Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘teaching

Galatians 1:13-17

paul-king-agrippa_1219951_inlIn his letter to the Galatians, Paul shares how he became a Christian. It wasn’t something he ever dreamed would happen. He was a staunch believer in Judaism and its traditions. He was filled with a jealous zeal to protect his religion and was determined to stamp out any other religion he believed was contrary to God and His law. He was bent on destroying the church. He thought he was doing God a favor. In fact, I couldn’t help thinking of Paul when I read these words of Jesus, “They will put you out of the synagogues. Yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he is offering a service to God. They will do these things to you, because they have not known the Father nor Me.  I have told you these things, so that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you about them (John 16:2-4, MEV).

Paul was there when Stephen was stoned to death. He kept the clothes of those who stoned him. It was clear that he agreed with what was happening. The scripture stated, “And Saul was consenting to his death” (Acts 8:1). The stoning of Stephen seemed to add more fuel to his fight to destroy the church. It says that while devout men carried Stephen away to bury him and lamented over him, Saul ravaged the church, entering house by house and dragging out both men and women and committing them to prison (verses 2,3) .

Before his conversion, Paul was on fire. He was like a dragon, breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He was determined to stamp out what he perceived to be heresy so he went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any there of the Way, either men or women, he might arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1, 2). This was an attack on religious freedom. People were being persecuted and imprisoned for their faith. Satan, through Paul was impeding the work of the saints and the Lord had to intervene. His people had to be free to carry out His commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

So, on his way to Damascus, Saul encountered Jesus. This experience changed his life forever. Jesus got his attention in a big way. As Saul was nearing the city, a bright light shone from Heaven shone around him and he fell to the ground. Then, Jesus spoke to him. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” It doesn’t occur to people that when they persecute Christians, they are persecuting Jesus too. It’s the same as when we neglect to care for the needy. When we neglect doing good to others, it’s as if we are neglecting Jesus too. When the people rejected Jesus during His ministry, they were rejecting the Father who sent Him. When Saul asked Jesus who He was, Jesus said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” There was no room for doubt. Saul was persecuting Jesus when he persecuted the church, after all, Jesus is the Head of the church. Saul was attacking the body of Christ.

Can you imagine Saul, who a moment ago was breathing fire, ready to hunt down and throw Christians into prison or do worse, was now trembling like a leaf and in total shock? Probably sounding like a man who realized now that he was fighting a losing battle, he asked, “Lord, what will You have me do?” When Jesus points out something we are doing in our lives that needs to be changed, do we ask, “Lord, what will You have me do?”

Jesus said to him, “Rise up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” What a testimony of God’s grace and forgiveness. Saul had been wreaking so much havoc on His people yet Jesus did not condemn him. Instead, He reached out to him, opening his eyes to what he was doing—that instead of working for God, he was working against God. And Jesus was going to use him. The Lord always has use for us—He will by no means cast us aside once we humble ourselves before Him and are willing to do whatever He asks of us. Saul was willing to do whatever Jesus asked of him. So, now Jesus will find good use for him. We learn in Acts 26:16-18, that Jesus revealed His plan for Saul to him. “For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness both of what you have seen and of what I will yet reveal to you.  I will deliver you from your people and from the Gentiles to whom I now send you,  to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me’

All the time Saul was there on the road in the light, his eyes were closed but when he opened them, he couldn’t see anything. He was physically blind but could see spiritually. His sight was restored and he was baptized. And he began preaching. There was some skepticism of course as people remembered that this was the same man who had done many evil things to the believers at Jerusalem (verse 13). There are a lot of times when we are shocked to see certain people become Christians. We never saw that coming but we forget that with God all things are possible. If anyone could change people, He can and He does. Saul became Paul and his letters are what we have today to help us in our walk with the Lord. That day on the road to Damascus changed not only one life but many.

What is your testimony? How did Jesus reveal Himself to you? Are you willing to share your testimony with others as Paul did?

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Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.”

But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:19-21).

Basically, you are a member of God’s family when you live in obedience to His Word.  It makes sense that if you want to be a child of God or if you already are, you would do what it says in His Word.  God has spelled out clearly what He requires of us.  Just look at Jesus’ teachings.  They are filled with how God wants us to live our lives.

We are told to forgive others if we expect God to forgive us.  Jesus told a wonderful story about a king who showed mercy to a servant who could not repay his debt and begged the king not to sell him.  The king forgave the servant his debt but that same servant refused to release another servant from the debt he owed him although it was far less than the debt the first servant owed the king.  Of course, the king was upset and that servant received a just punishment for his unforgiving attitude toward the other servant. 

joesph-and-his-brothersJoseph is a perfect example of someone who forgave his brothers although he could have easily justified holding on to his anger and bitterness.  After all they had planned to kill him and then decided that they would sell him instead.  He never saw his mother again and years passed before he was reunited with his father who thought he was dead.  He was falsely accused of and thrown into prison for attempted rape.  He spent years in prison before he was released.  In spite of all of these things, Joseph chose to forgive.  And he even saw the good which God achieved from the bad things that happened to him (Genesis 50:19-21).

