The rich man who had refused to comfort Lazarus was sent to Hades (the place of the dead). From there, he was allowed to look into Paradise where he saw Lazarus sitting with Abraham. Realizing how wrong he had been in not showing mercy to Lazarus when they both lived on earth, he began to beg for mercy. “Just allow Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and bring it to me”. But Abraham reminded the rich man that he had had ample opportunity to help others with his riches while he lived on the earth. The rich man realizes that the reason he has ended up in this place of torment is because he refused to accept Jesus and his teachings. Since there is now no hope for him, he remembers his brothers and asks Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to witness to them.. Abraham tells the rich man that it wouldn’t make any difference, if his brothers won’t believe Moses and the prophets, they won’t believe just because someone returned from the dead. We find this statement proved to be true over and over since so many refused to believe when Jesus was raised from the dead. Even now, with all the proof we have of His Resurrection, there are those who still refuse to believe. Since we don’t know which ones will believe, we still must witness to everyone that God puts in our lives. When we don’t share the Gospel with those around us who desperately need it, we are as guilty of withholding our riches from them as the rich man was in withholding his riches from Lazarus. Our part is to share the Gospel with everyone, God takes care of the results.
3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. 4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”— Acts 1:3-5 NLT
Jesus spent forty days on earth after His resurrection. He would often appear to the apostles and talk with them, giving them further instructions about what they should do and how they should do it. The most important instruction was not to leave Jerusalem until they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. That instruction is still just as important to God’s children today. When God calls us to do something specific for the Kingdom, we should immerse ourselves in prayer and wait for the moving of the Holy Spirit before we attempt anything. The reason for this is that we are merely mouths, hands and feet for God, He will accomplish the work to be done. What God speaks to us, we speak to others. We take the message wherever He instructs us to take it and we minister to those who He puts in our path. That is how the message gets to the ends of the world. We are carriers, He is the activator. The results are not in our hands, they are in His hands. We are to be concerned about being obedient and God will take care of the results.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
When reading the Bible, I always find Numbers a hard book to get through and not just because of the names that are hard to pronounce but also because of all the numbers. But the upside of Numbers for me is that when I need encouragement about how big my God is, I can read a few verses from Numbers and realize how great and majestic my God is. The number above, 603,550, is a fact and it does not include the tribe of the Levites or any women. It does not include any males less than twenty or older than 50/60. So, it is very easy to see that there was well over a million people on this camping trip. Some estimates go as high as 3,500,000. Even if we take the low end, just imagine the logistics, the materials and the food supplies needed for the journey. Imagine taking all the population of Albuquerque, NM and leading them on foot through the desert past Gallup, NM. You have got to lead them, feed them and keep them clothed. If my God can do this and He did, then He can take care of me. It is puzzling to me that I can trust God with my soul for eternity but not for tomorrow’s lunch. So, once again, I must make the same request the apostles made:
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” — Luke 17:5 NIV
And He is always faithful to do exactly that!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.. — 1 Peter 1:22-25 NIV
Having received Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are being puriifed by His grace and His love. He has placed His Spirit within us to teach us to love others as He loves us. This change will not come overnight, but it will come if we practice listening to and following the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us and to teach us all truth. As we obey that voice of truth that is within us, we will learn to appreciate the love that Jesus has for us and we will reciprocate by showing that love to others. At first, it may just be words that we speak, but as we allow the Holy Spirit to be a bigger part of our life, we will find that we really do love and care for others. With humility and patience, that love will evolve into something similar, but not nearly as great as the love that Jesus shows to us. As John the Baptist said about Jesus “He must increase, I must decrease”. so, it must be true in our lives as well. We must think of ourselves less and less and of Jesus and others more and more. The flesh perishes and decreases while the Spirit is imperishable and increases. This is the Word that was preached to us and is alive and living in us. Everything will perish except the Word of Jesus, it will stand forever. Just as Jesus was determined to go to the cross knowing that glory awaited Him on the other side, we need to be firm in our stand regardless of the personal cost knowing the hope that we have to spend an eternity with Him in His glory.
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. — Luke 9:51 NIV
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. — 2 Cor. 9:10, 11 NIV
When it comes to giving and receiving, God turns our worldly mathematics upside down. Worldly increase comes when we add or multiply. But God gives us increase when we subtract by giving and by dividing when we share with others. He is our source and our supplier. We need to empty out our storehouses so He can refill them with fresh seed and food. As Jesus told the rich young ruler when the young man asked Jesus; “what do I still lack?”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. — Matt. 19:20-22 NIV (emphasis added)
God’s supply never runs out. He allows us to be stewards over a portion of His riches fully expecting us to use those for His glory. As we learn to be good stewards over a little, He will give us increase so that our generosity will result in others giving thanks to God.
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! —1 Cor. 4:8-10 NIV
Paul continues to admonish the Christians at Corinth about their attitude. They are boastful of their salvation as if they had done something to earn it. They have made assumptions and “gone beyond what is written”, even though they have no way of having knowledge that Paul, Apollo, and Peter would not have access to. They mistakenly think that because they are saved, they are already rich and powerful here on earth. Paul contrasts their attitude to the way he, Apollo and Peter think and act. They are mistreated, abused, imprisoned and “made spectacles” for the world and the angels to look upon. They have become fools for Christ’s sake, but the Corinthians are “puffed up”, thinking they are wise. They have given up their honor for the sake of the glory of God. Paul, Apollo, and Peter have become weak so that Jesus might show His strength through their weakness.
They have come to understand what John the Baptist meant when he said: 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”–John 3:30 NIV
And we need to have that same attitude. We can do nothing of heavenly value without Christ but we can do all things through Christ. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.–Phil. 4:13 NIV
27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.—John 3: 27-29 (NLT)
Over and over in Chapter 3, we are reminded of John’s faithfulness and steadfastness in following the plan that God had laid out for Him. In today’s society, with all of it’s “me first” attitudes, we need this constant reminder. We, like John, need to know our place in God’s plan and be faithful in carrying out that plan. God’s plan is for us to teach and preach the “foolishness” of the gospel. God has gifted each of us with a special gift that He wants us to use in spreading His Word. What is our gift and how are we using it to further the Kingdom of God here on earth? There is not one job in God’s Kingdom that is not important. Every part of the body has to function well for the Church to work as God planned it. Do we do our job with gratitude that God has chosen us to help Him? Are we filled with joy when those that have more visible jobs are successful? Do we honestly and fervently pray for those in authority over us? Are we “filled with joy” when those around us are promoted to a position over us? In our hearts and minds, we must see ourselves as less important and Jesus as Lord or as Paul puts it, we must mortify the flesh and follow after the Spirit.