Cornelius and Household Saved

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.
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The Humility of Jesus

Let this mjesus-crossind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

When I read this the other day, it hit home that Jesus didn’t think anything of leaving the glory of Heaven and coming to earth to live among His creation.   He had no problem setting aside His nature which made Him equal with the Father and taking on the form of sinful man.  Why did He do this?  1 John 3:8 tells us why.  “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  Jesus came to undo the work of the devil which he started in the Garden of Eden when he tempted Eve and succeeded.

Jesus wanted to defeat sin in the flesh because it was through the flesh that sin entered the world. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12).   Sin is like an epidemic, a cancer and Jesus is the only One who could completely destroy it.  So, He came into the world as an infant, born to a virgin.  He lived a simple life, worked as a carpenter before He began His ministry.  Throughout His life here on earth, Jesus lived in total obedience to the Father and humbly.

In His humility He defeated the devil in the wilderness, using, not His divine power, but the Word of God to counter each temptation until the enemy had no other choice but to go away.  In humility, Jesus allowed the religious leaders and the roman soldiers to mock, spit, strike and humiliate Him.  Not once did He complain or call down the angels to help Him.  In humility, He carried the cross to the place where they would crucify Him.  On the way, women bewailed and lamented Him but He didn’t think about Himself.  He foresaw what would befall them and warned them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”

I always wondered what Jesus meant by “green wood and dry” and today I learnt that green wood is not used as fuel for fire, whereas, dry wood is perfect for that.  And Jesus is represented by the green wood, as the One undeserving of the cruel treatment He was receiving from the people.  And the people who were fanning the flames, pushing for Jesus’ crucifixion, after requesting that, Barabbas, a criminal be released, were the dry wood.  They were deserving of the Divine judgement that they would one day face.  Jesus was telling the women to cry for these people.  The people who continually reject Christ and His work on the cross are the ones we ought to mourn for the time will come when they will be judged and will be cast into the lake of fire.

In humility, as He hung on the cross, He asked God to forgive the very people who wanted Him dead.  He was dying for them too.  The cross is where we ought to go when we find it hard to forgive those who hurt and humiliate and mistreat us.  In humility we realize that Jesus hanging on the cross in our place is what made it possible for God to forgive us too.  We too are responsible for Jesus becoming a curse for us. Humility is about acknowledging that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory and that we have a Saviour who thought nothing of emptying Himself.

In humility, Jesus thought nothing of the shame of the manner of His death, endured the cross, because of the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).  He wasn’t thinking about the shame but the salvation that would be offered to all those who accepted His ultimate sacrifice.  Through His death, many would receive life eternal.  And through His death and resurrection, many would have the same victory over sin and death.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for humbling Yourself and becoming one of us so that You could defeat sin and death.  Sin had separated us from our Father but Your death on the cross, reconciled us to Him.  We will never be able to repay the debt You paid with Your precious blood.  We can honour You by loving others and sharing the Good News about what You did for them on the cross.

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).

Two Sabbaths?

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome – 1 John 5:2, 3.

Last Sabbath I read this definition in my Bible’s dictionary:

Sabbath  A holy day of rest and worship (Exodus 20:8).  The seventh day of the week, from Friday evening to Saturday evening, is the Jewish Sabbath.  The first day of the week, or Sunday, became the Christian Sabbath in memory of the day of Jesus’ resurrection (Mark 16:2).  Early Christians “came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7) on the first day of the week.

According to this definition there are two Sabbaths.  Are there indeed two Sabbaths–one for Jews and one for Christians?  Where in the Bible is this distinction made?  According to the Bible the Sabbath existed long before the Jews did.  So, hSabbath6Gsmow could a day be made for people who did not yet exist?  Simple.  And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27).  The word used for man here is anthrōpos which means a human being, male or female.  It is clear from Jesus’ own words that the seventh day Sabbath was made for everyone–not just the Jews.

When God created the Sabbath, He had everyone in mind.  It was supposed to be a day of rest for all of us–Jews and Gentiles. We read in Genesis 2:1-3:  And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Keeping the seventh day Sabbath was so important to God that it was one of His ten moral commandments.  By His own finger, He wrote: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11).

Would Jesus thank His followers for changing the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first?  The Sabbath was created as a memorial to the creation and was written in stone which means that it was never meant to be changed.  The moral law represents God who is unchanging.  It represents Jesus who says He is the Lord of the Sabbath because He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  The fourth commandment is the only one which begins with the word, “remember”.  It was given as a reminder to the Jews who were not practicing Sabbath worship while in bondage in Egypt.  So, now that they were free, they could keep the Sabbath.