We are told to love our enemies.  This is a tough one but Jesus said that we are to be like our Heavenly Father who “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”.  We are to be different from the rest of the world who loves those who love them and hate those who hate them.  We are called to love those who hate, spitefully use and persecute us.  

We are told not to judge.  Jesus used the example of a person looking at the speck in his brother’s eye when he has a plank in his own.  How could he possibly see that speck when he has a plank in his eye?  Why is it that we look at the sin of others and ignore the sin in our own lives?  Let us deal with our own sin problem.  It’s like the religious leaders.  They were judging the tax collectors and other people they considered outcasts when they were far from being righteous themselves.  They were envious, unmerciful, judgmental, self-righteous and hypocrites.  Are we guilty of judging others because they don’t measure up to our standards?  Do we think we are better than non-Christians?  We should always bear in mind the words of Paul, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We cannot judge people.  Only God can.  He knows the heart.

We are told to be persistent in prayer.  God is just waiting to give good things to those who ask Him.  All we have to do is ask, seek and knock.  We ask as often as it takes.  We ask in faith, never wavering.  And if it is God’s will, what we ask for we will receive.

We are told to enter the narrow way.  Don’t do what is popular or easier or less resistant.  Don’t follow the crowd if it is contrary to the Word or will of God.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego did not go along with the rest of the society in worshiping the idol image of Nebuchadnezzar even if it meant their deaths.  They stood apart from the crowd and make a strong stand for their faith in the one true God.  We are to enter the narrow way which leads to everlasting life and not the broad way which leads to destruction.

We are to bear good fruit.  As Christians we are exhorted to bear good fruit.  Good fruit means we act in accordance to God’s word and will.  We bear fruit worthy of repentant and changed lives.  This means we are no longer living as we did before we came to Christ.  We practice what we preach.  We are Christians in deed and not in name only.  We follow Christ’s example and bear the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23).  This goes back to what Jesus said about not acting as the heathen do.  We love those who hate us; have joy even during tough times; experience the peace of Christ during the storms; are patient even when it’s hard; are kind and good to others whether or not they deserve it; stay faithful to God even when it seems like our prayers are not being answered; show gentleness even when people are unkind or inconsiderate toward us; we exercise self-control no matter what kind of situation we are dealing with.  Bearing the fruit of the Spirit is not easy as we know that the flesh and the Spirit are always warring against each other but those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh.  Christ living inside you enables you to walk in the Spirit.

We are to do the will of the Father.  None of us wants to hear Jesus say, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  Why would He say that?  There are professing Christians out there who believe that they will be saved because they have prophesied, cast out demons and done many wonders in Jesus’ name but Jesus will declare that He doesn’t know them.  These are Christians who, although they did all these things in His name, they did not do the will of the Father.  Only those who practice the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus said that not everyone who calls Him “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom.  If Jesus were truly Lord of their lives, they would not be practicing lawlessness.  They would be doing the Father’s will.  Their lives would bear fruit worthy of entering the kingdom.  Obviously, it is not enough to be active in church ministry, going to church, distributing tracts or feeding the poor.  If you are not doing something that God has revealed to you–that you need to change or renounce, you will not be among those of whom He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

We are to build on the Rock.  What is your foundation?  Is it tradition or the teaching of the church?  In Jesus day, the religious leaders seemed to place the traditions and teachings of men above the commandments of God.  Jesus made it clear that our foundation should be on His word.  When we hear His teachings and we apply them to our lives, we will be like the wise man who built his house on the rock and when the rain, floods and wind threatened to sweep it away, it stood.  It did not fall.  It’s the same with us.  Once we are anchored in the Word of Jesus and we do what it says, when the enemy comes and tries to topple us over with temptations, opposition, persecution, etc. we will stand because we have built our lives on the Rock.

Jesus taught many other things that would help us in our Christian walk.  All we have to do is to decide today to be doers and not just hearers of His Word.

RH-EveTemptation“You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” – Genesis 3:4, 5

Eve, the first woman God created was not with her husband Adam when she was deceived by the serpent. At the time the serpent was the most cunning of the species. It was not surprising that Satan used it as his medium. How did the serpent deceive Eve?

