Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘opportunity

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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Read John 1:35-42

p_0003John the Baptist, when he was with his two disciples, acknowledged Jesus as the Lamb of God–thereby, revealing the Messiah to his disciples.  Immediately, the two disciples followed Jesus.  They heard what John had said and heeded his words.  How many of us have heard about Jesus and know of what He did on the cross but still don’t follow Him?  How many of us have been given the opportunity to know Him but have decided not to?  Our indecision is a decision in itself.  Andrew and the other disciple seized the opportunity to follow Jesus–to have a relationship with Him.  They left John who had prepared the way for others to follow the Messiah.  They didn’t doubt John.  In faith, they took him at his word, believed that the One he pointed out was the Messiah and they went after Him.

Jesus saw them following Him and He asked them what they were looking for.  He already knew because He was omniscient but, perhaps He wanted them to state their reason.  What would you say to Him if He were to ask you, “What seek ye?”

The disciples’ question answered Jesus’ question.  They wanted to abide with Him so they asked Him where He was dwelling.  Jesus invited them to go and see.  They were willing to be with Him wherever He was.  They went with Him to see where He was staying and they stayed with Him.  How many of us are willing to leave the past behind and pursue a new life–a future with Jesus? How many of us are willing to forsake our old lives for a new one with Jesus?  How many of us are willing to leave the familiar and comfortable behind and pursue the unfamiliar and sometimes hard, uncomfortable future?  Yet, Andrew and the other disciple did so.  They left their familiar life with John whom they knew, to follow Jesus whom they did not know but had long heard of.  Their faith in God’s promise of the Messiah and John’s testimony led them to go after Jesus.  We have more than John’s testimony and those of the prophets.  We have the testimony of Jesus Himself yet many of us do not follow Him.

Andrew went to his brother, Peter and told him that he and the other disciple had found the Messiah.  He took Peter to Jesus.  When we find Jesus, like Andrew, we should be eager to share Him with others.  When Jesus saw Peter, He identified him as the son of Jona and named him Cephas (Peter) which means stone.  It was Peter whom He asked to feed His sheep.  It is interesting that Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him in front of the other disciples.  Why did Jesus do that?

Was it to give Peter a chance to redeem himself?  Was it to show Peter that though he had denied Him three times it by no means meant that he didn’t love Him?  Was it to reassure Peter who might have questioned his love for Jesus because of his denial?  Was it to show Peter and the others that despite what had happened that Jesus had forgiven him and still wanted him to be a big part of His flock?  He wanted Peter to carry on the ministry–to spread the Gospel–to feed the lambs and the sheep.

Peter denied Jesus three times and three times he was forgiven.  My study Bible says that Peter had been restored privately and personally but now it was to be a public matter.  He had disowned Christ in public three times.  Now he must own Christ three times in front of the other disciples.  Peter had sinned but Christ forgave him.  Handling the responsibility of Christ’s ministry was Peter’s way to redeem himself.

Jesus founded His church on Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  This was revealed to Peter by God Himself.  Jesus recognized that Peter would be a great follower–that he would achieve great things in His name, that he would bring many to God.  Like Peter, Jesus sees great potential in each of us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He knew Peter would deny Him but He also knew that Peter would further the ministry, leading many to repentance.  He knew that far from denying Him, Peter would glorify Him, teach others about Him even at the risk of persecution and death.

Peter counted it worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41).  Far from denying Him, Peter and the others continued to teach and preach about Jesus though they were commanded not to.  Love for Jesus and his desire to carry out His command to feed His sheep far surpassed any fear Peter might have had.  If we truly love Jesus we should be willing to teach and preach about Him despite the risks, persecution, rejection we may face.  Like Peter and the other disciples we are to take up our crosses and follow Jesus no matter what.  Like Andrew and the other disciple, we should seek Him and abide with Him.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith” – Galatians 6:10.

Do we share what we have with others whether or not we think they deserve it?  We were sinners when Jesus came into the world and saved us.  We didn’t deserve His forgiveness but we got it anyway and now we can share the good news of Jesus with others.  Did Paul deserve to be saved after mercilessly persecuting Jesus’ followers?  Jesus saved him anyway and Paul became a crusader, spreading the gospel and encouraging other believers to be steadfast in their faith.  Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman about living water which if she drinks of it would never be thirty again.  The woman went and told the others in her village about Him.  And because of this woman, many Samaritans from that town believed in Him.  (John 4:1-39)

When Jesus healed the deaf and mute men, He commanded them not to say anything but the more He did, the more they kept talking about it.  What had happened was too exciting for them to keep to themselves.  (Mark 7:31-37) At the time that the transfiguration took place when Jesus was speaking with Moses and Elijah and John, James and Peter saw this and heard God’s voice, they said nothing of it because Jesus told them, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9)  But, later in one of his letters, Peter writes about it. (2 Peter 1:17-18) and it is written in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels (Luke 9:28-36), (Matthew 17:2-9)

God blesses people with gifts that range from music, art, science, medicine, education, and religion to care giving and generosity.  We can share His love simply by smiling at someone, listening to someone’s troubles, lending a hand, giving them our time, encouragement, making a difference by donating to charities, running for the cure of cancer, signing a letter that could stop a young mother from being stoned to death in Nigeria, helping to stop violence against women, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, protecting physically and sexually abused victims and simply being kind to people.  Let’s follow this advice, “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)

The other day when we were in the gas station, my four year old and I were sitting in the car while my husband was filling the tank.  I was thirsty so I went into my handbag to get some change.  As my husband passed to pay for the gas, I called out to him but he didn’t hear me.  Disappointed, I put the coins back into my wallet.

