These must have been very confusing days for the disciples and the true believers in Jesus. The Messiah had come but He had not set up an earthly kingdom as many believed that He would do. Now, Jesus is telling His followers even worse news. “I will be with you only a little longer.” Why was He leaving and where could He be going? Looking back from our vantage point in history, we know where He was going and we understand why He had to leave. Few, if any, of the people present at that time understood that. Isn’t it wonderful news that Jesus has never made that statement to us? In fact, just the opposite is true. To us, He has said:
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”——Hebrews 13: 5 (NKJV)
We have a companion that is closer than a brother. He not only leads us, He walks with us, He is our rearguard, and He abides inside us. Jesus is in us and we are in Jesus. What more could anyone ask?
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
One of the reasons I love Paul’s letters is the fact that right in the middle of telling us how bad it is and how much worse it could be, he suddenly stops, (and I believe) he just shouts it out. REJOICE! If our laboring for the Lord does not bring us joy, we need to realign our priorities. One of the ways we quench the Spirit is to refuse to be joyful in our walk with God. We should test everything we hear, Does your pastor’s sermons always line up with the Word of God? You should check every comment I make and see if it really fits the with the Scriptures. The more we study God’s Word, the more we will see why Paul was always content regardless of his situation. God will give us His peace, and we are blameless in God’s eyes because of the blood of Jesus Christ. Fear not, God is faithful, He will do what He says He will do. If we remain faithful, we will reap our crowns (rewards) in heaven.
17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in?18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? — Mark 8:17, 18 NLT
Depending on what version of the Bible you are reading the word “remember” appears between 148 to 168 times. Moses used it quite often when the Israelis would murmur and complain. He asked them to remember how God had delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt. Not only did He deliver them, but God brought them out with an abundance of riches that the Egyptians gave to them. Still, every time they got tired of the manna or they got thristy, they would complain and wish they were back in Egypt. The disciples, even after seeing all the miracles that Jesus had performed up to this time, were concerned about food for their physical needs. They had just witnessed Jesus feeding thousands of people with a few loaves and a few fish, yet they were concerned about what they would eat. Jesus admonishes them for not remembering these things. Had they remembered them, they would have been at peace with their situation, knowing that Jesus could provide for twelve people very easily. Jesus, the Bread of Life, wanted them to be conerned with Spiritual things and allow Him to be concerned with their physical needs. They needed to stay focused on Jesus and be content with what they had. The same thing applies to us. When we are in a rough patch, we need to stay focused on Jesus and what He has delivered us from in the past. We need to remember the situations He has carried us through. If nothing specific comes to mind, then just remember this — satan would like to kill us right now and he would, if Jesus allowed him to. Whether we draw another breath or not is dependent on the goodness of God and nothing else. So, every breath that we take brings life and when that breath goes out, it should carry a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for God’s goodness and protection for it is “in Him that we live and move and have our being”.
1 Finally, we couldn’t stand it any longer. We decided to stay in Athens by ourselves 2 and send our friend Timothy to you. He works with us as God’s servant and preaches the good news about Christ. We wanted him to make you strong in your faith and to encourage you. 3 We didn’t want any of you to be discouraged by all these troubles. You knew we would have to suffer, 4 because when we were with you, we told you this would happen. And we did suffer, as you well know. 5 At last, when I could not wait any longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I hoped that Satan had not tempted you and made all our work useless-1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (CEV)
As Paul shows us here, it is our responsibility to encourage new converts. Their hearts are tender toward God and ready to receive instruction in His Word. We must be consistent in mentoring new converts. They are eager to learn more and if we leave them in a vacuum, satan will step in and use the persecution to discourage them from God’s work. While we want them to know about God’s love, we must also be sure they understand that offenses will come. God allows those things to happen in our lives for our benefit. He already knows what our response will be, but He allows them so that we know how much we have grown spiritually. We must pray and study so that we, like Paul, can learn to be content in all situations. In good times and bad times, we must never allow our faith to waver.