As Christians, we are supposed to follow Jesus’ example.  It was His custom to worship or attend the synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16).  Paul kept the Sabbath.  If the day had changed to the first day of the week as some claim, why did Paul wait to preach to the Gentiles the next Sabbath instead of preaching to them on the following day?  Acts 13:42:  And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbathOn the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God (Acts 13:42, 44).  And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks (Acts 18:4).

Compare Exodus 20:8-11 to: ‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

Exodus 20:11 is a direct reference to Genesis 2:2, 3.  In Deuteronomy 5:15 is a reminder that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord had delivered them.  As their Deliverer, He was commanding them to keep His Sabbath day holy.  So, we see that the Sabbath reveals God as our Creator and our Redeemer.  Just as God delivered His people from the land of Egypt where they were slaves of the Egyptians, Jesus, delivers us from slavery to sin.

The Sabbath is symbol of restoration, deliverance, liberation.  Many of Jesus’ healings took place on the Sabbath.  It was lawful to do good on the Sabbath.  There is the example where the ruler of the synagogue objected to Jesus healing a woman with an infirmity on the Sabbath, saying, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”Jesus response was, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” Jesus had loosed the woman from her bondage.  He had delivered her from Satan.  The cripple by the pool was healed from an infirmity he had for thirty-eight years.  Jesus said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:5-14).  Jesus was not breaking the Sabbath as some accused Him of doing.  He was doing the Father’s work.  He was healing people of their infirmities and of their sins and delivering them from the enemy.

Some people use Acts 20:7 to support the idea that the Sabbath had changed.  Let’s see what it says in verses 7-12.

Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.

This was not a worship service.  The disciples had come together to break bread.
In the Jewish community, to break bread was to share meals.  When the term “breaking bread” is used in the New Testament writings, it is either in context of the Passover Seder, or the weekly community meal (Breaking of Bread the Jewish Understanding
By: Luana Fabri). 

They were in an upper room and Paul was leaving the next day so he had lots to say to them.  This was a farewell meeting.  In fact, he spoke to them until midnight.  No weekly worship service would have lasted that long!  After he revived the young man who had fallen to his death, Paul broke bread and ate then continued talking until daybreak before leaving.  Breaking bread was a regular thing.  In Acts 2:46, 47 we read, So continuing 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. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Some people cite 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 as evidence of Sunday worship.  Paul wrote, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.”  There is no indication here that this was a public meeting. Paul was merely telling the church members to set aside what they have on the first day of the week and to store it up until he comes.  The person was to begin saving early in the week at home so that he or she didn’t have to wait until Paul came to determine how much would be donated.  Paul didn’t want people to still be collecting donations when he arrived.

No one seemed to have told Paul that the Sabbath had changed.  In Antioch in Pisidia, Paul and his company went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down (Acts 13:14). When he and Luke were in Philippi, on the Sabbath day they went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made and sat down and spoke to the women who met there (Acts 16:13).  One of them was Lydia, the first European convert to the Christian faith (verse 14).  In Acts 18:4, Paul reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. Paul was a Christian who was keeping the Sabbath of the Lord his God holy.

Roman Catholic and Protestant churches admit that there is no scriptural evidence of a Sabbath change.  Read their confessions here.

The commandments are mentioned after the resurrection which makes it clear that they were still binding.  Paul wrote, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).  James in his warning against church members showing favoritism, said, If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty (James 2:8-12).  John warned believers, Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).  As we can see from these scriptures the commandments are still the same, why is it that the commandment about the day of worship is the one that was changed? 

There are indeed two Sabbaths–one is God made and the other is man-made.  Many Christians are worshipping on a day which God did not bless or sanctify or claim ownership of.  In the Bible, God says that He is the Lord of the seventh day Sabbath.  Jesus said that He was Lord of the Sabbath.  The Sabbath God made was for everyone not just one group of believers.  The man-made sabbath excludes Jews.  However, as followers of Christ, we ought to be following His example and keep the seventh day Sabbath as was His custom.  After His resurrection, Jesus did not ask His followers to keep the first day of the week as a memorial to His resurrection.  He would not have encouraged them to replace the day which His Father had blessed and had rested upon.  Jesus said, Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).

Baptism, not Sunday worship is the memorial of Christ’s resurrection.  Baptism is the memorial of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.   Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 3:3-6).  

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:5, 6) and one Sabbath which is the Lord’s.  Which Sabbath are you going to keep–the Lord’s or man’s?

