What Is The Work Of God?

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Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:28-29)

What Is The Work Of God?

Feeding more than five thousand people at one time would be a monumental task for anyone to undertake. To do so with only five barley loaves and two small fish would be nothing short of the power of God. Jesus exhibited one of the great miracles when He fed five thousand plus people from such meager rations with twelve baskets full of the fragments of the five barley loves leftover. The response of the people was immediate. They wanted to make Jesus of Nazareth their next king and they were willing to do so with force. Jesus retired to the mountain by Himself alone joining His disciples later that night on the voyage across the sea toward Capernaum.

The next day the crowds came looking for Jesus. Their hunger had returned and they desired the wonderful barley loaves and delicate fish of the day before. When they found Jesus they derided Him for not telling them where He had gone. The Lord knew the only reason they came looking for Him was that their stomachs were empty and they wanted to be fed once again. Everyone could see the miracle of Jesus as it unfolded the day before. Five thousand men sat down as twelve disciples continually passed out an abundance of bread and fish but what they refused to see was the work of God in the miracle. They were only interested in having their hunger filled. This should have been a clear testimony that Jesus was the Son of God.

When the people asked Jesus what should do that they could work the works of God, He responded not with the eating of bread and fish but the foundation of obedience to the will of God. The work of God is to believe in Him whom He sent. When the people were eating the bread the day before they could not see the power of God because they were not looking for the power of God. Denying the miracle denied the One who performed the miracle. How sad that five thousand people witnessed one of the greatest miracles of history and they could not see the power of God in Jesus.

The work of God is to believe in the power of God. Paul would write about the foolishness of the cross that became a stumbling block to so many. When the world looks at the cross of Jesus they do not see the glory of God but the failed life of a common man executed as a criminal by the Romans. The work of God is to believe in the power of the word and to accept the will of God in obedience. Many would turn away from Jesus and never follow Him again because His teachings were hard and Jesus offended them.

Preaching a crucified Savior does not appeal to most people today because they are looking for some greater sign than the cross of Jesus Christ. The work of God that leads to salvation is found in believing that Jesus is the Son of the Divine and accepting His word as words of eternal life. There is no other way to the Father but the way Jesus, the truth Jesus and the life Jesus. If a man will not believe in Jesus there is no other work that will save Him. What sign will God perform then, that the world may see it and believe? Jesus came to the earth two thousand years ago. He is the bread of life and all that believe in Him will have everlasting life.

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Having A Mind Like Jesus

have a mind like Christ

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)

Having A Mind Like Jesus

Arthur Fletcher said, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” There is no greater waste of something when it is not used for the original intent of its design. The mind was created by God to allow a man to rise above animals as an image of the expression of the divine for the intended purpose of the creation giving glory to the Creator. What makes a man a rational being enables him to be aware of the world to think and feel with consciousness and thought so that he can direct his life towards his eternal destiny. The greater good of the mind of man is for worship. What has destroyed the character of the man is when every intent of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually. Sin invaded the mind to corrupt the relationship of created man with his divine provider.

When Jesus came to earth, He did not come to rid the world of war, poverty, sickness or death. His work was to give His creation a means to redeem themselves to the grace of His Father. The sacrifice of Jesus on a cross was emblematic of the divine love that God wanted to impress upon the mind of all men of how much He loved and cared for them. In response to this love, those who would embrace the will of the Father would have a change of heart and thus recreate their minds to achieve a higher experience of relationship with his place in eternity. Salvation would not come from an outward form of obedience alone but an inward change of heart that would continually drive the soul of man to the throne of God.

Paul exhorted the saints at Philippi to have a mind like Jesus Christ. The apostle was exhorting his readers to remember their eternal nature and to dwell together in unity, peace, and love. Human experiences often involve strife and conflict. Having a mind like Jesus would show sacrifice, love, and forgiveness. Humility is the prime motivation of a mind like Jesus because of the example of the Son of God to leave the eternal and dwell among the mortal. As a follower of Christ, the disciple is continually creating his mind to be in the image of the Son of God. This is in contrast to a world that seeks to enslave the mind with the carnal nature of man.

