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building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “the Good News of Jesus”

Five Hundred

Are you a numbers person? I am. When I hear numbers, I perk up – so to speak. It happened the other Sunday while I listened to my Pastor speak about getting our act together – well, he didn’t actually call the message that… but that’s the jest of this message series.

The number 500 came to my attention when Pastor Jimmy spoke about the last message Jesus gave to those gathered. The message was to go out and tell the Good News. Pastor Jimmy said the crowd hearing that message was less than the ones sitting in the warehouse that morning hearing Pastor Jimmy’s message.

Five hundred. That’s all it took to get the message to us today. Isn’t that amazing?

Five hundred men and women were called to tell the Good News to the ends of the earth. They heard the proclamation to go and tell in Jerusalem (city), in Judea and Samaria (region) and to the ends of the earth (world). But it took persecution to get the message to go beyond the borders of Jerusalem. When those believers felt the heat, they took off to parts unknown. But as they went, they told the stories of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Five hundred.

The small crowd of followers listened intently to the message that day. These were the ones who stayed when others had left because of Jesus’ hard teaching. Their eyes were focused on the Risen Lord. I can imagine them sitting with their gaze – eyes wide; ears attentive and tuned in to His voice. They would hang on His every word. After all, this One was dead then He was alive. Who wouldn’t believe after that? Well, besides the religious leaders.

The last thing Jesus said would be the thing that would be engraved on their hearts. “Write it down; we need to remember this – it’s important.” The Gospel writers did so we could be there with them to hear the message they heard. The message changed their lives. It could change ours too – if we listened and tuned in to His voice.

Five hundred.

Peter helped increase the number with his first message. The followers numbered three thousand five hundred on Pentecost. Jesus said those assembled would increase with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come. And they did. The Holy Spirit came like a rushing wind. Tongues of fire lit something within them and they were never the same. Jesus said the assembly – Ecclesia (Greek) or Church (English) – would be built upon the foundation of Jesus’ message – His Truth – He is the Son of the Living God who died for our sins and was raised to life so that we could be in relationship with God the Father as was the Plan from the beginning.

This message was passed down from generation to generation. For centuries, it endured because of the testimony from those who had been changed by its message. Throughout the world and across generations, lives have been changed because of the first five hundred. The five hundred didn’t have an easy road to travel. They endured many hardships. Persecution kept them going. And the message spread because of it.

What would it take today to get us motivated to tell others about this Good News? The message hasn’t changed. The Holy Spirit is still at work today as He was when the Church was first formed. Jesus said the Church would never be destroyed. And it hasn’t been, although it’s not because of the enemy’s lack of trying. One day, the Church will be snatched away and the world will fall into a great darkness.

The only thing keeping the darkness at bay is the power of the Holy Spirit working through His Church. It may not be apparent today in the US as it was in the past, but the Church is still a guiding force by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is still looking for those willing to risk it all, just as the first five hundred did for the message of Christ. The first five hundred experienced persecution for the Church to grow.

Today, the Church is growing in other parts of the world. Unfortunately, they experience great persecution as well. The decline of the church in the US may be caused by our “freedoms” and lack of persecution. What’s it going to take to wake up the church in the US today? Is it going to take persecution in the US to bring about a renewed interest in this old message? Will the church dwindle down to 500 faithful believers who will risk it all for the sake of the Good News? Time will tell… the church is still here – are we awake?

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:8-10 (NLT)

Not Ashamed

“They” say it is easier at this time of year to share the Gospel message. There are signs all around us to point others to the message of Jesus’ Good News. I had an occasion over the weekend to speak the truth to two women who came to my door. They were going to persuade me that the Bible was difficult to understand and hand me information about the Bible. I stopped their speech and told them I knew the truth of the Bible. However, I didn’t tell them the reason I knew the Truth. I didn’t tell them the Holy Spirit lives in me to help me understand the Bible. I thought of it after they were gone. I failed miserably in sharing the Good News. I was disappointed in my lack of courage to speak boldly to those two women. After the encounter, I prayed for someone else to be better about sharing the Good News with them.

I was reading 2 Timothy yesterday morning. It reminded me of my encounter over the weekend. Paul was always ready to share the Gospel with everyone he encountered. He had a passion to share, no matter the cost to him personally. Even in jail, he proclaimed the Good News to all in ear shot. As I read, I followed the Timothy passage with Acts 28:31: He (Paul) proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! Paul was never ashamed. Paul understood the responsibility of sharing the message.

We are all entrusted with the same message. We all have the responsibility to share with a desperate world. If this is the best time to share with ones who are more willingly to hear, then we need to be better at it. They say practice makes perfect. I want a “do over” with those women! I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I just need boldness to do it, like Paul.

