Trust in God

bible-Sunlight

I’m a teacher at a small Christian school, and Friday was our last day of school.  We work next week to clean and paint and set up classrooms so that anyone interested in the school can tour the school over the summer.  This time of year I really start thinking about how much we have to trust in God.  You see, after next week I’m jobless.  This will be the third summer in a row.

 

It’s easy to say that you trust in God, but sometimes hard to put into practice.  It’s easy to trust in God when things are going well, but a lot more difficult when faced with tough times and uncertainty.  We are, however, told to put our trust in God.

 

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

 

We are given many examples of others trusting in God in many situations:

 

Abraham –

 

Genesis 22:1-12

 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham:and he said, Behold, here I am. 2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

 3And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father:and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood:but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:so they went both of them together. 9And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham:and he said, Here am I. 12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him:for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

 

Abraham trusted in God to save Isaac, either by intervening before the sacrifice or by raising him from the dead.  Abraham knew that God had great plans for Isaac’s descendants, and God always does what he says.

 

Noah –

 

Genesis 6:11-22

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. 13And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

 14Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of:The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 16A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. 17And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. 18But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons ‘wives with thee. 19And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. 21And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. 22Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

 

Even though it seemed absolutely crazy, Noah trusted God.  Until then there had been no rain, so no one had ever seen a flood of any type.  Noah didn’t live near a sea, so he’d never built a boat before.  He had to trust God to help him make it watertight, and trust that God would indeed send a flood.  People mocked Noah and his family…called them names, said they were crazy and fools.  Through all of that, Noah trusted in God.

 

Schadrach, Meshach, and Abednego –

 

Daniel 3:13-28

Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. 14Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well:but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

 19Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 24Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

 26Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. 27And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. 28Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew the consequences of their refusal to worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar created.  Yet the trusted that God would protect them if it was His will.

 

Daniel –

Daniel 6:6-23

 

 

Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. 7All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 9Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

 10Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. 11Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. 14Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him:and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. 15Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. 16Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

 18Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting:neither were instruments of musick brought before him:and his sleep went from him. 19Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel:and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? 21Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions ‘mouths, that they have not hurt me:forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. 23Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

 

Daniel knew that continuing to worship God was against the decree signed by King Darius.  But he trusted that God would protect him from the lions.  Even King Darius trusted that Daniel’s God would save him.

 

Even Job, who suffered greatly and lost everything but his life, trusted in God.

 

Job 13:13 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:

but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

 

There are many other examples of scripture telling us to trust in Him.

 

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation;

I will trust, and not be afraid:

for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song;

he also is become my salvation.

 

Isaiah 26:4 Trust ye in the Lord for ever:

for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:

 

Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble;

and he knoweth them that trust in him.

 

God wants us to trust that he will provide for us, that he will protect us.  But, that provision and protection isn’t free.  God wants us to follow His word.  He wants us to repent of our sins, be baptized in Jesus name, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and live our lives for Him.

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Spiritual Battlefield Part 1

Lighthouse

Most people don’t understand what the spiritual battle is.  They don’t understand who is fighting, why they’re fighting, what’s at stake, and why they should join the fight.  I hope, with help and direction from God, to be able to explain all this to you in a way that helps you understand why it is important.

 First of all, let me explain what the battlefield is.  The battlefield is the World (not the physical world, but the world’s system; or, common but non-Biblical ways) that tells and teaches a myriad of things about God that are untrue.

The world tells us that God is not real. That He is just a creation of the minds of men to control each other, to give us an excuse to fight and dominate others, to give us someone to blame for our own shortcomings.  The world tells us that God was created to explain a world that was unexplainable to the “simple minds” of our ancestors.

Because the world does not believe (or only partially believes) in the existence of God, they feel free to tell us that we need to keep God to ourselves.  Their “more enlightened” minds are offended by our religion, doctrine, and morality, and we should not be allowed to offend them, so we must keep our religion to ourselves in our homes, in church on Sunday, or better yet, not practice it at all..

We, as Christians, tend to be meek.  We don’t want to cause offense to others.  This is an admirable trait to have, but remember, we must live by the Word of God.  Romans 10:11 says, “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” and 1 Peter 4:16 states, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”  Do not let the world shame us into hiding God and His word from the view of others.

