The more I study the Scriptures, the more I am reminded of the great old hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story”. The passages of Scripture are unique and different, but they tell us more about the same story, the story of Jesus. It is a complete story of His complete love. It seems incomplete to us in the beginning, but the more we study, the more we realize it is all there, we just haven’t understood it yet. I have “loved” Jesus a long time, but it is only in the last few years that I have come to realize that what I really wanted was to be “in love” with Jesus. I used to know about Him, but now I just want to know Him. The only way to really fall in love with someone is to get to know them and the only way to do that is to spend time with them, whether that be physically with them or to be with them in Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit searches our hearts and knows the heart of God (since He is God) and He communicates between those hearts because He indwells us. What a wonderful plan! Because of God’s Holy Spirit, we can spend time with Him all the time.
When I read this verse, I often think, “How could these people be face to face with Jesus and refuse to believe?”. But, then, I am reminded of how many times I was called by the Holy Spirit and refused to believe. It is easy for us to assume that we would have acted differently than those people did then. We let ourselves off easy thinking that we would have surely believed Jesus in this situation. But, just as Abraham told the rich man who requested that he send Lazarus back to his home town to speak to his brothers, if they won’t believe Moses and the prophets, they won’t believe even if they saw someone return from the dead. On the day that Jesus was crucified, there were prophets and holy people of old whose bodies were released from the grave and they walked the streets of Jerusalem, but not all of Jerusalem was saved.
The point is this, people that have lived since the Holy Spirit was sent to call us, lead us and comfort us, have more reasons to believe than most of those people back then. We can look back over history and see more of God’s promises fulfilled than they could and yet, there are many that still refuse to believe. We will hear the story multiple more times than most of them heard it, but not all will believe Every person will hear the story and have the opportunity to receive Jesus as their Savior, yet not all will do so. As time goes by, hearts grow harder and harder. A few years ago, it was reported that we had to hear the story seven times before we accepted Jesus. Now, that number is reported to have risen to fourteen. Our work is to keep telling the story and we must keep telling it more and more, so those around us will have more opportunities. But the results of our telling the story are in God’s hands. Our work is to tell, His work is to confirm it in the hearts of those He has chosen.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Except for Jesus, all humans were born with a sinful nature. We, including Jesus, were brought into a sinful world. Before the death and resurrection of Jesus, most of the people could use the excuse of ignorance of that fact as a reason not to accept His story. Even in today’s world of high tech and instant communications, there are still some who can legitimately say that they have never heard the name of Jesus. Although the Gospel has been preached in every country, it is believed that there are more than 6550 people groups that have never heard the gospel. There are even more groups who have heard the Gospel but don’t have established Christian organizations to witness to each and every one of the people. Even in our own country and in a lot of our own neighborhoods, there are those who may have heard the name of Jesus but have little or no idea of His story of eternal life.
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.7 If you have known me, you will also know my Father. From now on you know him and have seen him.” – John 14:6-7 ISV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
All of the Scriptures, both Old and New are a continuing story of hope. In the Old Testament, the Jews were constantly reminded of the hope they had that God was with them and would deliver them in His timing. The prophets also told of a time when the Messiah would come to deliver not only the Jews but also the Gentiles. The New Testament continues that story of hope with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We still look forward to the time when Jesus will come again to receive all of His children to be with Him in heaven. That is the hope we have that gives us encouragement to endure the time we spend as aliens here on earth. While we are here, we are instructed to follow the example that Jesus set in His time here as a stranger and an alien. We are to accept one another as He accepted us, love each other as He loves us, edify and encourage each other. We do this to bring glory, honor and praise to God, our Father. This is not possible in the flesh unless we mortify the flesh and submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, even unto death, if necessary.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? — Luke 9:23-25 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Most of us are familiar with the story of Job and all of the trials and troubles that he endured. God allowed satan to test Job, taking everything from him, except his wife. At first, God only allowed satan to take his possesions and his children, but satan was not allowed to touch Job, After satan’s whining, God allowed him to injure Job’s physical body.
Job complained about the injustice of it all and made some unwise comments about God. But, through it all, He refused to deny God, even though his wife entreated him to do so. God uses this time in Job’s life to give Job and us a glimpse into the future. Job not only understood that he needed a Redeemer but that God would send one. That Redeemer would not only stand upon the earth in the end times, but Job would be there with him just as you and I will be. After our bodies have decayed in the grave, we will be resurrected and we will see Him with our own eyes. God gave Job this glimpse into the future to sustain him through his time of testing. Those of us living on this side of the cross, after the Resurrection of Jesus, have so much more reason to be encouraged than Job did. Job could only see the Redeemer in the future, we have the advantage of knowing that the Redeemer has come and is coming again. We, like Job, must not focus on the things that we can see now, but on those things that are coming that we cannot see now. Our God is able to bring us through it all.
