14 But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself. – Gal. 4:14 NLT
In this letter to the Galatians, Paul reminds them that he became as much likethem as possible without violating his conscience. In our words today, we would probably say that he spent time making friends and building a bridge of confidence so that they would be more willing to listen to him. As the saying goes “people have to know you care before they care what you know”. As it turns out, Paul got to spend quite a bit of time in southern Galatia because of his sickness that he developed. This may have been the beginning of what Paul later referred to as “a thorn in the flesh”. It was very possibly a severe eye disease causing some amount of pain and facial dis-figuration. Paul implies that it might have made some of the people treat him badly and others would have plucked out their own eye and given it to him. But Paul pushes on and asks them the same questions we must ask ourselves and others today. Does our telling you the truth make us your enemy? Or once you know and understand the truth, does it make any sense to turn away from it? Just as Paul did, we have to get the people to understand that our witnessing to them is not because we feel that we are better or more holy than they are. It is because Jesus died for all of us simply because He loved us enough to do that for us. And His love for us requires us to show that same love to others.
Those that are exposed to God’s Light must make an immediate decision. They will either accept Him or reject Him. There is no neutral ground. “Almost persuaded” is not good enough. We must become totally committed to Jesus. When we trust Him completely, we will never be disgraced. But for those that reject Jesus, they will stumble and fall. If they choose to continue to reject His free offer of salvation, then they choose to go to hell. We have been called out of darkness into His wonderful Light. Therefore,we must be the Light that draws others out of darkness. We have been chosen, made royal priests and a holy nation. We must be ambassadors of that nation and spread the Good News so that others can become citizens as well.
19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” — 2 Cor. 5:19,20 (NLT)
We must speak boldly with no fear of rejection. After all, it is not us, personally, that they are rejecting. They are rejecting Jesus and His plan of salvation. Our part is to scatter the seed, it is God’s part to see that they take root and grow. We must labor in the fields understanding that we may not see the results of our work while we are here on earth. Our treasures are laid up in heaven.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
As a man, Jesus had no authority to take the office of our High Priest. But because he was obedient, even to death on a cross, God appointed Christ Jesus as our High Priest. He was tempted and suffered just as any human would, but He resisted the fleshly urge to sin. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for the “cup” to be removed from Him. His prayer was not that He would be spared physical pain and physical death. The “cup” He wanted removed was His separation from the Father. He knew that while the sins of all other humans was poured on Him at the cross, He would be separated from His Father. Sin always separates us from God. But because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, now when God looks at us, He sees us through the blood of Jesus. Because of that perfect sacrifice, we will never be separated from God again. To reject us, after we have accepted Jesus and been cleansed in His blood, would be to reject Jesus Himself.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
27 For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’ — Acts 28:27 NLT
The Jewish leaders there in Rome had already heard the message of Jesus. They wanted to hear it again from Paul and to hear what he believed. Any time and every time the name of Jesus is mentioned, it requires that we make a decision. Whether we decide to reject Him, accept Him or to think about it, we make a decision. Some of these leaders were persuaded to believe by what Paul said and others were not. It is a mystery to us why all the people hear the same message but some respond positively and some respond negatively. Did Paul quit preaching the Word because some refused to believe? No! For two years, Paul supported himself and continued to tell others about the Good News. Paul understood that the results of his preaching the Word were not up to Him. His part was to continue to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are to do the same thing. Keep preaching and/or teaching and not be discouraged because we don’t see any results. The results are up to the Lord and the Holy Spirit, not to us. We will see the results when we get to heaven. Until then we just keep living out God’s plan for each of us and let Him handle the results.
Nathan, the prophet has told David that God will not allow David to build a permanent temple for God. Nathan also tells David that God will establish David’s house as a dynasty. There would never be a time when someone from David’s lineage would not rule in Israel. Instead of being upset that his idea was rejected, David rejoices in the better plan that God has for he and his family. David then prays this prayer of thanksgiving to God. Then David goes on to be obedient to God and God gives him victory after victory on the battlefield. David collects all the materials necessary for Solomon to build the temple. Though God rejected David’s request, He gave David something better. God always hears and answers our prayers. When God says no to our request, it is usually for our benefit, so that He can give us something better. Either the plan is wrong or the timing is wrong. But, like David, we should accept God’s answer and praise Him for all the things He has brought us through. We should realize, as David did, that there is no God like our God. David had never even heard of a God that could do what our God does and neither have we. Our God fulfills every promise He has ever made. He does this in His timing, not in ours. Too often, we are willing to settle for good things and not wait on God to give us the better things He wants for us. This is true, spiritually, physically and financially. Don’t rebel against God when He doesn’t answer yes to every request exactly when we want him to do so. Wait on the Lord, He has a better plan. Praise Him for Who He is, not what He does for us. He has already given us His Son, why would He withhold any good thing from us?
