Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘grace

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Thank-you-Jesus-for-saving-my-life-1I was reading this passage and thinking of how we are all indebted to Jesus.  We have done terrible things in our lives but He showed us such love and grace that we could only respond in humility and gratitude.  There are times when my past comes back to haunt me but then I remember Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

Paul writes to Timothy about his past.  He shares how he was once an enemy of the church.  He blasphemed the Lord and persecuted His people but it was done in ignorance.  How many of us have not done things that we later regret out of ignorance?

Paul spoke of how Jesus poured out His grace on him.  “He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”  How many of us are called into ministry after the Lord has shown us mercy?  I have heard of men who once on the wrong side of the law become pastors.  At a Women’s Ministry program, a speaker shared her testimony of how life was for her before she found Jesus.  She used to be a drug addict.  

It doesn’t matter where or how we encounter Jesus.  What matters is that once we surrender to Him, He can do remarkable things in our lives.  When people see how the Lord has transformed a person you never would imagine would become a Christian, they can’t help but be amazed and curious.  When Paul began preaching after his conversion, many people were amazed.  They couldn’t believe that it was the same person who used to a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man.  In his eyes, he was a chief sinner among the sinners whom Jesus came to save.  I can almost hear the regret in his words but he sees something positive in this.  As the worst sinner of them all, he can be used to demonstrate how patient Jesus is towards the worst of sinners.  He, Paul will serve as an example to all who in the future should trust Jesus for eternal life.

We, like Paul, are indebted to Jesus for His love, kindness, mercy, grace and patience.  He loved us even when we were rejecting Him.  All that time when Paul was persecuting the church, Jesus loved him.  He knew Paul’s heart.  He knew that Paul was acting out of ignorance and He knew that He could redirect that zeal.  This explains why Paul was so passionate in his work as a minister.  He testified, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).  It is as if he were working hard to show Jesus that His mercy toward him had not be in vain.

Let us show the Lord how much we appreciate His grace toward us.  Let us do this by the way we live, how we treat others and in whatever work He has called us to do.

Thank You, Jesus for saving us and using us to bring other lost souls to You.

apostol-san-pedro-y-cornelio2I like the fact that Cornelius invited his family and close friends over to his house so that they too can hear what God commanded Peter to share with him. This says something about Cornelius. He wanted those who were dear to him to be a part of something very important–something that could change lives.
If the Lord were to ask us to invite a pastor over to tell us the things we need to know, how many people we would invite? What do we say to them to convince them to come over? Did Cornelius’ have to convince his relatives and friends to join him? I don’t think so. Based on the kind of man he was, they would have had no problem accepting his invitation. I’m sure they were happy they went. They got to hear a powerful sermon about Jesus. They learned that God doesn’t play favorites and everyone who fears Him and do what is right and pleasing in His sight are accepted by Him. They heard about the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. They had the assurance that whoever believes in Jesus will receive remission of sins.
While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and those who were with him. They began to speak in tongues and glorify God. Right away Peter made arrangements for them to be baptized. What an incredible experience this must have been for Cornelius and his household. They received Jesus and were baptized with the Holy Spirit. God demonstrated here that His grace is for everyone.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19, 20).

person-listening-300x200James is saying that sometimes we need to listen more and speak less or say nothing.  King Solomon says in Proverbs 10:19, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”

There are times when we speak instead of listening and later regret it because our words lead to bitter quarrels and fights.  Feelings can get hurt and relationships can be jeopardized or destroyed because of words spoken in a fit of anger.  There are times when we ought to just listen and other times when we ought to speak.  We have to have the wisdom to know when to do which.

Problems arise when we stop listening to God and to each other.  Whether in the home, at work, or in the church, arguments ensue when listening stops.  When that happens, talking begins to accelerate and anger builds.  This slippery slope of sinful communication, like the uncontrolled inward desires of James 1:14, 15, can never produce the righteousness of God.  That is why James juxtaposes God’s righteousness with human wrath.  As long as we rely on what bubbles up naturally from our sinful nature, the creative power of God’s Word is blocked, and our own unhelpful or even hurtful words arise instead (The Book of James Sabbath School Quarterly, p. 26)

Notice James advises us to be “swift to hear”.  We must be quick to hear what the other person has to say first before we have our say.  In doing so, we might learn something and diffuse an otherwise volatile situation.   How many times have we been quick to speak and slow to listen and gotten ourselves in trouble?  It takes wisdom to hold our tongue.  It takes maturity to listen. 

