We should not only teach the Word, we should live the Word, so that those around us will want to know Jesus. Our age, be it young or old chronologically, should not be a handicap to our living a Holy lifestyle. There are people who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior but they make little or no progress from that point. We are to focus on studying the Scriptures and using the spiritual gifts that God has given to each one of us. If any of us refuse to do our part as a member of Christ’s body, then the body is not whole and it is weak. As Paul told Timothy “give your complete attention to these things and throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see our growth”. For our own sake and the sake of those around us, we must stay true to what we know to be the truth. Our walk and our talk should be holy. As Francis of Assisi said “Preach the Gospel, even if you have to use words.”
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 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.
This may well be one of the best known and most repeated verses in the Bible. What exactly does God want each of us to take away from this verse? Does it mean that we should realize that God is much more intelligent than we are? He is, of course, but is there more here in this verse? Could it be a rebuke to all of those self-help programs that people spend so much time, effort and money on only to find that when they have finished those programs nothing has really changed? Is this verse a directive that says, you can’t help yourself, you need Jesus? Could it be the first step in our coming to salvation? After all, if we could help ourselves, if we could clean ourselves up, then it would have been totally unnecessary for Jesus to die. Jesus died on the cross to accomplish for us what we can never do for ourselves. The natural, carnal mind will never understand this. We must be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to have faith in God and to trust Him with all of our hearts. Without the Holy Spirit’s guidance we will never understand the depth nor the width of what God wants to do for us and through us. Our understanding is a broken reed that will support little or no weight. God’s wisdom is a staff of strength that will bear up under any burden. Learn to lean on Him, His wisdom and His understanding in the good times as well as the rough patches.
29 “The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions. — Deut 29:29 NLT
Mark Twain once said “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”. How true! We are accountable for everything we understand about the Bible and we are accountable to learn and understand everything we can about the Bible. We are also accountable to teach those truths to our children. God has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. As Paul directed Timothy, we are to study and work hard so we can present ourselves to God for His approval.
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. — 2 Tim. 2:15 NLT
Ephesians 1:9 tells us that God has revealed to us “His mysterious plan regarding Chirst” and in 2 Timothy 3, He tells us what that mystery is:
16 Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith:
Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory.
There are still mysteries to be revealed at a later date, but there is enough revelation available to us now to keep us busy learning, understanding and telling it to the world. That is what we will be held accountable for and that is our misssion. If we do this, God will get the glory and that is our purpose int the world — to give God the glory.
35 Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late.36 Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.”
37 But Jesus said, “You feed them.”
“With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months .”— Mark 6:35-37a NLT
Jesus is still saying the same thing today — “You feed them”. We are still doing the same thing the disciples did, we are asking –“With what?” When we have a worldly view of things, we see the impossibilities, when we are focused on Jesus and see through His eyes we see the possibilities. What an opportuinity and what an honor it is for us to be asked to feed the multitudes. This situation with the huge crowd and little resources was an opportuinity for Jesus to teach the disciples. Even though they had walked with Jesus for quite a while and had seen all the miracles that He performed, they still had not gotten the message. I am sure that if Jesus had said “tell them to sit down and I will feed them”, the disciples would have had litttle trouble believing that, but when He instructed them to feed the crowd, that was a completely different issue. We, like the disciples, sometimes hear the words but misunderstand our part. Jesus needed their hands and feet to walk and hand out the food, He would provide the food. When Jesus instucts us to do something, just obey and watch the miracle happen. When you look at your resources, they may seem too little to accomplish the task, but there will be more than enough. There were plenty of leftovers after everyone had eaten their fill and in the Old Testament, the widow’s cruse of oil did not run out, there was always plenty to fill the next vessel. God’s Spirit will not run out, there will always be plenty to fill the next person. Our part is to be carriers, God is the supplier.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. — 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-12 NIV
