Jesus' Footprints

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“Only the wise can give good advice; fools cannot do so” – Proverbs 15:7

31118_000_034_06At some point in our lives we seek advice from others.  Sometimes we get good advice and sometimes we get bad.  Some people mean well while others don’t.  It is up to us to decide which advice to follow.

After King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became the ruler of Israel. When Jeroboam heard about Solomon’s death, he returned from Egypt where he fled to escape from the former king.  Jeroboam was summoned by the leaders of Israel and he and all of Israel went to speak to Rehoboam.  They said to him, “your father was a hard master.  Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us.  Then we will be your loyal subjects.”

Rehoboam told them to go back in three days for his answer. The people went away and the king went to discuss the matter with the older men who used to counsel his father, Solomon.  “What is your advice?” he asked.  “How should I answer these people?”

They replied, “If you are good to the people and show them kindness and do your best to please them, they will always be your loyal subjects” (2 Chronicles 10:1-7). Very sound advice.  But Rehoboam rejected it.  It wasn’t what he wanted to hear.  How many of us reject good advice because it doesn’t please us?

Rehoboam went to his friends and asked for their advice. They said to him, “This is what you should tell those complainers: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist—if you think he was hard on you, just wait and see what I’ll be like.  Yes, my father was harsh on you, but I’ll be even harsher.  My father used whips on you, but I’ll use scorpions” (verses 10, 11).  This was very foolish advice.  No one in their right mind would follow this.  But Rehoboam did.

When the people came to see him three days later he repeated the advice his friends gave him. As a result the people refused to be ruled by a descendant of David.  They shouted, “Down with David and his dynasty.”

In Rehoboam’s case, this turn of events was the will of God so that this prophecy would be fulfilled,But I will not take the entire kingdom from Solomon at this time. For the sake of my servant David, the one whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and laws, I will let Solomon reign for the rest of his life. But I will take the kingdom away from his son and give ten of the tribes to you.  His son will have one tribe so that the descendants of David my servant will continue to reign in Jerusalem, the city I have chosen to be the place for my name.  And I will place you on the throne of Israel, and you will rule over all that your heart desires” (1 Kings 11:34-37).

But when we make bad decisions based on bad advice we cannot blame the consequences on God or anyone else but ourselves. We are to be wise.  We are to seek godly counsel first and then it is up to God if He wants to help us through another person.  If Solomon had followed his father David’s advice and not worshipped other gods but remained faithful to God, his son Rehoboam would not have been influenced to make a bad decision which had long lasting effects.

We have to be careful whom we seek advice from. Proverbs 12:26 says, “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.”  Rehoboam’s friends did not give him good advice.  He was led astray and God allowed it to happen.  Sometimes bad things are allowed to happen to teach us a lesson.

Acts 13:13-52

900165955_466ceaa8d7_mAt bedtime, I read to my son the scriptures where Paul and Barnabas visited the synagogue in Antioch and after the reading from the Law and the Prophets,  the rulers of the synagogue asked them if they had any words of encouragement for the people.  What struck me is when Paul stood up, he used this opportunity to preach about Jesus.

He didn’t start off talking about Jesus.  Instead, he gave a brief summary of Israel’s history beginning with when the Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years.  He spoke about how the Jewish people were ruled by judges until the prophet Samuel and how they wanted to be like the other nations who had kings ruling over them.  They wanted a king too even though God was their King.  They got their wish when Saul, the son of Kish was chosen to be their king.  However, God removed him because of his disobedience and chose David to be his successor.  Then, Paul introduced Jesus, saying,  “From this man’s descendants God has raised a Savior for Israel, Jesus, according to His promise.”

He spoke of the role the people had played in the arrest and death of Jesus. By doing these things they had fulfilled the Word of God.  The Good News, though was that God raised Jesus from the dead and through Him are the forgiveness of sins.  Paul made it clear that we are justified by faith in Jesus and not by the law.  His words encouraged the Gentiles who begged him to preach again to them the following Sabbath.

Has God given you an opportunity to share the Good News about Jesus with others as He did with Paul?  Would you do as Paul did and share your faith so that people will come to know the Savior who died for them as well?  You don’t have to give a history lesson like Paul did.  You can share your own testimony of how you came to know the Lord like the woman at the well.  She told her community that Jesus must be the Messiah that they had been waiting for because He knew everything about her.

What about the challenges you will face when you share the Gospel?  The following Sabbath when Paul and Barnabas returned to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, they were met with opposition from the Jews who were envious.  They contradicted what Paul said but he and Barnabas didn’t allow them to spoil things for them.  Instead, they boldly declared to them that since they rejected the Word of God which was supposed to be given to them first, it would be given instead to the Gentiles for the Lord commanded them, “‘I have established you to be a light of the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”  Verse 48 says that when the Gentiles heard this, “they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And all who were ordained to eternal life believed.”

Don’t be discouraged when people oppose you and contradict what you say.  It’s Satan, your enemy at work, trying to prevent you from doing what God has called you to do.  Like Paul and Barnabas did, act boldly, knowing that the Lord is your side and He will not allow His work to be hindered.  Share the Gospel for the sake of those who will gladly receive it. Don’t let the Satan or anyone put out your light.  Keep it shining for those who will come to it and receive salvation through faith in Jesus.

