What Made the Difference?

Jesus chose them???

“And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach . . .” (Mark 3:14).

So ordinary they were, so slow to understand, vying with one another for prominence.

Jesus rebuked their little faith (Matthew 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20).

At His arrest they all fled. Peter denied he knew Him.

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How it all turned out

But after Jesus’ ascension, they did well—surprisingly well!

How so?

Witnessing the resurrected Christ transformed them into men of strong faith, united with one another, willing to suffer for His name.

The Holy Spirit empowered them to deliver His message boldly and faithfully (Matthew 10:17-20; John 14:26; 16:12-15; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4).

Even today, how God delights to equip ordinary people for extraordinary tasks—to His glory!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Would You?

Would you become a member of a congregation if:

You must give up your highly prestigious position with all its wealth, power, and comfort?

Those in this congregation occupy the bottom rung socially?

They would constantly criticize you, not appreciating what you sacrificed for them?

And would you:

Believe the sacrifice well worth it?

Refuse to look back longingly to all you gave up?

Endure to the end?

If so,

Shake hands with Moses! You have a lot in common.

“By faith Moses . . . choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26).

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Folks Like Me

Birds of a feather . . . .

People are attracted to churches made up of those of similar background—racially, socially, educationally, economically.

This is certainly natural and understandable.

However . . . .

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A different perspective

The first-century church included Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, even slaves and free, and God expected them all to be “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 KJV; Colossians 3:11).

The better we get to know people unlike ourselves, the more we overcome our own prejudices, born from pride and ignorance.

We learn to love people who, though different from us, have been redeemed by Jesus’ blood, just as we have.

What an impact this can make on unbelievers as they observe Christians of varied backgrounds, worshiping and working together in harmony!

Only a very powerful dynamic could explain that!

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Beyond Repair?

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Can’t be done?

A computer problem stumped the experts. “Can’t be fixed!” they said.

But one of them thought it could.

So he tried.

He fixed it.

Can’t be helped?

Many people in this old world are broken beyond repair—or so it seems.

How easy to write them off!

Jesus spent much of His time with lots of messed-up people.

His enemies criticized Him for hanging around folks like that.

He explained, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).

Broken people cannot fix themselves, but Jesus can.

Is anything more beautiful than someone in recovery under the care of the Great Physician?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Must We?

The sign says, “RIGHT LANE MUST TURN RIGHT.”

“Must” is a strong word.

How Jesus used the term

In talking with Nicodemus, Jesus used “must” twice.

“You must be born again” (John 3:7).

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up . . .” (v. 14)—referring to His crucifixion (John 12:32-33).

The second “must” applies to Jesus; the first “must” applies to us.

The second “must” (the cross) makes possible the first “must” (the new birth).

How we respond to MUST

Could Jesus avoid the cross and still be in His Father’s will (Matthew 26:36-46)?

Can we avoid being “born of water and the Spirit” (baptism) and still be saved (John 3:5; Titus 3:5; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12-13)?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

 

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Not Welcome

Their choice

No sign on the edge of town announced: “NAZARETH—HOMETOWN OF THE MESSIAH.”

When Jesus reminded His fellow Nazarenes of God’s kindness to Gentiles (1 Kings 17; 2 Kings 5), they became so angry they tried to throw Him off a cliff.

This only confirmed what He had just told them, “. . . no prophet is welcome in his hometown” (Luke 4:24).

About three years later there was a sign—but on the cross: “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Our choice

 “. . . those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God . . .” (John 1:11-12).

Some received Him; many did not.

With which group do we align today?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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A Faith That Shows

Jesus saw their faith (Luke 5:20).

It’s true, Jesus knows hearts (Mark 2:8; Luke 11:17; John 2:24-25). Was that how He saw the faith of the four men who brought their friend to Jesus for healing?

Did He simply look into their hearts?

Perhaps.

But there’s another possibility . . . .

First, they carried him on a stretcher to the house where Jesus was teaching.

When they found the house too crowded to enter, they made a hole in the roof!

Hard work. Visible faith.

“‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:28, emphasis added).

Jesus saw their faith. Can He see ours?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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