Having a mind like Christ is utilizing the mind in the proper fashion as created by God. A mind like Christ worships the Divine. Infusing the word of God into the mind is where faith grows. Worship is filling the mind with the glory of God and the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is the conduit of grace allowing a man to lift his mind to the throne of God. Singing with a melody in the heart fills the mind with the rose petals of the heavenly chorus. Having a forgiving spirit will only come from a mind that is like Christ. Jesus left the ultimate example of what a mind should be. Have a mind like Christ. The joy of the mind of Christ is the day when the eye shall behold Him face to face and what the mind will see at that moment is beyond description.

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Those Who Trust The Lord Are Victorious

TRUST in the Lord

And when Judah looked around, to their surprise the battle line was at both front and rear; and they cried out to the Lord, and the priests sounded the trumpets. Then the men of Judah gave a shout; and as the men of Judah shouted, it happened that God struck Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. And the children of Israel fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hand. Then Abijah and his people struck them with a great slaughter; so five hundred thousand choice men of Israel fell slain. Thus the children of Israel were subdued at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed because they relied on the Lord God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 13:14-18)

Those Who Trust The Lord Are Victorious

The death of Solomon brought about a great upheaval in the land of Israel as the country plunged into civil war. Rehoboam and Jeroboam divided the land with ten tribes to the north and two tribes remaining faithful to Jerusalem in the south. Rehoboam reigned for seventeen years before his son Abijah (Abijam) took over the leadership of Judah. There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. When the battles lines were drawn up the southern tribes of Judah numbered four hundred thousand against the eight hundred thousand choice men, mighty men of valor fighting for the northern tribes of Israel.

Jeroboam was a military tactician who surrounded the men of Judah with his army as the battle line encircled the outnumbered troops of Abijah. Seeing the perilous position they found themselves in, the army of Judah shouted to the Lord and the priests sounded the trumpets. The battle began with ferocious combat between the people of Israel and Judah. Jeroboam would have won the day due to his prowess of fighting ability but he lacked the one thing Judah had fighting for them. At the sound of their battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel and routed them before Abijah and the army of Judah.

Jeroboam came against Abijah with eight hundred thousand choice men, mighty men of valor. When the battle was over, five hundred thousand of those chosen men of Israel were dead. Jeroboam died soon after his crushing defeat, having reigned only twenty-two years over Israel.

The reason Judah gained the victory against their northern brothers was that while the ten tribes of Israel had rejected the worship of the one true God, Judah retained their faith in the power of Jehovah God. Israel was subdued that day and Judah prevailed because they relied on the Lord God of their fathers. The turning point in a battle that pitted an army twice the size of Judah to be nearly wiped out was who they trusted to deliver them. Jeroboam rejected God and the Lord rejected him.

Abijah warned the northern army that God had established a covenant with David because he trusted in the Lord. The rebellion of the ten tribes would bring no peace as long as they served to gods of the land. It was futile to fight against the army of the Lord. Jeroboam lost five hundred thousand men and died soon after and for what? Turning away from the one true God to serve the gods of men brought no reward for Jeroboam and the people.

God created man to worship Him and to give glory to the only Creator. The tragedy of men has always been when they become their own gods trying to save themselves through their own wisdom. It seemed impossible odds for eight hundred thousand choice warriors fighting against four hundred thousand valiant warriors of Judah but God was only on one side. No matter how great the foes of life will be, the power of God rests upon those who trust in Him who declares that God is with them and He is their leader. Do not fight against the Lord. You will not succeed.

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The Anger Of Jesus

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And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him. (Mark 3:1-6)

The Anger Of Jesus

Jesus got angry. One of the rare images of Jesus is when He was filled with indignation. He was saddened at the hardened hearts of those who should have known He was the Son of God and yet intent on trying to ensnare Him as He performed a miracle were offended because He would dare heal a man on the Sabbath. It was incredulous to know how depraved the heart of a man can be to see an incredible manifestation of divine power and at the same time condemn Him for showing that He was the Son of God.