The removal of God from public life is a major part of the battlefield, but it is not the only part.  The battlefield is large and has varied terrain.  To effectively engage in the battle, we must study the entire field.  So, what else makes up the battlefield?

Other religions and belief systems make up a portion of the battlefield.  More and more, people who are searching for answers are looking to any belief system that can bring them comfort and a feeling of belonging.  We have to make sure that people understand that believing in anything isn’t the same as believing in the One True God.

There are also those who will say that we all worship the same God; that we just call him by different names: Mohammed, Buddah, Gaia, Hu, Satnam, etc…  These are not the One True God.  Acts 4:12 tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  We are told in John 10:30 “I and my Father are one.”  Therefore, clearly declaring that the “name” of God is Jesus.

The various denominations make up part of the battlefield.

“How can this be?” you ask.  The argument is that the various denominations are just made up of good people who interpret the Word of God differently than we do.

This is exactly the problem.  We are told in Proverbs 30:6 “Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” But, what does this mean?

The original Old Testament was written in Ancient Hebrew, with a few passages written in Aramaic.  The new Testament was written in Ancient Greek. Neither Hebrew nor Greek as spoken today is the same as it was at that time.  Over time the Bible has been translated into other languages.  This in itself is not the problem (although all translations have errors, and so I strongly suggest that you have a concordance handy when studying your Bible), the problem arose when man decided that he needed to make the Bible easier to read.  Instead of translating the bible from one language to another, men decided to change the words of the Bible so that they were “more modern” and “made more sense” to everyone.

This led to changes and omissions of the text.  Man added and took away from the Word.  Man took it upon himself to decide what God meant, and what other men should get out of the Word…in essence, what the Word should mean to others.  Man decided not to just translate the Bible, but to interpret it.

Currently, the purest translation of the Bible is the King James version.  When you compare this side by side with other “translations” you will find some passages have changed meanings, and other verses are missing altogether.  This directly violates Proverbs 30:6 admonition to “Add thou not unto His words…”.

As men change the meaning of the Bible, it becomes easier and easier to decide what they believe the “important parts” are.  Many people have gone from reading and trying to live by what the Word says, to choosing the parts of the Word that are easiest to live by, and that make us feel good about the lives we are living.

The most blatant example is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  

Many people interpret this to mean that all you have to do is believe in Jesus and you are saved!  You will have permanent and eternal salvation.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but even Satan and his demons believe in Jesus Christ.  Satan knows Him very well….he used to be one of His angels.  James 2:19 states, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

If we look to the beginning of John Chapter 3, we see Jesus talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus.  Nicodemus knew that Jesus was the messiah.  He believed in Jesus, and knew that He held the answer to eternal salvation.  He asked Jesus how to be saved.  John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus asked how it was possible for a man to be born again.  In John 3:5 “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

But, man is born of water when he is birthed by his mother.  Doesn’t this cover the “born of the water” part of Jesus’ instructions to Nicodemus?  First of all, Jesus says “Except a man be born again”, so that excludes the original birth out of our mother’s womb.

Well, couldn’t being born again simply mean of the Spirit?  Jesus tell us in John 3:3 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  He makes it very clear here that he is not talking about a fleshly birth.

Jesus Himself says that you have to do more than simply believe.  He said that if you believe in Him you should not perish, not that you will not perish.  There is a big difference between those two words.  Should is conditional upon your actions.  If you live according to Jesus’ teachings, you literally “should” not perish.

He tells us to be born of the water.  This means being baptized, by full immersion in the water, so that we are “Born Again”.  We are told in Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”  Romans 6:4 states, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” 

So obviously, we must be baptized, but how?  Acts 2:38 says, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  If you combine that with Romans 6:4 as stated above, you see that you must “be buried with him by baptism” and “be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ”.  That is a very specific formula.  God doesn’t tell us things that are unnecessary for us to know.

Ok, now we are baptized by full immersion in the name of Jesus…so now we’re saved forever, right?  Wrong.