The Empty Tomb

Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard – Matthew 27:65, 66

Jesus Empty TombWorried that the disciples would steal Jesus’ body and then claim that He had risen from the dead, the chief priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate to request that a guard be posted at the tomb.  Pilate granted them their request and they went away and secured the tomb.

Early Sunday morning when the women went to the tomb, an angel appeared and rolled back the stone from the opening.  The guards who were present were so terrified of him that they became like dead men.  The angel told the women that Jesus was not there.  He said, “…He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” Overjoyed, the women raced away to tell the disciples to good news.

Meanwhile the guards went into the city to break the news to the chief priests.  The chief priests met with the elders to figure out what their next move was going to be.  They decided that the best thing to do in this situation was to bribe the soldiers and encouraged them to lie about what happened.  “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.”  The soldiers took the money and did as they were told.  Many of the Jews believed this lie but many believed that Jesus rose from the dead just as He said He would.

In spite of the schemes of some, on that third day, Jesus conquered death.  He is the resurrection and the life.  He is our risen Lord and Savior.  The empty tomb proves this.

1 Corinthians 15:12-18

214EmptyTombPaintLuke24_63Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.  Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.  For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished – 1 Corinthians 15:12-18

Paul is not saying that the dead are in Heaven with Jesus.  What he is saying is if there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead then we are doomed because it would also mean that Jesus Himself was not raised from the dead either.  This means that when we die, that ‘s it.  It’s all over.  We will remain in our graves and those who are alive have no hope because if Jesus was not raised from the dead that means that there will be no second coming.  It is at the second coming that those who fell asleep in Christ will rise and be gathered to Him and then those who are still alive will join them.  Our friends and loved ones who died in Christ will not be with Him before He comes again.  Like King David, they are asleep in their graves.

We can rest assured that Jesus was raised from the dead.  We have the empty tomb to prove this.  He is now in Heaven with the Father fulfilling His role as our High Priest until the day comes when He will descend with the angels to gather His elect.  Until then, let us watch and wait in faith.

1 Thessalonians 4:13

1 Thessalonians 4:13 is a continuation of 1 Corinthians 15.  If we believe that there is the resurrection of the dead, then that means that we believe that Jesus rose from the dead and all those who fell asleep in Him, God will bring with Him, meaning, bring back to life as Jesus Himself was brought back to life.  Verse 17 says nothing about the deceased returning with Christ.

Verse 16 says that when He descends from heaven, those who are dead will rise first.  John 5:28 says, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”

The dead will be in their graves not with Christ.  When they are resurrected, come out of their graves and are gathered to Him, we who are alive will join them.

In John 6:40, Jesus says, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

He promised, “In My Father’s house are many mansions:  if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2, 3).  These verses clearly show that when people die, they don’t go straight to heaven to be with the Lord.  The righteous dead and living will go to heaven when Jesus returns.  Martha knew this because when Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again”, her response was, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:23, 24).

While we watch and wait for the Lord to return, let us take comfort in the assurance that we shall always be with the Lord.

PERISH THOSE THOUGHTS

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established” – Proverbs 16:3

Thoughts.  It’s hard not to have thoughts.  We have them all the time and there are times when we have thoughts we wish we didn’t have.  We have thoughts that take our focus away from God.  We worry about all sorts of things.  We worry about our health, our jobs, our families, our finances and so many other things.  Then anxiety sets in and we become stressed and unable to concentrate on anything else.  When we have real problems become so intent in trying to solve them ourselves that when we are unable to find solutions, we become depressed.

We feel defeated and discouraged because we are unable to take care of our families and ourselves.  Instead of allowing this to happen, we should remember what Jesus said.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father fees them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6: 25-27, 31-34)

Jesus says here and we know this for a fact, that worrying doesn’t change anything.  It only makes things worse.  Instead, we should look to God who promised that He would take care of us.  Here are complaints we have and God’s responses:

  • We say, “It’s impossible.”
  • God says, “With Me all things are possible.” (Luke 18:27)
  • We say, “I’m exhausted.”
  • God says, “Wait on Me.  I’ll renew your strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)
  • We say, “I can’t go on.”
  • God says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • We say, “I don’t know what to do.”
  • God says, “I’ll direct you.” (Proverbs 3:6)
  • We say, “I can’t do.”
  • God says, “You can do all things through Me.” (Philippians 4:13)
  • We say, “I can’t make ends meet.”
  • God says, “I’ll supply all your needs.” (Philippians 4:19)
  • We say, “I can’t handle this.”
  • God says, “Give it to Me; I’ll carry it for you.” (Psalm 55:22)
  • We say, “I’m all alone.”
  • God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