A man with a dried-up hand was in the synagogue. Had he been placed there to tempt Jesus into healing him on the Sabbath? The gospel writers do not reveal the motives of the man’s attendance but the attitude of the Jewish leaders was clearly evident. They could see an opportunity to charge Jesus with breaking the Law of Moses if He healed the man on the Sabbath. What they did not acknowledge is that Jesus knew their hearts and saw their motives.

Jesus asked them if it was lawful to do good or to do evil on the Sabbath? Was it lawful to save a life or destroy it on the Sabbath? It was universally accepted among the Jews that an act of kindness was acceptable on the Sabbath. The intent of the evil heart would condemn Jesus for removing the affliction of the man whose right hand was a shriveled stump. They had more compassion on a sheep fallen into a hole than a man with physical infirmity.

The heart of Jesus was grieved at the insolence of those who were the keepers of the Law that refused to see the clear evidence of the divinity of His nature. Jesus was angry that men could be so impertinent against the victim and the power of God. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Telling the man to stretch out his hand, he did so and his hand was restored as whole as the other.

Jesus was angry at the hard hearts of the scribes and Pharisees. After the miracle (that was plainly seen by all), the scribes and Pharisees were filled with rage and plotted with the Herodians how to destroy Jesus. The irony of the picture is a group of men trying to destroy a man who healed the right hand of another. This would happen often as Jesus performed His miracles. Many will be drawn to Him believing Him to be the Son of God. Many more would not believe He was the Son of God although they could never deny His power.

There are none as blind as those who refuse to see the power of God fully revealed to them without any doubt or question. Jesus got angry because of the sad condition of the proud man who refuses to acknowledge what he clearly sees. It is eternally tragic how many reject the teaching of God today for the carnal wisdom of humanity. What else could Jesus do to change the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees than to exhibit His power? Is there any more God can do to reveal His power to man today? There will be no more revelations or manifestations of the power of God through miracles. Abraham told the rich man who cried out in torment, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” The gospel is fully revealed. If you do not hear the message of Jesus Christ, there is nothing more God can do.

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The Foolish Things Of The World

Bible cross

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

The Foolish Things Of The World

When the gospel of Christ was preached to the world for the first time, many were puzzled why a faith would be built upon the life of a relatively unknown carpenter’s son who had little education in the schools of men and was executed by the Romans as a criminal. This man Jesus was of no importance to the known world and although he had made an impression for a few years with a group of followers in Palestine, his story was of no great impact in the vaunted halls of the political, educational and religious world of the Roman Empire.

Soon after the death of Jesus, a band of disciples began to preach that same Jesus had in fact been crucified and buried with the authority of the Roman army but that He had been seen alive by many followers for over a month. A growing number of people numbering as high as five thousand began to follow the teaching of the man from Nazareth. It was a very simple message. Men of letters examined the doctrines of Jesus Christ and were puzzled why anyone would follow a man who was crucified as a common criminal. The story of the cross of Jesus was central to the teaching of this new movement to the dismay of many intellectuals.

It came as a tremendous shock and a blow to the political movements of the Jewish hierarchy when one of their own, a Pharisee and teacher of the law, also came under the sway of the teachings of Jesus. Saul of Tarsus was a powerful force within the Jewish leadership and had made his life goal to destroy the teachings of Jesus and all those who followed him. On a trip to arrest a number of disciples of Jesus, Saul had become one of the followers of the one he had opposed with such great zeal. Now Saul had become one of the leaders of the band who would be called Christians.

The story of the risen Christ is foolishness to a world thriving on the wisdom of human knowledge. Preaching a crucified Jesus does not make sense. Following a life of abstinence to the carnal pleasures of the world would go against all wisdom of society. Everything about the message of the cross was foolish and yet that is where the wisdom of God is exalted. Human wisdom exalts the mind of a man but the teachings of Jesus Christ demote the wisdom of men to folly and raise the knowledge of God above a man who seeks to make himself a god.

