Jesus' Footprints

Archive for July 2012

If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” – Matthew 6:14

In order to give we have to forgive.  This is why Jesus stresses the importance of forgiving one another and of letting go of anger, resentment and hurt.  When we focus on what someone has done to us it takes away our attention from God.  God forgave the Israelites numerous times when they repented and cried out to Him just as He forgave the people in Nineveh.  Jesus forgave Peter for denying Him, the people for crucifying Him and Saul for persecuting Him.  Jesus instructs us to forgive someone seventy times seven and warns, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:22, 35)

Joseph forgave his brothers who tried to kill him.  God forgave David who committed adultery and murder.  He forgave Jonah who disobeyed Him.  The prodigal son was forgiven.  In the Our Father prayer Jesus taught us, it says, “And forgive us our debts As we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12)

How can we ask for forgiveness when we ourselves don’t give it?  We should follow Jesus’ example.  He preached forgiveness, practiced it and died for it.  We have to show mercy to those who hurt us just as Jesus showed mercy to those who had Him crucified.  “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

In the parable about the king and his servant Jesus teaches us about forgiving and being forgiven.  The servant owed the king ten thousand talents and because he couldn’t pay, he and his family would have been sold but, because he begged, the king gave him time to pay it.  The king relented out of compassion.  This same servant who was shown mercy did not show the same to another servant who owed him a thousand pence.  The man begged him but he was unyielding in spirit and had him thrown in jail.  When the king found out, the unforgiving servant was deservedly punished.

This parable shows us how the servant who was forgiven for much more could not find it in his heart to forgive someone else for much less.  God forgave us for our sins—sins that had separated us from Him and which were forgiven when Jesus died on the cross.  God showed compassion toward people like those in Nineveh or the Israelites who rebelled against Him by worshipping other gods, why can’t we forgive a past hurt?  Holding on to anger and resentment sometimes hurts us more than it hurts the other person.  The unforgiving servant ended up worse than the other. (Matthew 18:34)

Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering- Hebrews 10:23

Faith barriers hamper God’s plans for our lives.  These barriers can be doubt, insecurity, ignorance and fear.  Moses was insecure and doubted his ability to do what God called him to do.  Job was ignorant of the magnitude of God’s power.  Jonah was afraid of failing God.  Peter was afraid when he started to sink as he made his way across the water to Jesus and fear made him deny knowing Jesus and fear made the other disciples desert Him.  Intolerance made Paul persecute the Christians.  Let’s examine each of these spiritual barriers and how the Lord dealt with each of them.

When Moses said to God, “O My Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”  The Lord’s anger kindled against him and He told Moses that his brother Aaron who could speak well would do the talking.  “So he shall be your spokesman to the people.  And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God.  And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs.” (Exodus 4:13-17)  So, God dealt with Moses’ doubt and insecurity by sending Aaron with him to help him and equipping him with the rod, which would be used to perform miracles.  After God assured Moses that he would not have to face Pharaoh alone, he obeyed Him.

When Job was tested, he was confused.  He couldn’t understand why these terrible things were happening to him when he had been a righteous man all his life.  All that he had was taken away from him and he was covered in sores.  His life was in shambles and he wanted to ask God why.  “I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; Show me why You contend with me.” (Job 10:2)

Later in the scripture, God answered Job.  “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?  He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”  God reminded Job that He is the creator of all things and that everything under Heaven is His.  (Job 40:1-34)  Job sees God in His true image—God almighty, creator of everything in Heaven and earth.  He realised that God can do everything and that nothing is denied Him.  Job knew God by what he heard and believed but for the first time in his life he’s really seeing God.  His eyes are opened to the majesty of God and he is sorry for the things he had said before.  He realised that he had no right to question God or his love for him.  Instead, he should focus on God and remember that He is in control. 

In the beginning Job blessed God and held fast to his integrity.  He accepted the bad things that were happening in his life but his faith soon turned to doubt as he focused on the situation rather than on God and he began to question God.  When we concentrate on our troubles instead of concentrating on God, that is when we start to doubt Him and question His love for us.  God was there all the time but Job did not feel His presence because he was so caught up in self-pity and despair.  He was more focused on the flesh that he neglected the spirit—the Spirit of God who was with him.  God dealt with Job by reminding him of whom He is and that no one contends with Him.  We should worship Him and praise Him no matter what.  Once Job learned this, he was blessed with more than he lost.

Jonah was afraid of failing God but God used him to relay His message to the people of Nineveh when He could have done it Himself.  God desires to use people to do His wondrous works through, not only to show the people he is trying to get through to but, also the people he is using what He is capable of.  He wanted to show Jonah how merciful He is by sparing the lives of the wicked people of Nineveh when they repented of their sins.  He wanted to teach Jonah about tolerance because in those days, the Jews and the Gentiles did not get along.  God wanted to demonstrate His love and acceptance of all people.