We should surrender our minds to God, give Him our troubles and worries and relieve ourselves of unnecessary burdens.  We have to remember that God is our Father, a loving Parent who desires to take care of His children.  When I worry about something, this is what Jesus says to me:

  • “When you are afraid or hurt, close your eyes and you will see My hands reaching out for yours, you put them in Mine and I will raise you up.  I will uphold you.”
  • I am the Resurrection and the Light.  He who believes in Me will have everlasting life.  Therefore I will heal you of negative and evil thoughts and restore you in mind, body and spirit.”
  • “Focus on Me and not on your real or imagined troubles.”
  • “Let your heart not be troubled.  Be assured that I will restore it to peace.  My peace.”
  • “Cast your worries on Me and I will take care of them.  Give Me your troubles and in return I will give you My peace.”
  • “Have faith and don’t be discouraged.”
  • “The Lord takes care of His children.  He keeps straight their paths so that they turn neither to the right nor to the left.”

We should ask God to free us from worry and anxiety and to instead, focus on Him and allow His peace to fill our minds, bodies and souls.  When we accept that God is in control of our lives and not we ourselves, it makes life so much easier.  We will be able to sleep a whole lot better at night and focus on what is important—our relationship with God.

A lot of times we mistakenly believe that people are angry with us or are gossiping about us and oftentimes it is all in our imagination.  The imagination could be a very powerful thing.  We imagine the worst only to discover that things are not as bad as they seem.  More than once I thought someone didn’t seem friendly to me because of my colour or to realise that I was mistaken.

I always remember that Othello thought that Desdemona didn’t love him because he was insecure.  He allowed his father in-law’s prejudice and his insecurity to ruin his marriage.  He allowed Iago to turn him against his wife and a friend.  Destructive thoughts can ruin friendships and relationships.  The mind is a battlefield.  We are constantly deluged with negative thoughts that we need to terminate before they take hold of us.  We should turn our minds to God.  We should set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)

Whenever we have a negative thought we should counteract it with God’s word.  Here are examples of negative thoughts and God’s word:

  • Thought: No one loves me.
  • God’s Word: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
  • Thought: I’m nothing, useless, a nobody.
  • God’s Word: “Beloved, now we are children of God.” (1 John 3:2)
  • Thought:  I have no friends.
  • God’s Word: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14)
  • Thought: My friends say that this dream/idea of mine is impossible.
  • God’s Word:  “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
  • Thought: If I do this, my friends and family will not understand.
  • God’s word: “My mothers and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21) And “Whoever acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.” (Luke:12:8)

We should hand our worries and doubts over to Jesus in exchange for His peace.  He told us not to let our hearts be troubled.  Worrying only makes things worse.  Jesus wants us to enjoy our lives.  He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly” – John 10:10.  Let us not waste any more precious time worrying.

The Benefits of Trusting God

That it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God” – Jeremiah 42:6

When Jesus told Simon Peter, James and John, “Do not be afraid.  From now on you will catch men,” they must have trusted Him enough to leave everything behind and follow Him.  They had seen with their own eyes what miraculous things He could.  All night the three men had been fishing and had caught nothing yet when they cast down their nets as Jesus bid them, they caught so much fish that the net holding them was breaking.  The two boats began to sink under the weight of the fish.  How was it possible that the same lake where the men hadn’t caught any fish a moment ago and the minute Jesus told them to cast their nets in, they were bursting with fish?  Jesus had done the impossible.  When, the men saw this, they were astonished.  They probably never caught so much fish in all the years they had been fishing and here Jesus had done it in such a short time.  Possibly ashamed of his reluctance earlier, Peter fell to his knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

Jesus told Simon Peter not to be afraid and that from now on, he would catch men.  Simon Peter’s days as a fisherman were over and he was now a follower of Jesus who had great plans for him and the others.  Just imagine how differently things would have turned out if Peter hadn’t decided to literally drop everything and follow Jesus.  He could not have imagined in all his wildest dreams what miraculous things he would be a witness to or that he would be preaching the same gospel he heard Jesus preach to the people from Peter’s boat or that he would be walking on water or that he too would be healing people.  None of these men could ever have imagined that their lives would change so dramatically because they had put their trust and faith in Jesus.  Just like these men, we should leave our worries behind and follow Him.  Catching the fish that had seemed nonexistent a short while ago was Jesus’ way of showing the three men what is impossible for man is not impossible for Him.  And that He could help them to catch bigger and better things if they just allow themselves to trust Him.