We are told in Mark 16:17 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;”  New tongues?  That one is explained in Acts 2:4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Ok, so I have been baptized by full immersion and was filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke in other tongues, so NOW I’m saved forever, right?

Again, no.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  God needs to approve us.  Being saved is work.  This also disputes those denomination that claim that all you have to do is accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.  Again, God needs to approve us We must study the Word of God and live by the Word of God so that we may show ourselves approved of God.  Anyplace that tells you an easier way is not telling you the Truth, and they will have to answer to God for that someday.

The last part of explaining what the battlefield looks like, is explaining where the battlefield is.  Simply put, the battlefield is everywhere.  It is in our homes, our place of work, with our friends, with our family, in our churches, in our schools, and in the media.  Everywhere we go, Worldly messages are pushed at us and we must fight against them so we do not fall on the field of battle.

A Poem

Keep me in Your warm embrace
I love You Lord and seek Your face
We know the wage of sin is death
But through Your Word we can be blessed

You keep Your Word, You do not lie
You hung upon the cross to die
You died that day so we could be
With You for eternity

Through You sins are washed away
In this world I cannot stay
I want to be with You above
To reside forever in Your love

I want to strive every day
To study Your Word and live Your way
I want everything I say and do
To be wholly acceptable unto You

~ J Mendyka

Who Should Be Fed?

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John Chapter 6

1After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.

5When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great multitude coming toward him, he said to Philip, Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6But He said this to test him:for He Himself knew what He would do. 7Philip answered Him, “Two hundred penny worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, 9There is a lad here, who has five barley loaves, and two small fishes:but what are they among so many? 10And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

 

Also Matthew 14:13-21

13When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. 15When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”

16But Jesus said to them, “ They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”

18He said, “ Bring them here to Me.” 19Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. 20So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. 21Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children

 

What is a multitude?

 

What kinds of people were in the multitude?

 

When Jesus decided to feed the people did he feed everyone?

 

Did he say, “I’ll feed him, and him, and her…but not him because that guy isn’t very handsome.”

 

Did he say, “That woman has weird hair, we’re not feeding her.”

 

How about, “That boy is spoiled, I’m not giving him anything to eat.”

 

Did Jesus say any of those things?

 

Acts 10:34-35 tells us:

 

34Then Peter opened his mouth and said:“In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality 35But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

 

What does this mean?

 

Jesus doesn’t have favorites.  Jesus doesn’t point out the pretty people, or the nice people, or the smart people and only do good things for them.  No where in the Bible does it say “Blessed are the beautiful”  or “Blessed are the smart” or “Blessed are the fastest runners, best basketball players, most athletic.”  What Jesus really cares about it what you do for Him.

 

Do you read your Bible daily?  Do you pray daily?  Do you do your best to live every day in a way that would make Jesus smile?  If you met Jesus tomorrow, would he be disappointed in anything you did or said today?

Matthew 22:34-40 tells us:

 

34But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. ’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’ 40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

 

Jesus commands us…not suggests to us, or thinks it would be a good idea if we, or supposes we should…. He commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

 

Who is our neighbor?

 

Your neighbor is the person sitting beside you, or living in the house next door, or standing in line in front of you at Wal-mart.  Every person in this world is our neighbor, and we are commanded by Jesus to love them all.

The Apostle Paul

True or False: There was an apostle named Paul.

True or False: Paul had always believed on and followed Jesus.

True or False: Paul was always called Paul.

 

Where should we look to answer these questions? The Bible.

Was there an apostle named Paul?

2 Corinthians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the

church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

So the Bible tells us that Paul was an apostle.

 

Let’s find the answer to the last question next. Was Paul always called Paul?

Acts 13:9
Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
Now we know that Paul was also called Saul.

On to our last question: Had Paul always believed on and followed Jesus?

Acts 8:1-3

Now Saul was consenting to his death.
At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

Saul made havoc [widespread destruction] of the church and threw men and women into prison.

Acts 9:1-2
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to

the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

How did Saul go from murdering disciples and throwing Christians in prison to being Paul the Apostle??