We learn that in chapter 2 of Genesis, God gave Adam this commandment, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16, 17). Adam and Eve were allowed to eat freely from all the trees except one. That was not unreasonable. God explained why they could not eat from that particular tree. He said, “…in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” He didn’t say, “you may die” or “it may kill you.” He used the word surely. It is a certainty. If Adam or Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they will die. The word used is muwth which means to die, kill, have one executed. For them death will be their penalty for eating from this tree after God expressly commanded them not to. There is no question as to what would happen to them if they disobeyed His command. Death would be the result.

“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” it asked her. This is what the enemy does. He questions or puts doubts in our minds about God’s word. The serpent was really asking Eve, “Did God really say that you can’t eat from every tree of the garden? Are you sure He said that? Notice the way he twisted God’s word. He said that God said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden.” God said, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.” And the enemy left out the rest of what God said about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan likes to quote God’s word but always out of context or omitting the parts of scriptures that wouldn’t serve his purpose.

Eve’s response is interesting. Here is what she said. “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Now, God did not say anything about touching the tree. Eve added to what God said. We must never to do that. Eve said too much. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips [is] wise.” As one Bible commentator puts it, “Much speech involves risk of sin; hence the wisdom of restraining the tongue”. Eve would have been better off not saying anything. She misquoted God and she referred to the tree as the “tree in the midst”.

One Bible commentary states that, “Some Jewish writers . . . state that as soon as the woman had asserted this, the serpent pushed her against the tree and said, ‘See, you have touched it, and are still alive; you may therefore safely eat of the fruit, for surely you shall not die.’” This is why it was dangerous for her to add to God’s words. Another thing to note is that she quoted God as saying, “lest you die” when in fact, He had said, “you shall surely die”.

The serpent then proceeded to say to her, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He attacks God’s word. He opposes what God said. He contradicted Him. It is the same thing he did when Jesus told the disciples that He would suffer at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Peter rebuked him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” And Jesus turned and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:21-23). Again we see Satan speaking through Peter and contradicting the Lord’s words. Jesus saw right through that and rebuked him.

The enemy gave Eve the impression that God was being selfish in keeping her and Adam from the tree by telling them that they would die because He didn’t want them to be like Him, knowing good and evil. This was a terrible lie. God’s reason for commanding Adam and Eve from eating from the tree was to protect them. He had provided for them. He had made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food (Genesis 2:9). They could have eaten freely from all the trees in the garden except one. God gives us so much but the enemy tempts us into wanting more. Here Eve was tempted into taking fruit from the tree with the attractive offer that she would be just like God.

The serpent was right. Her eyes would be opened and with the knowledge of good and evil will come devastating results. Eve, believing the serpent, looked at the tree, saw that the fruit looked good, she wanted it and she took it. Then she gave some to Adam. As soon as she gave the fruit to him, both of their eyes were opened. They were aware of their nakedness and when they heard God coming into the garden, they hid. They experienced emotions that were once alien to them–shame, guilt, fear. Their relationship with God and each other was never the same. So, the serpent was right about their eyes being opened but they realized too late the horrible consequences of disobeying God.

The first lie, “you shall not surely die,” is what give way to the erroneous teaching of the immortality of man. Many Christians believe that people either go to heaven or hell when they die. But what does the Bible say? Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24). Adam and Eve did not become immortal because of their disobedience. They would return to the dust from where they came (verse 19).

Paul teaches us that it is when Jesus comes the second time that the righteous dead and living will become immortal. ‘Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory”‘ (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). The bodies we have now are not the bodies we will have when we are taken to heaven. We will be changed like Jesus was before He ascended to heaven. Until then the dead will be resting in their graves and the living will be watching and waiting as they continue to serve the Lord.

The Bible says that David, the man after God’s own heart is not in heaven (Acts 13:22). “Men [and] brethren, let [me] speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day” (Acts 2:29). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 1:17).

The idea that people will burn in hell for eternity is the doctrine of demons. This is an attack on a loving and just God. How could we believe that God would have the devil in charge of a place where he is burning people? Does this sound like the same God described in Ezekiel 18:23? “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “[and] not that he should turn from his ways and live? And in order for these people to burn for eternity, it would mean that the devil would have to be immortal too, right? Well, what does the Bible say? “And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:9, 10).

Jesus also mentioned that there an everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Please note that forever and ever does not mean that they will be burning for eternity. Jude said, “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Are those cities still burning? “…and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly” (2 Peter 2:6). The fire which destroyed the two cities may have burned for a while but it went out. It’s the same with the fire that will destroy the devil, his angels and the wicked. It will burn for a while and then it will go out. All that will remain are ashes. Eternal fire means that its results are eternal. What is destroyed in the fire is gone forever.