When we follow Jesus we are in for a treat.  As He pointed out, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  Peter and the other apostles believed that casting the net in the lake was hopeless because they had been trying all night to catch fish.  Fishing was their livelihood when they weren’t catching any it must have been very frustrating for them.  Then, Jesus came along told them to cast the net in and when they did there was an abundance of fish.  He wanted to show them what would happen if one doesn’t give up every time things don’t go well or as expected.  Jesus wanted to demonstrate through these men that He could penetrate the murky waters of our limited imagination and bring forth treasures that are possible only when we have faith in Him.

Jesus is the Light and when we trust in Him, we will no longer be in the dark about who He is and what He is capable of.  “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight.” (Isaiah 42:16)  Jesus led Peter and the other disciples out of spiritual blindness into spiritual awareness.  On that fateful day on the lake, He opened their eyes to His magnificence.  He took them on a journey that forever changed their lives.  They went from reeling in fish to reeling in people.  Jesus taught them everything they needed to know and after His resurrection, He sent them into the world to finish His work.  “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

Just as He had promised, He was always with them, in person when He was here on earth and in spirit after He had returned to His Father in Heaven.  He is with us in spirit and when He calls us to do His work, He is right there alongside us, giving us guidance and all the tools we need to accomplish the task.  He left behind the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth; speak only what He hears and tell them what was to come.  In Acts 2, the disciples were gathered in one place on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled them and they began to speak in other tongues.  The Holy Spirit enabled them.  Peter addressed the non-believers, reminding them of Jesus and the miracles He performed before them, His crucifixion, and His resurrection.  He called them to repent and be baptized.  That day, about three thousand people accepted Christ and were baptized.  A fellowship of the believers was started; they broke bread, gave to those in need, and praised God who increased the number of people saved.  Jesus was with His disciples throughout their ministry, helping them, as they became fishers of men.

When we obey God we are blessed and through our obedience other people are blessed.  The apostles obeyed Jesus and they were blessed with His teachings, His love and with the Holy Spirit.  They were blessed with the task of spreading the gospel and as a result, others were blessed because they came to know Jesus.    When Moses obeyed God’s call to free the Israelites from Egypt, he had no way of knowing that he would be remembered as one of the greatest prophets of all time.  When Abraham obeyed God and went to a strange land, he had no way of knowing that he would be the father of many nations or that one of his descendants would be one of Israel’s greatest kings or that one of them would be the Messiah.  When Peter and the other fishermen followed Jesus they had no way of knowing that they would be witnesses of miracles or doers of miraculous signs.

God Can Be Trusted

O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust” – Psalm 7:1

 

The more we know someone the more likely we are to trust that person.  The more we spend time with God in meditation and reading the Bible, the more we will know about Him.  I have learned that He listens to me, He answers my prayers and He helps me when we ask Him and He keeps His promises and He disciplines me when I need it. 

I trust Him with my life because I know that he wants only the best for me.  He Himself declared, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I trust God because of what He has done.  He has demonstrated His love for us through Jesus’ death on the cross.  Jesus died for our sins and reconciled us to God and now we don’t have to worry about anything.  God will take care of us just as He took care of His Son while He was here on earth.  Peter encourages us to, “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 5:6-7) 

When we let go and let God, we are releasing ourselves from constantly worrying about the future and things we have no control over.  By letting go and letting God, we are showing Him that we trust Him to do what He has promised to do and that is to take care of us.  “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17)

So when it comes to faith we need to walk the walk. To walk with God is to follow His ways, to surrender to Him, to do as He commands and to follow His example.  As Christians, it is expected of us.  “And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)  It means that we should give Him lordship over our lives and that we should move forward in faith.  Abraham walked with God and when God told him to pack up his belongings and move to a strange land, Abraham went forward in faith.  Noah was a righteous man who walked with God.  Enoch walked with God.  By faith the disciples followed Jesus when He called them and by faith they stayed with Him when the others no longer walked with him.  Their reason for staying with Him was, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  (John 6:68-69)

By faith they continued to walk in Him—sharing the importance of Jesus death on the cross, the promise of salvation and the good news of His resurrection.  By faith they trusted God to see them through the many tribulations they faced during their ministry.  They were steadfast despite adversity because they were walking in faith and had dedicated their lives to Jesus.  “But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.  For to this you were called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” (1 Peter 2:20-21)

Jesus had warned them that they would be persecuted, put in prisons, brought before kings and rulers for His name’s sake.  He warned that parents, brothers, relatives and friends would betray them and that some of them would be put to death.  “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.” (Luke 21:12-17) But, Jesus also had this assurance for His disciples, “But not a hair of your head will perish.  By standing firm you will gain life.” (Luke 21:18-19)  As long as we walk by faith we will never be lost or alone.  God is with us.

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