Indebted to Jesus

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.

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He Led By Example

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

Give Thanks

“O give thanks unto the LORD; for [he is] good; for his mercy [endureth] for ever” – 1 Chronicles 16:34

When we go to God in times of trouble and need, we should also offer thanksgiving, jubilance and praise.  Praise Him for the beauty He created and for the wonderful blessings He showers on us.  Give thanks for everything possible—His love, mercy, goodness, understanding, His Son, our Saviour, His grace. 

Be happy, joyful that we have a relationship with Him, that He is faithful and keeps His promises, that He has wonderful things in store for us.  David was always praising God.  “Be exalted, O Lord, in Your strength we will sing and praise Your might.” – Psalm 21:13.

We should lift our voices in praise—in song.  Praise the Lord, our God who delivered His people from Egypt, David from his enemies and who loved the world so much that He gave His beloved Son so all who believe in Him could have everlasting life.  Praise the Lord for He is just.  He contends with those who contend with us.  He disciplines us when we do wrong just as we discipline our children.  Praise the Lord for He is creator of Heaven and earth who performs great wonders.  Praise the Lord for His loving kindness, His wisdom, His patience and His desire to do His very best in our lives. 

We have so much to praise God for.  We should praise Him everyday.  “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6)

Focus On God

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” – Mathew 6:33

Jesus was tempted when He was in the wilderness for forty days.  He was able to counteract the devil’s claims with the truth—the scriptures.  The devil tried to use His hunger to tempt Him but, Jesus said, “It is written:  Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4) God’s word is food for the soul.  The devil tried to tempt Jesus with worldly possessions if He would worship him.  Jesus’ reply was, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”

When we worship God, we have no need for worldly things.  When a person dies these possessions are left behind.  The riches we receive from God when we follow Him surpass any riches of this world.  God’s riches are for the spirit—joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  These things we can take with us to Heaven.  These are what Paul called the “fruit of the spirit” and once we have these things we would no longer look to the world we live in for sustenance.  Material things or worldly pleasures don’t bring us lasting joy.  They only drive us further away from God.  Solomon’s love for foreign women and worship of their gods led him astray.  He realised this when he wrote the book of Proverbs, “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing.  And one makes himself poor, yet has great riches.” (Proverbs 13:7)

By humility and the fear of the Lord are the riches and honour and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)

Spirit vs. Flesh.  Throughout the Bible we see people who live by the spirit and people who live by the flesh and what the outcome is.  Noah was a righteous man who believed in God and obeyed Him.  When he was asked to build and ark, he did as he was told and he and his family were protected from the flood.  Abraham was a man of strong faith.  He trusted God and obeyed Him when God called him out of his home country to settle in a strange land.  He was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac when God asked Him to.  His was a steadfast faith.  The men were surrounded by corruption and sin yet they remained faithful to God.  Abraham was not interested in worldly things (Genesis 14:22-24).  God took care of his needs.  What God had to offer him was worth much more than possessions.  God offered him a son and land.  God made covenants with Noah and Abraham.  He blessed them both.  He set a rainbow, as a sign of the covenant He made that a flood will never destroy life again. (Genesis 9:12-17)  God’s covenant with Abraham was land for his descendants.  These two men did not allow themselves to be touched by the immorality and corruption of the world around them.  They walked with God.

In the beginning Solomon walked in the ways of the Lord.  He asked God for wisdom so that he could govern the people well. (Kings 3:7-9)  He built the temple for God.  He got daily provisions from the different countries and the people ate, drank and were happy.  There was peace on all sides.

He said a prayer of dedication to God, acknowledging that God keeps His covenant with those who continue wholeheartedly in His way, that He kept His promise to David.  Solomon asked God to hear His people’s prayers and pleas when they have sinned against him.  Solomon acknowledged that there was no one who does not sin.  It is a fact that no one was free of sin—not even a wise king.  Jesus was the only One who was without sin until He took on ours.  Solomon was admired for his wisdom and he was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.  The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. (1 Kings 10:6-10, 23-25)

Then, Solomon’s fleshly desires took over—his weakness for foreign women turned his heart after their gods so that he was not fully devoted to God anymore.  He intermarried with the very people God had told the Israelites not to intermarry because they would turn their hearts to other gods.  Solomon built a high place for these gods, burnt incense and offered sacrifices.  Solomon had been forbidden to follow other gods but he wilfully disobeyed the Lord’s command.  As a result, there were rebellions against Solomon and all the kingdoms except one,Jerusalem, were taken away from him.  It was because of God’s promise to David who never turned away from Him to worship other gods, that Solomon remained ruler all the days of his life and he was able to keep one tribe.

