Be Ready to Share Jesus

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

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We Have Help

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.”

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