Acts 9:3-19

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “ Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”!
Then the Lord said, “ I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads [The goad is a traditional farming implement, used to spur or guide livestock, usually oxen, which are pulling a plough or a cart. It is a type of a long stick with a pointed end, also known as the cattle prod.] So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “ Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Ananias Baptizes Saul
Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said 

in a vision, “Ananias.”
And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”

So the Lord said to him, “ Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”

But the Lord said to him, “ Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

Why did Jesus convert Paul? Did He just want him to stop going after Christians?

Acts 9:20-22
Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.! Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who

called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”

But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

Did all the Jews decide that if Paul had converted Jesus must be the Messiah?

Acts 9:23-25

Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. But their plot became

known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

What all did Paul suffer for Jesus?

2 Corinthians 11:24-27
From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—
He was beaten, stoned, and jailed three times. Paul wrote 14 books of the New Testament, some of which were written while he was in jail.

 

So remember when Jesus calls you to do something for Him; you may not think you’re the right person for the job, but God knows who He needs!!

Using Your Talents

We’re going to look at two very similar parables today.

 

Matthew 25:13-30

13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.  For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents:behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant:thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things:enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents:behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things:enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth:lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance:but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness:there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

***The talent was the largest measurement of money in those days.***

 

Luke 19:11-26

11And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. 12He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 14But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant:because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. 18And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. 20And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man:thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. 22And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: 23Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? 24And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. 25(And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) 26For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.

 

 

These two parables are very similar and Jesus used them to tell a simple story. A man who is preparing to leave on a journey entrusts his possessions to his servants. In the first parable the man distributes his wealth among three servants, based on their abilities. To the first he entrusted five talents, to the second two talents, and to the third one talent. The first two servants quickly set to work with their master’s money. The third servant did not invest his master’s money at all; he dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. When the master returned, the first two eagerly met their master, apparently delighted in the opportunity to multiply their master’s money.  Both of these faithful slaves are rewarded well for their faithful service. First, they receive their master’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful slave”. Second, because they have proven themselves to be faithful with the few things entrusted to them, they are now given even greater responsibilities by their master.

 

The master’s dealings with the third servant is a very different matter. This servant came to his master with only the talent his master had originally given to him. This servant offered a poor excuse for his actions. He told his master that he was harsh and cruel, demanding, and he expected gain where he had not labored, so the servant was afraid to take a risk with the talent. And so he simply hid the money, and now he returned it, without any gain. The master rebuked this slave for being evil and lazy. He took his talent from him, gave it to the one who earned ten, and cast this fellow into outer darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

In the second parable, a man goes to another country, stays a long time, and then returns.  Before he leaves he gives his servants money with the expectation that they will use it to earn him more while he is away.  The first two servants are faithful, and are praised by their master and given greater responsibilities.  The third servant hides what was given to him while his master is gone, and gives it back to his master when he returns.  He tells the master that because the master is a severe and strict man that he was afraid.  The first two servants are commended and rewarded, while the third has all taken from him.

 

So, how does this relate to us.  I don’t have a rich master handing over his money to me. I do, however, have a Lord and Saviour who has given to me a measure of faith.  We are not meant to keep this small measure of faith to ourselves, to hide it away until Jesus returns so we can take it out and show it to Him.  We are to use that faith wisely and expand it.  How do we expand our faith?  According to a song my kids are singing for our spring concert, God teaches us how to multiply by “giving it away, passing it around”.  So to increase the faith we have been given, we have to share it with others.

 

This is where your “talents” come in.  God has entrusted certain assets to all of us, and all of us are accountable to God for how we use (or do not use) these resources which God has entrusted to us.

Jesus’ rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees is often couched in “stewardship” terms. God entrusted Israel, and especially its leaders, with the truth, and they did not use it properly.

 

Use your talents to share your faith in Jesus. You don’t have to be a wonderful singer or rousing public speaker. Offer to pray for your friends and family. When friends tell you about problems they’re facing, respond by saying a quick prayer for them. When family tells you about the good things in their life, respond with praise for Jesus. Use the opportunities that are given to you in everyday conversations to share the truth of Jesus with everyone in your life, and in doing so, growing your faith. That way when Jesus returns or you go to meet Him, you can show Him that you used the faith that He gave you wisely. You invested it and helped it grow.