We have to be careful of what we say.  If we have nothing good or helpful to say in a situation , it is best to keep quiet.

Proverbs 15:1 says, “a soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.  When we respond to something someone says in a quiet, non-combative way, it will diffuse the situation or prevent it from getting worse.  Once when my husband, Dave made a request, he didn’t like the tone of his co-worker’s reply but he responded in an agreeable manner.  The co-worker, initially surprised, responded positively.  Dave chose a gentle answer instead of a harsh one and turned what could have led to a bad situation into a peaceful resolution.  Both men benefitted from Dave’s wise handling of the problem.

The prophet Isaiah tells us that we should know how to speak and when to speak (Isaiah 50:4).  Paul encourages us to speak only words that will encourage and benefit others.  Our words must not be corrupt or harmful (Ephesians 4:29).  Our words should not be filthy, foolish or coarse.  They should be fitting and full of thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:4).  Our words should always be filled with grace, seasoned with salt so that we know how to answer people appropriately (Colossians 4:6). 

Be a good listener.  Hear what the other person has to say.  The same rule applies to God.  Too often when we spend time with Him, we have our say but don’t wait to hear what He has to say.  Be still and listen for that small, still voice.

He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction (Proverbs 13:3)

 

 

 

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.  And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:  Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor – Luke 6:12-16

MH900409444When it comes to making big decisions what do you do?  Do you call a friend?  Do you struggle to make a decision?  Do you put off making a decision?  Or do you seek God in prayer?  Before choosing the twelve disciples whom He also named apostles, Jesus sought His Father in prayer and spent all night communing with Him. He had a big decision to make and needed wisdom and guidance.  He was setting an example for us.  When faced with big decisions or life changing situations, we need to go straight to the Source of all wisdom and knowledge.  He knows the beginning and the end and He knows what is best for us.

Prayer is extremely important.  It is our best option when faced with tough choices or trials or problems or challenges.  When Solomon was faced with the daunting task of ruling God’s people after his father died, he sought God in prayer.  It was a beautiful prayer and it even pleased God.  “Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.  Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:9, 10).  Solomon was young and wanted to be an able leader for the people but he knew that he couldn’t do this without God’s help so he appealed to Him to give him the tools he needed to be an effective leader–wisdom and knowledge.

Prayer is our connection to God who cares about us and is ready to provide whatever we ask for.  Jesus encouraged persistent prayer.  He encouraged us to pray in faith, believing that what we ask for we will receive.  Instead of worrying, Paul advises us “in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7).  Many times I have been overwhelmed by something going on in my life and I turned to God in prayer. In the midst of my anguish, I feel God’s peace come over me, calming me, assuring me that He will get me through this.

Seek God in prayer daily.  Daniel prayed three times a day.  You can pray anywhere and anytime.  As you are sitting on the train on your way to work, you can pray.  As you fix breakfast, you can give God thanks and ask Him to help you get through your day.  You can pray as you walk to the bus-stop or the office.  That’s the beautiful thing about prayer, it is not limited by time or place.  And God is always there, just waiting to hear from you.

Prayer is a privilege we should never take for granted and should always take advantage of.  Jesus, through His sacrifice on the cross has made it possible for us to have easy access to God through prayer.  Thanks to Him, we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace – Hebrews 11:31.

016-joshua-rahab-spiesOne morning I was reading the story of Rahab to my five year old son. I didn’t mention of course that Rahab was a harlot. I made of point of telling him that she was the great-great-great grandmother of King David.  How did she earn this privilege? We find out in the book of Joshua. Joshua, who was now the leader of the people of Israel following Moses’ death sent two men to secretly spy out the land, especially Jericho. They went and came to the house of Rahab where they lodged. Somehow the king of Jericho found out that they were there and he sent a message to Rahab, telling her to bring the men.   However, Rahab hid the two spies and sent the king’s men on a wild
goose chase.