Today, if God gives you an opportunity to encourage people with the Good News about Jesus, grab it.  And don’t worry about what to say.  The Holy Spirit has that covered.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek – Romans 1:16

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” – Philippians 2:8.

 

Abraham was told to leave his country and go to a strange land believing God’s promise that, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2)  Abraham obeyed and journeyed to Canaan.  Difficult times were ahead for them.  They faced famine; strife between Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s livestock; and war which resulted in Lot’s capture.  Abraham and Sarah were childless.  At their age it must have seemed unlikely that they would be parents as God had promised.  But, God kept His promise and Isaac was born.  Isaac became the ultimate test of Abraham’s faith making the earlier challenges pale in comparison.

Abraham was asked to “take now your son, your only son to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:2)  One cannot imagine what it must have taken for Abraham to be able to obey such a command.  For years he and Sarah had been childless and now the son God had promised them was going to be taken away and offered up as a sacrifice.  What about God’s promise of an everlasting covenant with Isaac and his descendants?  What must have been going through Abraham’s mind as he bound his son and laid him on the altar?  What must Isaac have been thinking?  As Abraham raised the knife to kill his son, was it his love for God that gave him the strength to go through with such an act?  God explains why He stopped him, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me.” (Genesis 22:12) 

Without question, Abraham obeyed God.  He did not demand to know why God was asking him to sacrifice the child he and his wife had waited so long to have.  He didn’t ask God why he was taking away the child he had promised him, “in Isaac your seed shall be called.”  He did not wonder why God who was faithful and never broke a promise was now asking him to do the unthinkable.  Abraham had no way of knowing that God would stop him.  He had no way of knowing that God would replace Isaac with a ram for the sacrifice.  Abraham’s faith in God was so strong, so powerful that he was able to obey the most difficult command a man would ever receive from his God.  As a result, God, in His loving kindness, spared Isaac and blessed Abraham. 

Obedience is not too difficult to achieve.  Abraham is proof of this and so is Jesus.  Jesus faced many difficulties during his ministry.  He was criticised, rejected, mocked, flogged, deserted, denied and crucified because He was speaking on God’s behalf as He was commanded.  When Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” An angel from Heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.  And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly.  Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. (Luke 22:41-44)  Jesus had a crisis of faith but, He was strengthened and He remained obedient. 

We too have crises of faith sometimes when faced with difficult times or temptations, but, if we pray to God, as Jesus did in His hour of need, God will strengthen us so that we don’t fall into temptation and remain obedient to Him.  Obeying Him will not always be easy but if we remember that it is the only way we will be able to experience God’s best and become closer to Him, we will be greatly motivated.

“Trust in God at all times, my people” – Psalm 62:8

Several people in the Bible faced obstacles—seemingly impossible situations and we see that nothing or no obstacle is impossible or too great for God to handle. David faced Goliath with only a slingshot and did the impossible because he had faith and trust in God. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:37). He believed that God would protect him, give him victory. Jesus was able to feed 5000 people, heal the sick and preach the gospel despite the plots to kill Him and the daily persecution he faced.

The parting of the Red Sea to escape the Egyptian army, manna from Heaven, water from the rock in the desert, Gideon’s army of 300 men against an impossibly large Midianite army, Joseph who was left to die in the pit, Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:21), Peter in prison (Acts 12:11), Paul who was arrested, beaten, faced trials but continued to spread the gospel without hindrance (Acts 28:30). All these people trusted in God and they did things that brought glory to God.

When David faced Goliath, he acknowledged that it was God’s battle that he was there in God’s name. The whole world would know that he was there in God’s name. The whole world would know that there was a God in Israel through that victory over Goliath. David was giving God the credit for what the outcome would be (1 Samuel 17:45-47). Jesus gave thanks before he distributed the bread and fish to the 5000 people. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he and his army would pursue the Israelites. God told Moses what to do and why. (Exodus 14:15-18) Moses trusted God and he urged the others to do the same. He realised that God would not bring them that far just to have them killed or recaptured. God wanted both the Israelites and the Egyptians to see His power. He wanted to gain His glory through this amazing act (The parting of the Red Sea).

When the people saw the great power of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, they feared the Lord and put their trust in him and Moses His servant. (Exodus 14:31) God was with Joseph and he prospered in Egypt. Joseph’s story is a perfect example of “all things work together for good to those who love God”. (Romans 8:28) His brothers meant him harm out of jealousy but God had a plan for him, which ultimately led Jacob to go to Egypt where He made him a great nation. It was time for Jacob and his descendants to leave Canaan and go to a new land.

Daniel trusted in God and believed that no harm would come to him when he was in the lion’s den. When he was lifted out, no wound was found on him. He testified to God’s glory and as a result the king wrote a decree that everyone in his kingdom must fear and revere God. (Daniel 6:25-27) Paul realised that in spite of all the obstacles all the hardships, pain, suffering, and persecution he had to endure that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). He trusted God and glorified him by continuing to teach the gospel despite these adversities.

I once got an e-mail with a sentence that will encourage anyone facing adversity. It simply says, “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”



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