The disciples forsook Jesus and fled because it was written, “I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.” (Zechariah 13:7)  Peter denied Jesus three times out of fear.  But, before this happened, the Lord said to Peter, “Simon, Simon!  Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32)  Jesus knew that Peter’s faith would be tested and He prayed for him. 

Peter was called to minister to the Gentiles.  “Behold, three men are seeking you.  Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”  He restored Peter’s faith as He promised and sent him to give the Gentiles the same gift as He gave to the Jews.  Jesus enabled Peter to strengthen the brethren who glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”  (Acts 11:1-18)

As a result, the disciples spoke to the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus.  And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.  When the church in Jerusalem heard about the news, they sent Barnabas as far as Antioch.  He encouraged them and a great many people were added to the Lord.  Barnabas went back to Tarsus and brought Paul back to Antioch with him.  There they taught a great many people and it was there in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. (Acts 11:19-30)

God used Paul a non-Christian to convert other non-Christians.  Paul was there when Stephen was stoned.  He consented to his death.  Paul wreaked havoc on the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.  Breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, Paul went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus so that if he found any who were of the Way, men or women, he might take them to Jerusalem.  It was on this trip that his life changed forever.

Jesus spoke to him and Paul, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”  Jesus replied, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Paul did as he was told.  He received the Holy Spirit and immediately began to preach in the synagogues confounding those who remembered how he used to destroy all the people who preached in Jesus’ name.” (Acts 7:58, 8:1, 3, 9:1-21)

When we obey God or keep our eyes above, our faith is strengthened.  Our responsibility as Christians is to trust in God and allow Him to work wondrous things in our lives, use us to fulfil His plans.  God uses all sorts of people to work through as outlined in the examples above.  No one is immune to God’s power or love.  He desires that we obey Him and answer His call.  He equips us with everything we need to do His work and He is with us every step of the way.  Just as He promised Moses, Peter and Paul that He would be with them, He is with us today.  And like Job, we should praise Him in good times and in bad and unlike Jonah, we should not allow prejudice to hinder us.

I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” – John 13:15

Humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance are qualities that God desires in us.  Abraham is an example of a man who was humble before God, obeying Him and having unshakable faith in Him.  Jesus too was humble, He was the son of a carpenter, He was gentle and kind to people who went to Him to be healed like the woman who was haemorrhaging and He was patient.  He explained His parables to the people, taught His disciples how to pray, answered their questions and explained the gospel to them.  And with many such parables He spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.  But without a parable He did not speak to them.  And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.  (Mark 4:33-34)

Jesus was tolerant.  He reached out to the Samaritan woman, defended the woman accused of adultery and had people whom the Pharisees would have deemed, “undesirables” eat at His table.  Jesus left behind the spirit of love, unity and peace.  Jews and Gentiles are able to worship one God because of Him and His peace which is not of this world and which He gave us.  Jesus left an indelible mark on the world.  He saved us and forever bridged the gap between God and us.  His disciples were sent out into the world to spread the gospel, to complete His work, to follow in His footsteps.  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have

Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” – Revelation 2:4

Our good works should reflect our ongoing relationship Christ and detract from it.  He should be our focus and once our focus remains on Him, we then share our love for Him with others.  When Jesus ministered to the people, His focus was always on God who sent Him.  He told His disciples, “for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.” (John 5:36)  Jesus spent most of His time teaching the gospel but He found the time to meditate.  In Luke 6:12, it says, “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”  It is good to minister to the needy and help people but we must always have time for God.  God should always come first.  We must never lose sight of Him.

There is mention of a prophetess named Anna, who served God with fastings and prayers night and day.  She spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption. (Luke 2:36, 37-38)  In his letter to the Romans, Paul urges them to, “Cling to what is good.  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”  Paul is advising the church to serve God in addition to ministering to the people.  We shouldn’t do one and not the other.  We shouldn’t be so caught up in helping people that we forget to acknowledge God whom we are working for.

Our relationship with Jesus should take precedence over everything and everyone else.  We should not allow anything to draw us away from him or take our up so much of our time that we neglect Him.  Time spent with Jesus is precious and should be cherished.  

In Matthew 26:6-12, it is written that when Jesus and His disciples were in Bethany, a woman poured costly fragrant oil on His head.  His disciples were angry and said that she was wasting oil which could have been sold for a lot of money that could have been given to the poor.  Jesus’ response was, “Why do you trouble the woman?  For she had done a good work for Me.  For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.  For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.”  This woman whom the apostle John revealed was Mary, Lazarus’ sister, realised how precious little time she had with Jesus and she made the most of it. 

