13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. –1 Cor. 1:13-18 (NIV)
Paul’s main objective was to preach the Word of God. Yes, he stayed in each new location until he had people in place to take care of the flock, but his heart was always on starting a new work in a new location. Paul isn’t saying new converts don’t need to be baptized, he is saying he has appointed others to do that part of the work. A lot of good pastors have “burned out” by not following Paul’s example and trying to do all the work themselves. A good preacher does not have to be eloquent or powerful in his delivery. What he does have to be, is obedient to the Holy Spirit. In our world today, it is even more apparent that the message of the cross is considered foolishness by those who appear to need it most. The world does not have an answer for Jesus, so they resort to ridicule and abuse of the believers. Jesus said this would happen, so it should come as no surprise to us. But we must remain faithful, knowing that Jesus suffered unto death on a cross. 1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.—John 16:1-3 (NIV)
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6 Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.—Gal. 3:6-9 (NASB)
Abraham lived before the law was handed down. God told Abram to leave his family and his country. Abram did not question God about how or where, he just did what God asked him to do. Because Abram believed God, it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Abram was renamed Abraham. It was quite amazing that Abram would trust a God that he hardly knew. Today, even with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, how many of us would leave everything and go to wherever God would lead? Abraham did this by faith in God. When God told Abraham that “all nations” would be blessed in Him, it was a foreshadowing of our being saved by grace through faith. Yes, God picked a certain lineage and nation to carry His Name forward and made a covenant with them to do so. That covenant and the law that followed was not meant to exclude other nations or set aside the promise God had made to Abraham. It was meant to show all nations that we need a Savior. And at just the right time, God sent His Son to be that Savior and Redeemer. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.—Gal. 4:4,5 (NASB)
9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. 10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.—1 Peter 1:9-12 (NLT)
Can you imagine the amazement and awe that the Old Testament prophets must have felt when the Spirit inspired them to prophesy about the Messiah. A future hope that their eyes would not see. Can you imagine that they wondered, “why would this Messiah have to suffer so”? Yet they were faithful in telling about a Savior that was coming to redeem a fallen world, even though the message was not for them, but for us. They looked forward and wondered. We look back and know the truth about the Good News. The first century preachers were anointed with the Holy Spirit and were faithful to spread the Good News. Now, it is our turn to be faithful and spread the Gospel as we look forward to our soon-coming King. Like the prophets of old, we may not be alive to see Him return, but it is still the Hope of those who love Him. The Hope and the knowledge that one day, we will all rise to meet Him in the air. Altogether, He will take us home to be with Him in glory! Can you say Hallelujah!! Amen!!?
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist,fulfill your ministry.—2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NLT)
We should always be ready to tell others about Jesus Christ. God puts people in our paths every day that need to hear the good news of salvation. Wherever we go and whatever we do, our lifestyle is sending a message. What is our lifestyle telling people? When people watch us, can they tell that we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ? Do our friends know that we are Christians by our actions or would they have to ask to be sure? Check everything you hear and compare its validity to the scriptures. There are false prophets that have slipped in among us and teach false doctrines, “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. If what you are listening to does not validate your salvation and encourage you to live a holy lifestyle, then you need to turn and run from it. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.–1 Timothy 6:11 (KJV)
Do the work of an evangelist. Remember, the mission field starts in our homes and goes out from there.
14 Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them. 15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 16 Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. 17 This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus. 18 They have left the path of truth, claiming that the resurrection of the dead has already occurred; in this way, they have turned some people away from the faith. 19 But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”-–2 Timothy 2: 14-9 (NLT)
We should set the example of studying God’s Word and meditating on its meaning. Then we won’t have time for these useless arguments and idle gossip. Arguments and gossip lead people away from the truth of the Scriptures and away from salvation. We need to be able to explain the Word of truth and avoid foolish behavior. The world is watching us to see if we are walking out what we are teaching. If we are not, then sinners will not be interested in what we have to say. All this earthly religion will pass away but God’s Word will stand forever. Not the least point will be left undone. It is the foundation of the message we preach. It is not up to us to turn people from evil, God will do that if we use the words He gives us to say. We are the messengers, He is the author and the finisher of our faith.
14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.–Col. 3:14-17 (NLT)
Yesterday’s writing ended with us clothing ourselves in the characteristics of Jesus. The outer covering of all those characteristics must be love. The love of Christ wraps around us, reaches out and touches others and binds us all together in unity and perfect harmony. Jesus promised us a peace that passes understanding and we have that when Jesus is ruling our hearts. The Good News about Jesus fills our lives. Then we are to teach others that message using the wisdom He gives us. That love and unity is how we should represent Jesus to unbelievers. To quote Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.” Most of all, we should always have “an attitude of gratitude” thanking God for all His love and blessings. That attitude comes from a heart filled with joy and causes our lips to sing His praises all day, every day!
2 Continue praying, keeping alert, and always thanking God. 3 Also pray for us that God will give us an opportunity to tell people his message. Pray that we can preach the secret that God has made known about Christ. This is why I am in prison. 4 Pray that I can speak in a way that will make it clear, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act with people who are not believers, making the most of every opportunity. 6 When you talk, you should always be kind and pleasant so you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should.–Colossians 4:2-6 (NCV)
Paul was in an actual prison in Rome requesting prayer for opportunity, strength, and boldness to continue witnessing for Jesus. He wanted to carry on the work that God had called him to do. He was chosen as the apostle to the Gentiles and wanted to set the example for unbelievers. Even in that situation Paul wanted to be kind and pleasant. Even though his cell was cold and uncomfortable, He refused to complain so that his lifestyle would attract others to Christ.
Even though we live in the land of abundance, we are in prisons of our own making. We are held captive by our own fleshly desires, pride and public opinion. Our fear of what others think of us has sealed our lips. We are more concerned with pleasing our families and our friends than we are with pleasing Jesus. We need to pray that we will be like Paul, he didn’t witness because of an obligation, he witnessed because of his love for his Lord and Savior. Pray that God will release us from our fleshly prisons and that our love for Him will override our doubts and fears and our lips will be loosed to praise Him.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT) 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Our salvation is a gift from God, we didn’t earn it by works and we didn’t purchase it with favor or money. It was God’s plan from before the foundations of the earth were laid. As Paul said, if we boast, we must boast in Christ Jesus alone. Does this negate works? Not at all, we are saved to work, not by our works. Just as it was God’s plan to send Jesus to purchase our redemption with His blood, it was always God’s plan that we would have a part in His kingdom work here on earth. God has gifted each of us with a spiritual gift to be used in His work. Some of us are preachers, others are teachers, others encourage, others have gifts of helps, The list of gifts is lengthy, because we all have a part in God’s plan and purpose. Make a commitment today to ask God about your gift and how to use it in His plan.