothers and sisters in Christ,especially those who are being persecuted daily and imprisoned. Then we need to pray for those that are persecuting and killing our brothers and sisters. Though we sometimes forget it, Jesus died for them as well. Being able to pray for our enemies is hard to do, but we must, if we are going to be obedient to Jesus. Above all, we must continue to love one another.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.—- Colossians 3:12-14 NIV
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. — 1 Cor.13:13
15 Simon Peter and another one of Jesus’ followers went along after Jesus. This follower knew the high priest, so he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. 16 But Peter waited outside near the door. The follower who knew the high priest came back outside, spoke to the girl at the door, and brought Peter inside. 17 The girl at the door said to Peter, “Aren’t you also one of that man’s followers?” Peter answered, “No, I am not!” 18 It was cold, so the servants and guards had built a fire and were standing around it, warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.—John 18:15-18 (NCV)
When Jesus was arrested in the garden, all the disciples fled, However, two of them came back at some point on the journey from the Garden to the priest’s house. One of them we are sure is Simon Peter, The other follower is assumed to be John because, in the book of John, John does not normally refer to himself by name, but with a brief description such as “the disciple that Jesus loved”. John went inside the house with Jesus, but Peter stayed outside near the door. John shows us that Jesus has taught him to care about others since he went into the house with Jesus, seemingly not caring if the others knew he was a follower of Jesus. Then he comes back out to have Peter brought inside. A nice gesture on a cold night. But when the girl goes to bring Peter inside, she recognizes Peter and she asks him if he isn’t also one of the followers of Jesus. Peter answers that he is not. Peter makes his first denial of the evening. Now he will have to keep lying about his relationship with Jesus. As we know, one lie always leads to another and it gets easier each time we tell it. Peter failed Jesus with words, how many times have we done that? And just as hypocritical, how many times have we betrayed Jesus with our silence? How many times have we grieved God the Holy Spirit with our refusal to allow Him to lead us? Everyday, with our actions or lack of actions and our words or our lack of words, we deny God the Father and grieve God the Holy Spirit.
7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7-10 (NRSV)
We hear a lot of opinions on how we should pray. Some say you should only ask once and God will answer when and if He wants to. Some say you should only ask for certain things. What does God say about it? In the original text of the Bible, the Greek verbs were verbs that indicated this was a continuing action. Jesus concurs with this in the parable of the woman who kept bothering the unjust judge until he gave her what she wanted. In James, we are told that “all good gifts come down from the Father above”. Furthermore, God has said that He is our provider and that means more than spiritual salvation. When Jesus healed people, He used the term “made whole”. That means physical as well as spiritual. The simple truth is that we can ask God for any and every thing that doesn’t violate His Word and we can keep on asking Him. Think about what He said to Paul. Paul had asked Jesus 3 times for healing and God said “my grace is sufficient”. That was God’s answer to Paul’s prayer. Unless God has answered your prayer (and that doesn’t always mean that He gives us what we want, but He does give us what we need) keep on asking. Look again at verse 8 above: “For everyone who asks receives……
41 “Then the king will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me! God has cursed you! Go into everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn’t give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t take care of me.’ 44 “They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?’ 45 “He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’ Matthew 25:41-45 (God’s Word Translation)
I cannot read these verses without being reminded of how little I do for others. True, my resources are very limited, but it is also true that if we have a home in which to live, food for today and tomorrow, and one extra set of clothing, we are richer than 80% of the world’s population.
How much is too much? How little is too little? These are questions we all need to talk to God about and let Him answer those questions for us. I think how we receive those answers from God will go a long way in showing us where our hearts and our treasures lie. What would happen if we really and truthfully depended on God to supply our every need? Could we, would we do it? The apostles did. 7 He called the twelve apostles, sent them out two by two, and gave them authority over evil spirits. 8 He instructed them to take nothing along on the trip except a walking stick. They were not to take any food, a traveling bag, or money in their pockets. 9 They could wear sandals but could not take along a change of clothes. Mark 6: 7-9 (God’s Word Translation)
I am probably going too far with this (something that I usually do when I am researching and meditating on topics), but I sometimes feel conviction when I open my closet door and see clothes hanging there that I haven’t worn this year (and probably not last year, either). And, even though I have a very small refrigerator and pantry, I have food that I could share. Especially this time of year with the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons approaching, as well as the cold weather that is coming. Material things, in and of themselves, are neutral, but our attitudes, thoughts, and our ultimate actions regarding those things are not neutral.