If Solomon had followed this advice, things would have turned out very differently, “Do not be wise in your own eyes.  Fear the Lord and depart from evil.  It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones.  My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction, For whom he Lord loves He corrects just as a father the son in whom he delights”  (Proverbs 3:7-8, 11-12).

Abide in Jesus

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

First, what does abide mean?  According to Strong’s Concordance, it means not to depart; to be held, kept, continually.  Jesus tells us that if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, then whatever we ask it shall be done.  We cannot depart from Jesus or His words.  He mentioned earlier that He was the Vine and that we are the branches.  Without Him we cannot bear fruit.  We have to remain connected to Him and His word in order to bear fruit. This is the same as building our foundation.  We cannot build on anything else but Jesus.  He is the Rock.  When we abide in His word it is the same as the man who built his house on the rock instead of the sand so that when the rains came, his house stood.

If we want to continue to be fruitful we must continue to have a connection (relationship) with Jesus.  He sustains us.  We draw our sustenance from Him.

So, Jesus is the Vine.  God is the Vinedresser.  And we are the branches.  God casts away the branches that are bearing no fruit because they were not properly abiding in the Vine.  This reminds me of the seed that fell by the wayside; on the stony places; among the thorns.  The seed is the word of God and those who hear it but have the word taken out of their hearts lest they should believe and be saved or those who believe for a while but fall away when faced with trials and temptations because they have no root or those who allow the cares of the world to get the better of them will not bear no fruit.  These are the branches that God will take away.  The branches which bear fruit are like the good soil on which the seed fell and yielded a good crop.  These are people who hear the word of God and  with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience (Luke 8:15).

Jesus wants us to be doers of the word not just hearers.  None of us want to hear Him say to us, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”  It is the same as those who claim to do all sorts of things in His name but He told them that He never knew them because they did not do the will of the Father.  Not everyone who calls Him Lord will inherit the kingdom.  These are they who are not abiding in Jesus.  In order to abide in Jesus you have to do the will of the Father.  We have to bear good fruit.  Jesus said, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor [can] a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:18-20).  The branches that don’t bear good fruit will be cast into the fire (John 15:6).

Those who abide in Jesus and in His word will bear nothing but good fruit.  What fruit?  The fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23).  When we abide in Jesus, whatever we ask we will receive because we ask is in accordance with His will.  And when we bear good fruit, we bring glory and honor to God.  Jesus made it clear that our good works are for the purpose of glorifying God, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

And when we bear good fruits we show that we are Jesus’ disciples.  Our fruits show that we  enjoy a close and loving relationship with Jesus.  Our fruits are evidence that we follow the teachings of Jesus–we are hearers and doers of His sayings.  When people look at us they should see Christ reflected in us.  It is like when Jesus was here on earth.  When people saw Him, they saw the Father.  When people look at us they ought to see Christ in us.  If Jesus abides in us and we in Him and His word, our actions (lives) will reflect this.  We will have no trouble bearing good fruit or shining our light so that our Father in heaven will be glorified.

It is true.  Whoever abides in Jesus and Jesus in that person, he or she will bear much fruit. Look at the great things the disciples did after Jesus returned to His Father.  They preached the Gospel boldly in the face of persecution, imprisonment and death.  On the day Peter preached after receiving the Holy Spirit, those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.  God added to the church as they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,  praising God and having favor with all the people (Acts 2:47).  Churches were planted in different parts of the world.  Gentiles received Christ and were baptized into the faith.  Paul who once persecuted the followers of Christ, became a champion of the faith.  Once he abided in Christ and Christ abided in him, he became the bearer of good fruit.  And that is why he was able to say with faith and conviction, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8).

Today, make it your purpose to abide in Jesus.  Continue in His word.  Act upon His teachings.  Follow His example.  Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you.  Allow God to trim away the areas in your life that are preventing you from bearing more fruit to His glory.  Cling to the Vine because without Him you can do nothing.

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