A few minutes passed and then I heard a tap on the window beside me.  I turned to see a woman standing beside the car looking at me.  I hesitated.  I couldn’t roll down the window because the car engine was off.  I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to open the door.  However, I did.  I had to in order to find out what she wanted.

She told me that she needed change for the bus.  I hesitated and then I took out my wallet.  My fingers closed over the same coins I was going to give my husband to buy me water and I gave them to her.  An expression of gratitude came over her face and she took the coins.  She reached out to shake my hand.  I stared at her hand.  I don’t normally shake hands with perfect strangers.  Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I held her fingers in a feeble handshake.  And she said, “God bless you.”  Of course, I felt badly that I didn’t give her a nice, warm handshake.

Any way when my husband returned, we talked about it.  He had seen what happened and he was happy that I helped the woman out.  He believed that God sent her to me for the bus money.

This evening as I was reading the story of the Sheep or Goats found in Matthew 25 to my four year old, I thought of the woman at the gas station.

Jesus spoke of a king who will separate two groups in the last day just as a shepherd separates the sheep in his flock from the goats.  One group of people will be on the king’s right and the other on his left.  The ones on the right will be those who will share in His kingdom because they helped those who were in need while the ones on the left did not.  The words that struck me were, “Every time you saw one of my followers–however unimportant–and refused to help him in his need, you were refusing to help me.”  Had I refused to help that woman, it would have been the same as refusing to help Jesus.  She was a follower of His and she was in need.  She needed money in order to get to where she needed to go and I had the money.  Yes, I was thirsty but her need was greater.  I didn’t need the water and she needed the change I was going to use for that water.  God had other plans for that money.  He saw a greater need for it and prevented me from wasting it.

I am very thankful now that God used me to help someone in need.  I am grateful that helped someone who needed it.  I hope and pray that the next time God gives me an opportunity to help someone in need, I will not hesitate.

When God’s judgement day comes, which group will you belong to–the sheep or the goats–the ones who will live with the King forever or the ones who will be banished from His presence forever?  I pray that you will be among the sheep.

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

The two blind men heard that Jesus was passing by and realized that this was the perfect opportunity to ask for help.  They cried out to Him.  The crowd told them to be quiet.  How many of us try to prevent people from seeking God?  These men were determined.  They shouted even louder.  Jesus heard them and stopped.  Jesus asked them what they wanted Him to do for them although He already knew.  When we want something from God, we should state it clearly. 

They told Jesus that they wanted their sight.  They had faith that He could restore it.  Their persistence proved this.  They didn’t allow the crowd to discourage them.  They were not about to let this opportunity pass them by just to appease a crowd.  We should follow their example.  We should not allow what others think to influence us or the decisions we make.  We are responsible for our own well being.  These men had a chance to see and if they had allowed the crowd to intimidate them they would still be blind and probably begging in the streets.  They wanted to improve their situation.  They didn’t want to be sitting on the roadside anymore.  They wanted to have the kind of life that Jesus could bless them with if He would give them their sight. 

Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes.  Immediately they received their sight.  And what did they do?  They followed Him.  They didn’t run off. They followed Him.  When Jesus shows compassion to those who seek Him they are so thankful that they want to be with Him.  They make the life-changing decision to follow Him. 

Today, if you have a need that could improve your life or your situation, cry out to Jesus.  He will show you the same compassion He showed those men.  Don’t let your family or friends discourage you from seeking the only One who can positively change your life.

What a blessing it is to help people who are in need.  That is what Jesus did when He was here on earth.  He helped the sick, the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted.  To the crowd gathered in the synagogue, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed” (Isaiah 61:1). 

Jesus came to counsel, teach, heal.  He came to help people to turn their lives around.  He gave many a new lease on life.  He healed lepers, making it possible for them to return to society.  They were no longer outcasts.  He helped the adulteress to clean up her life.  He helped the Samaritan woman to see that her current living arrangement was not right.  He helped Nicodemus, the Pharisee to understand what it means to be born again.  It took a while to explain it but Jesus was patient.  Jesus helped many people. 

Paul encourages us to help one another.  “Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.  If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody.  Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to our Christian brothers and sisters” (Galatians 6:1-3, 10). 

Jesus’ message to His disciples also applies to us.  “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34, 35).

God wants us to help everyone–not just our families or other Christians.  We are to be kind and helpful to strangers too.  Jesus taught that the way we treat people personally affects Him.  “’For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “ When the people asked Him when was He in these situations and His reply was, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’  What affects us affects Him (Matthew 25:35-45). 

So, the next time you see a homeless person cold and hungry or an elderly person trying to cross the street or someone unable to open to open the door because they are carrying a lot of groceries, help that person.  You will be helping Jesus.  You are His hands and His feet.  Remember every time you help someone, you will be demonstrating love and proving to the world that you are His disciple.


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