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.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Sometimes when God first starts to reveal our part in His plan, we want to start “doing” right then. There are times that we should move instantly because it might be the only chance we have to witness to a particular person. But if God is calling us to do a work that requires coordination and acceptance by others, we may have to wait while everyone else involved gets lined up. God never sends us unprepared. Jesus was tested for forty days before He began His ministry. Saul spent years in the desert becoming Paul. David spent years fighting battles, running from Saul and was anointed three times before He actually took the throne. Preparation requires patience, prayer, persecution, perseverance, provision and power. There are usually people who disagree with what we think God has called us to do and/or the methodology we use to do it. We must not only be patient with God but with others involved as well. We must endure the negativity and the discouraging remarks. If we persevere, God will give us the provisions and the power. God had prepared the disciples to “go and make” but now He has commanded them to “wait”. Waiting can sometimes be the hardest part. But success will only come if we adhere to God’s battle plan and His timing. We must wait until all the ifs, ands, buts, perhaps, and maybes are gone. Then when the Commander says “charge”, we will be successful in the war.
14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.— Psalm 27:14 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
If you google “verses concerning first impressions in the Bible”, you will only find verses that warn against using first impressions as a guide for measuring a person’s worth. Yet, society teaches us that first impressions are all important and determine whether we will be accepted or rejected. And certainly, that is the worldly view. How many of us use the way another person dresses, our opinion of whether they are beautiful or handsome, their popularity, talent or success as our criteria for selecting friends? If this is really our criteria, then perhaps we should change the name of our church to “The Church of The Beautiful, Handsome,Talented, Successful and Well-Dressed”. But, wait a minute, if we did that, we would have to be very egotistical and self-centered to think that we are qualified to attend and we all know that Christians are not egotistical and/or self-centered. I, for one, am ecstatic that Jesus doesn’t use that criteria to determine who can be saved. If you spend any time talking to those outside the church about why they don’t go to church, one of the reasons you will hear quite often is that “church people” make me feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. We can change our dress codes for churches (most churches have) but that will not solve the problem. Hurting people come to church to find relief and in most cases, they have come to the point in their life, that how we dress is not what attracts or deters them. It is how we make them feel that is important. Most people come to church for one of two reasons; we were either raised to go to church or we came to the end of our rope and we haven’t found satisfactory answers to our problems anywhere else. We need to welcome guests and strangers in our church with the love, warmth and enthusiasm we would show a long lost brother or sister who has decided to come home. Why? Because that is exactly how Jesus sees them and what they could become to us if we greet them and accept them as we should.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
This song of praise and thanksgiving was composed by David after the successful movement of the Ark of the Covenant from Obed-Edom’s house to the tent David had prepared especially for the Ark. On the first attempt at getting the Ark to Jerusalem, a man had died because he touched the Ark. David and his men had attempted to do the right thing the wrong way. This time David appointed priests to carry the Ark. They researched the proper way to transport the Ark and were able to bring it safely to Jerusalem. How many times in our lives have we failed when we were sure we were hearing from God and doing what He wanted us to do? When God gives us a work to do, we need to inquire as to how we are to accomplish this work. When we are sure that God has given us a specific work and we fail in trying to do that work, we need to stop and listen to God to determine how He wants His work done. We make a lot of mistakes because originally, we want to do our thing, our way. When we are saved, we want to do God’s thing, our way. As we listen to the Holy Spirit and mature in our walk with God, He brings us to the point that we want to do God’s thing, God’s way. So, when we are sure of God’s purpose for us in life, but we keep failing in our attempts to accomplish that purpose, we need to stop, look and listen. We don’t give up, we give in. When we do this, God is able to use us to accomplish His work His way. Then, we will be successful in His eyes whether the world recognizes it or not.
29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News,30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then. — Mark 10:29-31 NLT
God has nothing against rich people or people that are successful from a worldly viewpoint. Riches, power and position are neutral and can be used for good or for evil. It is the misuse of these things that causes our issues with God. He allows us to have those things for His honor and His glory. We are to use whatever we have, be it little or be it much, as a means to an end, not the end itself. We should use those things for His glory here and now and be ready to give them up completely, if necessary. Any good thing that we have now comes from God and belongs to God. When properly used, it will bring glory to God now. If it is necessary for us to give it up to bring glory and honor to the Father, we will receive a return now and rewards in eternity. It is not about the amount we give, it is about the sacfrifice we make in giving to God. The poor widow put in two small coins, others gave much more, but only she recevied praise from Jesus. She gave her grocery money, they gave from their surplus. When we have the heart of the widow and give like she gave, then the blessings will come. Not because we gave a lot, but because we gave sacrifically, trusting God to meet our every need. Don’t be concerned about the amount or the percentage, don’t quit giving when it hurts, just keep giving until it feels good.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:7-9 NIV
For years, Joshua had been the faithful assistant of Moses as they led the Jewish nation through the desert. Now, that Moses was gone, the role of leadership was passed to Joshua. This would have been a very trying time for Joshua or anyone who had just lost their leader and their mentor. But God had a plan for comforting and encouraging Joshua. The Lord spoke to Joshua. Now, instead of getting his directions from Moses, Joshua got them straight from the Lord. “Be strong and courageous”, “meditate on the Book of the Law day and night”, “be careful to do everything written in it” and “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”. God has a plan for each of us, as well. When we are down in the valley after a great loss or for any reason, He speaks to each of us if we are willing to listen. He has the same message for us that He had for Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous”, meditate on the Holy Scriptures day and night. Be careful to follow the instructions given. Listen to and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Because God has given us the Holy Spirit to abide within us, He is always with us wherever we go. Jesus has been where we are now and He is already where we are going, so, let us lift up our heads and our hands and rejoice. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are assured of reaching our destination. No thing or no one can separate us from the love of God or from His protection. We can depend on God, He has never failed on any of His promises. “Be strong and very courageous”.
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.– Romans 8:37-39 NIV