41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 43 So the crowd was divided in their opinion about him. 44 And some wanted him arrested, but no one touched him. 45 The Temple guards who had been sent to arrest him returned to the leading priests and Pharisees. “Why didn’t you bring him in?” they demanded. 46 “We have never heard anyone talk like this!” the guards responded..—John 7:41-46 (NLT)
Although Jesus spent a lot of time in Galilee, He had fulfilled the prophecy by being born in Bethlehem, as well as being born in the lineage of King David. While the crowd continued to discuss whether or not Jesus was the Messiah, the leaders and the Pharisees sent the temple guards to arrest Jesus. They wanted to silence Him because more and more people were beginning to believe His story. But the guards came back empty-handed. When they were questioned as to why they had not arrested Jesus, their reply was that they “had never heard anyone talk like this”. The guards had been touched by the words that Jesus spoke, so much so, that they refused to follow the orders they had been given. The Temple guards, which were the ones that the leaders and Pharisees commanded, were Jewish.They realized that this man was different from any they had heard speak. They would also have been familiar with the Old Testament and would have known about the powerful prophets, such as Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and others. Still, nothing they had heard affected them like the words of Jesus. The words were so powerful, it required them to make a difficult decision.
It is still the same today, when the name of Jesus is mentioned, we have to make a decision. It is “I accept” or it is “I reject”. There is no middle ground. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”–Acts 4:11, 12 (NLT) What decision have you made? Who do you say Jesus is?
53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Are you greater than the prophets, who died? Who do you think you are?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I am merely boasting about myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who says these glorious things about me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 but you do not even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But it is true — I know him and obey him. 56 Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” 57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus answered, “The truth is, I existed before Abraham was even born!” 59 At that point they picked up stones to kill him. But Jesus hid himself from them and left the Temple.—John 8:53-59 (NLT)
Jesus explains to the people that they don’t really know God even tough they claim God as “our God”. If they really knew God, they would accept Jesus and be excited that the Messiah had come in their lifetimes. Jesus says that even Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to the birth of the Messiah. The people really didn’t accept this. Since Jesus is not even fifty years old, how could He possibly have seen Abraham? Then Jesus makes a statement that really gets the crowd worked up. “I existed before Abraham was even born”. The truth is more than that, Jesus existed before _______ and it doesn’t matter what you put in the blank, Jesus already existed. 1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.—John 1:1-3 (NLT)
The crowd became so angry that Jesus had to slip away or be stoned to death. The name of Jesus still causes that kind of reaction today. When the name of Jesus is spoken, there is no neutral ground and there is no procrastination. You either have to accept Him or reject Him. What choice have you made?
17 Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. 18 I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” 19 “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, then you would know my Father, too.” 20 Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come. 21 Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me and die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” 22 The Jewish leaders asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going’?”—John 8:17-22 (NLT)
Time after time, Jesus has tried to convince the religious leaders and Pharisees of His true identity. Even after seeing all the signs and works that Jesus had done in their midst, they refused to believe. How heart broken, Jesus must have been because of the rejection of His Jewish kinsman, the very people that He had come to save. They continued to deny that He was the Son of God, the Messiah that they were waiting to see. So, finally, He pronounces their death sentence to them. “You cannot come where I am going.” Jesus knew because of their hardness of heart, they would never accept the truth. They would remain in darkness because they refused the Light. Where Jesus was going and now is, there is no darkness. Darkness and light cannot be in the same space. Now, we are to bear witness of that Light, so that others will come to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Pray that neither we nor they will ever have to hear those sad words: “You cannot come where I am going”. 14 “You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden.—Matt. 5:14 (NCV)
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”—John 6:35-40 (NLT)
No matter how much you ate on Thanksgiving, if you haven’t eaten anything since, you are hungry. That is how the physical bread and body works But there is a Bread and water that feeds the Spirit. When we partake of this Bread and water, we will never be hungry or thirsty again, because there is a perpetual supply flowing from our Lord and Savior.
There is a huge difference in being hungry and hungering, both in the natural and the Spiritual. The only time I have ever really been hungry was after 3 days with no food on a survival training exercise. But I can eat a big meal and still hunger for some good old lemon icebox pie. We could have eaten a couple of hours ago and there is no way that we could actually be hungry. Yet, the sight of our favorite dessert can make our mouth water. That is the way we should be spiritually, we can be filled and refilled with the Spirit and still hunger for more. We should be filled, but it should never be enough. We should be filled, but always thirsting for more. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.–Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)
Jesus is the Bread and the water that sustains eternal life.
10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. 14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.—John 1:10-14 (NLT)
All through the Old Testament God sent prophet after prophet to warn His chosen people of the disasters that were coming if they did not repent and stay obedient to His precepts and laws.Instead they rejected and killed the prophets and returned to their unfaithful ways, worshiping idols instead of the living God. 30 Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.” 31 “But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started.33 Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?–Matt. 23:30-33 (NLT)
Now, God has implemented His plan to redeem the fallen world. He sends John the Baptist to prepare the way for His Son, Jesus. He came to this world to save the creatures that He had created. Jesus was Love and Light and completely obedient to His Father. There was no sin in Him. But His own chosen people rejected Him and sent Him to a cross. To those that did believe and receive Him, He has given the right to be called the children of God. If we remain faithful and carry out our mission, we will see Him in His full glory restored and reigning as King of Kings. Wherever we go, we are witnesses and our actions should reflect the honesty and truthfulness of our words.