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. — John 1:1, 2 NLT
John 1:1-5 NLT He was, He is and He always shall be. The Trinity, the triune God was, is and ever shall be. They were, They are and They always shall be. They existed before time as we know it, They are alive today and They always shall be. Two are in heaven, One abides in us. Together, They planned what was, what is and what is to come. God’s spoken and written words are infalliable, inerrant and immutable. Their plans are unchangeable. They are the Author and the Finisher of our faith. As it is written, so it was, so it is and so it will be. What we believe does not and cannot change what was, what is and what will be. What we believe wlll only determine our part in it and where we spend our eternity. They are immovable and unstoppable. They are coming back and nothing or no one can stop them. Our part is to believe Their story, tell Their story and live rejoicing every day because of Their story. We, as Christians, have the one and the only true story and true hope. History has confirmed the truth of Their story over and over.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
–The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Baptist 1:8 NLT
When I read this verse, I often think, “How could these people be face to face with Jesus and refuse to believe?”. But, then, I am reminded of how many times I was called by the Holy Spirit and refused to believe. It is easy for us to assume that we would have acted differently than those people did then. We let oursleves off easy thinking that we would have surely believed Jesus in this situation. But, just as Abraham told the rich man who requested that he send Lazarus back to his home town to speak to his brothers, if they won’t believe Moses and the prophets, they won’t believe even if they saw someone return from the dead.
On the day that Jesus was crucified, there were prophets and holy people of old whose bodies were released from the grave and they walked the streets of Jerusalem, but not all of Jerusalem was saved.
The point is this, people that have lived since the Holy Spirit was sent to call us, lead us and comfort us, have more reasons to believe than most of those people back then. We can look back over history and see more of God’s promises fullfilled than they could and yet, there are many that still refuse to believe. We will hear the story multiple more times than most of them heard it, but not all will believe Every person will hear the story and have the opporitunity to receive Jesus as their Savior, yet not all will do so. As time goes by, hearts grow harder and harder. A few years ago, it was reported that we had to hear the story seven times before we accepted Jesus. Now, that number is reported to have risen to fourteen. Our work is to keep telling the story and we must keep telling it more and more, so those around us will have more opportunities. But the results of our telling the story are in God’s hands. Our work is to tell, His work is to confirm it in the hearts of those He has chosen.
As we tell and retell the Gospel story and talk about all the marvelous things God has done for us, we are filled with joy. The more we tell the old, old story, the more sure our hope becomes and the more joy we have to help us get through each day. That old liar, satan, comes around every day telling us how bad things are and pointing out all the things we don’t have. But all we need to do is stop and consider all the things with which God has blessed us. Then we need to thank Him and praise Him for all that He has done, is doing and will continue to do for us. We need to remind ourselves and satan about Paul’s admonition to us in Philippians on the things we need to focus on in our daily thought patterns.
God tells over and over that we should not worry, fear or be discouraged, yet, we spend more time considering what we are going to do when bad things happen than we do praising God for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do for us. Just as we don’t want to hear our kids complaining about what they don’t have all the time, neither does God want to hear our murmurs and complaining every day. It was this kind of behavior by God’s chosen people that caused Him to be angry with them on their trek through the desert. Do we want best friends who only tell us about their problems or those who share their concerns and their victories with us? God is our best friend, let us treat Him like we would our best friend. Talk with Him, not just to Him every day and praise Him for all of His goodness, then we will be filled with HIs peace and His joy, which is His gift to us.
5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. 6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” — Romans 9:5-9 NIV
The promise that God made to His friend, Abraham, was fulfilled. Abraham did become the Father of many nations through his first two sons, Ishmael was the frist born, a child concieved with Hagar ten years after the promise. It was another 13-14 years later before Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah. It was sixty years later when Jacob (Israel) and Esau were born to Isaac and Rebekah. It was through Jacob that we trace the lineage of Jesus Christ. This promise was very slow in being fulfilled, but it was confirmed over and over throughout the Old Testament. Though Abraham did become the Father of many nations, the promise was not made regarding the physical descendants but, rather to the Spiritual descendants through One person. It was not to the “seeds” of Abram but to the “Seed” of Abraham. That Seed is Jesus Christ.
16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. — Galatians 3:16 NIV
In His own words, Jesus told us that He came to seek and to save the lost.
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” — Luke 19:9,10 NIV
Jesus also said:
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. — John 3:16, 17 NIV
It is for these reasons that all nations, tribes and kindreds can join in the celebration of the birth of Chirst. We have been commissioned by Christ to go tell “the old, old story that we have loved so long.”
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. — 1 Peter 1:10-12 NIV
When the Holy Spirit would come upon the Old Testament prophets, they would prophesy about the coming Messiah, His suffering, His resurrection and the magnificence of His glory. How their hearts must have longed for the day that He would come, But it was revealed to them, that they would not see it with their eyes. Even the angels longed to look into the mystery of this plan of salvation. But only hints and shadows would be revealed to each prophet, that the comeplete plan would be kept a mystery until the exact time that God chose to reveal more of it. God had a reason for not revealing the whole mystery any earlier than He did. If satan had been aware of God’s plan, the crucifixion would never have taken place.
7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. — 1 Cor. 2:7, 8 NIV
The revelations that the Holy Spirit was giving them were for our benefit that we might understand the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises. It is also a lesson to us that there is a reason that God sometimes delays the answer to our prayers. We measure time by seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc. The eternal God has planned eternity and knows exactly when we to give us the things we need. Just as the Old Testament prophets prophesied and longed for the first appearance of the Messiah, we should be longing for and telling the world that Jesus is coming again. Just as Ezekiel (read Ezekiel 33) and the other prophets were the “watchmen on the wall” to spread the warning, so are we the modern day watchmen. We are to just keep telling the “Old, Old Story” until Jesus comes back!