Paul sets a great example for us to follow when we are witnessing to others. We should be doing this because our hearts’ desire is to show others the love that we have for them. We have this love for them because of the love Jesus has for us. No other motive is needed, not money, not fame, not popularity. Even while spending his life as a missionary, Paul worked as a tentmaker, so that his presence would not be a financial burden on those to whom he was speaking. He and his companions did their best to mirror the lifestyle of Jesus, their Lord and Savior. Because Jesus cared enough to die for us, Paul spent his life in caring for others, just like a Mother cares for her children. Not only was he concerned about their physical welfare, but he cared even more about their spiritual welfare. He didn’t just preach the Gospel message and leave them, he spent time in explaining the scriptures to them and living an obedient lifestyle while he was there with them. He encouraged, comforted and urged them to live lives worthy of God. In other words, he was “making disciples”, teaching them how to grow in the word and not leaving them as babies without food and no one to feed them. He exemplified God’s love even more by writing letters to them after he had left as well as sending some of his companions back to check on them at times. Jesus’ command was not to “love them and leave them” or to “save them and send them’, it was to make disciples.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matt. 28:19, 20 NIV
3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you. — 1 Thessalonians 2:3-7 NIV
Each of us has been approved by God to spread the Gospel. Some of us have large audiences and some of us have small audiences, nevertheless, we are all instructed to “go and make disciples”. God knows where we can be the most effective. Whether we realize it or not, we are “witnessing” all the time. The question is this: “For whom are we witnessing and what word are we spreading?” We must always be sure that when we speak or act, that our motives are pure and that we are speaking truthfully. This is particularly true when we are preaching, teaching or witnessing for God. When we are laboring for God, we should always remember that it is Him we are trying to please. We should never water down the message the Holy Spirit gives us to speak. Our mission is to spread the Word of God, not to get rich or famous, nor are we in a popularity contest. The world hears enough about those kind of things every day, yet they are still unhappy and stressed out, they are looking for some kind of relief from all those daily pressures. They are looking for something to fill the void that is inside them. We have the answer and it should be our hearts’ desire to give the answer to others. We must present the message with love and kindness, We should be as innocent as little children. We are to go out “as lambs among wolves”.
2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. — Luke 10:2, 3 NIV
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. — Hebrews 5:11-14 NIV
Jesus is the bread of life and the Scriptures are food for the redeemed of God. As babes in Christ, we need the milk of the Word, the verses that explain to us about our salvation. As we grow and mature (hopefully) , we need to dig deeper and learn about our responsibilities as followers of Christ. Just as there are natural foods that we don’t care to eat, there are Scripture passages we don’t want to learn and adhere to. Just as the natural man suffers without the proper nutrients, the Spiritual man suffers without a daily serving of different kinds of Scriptures. We need scriptures that encourage us to study, meditate, pray, praise and teach us to be thankful for every second of our lives. Yes, it is hard to praise in distressful times, but it is necessary if the Spirit man inside us is going to grow. Just as we keep milk in our natural diet as we grow, we need to keep the “milk of the Word”, which is salvation, in our spiritual diets. But the natural body needs more than milk and the Spiritual body needs to know that Jesus is more than just our Redeemer. He is our example, our righteousness, our shield, our rock, our strength, our healing, our Savior and He wants to be our Lord. To paraphrase Hebrews 5:14: “But solid food is for the mature, who by constantly eating the Word have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – Matt. 5:6 NIV
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.—Romans 12:4-8 NIV
If you have ever had a problem with your big toe, then you are aware of some of the issues it can cause. Our toes, especially the big toe, help us balance and propel us forward when we are walking or running. So, when we have toe problems, our body will naturally try to compensate for that and pretty soon, it will affect the ankle, then the leg, the knee, the hip and the back. If the toe issue continues long enough, we will develop other skeletal problems. Other parts of the body have varying functions. Just try to pick up anything substantial without using your thumb. It doesn’t work so well, does it? the point is for the body to function efficiently, it needs every part doing what it is designed to do. The body of Christ, the Church, is the same way. We are each a part of the body and God has given each one of us a gift to help the rest of the body. If any of us refuse to use the gift we have been given, then, eventually the whole body suffers. If the church we attend isn’t functioning properly, is it possible that we are the malfunctioning body part? Whatever gift God has given you, the body needs it to complete the mission God has given to the Church.
26 “I will send you the Helper from the Father; he is the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father. When he comes, he will tell about me, 27 and you also must tell people about me, because you have been with me from the beginning.–John 15:26, 27 (NCV)
Though the disciples don’t know or understand at this point, this is the 2nd greatest gift that God has promised. His best gift was His Son, Jesus, giving His life for us. Now, that Jesus is leaving, God the Father is sending us a Helper. The Helper will tell us more about Jesus and our Father. Jesus has been telling the disciples what the Father says and He has been showing them what the Father is doing. Now this Helper will do the same for each of us. Our job is to tell others what we are told. These are exciting times to be alive! With all the junk that is going on in the world, God is still in control and our Helper will show us the way home. Not only that, but He will teach us how to live and how to pray. Just as the disciples learned when they received the Helper, so are we learning now. Their sadness turned to joy and so should our lives reflect the joy of the indwelling Helper.