Accepting the idea that in the beginning, God created the heavens and earth is not explained in terms of human scientific studies. Believing the world could be covered by an enormous flood goes beyond the rational thinking of men. Hearing about a man from Nazareth walking on water, healing all manner of disease and raising the dead is a fairy tale to the wisdom of men. Preaching salvation based on a man crucified is nonsense to a world where man is his own god. What becomes foolishness to man is where the wisdom of God shines through.

The best the wisdom of man can do is to show his folly. He builds large monuments that exalt his wisdom but in time they fall to decay and ruin. His glory is short-lived. The message of God shows the eternal wisdom of the Creator that never ends. When God put the Sun 93 million miles away from the earth He designed it to remain that distance and thank God it does. His wisdom endures. The Bible may seem foolish to most people but it has remained unchanged and unchallenged for centuries because it is the wisdom of God. The pyramids of Egypt exalt the glory of human toil. Preaching Christ crucified gives glory to God. Which one lays in ruin today and which one remains as vibrant as the day it was inscribed?

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Rejecting Visible Proof

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Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. (John 12:9-11)

Rejecting Visible Proof

The act of raising someone from the dead was not unique to the story of Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha. When Jesus sent the twelve disciples out, He gave them the power to heal the sick, raise the dead and have power over demons. Jairus’ daughter had been raised by Jesus as well as the widow of Nain’s son. It was clear the man from Nazareth possessed the power of the Finger of God to overcome everything in the world and in the world of the demons. Raising Lazarus from the dead took the power of Jesus further as four days had passed since the death of Lazarus and by the word of the Lord, the brother of Mary and Martha came out of the tomb alive. Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen but there were many who did not believe.

The chief priests and Pharisees called the council together to discuss what must be done with the man who could raise the dead. They could not and did not deny the miracles acknowledging that Jesus had worked many signs. Their fear was that if the popularity of Jesus continued, the Roman army would come and destroy the nation and take away the power of the Jewish leaders. Later, when Jesus returned to Bethany where Lazarus had been raised from the dead, they made the Lord a great supper with Martha serving and Lazarus sitting at the table with Jesus. Knowing that Jesus was there, a great many of the people came to the home of Mary and Martha to hear Jesus but also to see Lazarus. He had become somewhat of a popular figure since being raised from the dead. However, the chief priests and leading Jewish leaders were full of envy and made plans to kill Lazarus. The leaders hated Lazarus because he was leading many of the people away to follow Jesus.

What is remarkable about the Jewish leaders is how blind they were to the power of God. Lazarus had been dead four days and sealed inside the tomb. On the fourth day of death, the body begins to manifest visible signs of decay and yet Lazarus comes out of the tomb on the fourth day without blemish. His resurrection was a vivid example of the power of God over death. The natural reaction would be to acknowledge the grandeur of the miracle and to accept the will of God as all-powerful through the working hands of Jesus. Instead, the only thing the Jewish leaders could see was their own prejudice and hatred for Lazarus. They were jealous of the people following Jesus.

There are no miracles to witness for men today but the truth remains about the miracle of the word of God. The Bible contains the mind of God revealing His nature, His character, His power and His love. For centuries men have tried to destroy the Bible but it remains. Voltaire famously predicted the demise of the Bible but it remains constant in its circulation as the most prolific book in history. The world frowns on the Bible because, like the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day, many people find hope and comfort through the message of God’s grace. One of the reasons there are so many churches today calling themselves by different names and following varied doctrines is rooted in the rejection of truth.

The Bible is not a book hard to read and to understand. If a man on one continent reads the Bible and a man on another continent reads the Bible, they can come to the same conclusion because the miracle of the Bible is the symmetry of its message. Lazarus was a threat to the chief priests. They could not deny the miracle of his resurrection. The word of God is a threat to a hedonistic world bent on filling its coffers full of carnal pleasures but they can never deny the power of the Bible and they will never be able to destroy it. There is visible proof of the wisdom of God in the Bible. The decision is whether you will accept it or reject it.

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Barbarian Kindness

kindness

And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. (Acts 28:2)

Barbarian Kindness

Sea travel in the days of the New Testament was a perilous and often dangerous journey. It was especially hazardous during the winter months. In his defense before Festus, Procurator of Judea, Paul appealed his case to the judgment seat of Caesar. When it was decided to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to Rome, a ship of Adramyttium was made ready and began the long journey. It was a difficult voyage. Paul had insisted after arriving at Fair Havens of Crete to remain in port lest the voyage ended in disaster and much loss but the Roman centurion was convinced by the helmsman and owner of the ship to make the journey. At first, things went smoothly but then the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (called a “northeaster”) burst across the island and blew the ship out to sea. Two hundred and seventy-six people were on the ship and for two weeks they endured a great tempest. Finally sighting land, they ran the ship aground with all souls being saved by the mercy of God. They found they had become stranded on the island of Malta, about 60 miles from the coast of Sicily. It was a small island about 20 miles in length from east to west, and 12 miles in width from north to south, and about 60 miles in circumference. The people of the island spoke a language foreign to the Greeks and Romans and were referred to as barbarians. The idea of a barbarian in modern thought is one of a savage, uncultivated, and cruel pagan but that is not the sense Luke leaves in his book. Luke will record a remarkable act of kindness from the natives of Malta. Imagine how surprised the Maltese were to see 276 wet and frightened foreigners standing on their shore including some worried Roman soldiers. What happened next shows the humanity of the least expected people to others.

Luke says the Maltese show unusual kindness. They immediately set to build fires to warm the soaked passengers of the doomed ship. It was still raining and cold and the natives took great care of these strangers. In the region, there was an estate of a leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius who received Paul and others entertaining them for three days. When Paul healed the father of Publius, who suffered from a fever and dysentery, all those of the tiny island brought their sick to Paul to be healed. As a result, they were showered with honors, and when the time came to sail, people supplied them with everything they would need for the trip. While the shipwreck was a terrible loss for the shipowner losing all his provisions and the many souls endured a long and arduous journey before being rescued on Malta, it left an indelible mark on the hearts of Paul and his fellow passengers because of the kindness of the Maltese. The people of the island saw a need and met the need with a kind heart and a kind hand. It is not a big thing to build a fire but that is what was needed. There is little doubt along with the fire came hot drinks and warm blankets. The people of Malta did not know who these strangers were but they showed them unusual kindness because they themselves were kind people. They met the needs of the 276 souls with compassion providing for them to continue their journey. It is easy to see the passengers sailing away from Malta looking back on the tiny island with hearts filled with gratitude. Paul was probably saying a prayer of thanks for these kind people.

One of the hallmarks of the Christian is the simple and yet often overlooked character of kindness. The fruits of the Holy Spirit include kindness. Paul admonished the saints at Colosse to clothe themselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Peter includes brotherly kindness as one of the Christian graces that sets the child of God apart from the world. In a time when there are anger, hatred, callousness and a lack of manners, the people of God must let their lights shine in the world through the acts of kindness they show to others. It has been said that servers dread Sundays as customers who come to their restaurants are often rude and unkind and many of these people just came from church. The child of God should have a kind word for all, show acts of kindness to others, and leave an impression of a kind heart with others. Does it take too much effort to hold the door for others, say “Thank you” to the cashier, help young mothers struggling with preparing a meal for their children, letting others go ahead of you in line or not to talk too loudly about those people who take more twenty items in the ten items and less line? Neighbors need to know that Christians are kind people. When the Christian goes to work, they should be known as kind workers. Road rage is not being kind. Be kind to one another. Change the world one kindness at a time. The Maltese showed total strangers’ unusual kindness. Let it not be unusual for Christians to show kindness to others.

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