That life-changing encounter with Jesus was the start of your journey as a Believer. You marveled at the grace, mercy, and loving kindness that was extended to you… a sinner that only deserved death. You became a recipient of the greatest gift ever…the free gift of eternal life. But for many of us we stop there, never sharing this Good News with others. We instead hold tightly to this gift refusing to share…desiring to just keep it to ourselves. But Paul tells us in this verse that first we are a receiver, but then we become a messenger… an ambassador for Christ, telling others about Him. Paul goes on in I Corinthians 11:2, ” I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.” How can we keep such wonderful, life-changing news to ourselves? The Lord wants us to pass it on to others. So today, tell someone how Jesus is working in your life.
The world started scoffing at the notion of Jesus being resurrected from the very start. The Roman guards who were watching His tomb and the High Priests cooked up a story about Jesus’ disciples stealing His body and spread the lie far and wide. (Matthew 28:12-15) Over the course of history, the world has gleefully questioned and ridiculed Believers with, “Where is this coming He promised?” (II Peter 3:4) The world would like us to doubt and question our beliefs about the second coming, but we need to stand strong against those who malign the name of Jesus.
Felix, the Governor of Judea, was well acquainted with the “Way”…in fact he was even married to a Jewess named Drusilla. So as he listened to Paul speak about faith in Jesus Christ, conviction hit a little too close to home. Conviction by the Holy Spirit is an intense persuasion…a laying bare of our personal sin, and the realization of the judgment to come if we don’t repent. Paul saw this force at work by the Holy Spirit first hand and later wrote to the Thessalonians, “Because our Gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (I Thessalonians 1:5) Never underestimate the power of conviction by the Holy Spirit…for it is unrelenting and able to reach where no human words can.
Bad things happen to good people…for we live in a troubled and broken world where peace and unity is hard to find. But that doesn’t mean we have to cave in to all the ugliness around us. God has placed you on the earth at this particular time in history to make a difference…for you to be an influence, rather than being influenced by the wicked around you. Stand strong in the face of evil…pray without ceasing…tell others about Jesus.
Jesus is the Great Overcomer… He who has defeated death, triumphed over the grave, and conquered sin, tells us in this scripture that adversity will only strengthen our spiritual backbone if we won’t give up. Jesus, the Great Overcomer, has forged the way for us to become overcomers too…to be victors not victims…winners not wounded.
Maybe it’s hearing someone’s answer to pray…maybe it’s a praise report…or maybe it’s hearing that someone you’ve been praying for has finally come to know the Lord. Whatever it is, joy and thanksgiving almost explodes from us as we listen to others praising and thanking our Heavenly Father. Sharing God’s miraculous works is so important to all of us. For when we share…we all become encouraged and uplifted!
This comes from the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector that Jesus taught to a group of self-righteous, haughty people. It says in verse 10 that both men went up to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee pushed his way up to the front of the crowd in order to be seen and heard by everyone, and once there, proceeded to pray loudly and arrogantly…basically telling God how lucky He was to have him. On the other hand, the Tax Collector stood way back in the courtyard, daring not to even look up to heaven, but rather beating his breast and whispering, “God have mercy on me.” In Jeremiah 31:19 it says, “After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understanding, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.” The road from self-deception to self-awareness requires acknowledgement…admitting I’m just as sinful as those around me and not one bit more righteous.
This question stemmed from an expert of the Law who had asked Jesus how he could obtain eternal life, and where could it be found in the Law. Jesus recited Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18…basically saying, love God and love your neighbor. But the man wasn’t satisfied with the answer, and wanted Jesus to be more specific as to just who ” his neighbor” was. In other words, he was asking – what is the bare minimum requirement of who represents “my neighbor”. In most of our minds,” our neighbors”, are anyone in close proximity to us…either by blood or bond. But Jesus wants us to realize that “our neighbors” go far beyond mutual ties of kinship or nation. Our love and concern for one another should be pro-active…not passive or stingy, and should extend far from our imagined boundaries of just who “our neighbors” are.
We are the crown of God’s creation…created uniquely and distinct from the rest. We were created in God’s image…righteous and pure. But that all changed in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve decided they knew more than God. And from then on, mankind has connived, conspired and contrived hair brain schemes…thinking we too know more than God.
John the Baptist had been very plain to his followers that he was not the Messiah, but rather sent ahead to proclaim His coming. But his followers could only see Jesus as competition. As the Ministry of Jesus was just starting up…the Ministry of John the Baptist’s was winding down…and John was content with this, but not his followers. For jealousy had reared its ugly head as they watched their crowds dwindle, and the crowds around Jesus grow larger. I’ll be the first to admit there’s been times when I’ve seen the awesome move of God in a person and a twinge of jealousy will resonate deep inside. “Why can’t that be me, Lord?” I whine pathetically . John the Baptist knew the plan and purpose of his life so he didn’t have to view Jesus as a rival, but rather rejoiced with Him in God’s work being accomplished. The Lord’s work shouldn’t be a contest, where all of us are jockeying for attention and resentful when someone else is used by Him. Rather than being jealous, we should be rejoicing for each other.