Why did she hide the men? She had heard about their God. “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our
hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”  She knew that God would give the Israelites possession of the land where Jericho was.   In return for her help, she wanted the two spies to spare her and her family when they went to take possession of the land. The spies agreed to save her provided that she didn’t betray their whereabouts and they told her to tie a red cord in the window through which she let them down so that she and her family would be safe. Rahab agreed and sent them away.

True to their promise when they went into the city of Jericho and utterly destroyed everything in it, Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” She and her family stayed outside the camp of Israel while their city was burned. Joshua 6:25 states: And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Rahab married Salmon and gave birth to Boaz who married Ruth, the Moabitess and mother Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Rahab is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and as one of the people of faith in chapter 11 of Hebrews and James wrote of her, “Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” (James 2:25). In faith and at the risk of her own life she hid the spies in her home until it was safe for them to leave. And as a result she and her family did not perish with the rest of the inhabitants of Jericho.

The story of Rahab is one of hope and encouragement.  God can use anyone to help His people and to fulfill His purpose.  Once we fear God and put our faith and trust in Him, we will not perish but will receive His mercy and grace.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:3

humilityThe message seems to contradict itself but God’s way of living is usually at odds with the world’s.  His ways may seem strange to the world.  We must be poor in spirit which means to be humble.  Pride and self-importance have no place in God’s kingdom.  The Bible says, “God resists the proud but gives grace to humble.  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:5-6).

People don’t like to submit or be dependent on anyone.  They like to be self-sufficient, idependent.  Jesus is saying  blessed are those who humble themselves in the sight of the Lord.  As disciples of Jesus we must submit to God and resist the devil who offers us worldly things.  These traits are the ones Jesus is looking for in His followers.  God blesses those who live out these traits.

It is not easy to do what may seem strange and opposite to the societal norm.  How could a humble person inherit the kingdom of heaven?  The Lord Himself declares, “I will dwell in the high and holy place with him who has a contrite and humble spirit.  To revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

God dwells with the humble–the poor in spirit–those who for recognize their need for God.  They are lowly in spirit.  Paul describes this kind of attitude best.  “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3, 4).

Jesus was poor in spirit–He was humble and He came to serve, not to be served.  He always puts the needs of others before His own.  And the result is, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).  Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death.  As disciples of Christ we are to humble ourselves and be obedient to God in all things.

Like Jesus, our kingdom is not of this world and that is why the world does not know us just as it did not know Him.  We are God’s peculiar people.  Our way of life is at odds with the ways of the world.  Being poor in spirit brings us God’s riches which are eternal.

adam-eve_019Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness – Genesis 1:26

There are many people who deny that there are three Persons in the Godhead. They don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What does the Word of God say?

In the first book of the Bible, God is speaking to others when He says, “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness.” Who is He talking to? The angels? Psalm 104:4 says “Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.” Angels are created beings. Would God create us in the image of other created beings even though we were made lower than them (Psalm 8:5)? Remember what the angel said when the apostle John fell down at his feet in worship? “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9). Twice John fell at the angel’s feet to worship him and twice he told him not to do that. They were both servants. Only God is to be worshipped.

He was talking to the other members of the Godhead who were present at creation. The Son was present. The apostle John confirms this in the first chapter of his Gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:1-5).

The Holy Spirit was present at creation. Genesis 1:2 states, And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. All were present at Jesus’ baptism. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

When Jesus gave the great commission to His disciples, He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing 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 commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Though commonly known as the “Trinity”, the term “Godhead” is actually in the Bible. It is used by Paul in Romans 1:20 and in Colossians 2:9. He uses the Greek words theiotēs and theotēs. Both of which refer to the state of being God. The Godhead is one God, three persons. Paul refers to these three Persons in his letter to the Christians in Corinth. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). The author of Hebrews writes, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Many use these words of Moses to dispute the teaching of the Godhead. What they need to remember is that the Israelites had come from Egypt which had many gods and the other nations at that time were also polytheistic. The golden calf Aaron made was the Egyptian god, Apis.

The Godhead is comprised of three Persons with different roles but one purpose much like a family with more than one member with different roles. “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one” (1 John 5:7, 8). Here the Spirit refers to the Father, the water to the Holy Spirit and the blood to Jesus. They are one. Together they created us and together they devised the plan of salvation when our first parents, Adam and Eve sinned. Together they are working in and through us so that one day we will spend eternity with them on the new earth.


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