When we receive the gift of salvation, we are not immediately taken to heaven. We are left here for a greater purpose. We are not here to keep the status quo but to advance the cause – take new ground from the enemy. We are in a battle that is furiously fought over our family and friends. We have a responsibility where we are – God planted us in this place and time with His full armor and His Spirit. We are told we are not to be afraid, but to be courageous.

I pray I will do better next time. I need to be working out of the Holy Spirit’s power. Normally, I don’t think of things very quickly. I need to learn to wait on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I must be prepared to do battle. My quiet time needs to be intentionally minded with the things God wants and not my wants. I don’t need any more training. I don’t need to study anymore – although I will never stop reading God’s word. I need to be more in tuned with the Holy Spirit. That takes practice.

Book knowledge is good, but living it out is where God’s truth is magnified to a lost world. We are Jesus’ body. We are to represent Him in this world. I may have good qualities but that is nothing compared to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. When we, as His Body, represent Jesus well; it will change our world around us. This is nothing like an encounter with Jesus. There is no greater testimony than the one has been transformed by His grace and mercy.

James Robertson (Life Today) said on his Monday broadcast, we don’t have to see the signs and wonders God is presenting to us today. We know we are closer to the end than the beginning. Jesus is coming back one day. Like John the Baptizer before us, we are called to prepare the way. There isn’t much time remaining before all hell will literally be poured out. It’s time to take some more ground.

As Paul as my mentor, I am asking for his level of commitment to share the news of Jesus Christ. Today, the signs point to His first coming – the manger scenes, the gift giving and such. But as the signs continue to point to the second coming of Jesus Christ, I must be intentional about doing God’s work. The work is not finished and will not be done until we see Jesus face to face. Lord, help us! Holy Spirit, work boldly in us so that You can work gloriously through us! Amen.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:9-12

Good News

I love to listen to different preachers each week. They all bring a different message with different insights and different perspectives. One of my favorite speakers is Andy Stanley. He just talks very plainly. When I was growing up, my preacher used fancy words that went over my head, and it’s a wonder I ever came to understand the Gospel message! But I did. But what I didn’t understand was the relationship and how we are to pass the Good News of Jesus to others. It’s a wonder how the church movement ever continued throughout the generations. How a small bunch of men and women had enough fire in them to spread the Good News. Andy Stanley pointed out in his Easter message that it wasn’t about Jesus’ teachings or His claims that kept the movement going.

After the death of Jesus, the movement died. Everybody scattered. No one believed the Son of God could die. No one believed the Messiah could die. But Jesus was both of these things, and He died anyway. The disciples didn’t get it. When Mary Magdalene came back from the tomb, the disciples didn’t say “oh, Jesus has risen!” They weren’t camping out at the graveside waiting with anticipation. Even though, Jesus had told them a couple of times, He was going to die and be resurrected on the third day. They weren’t there for it. They didn’t believe the women when they returned that Jesus wasn’t there. Peter and John ran to the tomb and found it empty. Scriptures says “then John believed.”

It was the witness of His resurrection that changed things. Jesus appeared to them several times after His resurrection. They started speaking not of Jesus’ teachings – although they were good. They started speaking about Jesus’ Good News. He died and came back to life; the Son of God came to earth to save us from our sins by His death and resurrection. He is the Resurrection and the Life. The Good News is Jesus! The Bible from beginning to end is centered on Jesus. Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. Yes, we want to live as He did. Yes, we want to follow His examples that He set when He lived on this earth. But that’s not the reason the movement caught fire. The reason was the people saw Jesus after His resurrection. It changed everything. Then the men wrote about their time with Jesus. The ones who were eyewitnesses recorded the events so that we might also believe.

Jesus in one of His final prayers prayed for us – here, right now, in this time and place – for us to be unified with Him as He was one with the Father. Through the message that was spoken through the centuries, we have been a part of the movement. It’s in our hands to continue the movement by speaking of the Good News so that others will be unified in this same message. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” I am the light of the world.” Jesus said “I am the gate for the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd.” Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the way, and the truth and the life.” “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.” The soldiers came looking for Jesus on that last night. He asked them, “Who is it you want?” They replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said, “I AM” (in the original language). (See the Gospel of John.)

Jesus. The name above all names. The one who died and rose again. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth. This is the Good News. This message is for all to believe. In the book Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warrens, the first line is: “It’s not about you.” This is not about me at all. If it is, then it will be of no value to anyone. The right perspective is: God’s glory through His Son by His grace and His mercy! And then He wants a relationship with us! Isn’t that Good News?

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” Then Jesus told them “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 17:25-26; 20:29

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