Satan lied when he said that man would not die even though man disobeyed God–broke His law and brought sin into the world. He knowingly deceived Eve into thinking that nothing would happen to her if she ate from the tree and this is why Jesus called him a murderer (John 8). Thankfully, the devil did not get away with it. 1 John 3:8 states, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus swallowed up death, our enemy. And one day, sin, death, the grave, the devil, his angels, the wicked, pain, suffering, sorrow will be no more.

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.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

DiscipleshipHomepageThis is illustrated in the story of Philip and the Ethiopian .  Jesus taught His disciples the Scriptures.  He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  When He was here on earth, taught the Scriptures, rebuked those who were unbelieving and even those close to Him (Thomas, Peter and Philip), He corrected people like the adulteress, Nicodemus and the disciples.  The apostles did the same.  They taught.  Peter rebuked Simon, the Sanhedrin, Ananias and Sapphira.  Paul rebuked the churches that were allowing themselves to be led astray by false teachers.  Stephen rebuked the Sanhedrin.  There are many examples of the apostles rebuking people and even each other.  They corrected unrighteous behavior and they trained others.  Paul instructed Timothy who was young (1 Timothy 4:1:15).

Paul knows the Scriptures.  He said Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Galatians 3:22).  It was Paul who said that all Scripture comes from God as it is useful for teaching people, rebuking doubt, disbelief, false teachings, unrighteousness, etc., correcting attitudes, beliefs, behavior that goes against the Word of God and training those who believe so that those preaching the Word of God are able to do so.  This is how the Gospel will spread.  Those who receive the Word like the Samaritan woman, the apostles will go and tell others.  It is in the teaching, receiving of the Scriptures, the rebuking and the correcting that make people repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  They receive salvation and are baptised.  It was the reading of the Scriptures and the teaching of them that led the Ethiopian to accept Jesus and receive salvation.  Then he was baptised by Philip.  God knew that the Ethiopian was ready to receive Jesus in his life and that’s why He sent Philip.

Make sure that you not only use God’s Word to rebuke and to correct but to encourage (exhort), instruct.  Do not get into a debate.  Be patient and loving.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” – 1 Timothy 4:12

Teaching the next generation about God is the duty of all Christians.  Teaching our children who will in turn teach their children God’s law and share with them how God had demonstrated His presence and power in their lives.  The Ten Commandments were written for the Moses’ generation and the generations that followed.  “These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all His decrees and command that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?’ Tell him: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  Before our eyes the Lord sent miraculous signs and wonders—great and terrible—upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household.  But He brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that He promised on oath to our forefathers.’” (Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 20-23)

 

Moses had records of what happened in Egypt and when the Israelites left Egypt and everything that happened during their journey to the Promised Land so that these could be shared with the next generations.  We too could share God’s commandments with our children so that they could live the way God intended them to.  And when God works wonderful miracles and brings blessings in our lives, we get to share those with our children as well.  We could also share these things with other young Christians and non-believers.

 

Before he died, David said to his son, Solomon, “So, be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires:  Walk in His ways, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the Lord may keep His promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’” (1 Kings 2:2-4)  Solomon later advises, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

 

As a child I was taught that Jesus loved me and that is why He died on the cross for me.  I was taught that Jesus loved all children—children of all colours. I was taught the Our Father prayer and other prayers.  Even now I’m learning things from my mother and my aunt.  I’m learning things from God who is my Father.  He is opening my eyes to what I am reading.  Even though I have read the Scriptures before, I feel as if I’m reading some of it for the first time.

 

Solomon’s advice to the young is, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.  Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10)  When we are young, we want to enjoy life, have fun, and be adventurous.

 

When we are young, we don’t want to take life seriously or responsibility for our actions.  We just want to have a good time.  When we are young we think we are invincible, untouchable.  We think we can experiment with drugs and alcohol and not be affected; we think we can handle them.  We drag race and not think that we can get hurt or hurt someone else.  We do anything to get into a fraternity or we are willing to do anything to be accepted into the in-crowd.  We want to seem cool to others so we do things that we are not comfortable doing just to impress other people.  When we are young, we are easily influenced and vulnerable to peer pressure.  We don’t want to be seen as the geek or the wallflower.  We want to be popular.

 

Young people should be taught that it is cool to be a follower of Jesus.  It is cool to obey His commands and hold on to them.  It is cool to read the Bible, go to church, pray, meditate, help others, tell their friends about Jesus.  It is cool to do volunteer work, Bible study, work hard in school, do well in their studies and stay out of trouble, say no to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.  It is cool to serve others.  Jesus wearing just a towel got down on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples.  It is cool to feed the homeless, visit the sick, help the poor and to treat others as you want to be treated.  It is cool to be part of God’s crowd rather than the in-crowd.  It is cool to stand out as a committed believer than as the popular girl or boy or the jock.  Young people should be taught that following God is the coolest thing they could ever do and the wisest.

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.



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