We are more fortunate.  Jesus is with us all the time.  He’s just a prayer away.  We should spend time with Him everyday, praising Him, giving thanks to Him and honouring Him.  We should focus on Him so that we are able to:    

Form a stronger bond with Him

Open our hearts to Him

Commit ourselves to Him

Understand Him better

Strengthen our faith

Jesus desires that we love one another as He loved us but, at the same time, we cannot allow our relationship with Him to suffer.  When we have a close relationship with God, people will know that He is working through us to help others.  They will know that we are His ambassadors.  That we were sent by Him minister to others just as He Himself was sent by the Father to do His works.

The LORD [is] my shepherd” – Psalm 23:1

Although we are saved, we still face temptations.  This because we are sinners by nature which means we still have the capacity to sin against God, however, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  Jesus left Him behind to help us.  We have to keep on working to be sanctified.  The Holy Spirit helps us to live holy lives.  He empowers us when we are weak and vulnerable and more susceptible to old destructive habits, old temptations, and old desires.  He is our Helper who teaches us all things and reminds us of all the things Jesus said. 

This is what Paul says about the Holy Spirit, “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of man except the man’s spirit within him?  In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that e may understand what God has freely given us.”

The Spirit is a gift from God.  He helps us to communicate to God when we are unable to express ourselves when we are hurting.  Many times I reach out to God because I need Him so desperately but am unable to get the words out because I’m so overcome with tears and hurt and that’s when the Holy Spirit steps in.  As Paul confirms, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Now He searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to will of God.” (Romans: 8-26-27).

Becoming more like Jesus is an ongoing process.  The Holy Spirit helps us along the way.  Whenever I am tempted to do something I know I shouldn’t whether it is buying another clothes or shoes or when I hesitate to do something I know is the right thing to do, the Holy Spirit talks to me.  He reminds me that I don’t need to buy anything and I leave the store.  He reminds me that I want to be like Jesus and that prompts me to do a kind deed.  He keeps me focused on the will of God.  He keeps me in line.  I may not always be receptive to His guidance but I know that He loves me and wants what is best for me.

The Spirit reveals the truth to me—He reveals to me that God loves me and wants me to live a full and healthy life by walking in His ways, trusting Him and obeying Him.  Once I focus on God and the truth, the spirit will grow stronger and the flesh weaker.  “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  And it is the Spirit who bears witness because the Spirit is truth.”  (1 John 5:4, 6b)  As long as we believe that we have the power through the Holy Spirit to resist temptation and to fight the enemy, we will be fine.  We have a long way to go but we have help and encouragement along the way.

Before Jesus came into the world, we were separated from God by sin.  Jesus’ death on the cross reconciled us to God.  He was the bridge between sin and holiness.  His death and resurrection brought us closer to God.  Through Jesus we were able to have a relationship with God.  This brings to mind the parable of the Shepherd and His flock.  We are the lost sheep, Jesus is the gate, God is the Shepherd and the pasture is God’s word or the life that awaits us once we are saved and pass through the gate.  Jesus says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:7-10)

Through Jesus’ death on the cross, we were saved; we were called to fellowship with God who leads us to greener pasture—to a new life.  We allow God, the Shepherd to lead us because we know him.  We let Him lead us to a better life where the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak.  The opposite of what life was before Jesus came into the world—before we passed through the gate of salvation and into the pasture of sanctification.  We are God’s sheep and we cannot let the thief or what we now know as sin or the enemy lead us astray.  Sin is like a thief, it creeps up on us—it is underhanded, sneaky and it tries to drive a wedge between God and us.  We cannot allow this to happen.  We cannot allow ourselves to think that we can handle whatever comes our way without God’s help.  We cannot allow the thief to steal our attention away from God.

God leads us and we follow Him because we trust Him.  He is a God of truth and He makes us face the truth about ourselves and that is no matter how many good deeds we perform we could never measure up to Him.  We are not righteous—we are flawed creatures who need the power of the Holy Spirit to help us to live godly lives.  We cannot find the pasture on our own—we need the Shepherd to lead us to it.

Thanks to Jesus, the Gate, we were able to enter into a loving relationship with God and graze in His presence.  Once we were on the other side of the Gate, lost in the wilderness and then, one day, the Shepherd came and the gate was opened and the sheep were led away from their live of sin.  Jesus was the Good Shepherd who came to get His sheep and led them to the Father.  He led us away from the wolf that wanted to attack the flock and scatter us—keep us separated from God.  Jesus like the Shepherd laid down His life for us to save us from the enemy.

In Psalm 118:19:21, the psalmist writes, “Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.  This is the gate through which the righteous may enter.  I will give you thanks, for you answered me; You have become my salvation.”

Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” – 2 Corinthians 1:3

God comforts us so that we could in turn comfort other people.  When we have lost a loved one or going through a divorce or a long-term relationship has ended, we turn to God and he comforts us.  He helps us to get through these tough times.  When someone close to us goes through something we have experienced, we are equipped to help that person.

Paul relates in his letters to Corinth, “For indeed when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side.  Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.  Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.” (2 Corinthians 7:5-7)  God comforted Paul when he learned that the people in Corinth had repented and returned to a Christian lifestyle.  False teachers who had undermined Paul’s work there had besieged them.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul defends his Ministry. “I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters.  For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing’.  Such people should realise that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.   If someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.  But I do not think I am he least inferior to those ‘super apostles.’  I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge.  We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.  And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in things they boast about. “(2 Corinthians 10:9-11, 11:4-6, 12.)

Paul did not allow the attacks on his ministry or the hardships he faced to hamper him.  He did not allow himself to be swallowed in self-pity.  He continued to do God’s work.  He focused on the work rather than on the circumstances.  And he reiterates this; “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.  Rather as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:  in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots,; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and  yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” – (2 Corinthians 6:3-10)

Paul in turn offers these comforting words to the people, “Become complete.  Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

We cannot do anything without God.  God is our Helper, Provider, Comforter and all that we have comes from Him.  God blessed Job with more than he had before he was tested.  God blessed Abraham with a son in his old age; God gave Hannah the son she prayed for; God protected David from Saul and His grace was sufficient for Paul.  America could not have survived the vicious attack it suffered on September 11th without God’s help.  God strengthen the nation and healed it.

Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage” – Joshua 10:25

Insecurity, doubt or fear prevents us from following God’s will.  We see throughout the Bible that God used people to fulfil His plans—His work when He could have easily done it on His own.  God likes to do great things through people.  He used Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egyptand through him He performed great wonders.  However, when God first approached Moses, Moses was insecure and doubted his ability to speak to Pharaoh and do God’s work.  “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

God assured Moses that he would not be alone, that He would be with him.  Still, Moses protested.  He argued that he was slow of speech so God said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing or the blind?  Have not I, the Lord?  Now therefore go and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Exodus 11-12)  After much protesting from Moses and persuading from God, Moses finally agreed to do as he was commanded.  And he delivered the Israelites and led them to the Promised Land.  He was known as the great deliverer and lawgiver ofIsrael.  There was never another prophet like Moses.

Jonah ran away instead of going to Nineveh as God commanded him because he was afraid.  As a result, a large fish swallowed him where he spent three days and three nights.  From the fish’s belly, Jonah prayed.  The Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.  God spoke to Jonah again, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the preaching that I bid you.”  This time Jonah obeyed.  The message was, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”  The people of Nineveh repented and God in His mercy did not bring disaster on them.

Jonah was not happy about this.  It is as if he felt that he had wasted his time going toNineveh, telling them that they would be destroyed for their wickedness yet, because they had repented, they were saved.  He wondered why God had bothered to send him in the first place when He could have delivered His own message and shown mercy to the people when they turned from their evil ways.

To prove to Jonah how irrational his anger was, God prepared a plant and had it come up over Jonah to shade his head.  Then, He prepared a worm and it damaged the plant and it withered.  Then, He prepared a heavy east wind and the sun beat on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint.  Jonah wished for death.  Then, God asked him if it was right for him to be angry about the plant.  Jonah’s reply was that it right for him to be angry, even to death.  God’s response was, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not laboured, nor made it grow, which came up in the night and perished in a night.  And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?” (Jonah 1:2-3, 17, 2:1-10, 3:1-11)

What we learn from these two examples is that when God wants you to do something don’t argue or run away, just do it.  God uses people to do His will when He could easily do it on His own.  Once people repent of their sins, God shows His mercy and saves them.  We should praise God and rejoice when He is gracious to those who sin against Him and repent instead of getting angry.  God’s love is not reserved for some people but for ALL people.  Jonah failed to recognise God’s love for all people—Jews and Gentiles alike because of the animosity between the two.  The story of Jonah teaches, much like Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, that we should put aside our differences and help those who are hurt spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman at a time when Jews did not associated with Samaritans.  He wanted her to know that there would come a time when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth instead of on the mountain where the Samaritans worshipped or in Jerusalemwhere the Jews worshipped.  We can worship Him anywhere and anytime.  God wants all people to know him.  As Paul points out, “Or is He the God of the Jews only?  Is He not also the god of the Gentiles also?  Yes, of The Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.” (Romans 3:29-30)



  • jesusfootprints: Hi there, I finally got around to checking out your website. I read about how the ministry was started. And I checked out your section on the Sabb
  • Melissa: This is cryatsl clear. Thanks for taking the time!
  • blowjob: Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I've truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I'll be subs

Categories

%d bloggers like this: