What I have come to realize is that my view on Christianity has been fro the most part COMPLETELY WRONG.
As Christians we often want to God to bless us, to give us more money, a bigger house, more security and comfort.
The fact is that God wants the exact opposite from us.
Romans 12:2 New Living Translation
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
God’s will is not that we will be safe and comfortable in this world but that we will forsake the comfort of this world and our own well being to serve Him and trust in His plan for our life.
Luke 9:24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
To often we fail to follow God because, like the Israelites , the promised land looks less comfortable and safe than where we find ourselves.
We have come to believe that getting more money and security is being blessed by God when in actual fact hanging on to that money and security is possibly what prevents us from moving forward with God. When we are in our comfort zone we can easily say we don’t need God. He is delegated to a Sunday morning activity. But when the false sense of security comes tumbling down through a tsunami or a bankrupt business just watch how quick we are to get on our knees and cry out to Him.
John the Baptist was a relative of Jesus. As children they knew each other, they spent time together.
John the Baptist jumped in his mothers womb, when Mary told John’s mother she was pregnant with Jesus? Luke 1:41-44
John was a righteous man who forsook the world and lived for God.
Matthew 3: 1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
He said what needed to be said, not pulling any punches, oblivious to the consequences of the world.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
John Testifies About Jesus
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
JOHN CONFRONTS HEROD
Mark 6:18-20, “For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”
Herod arrested John, he was put in prison. John sent a message to his friend Jesus.
20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
24 After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
John was a relative of Jesus. He was a righteous man of God. He was imprisoned for speaking a righteous truth.
He more than most could have expected Jesus to come and break him out of jail, to rescue him, to look after his immediate needs.
But Jesus didn’t. What he said was “ God’s plans are more important than your immediate well being, be strong, don’t loose faith, don’t stumble.
So what happened to those that most closely knew and followed Jesus ? Did they live nice comfortable lives, prospering from their wisdom and first hand knowledge of the saviour of the world ? It’s interesting that nearly all of the apostles were killed for their lives of dedication to Jesus.
Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound.
Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
Luke was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
Peter was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross, according to church tradition because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
James the Just, the leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller’s club. This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.
James the Greater, a son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
Bartholomew, also known as Nathanal, was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed to our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia when he was believed to have been flayed to death by a whip. He may have also been crucified.
Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.” He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the subcontinent.
Jude, the brother of Jesus, was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
Matthias, Matthias was chosen by the Apostles to replace Judas Iscariot, after the death of Judas in the Field of Blood. Information concerning the life and death of Matthias is vague and contradictory. One tradition maintains that Matthias was stoned at Jerusalem by the Jews, and then beheaded. (cf. Tillemont, “Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire eccl. des six premiers siècles”, I, 406-7).
Barnabas, one of the group of seventy disciples, wrote the Epistle of Barnabas. He preached throughout Italy and Cyprus. Barnabas was stoned to death at Salonica.
Phillip was crucified, according to the plaque in the church of the Holy Apostles.
Paul was believed to have been tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament. Most scholars believed that Paul was released from house arrest in Rome in c. 62 A.D., and that he may have made a fourth missionary journey, which may have gone as far as Spain (Rom 15:24, 28). Church tradition says that Nero executed Paul in Rome c. 67 A.D. However, the New Testament is silent on the death of this great apostle.
Lord, forgive me for thinking so much about myself and my own delusional thoughts about well being. Help me always Lord to listen to your will and have the courage and faith to follow You wherever you may lead me. Help me to have the mind of Paul when he said “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” and to worship and honor you in all I do. In the Holy and mighty name of my Lord and Savior I pray. Amen
NOTE: I would like to thank Mr Paul Richardson for the sermon he gave which led me to the revelation found in this post.