The simple are wise

JESUS SPEAKING

                At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.  Even so, Father, because it seemed good in Your sight.  All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father.  Nor does anyone know the Father except the son, and the one to whom the son wills to reveal him” (Mathew 11: 25-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In the Jewish culture, youth was often associated with weakness and stupidity.  So much so, that when a group of Jewish men gathered together, they often spoke in order of age; the oldest spoke first and the youngest spoke last.  They believed that with age came wisdom.  Jesus however, corrected this commonly held belief.  Wisdom concerning the messiah and God’s plan of salvation couldn’t be attained through many years of careful study; instead, the truth could only be received as a gift from God.  Those who thought themselves intelligent were blinded by pride and self-reliance; the simple and ignorant however, clearly saw the value of God’s grace and the blessings of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

                Sigmund Freud pioneered what we might consider the modern field of psychology.  In fact, today he’s remembered as one of the most intelligent men who has ever lived.  And yet many are unaware that at a certain point in his career he actively promoted the frequent consumption of cocaine; considering it to be a cure-all.  He even encouraged his close acquaintances and compatriots to indulge in its use.  When one of his dear friends became horribly addicted to the drug, he saw the dangers of cocaine and anxiously recanted his previous endorsements; he carried the guilt of his friend’s continued drug dependence for the rest of his life. In short, some of the most well educated and intelligent people are often the most horribly deceived. Unless an individual knows the creator, they can never know genuine wisdom.

                The truth is a gift from The Lord; it isn’t something that can be earned.  Intelligence, although beneficial and extremely useful, can sometimes blind those who trust in it more than God. Intellect frequently stands in opposition to simple faith and practical wisdom.  God yearns for His children to trust Him completely.  Those who are simple, unlearned, and unwise, are often the first to see the true value of God’s mercy and grace.  Won’t you receive the gospel today as a little child?  Won’t you believe with your whole heart?  Won’t you allow God to take control of your life?  If you place your faith in Jesus Christ you will come to know the truth; and you’ll be smarter than the most well educated man; and wiser than the greatest king. 

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we be as little children.  May we remain simple, and may we trust in, and completely rely upon You.  We pray for those who are intelligent and wise in their own minds; those who have faith only in the achievements of men.  Reveal the truth to them, that they may come to humbly receive Your mercy and grace.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Set Free

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”  They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone.  How can you say you will be made free?”  Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever.  Therefore if the son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8: 31 – 36)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Although slavery was commonly practiced in the ancient world, the men Jesus was speaking with weren’t slaves.  As free men, they didn’t understand that they were actually slaves to their own sinful appetites.  Sin is often a far crueler taskmaster than any man wielding a whip.  So many people are ruled over by their individual addictions; some are addicted to drugs and alcohol; some to pornography and sexual promiscuity; others are in bondage to cigarettes, gambling, food, video games, and money, etc.  Still, no matter how vast the number of sins might be, Jesus Christ has been setting people free from them for nearly 2000 years.

                One day I visited Venice Beach. As I journeyed passed the shops and street performers, I encountered a young couple.  They were homeless; their hair was tangled and matted; their clothes were riddled with holes; and despite being raised in the United States, they spoke with a fake Jamaican accent.  They were practicing the Rastafarian religion; a religion that promotes the spiritual use of marijuana.  Their bondage to the drug was so powerful that they had willingly abandoned who they actually were; preferring instead to adopt an entire identity that would enable them to continue smoking cannabis without conviction.  Although they believed themselves to be free, they were in fact slaves; slaves whose master had taken nearly everything away from them.  I shared my testimony with the couple; informing them of how God had relieved me of my addictions and transformed my life.  I would like nothing more than to tell you that they received the message and were reborn; but I can’t.  I can only pray that they eventually committed themselves to the Lord and were set free.

                If you’re in bondage to some sin, turn to Jesus Christ and he’ll relieve you of your burdens.  He will set you free from your addictions and heal your mind, body, and spirit. Invite him in to your heart and he will guide you, protect you, and transform you.  Only through the blood of Jesus can you experience true freedom and everlasting peace. [Note:  If you have never received Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior and would like to be set free, contact me and we can discuss how you might make that decision today.]

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to be set free from the bondage of sin and death.  Heal our hearts and minds; give us hope.  Relieve our addictions and destroy our fleshly desires.  May we serve You in sincerity of heart and never stray from the righteous path.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”  God bless all of you.

Make God the priority

JESUS SPEAKING

            Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.”  And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 38 – 42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            After eagerly welcoming Jesus in to her home for the evening, Martha began feverishly serving her new guests.  In Jewish culture, the women were traditionally responsible for meal preparation.  Martha therefore became angry when she saw Mary sitting at Christ’s feet, intently listening to His every word.  She attempted to correct her sister, and was in turn corrected by the Lord.  Martha (unlike Mary) had failed to place God first, ahead of all of her other duties.

            In the 1500’s a German Monk named Martin Luther sparked the protestant reformation (a movement that sought to restore the church to biblical truths, as opposed to church traditions.)  As the leader of this movement, he was an extraordinarily busy man.  Despite his many responsibilities, he would arise every morning to spend time in prayer; conceding that on his busiest days he needed God even more. He once said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”

            Like Martin Luther, we must make God our number one priority.  The amount of distractions in this life are seemingly infinite. The busier we are, the less time we have to complete our daily tasks.  On our busiest days we can act like Martha and make less time for God and more time for our chores.  Or, we can choose to behave like Mary and make God our top priority.  By reading scripture, praying, and seeking God’s will first thing in the morning we are making the right choice.  When we make God the priority, everything else falls in to its proper place. Therefore the peace of the Lord will remain in us, as He accomplishes His work through us.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to make You the most important thing in our lives.  May life’s busiest moments never distract us from focusing on Your goodness.  Teach us and love us; pour Your Spirit out in to our hearts, that we might be used to effectively accomplish Your will in this place.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Become a Follower

JESUS SPEAKING

            “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Mathew sitting at the tax office.  And he said to him, “Follow Me.”  So he arose and followed Him” (Mark 9: 9.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The calling of Mathew is among the shortest conversion stories recorded in the bible.  As a tax collector, he was hated and despised by his own people.  Still Jesus saw something in him worth saving.  As the Lord passed by He uttered two simple words that would forever transform Mathew’s life; “Follow Me.”  His response was concise, immediate, and unwavering.  Mathew arose, abandoned his position, and began following Jesus Christ.  

            During the 1880’s, a famous baseball player named Billy Sunday had a similar experience.  One day, he and his teammates entered a saloon and began drinking.  Upon exiting, Billy spotted a group of Christians singing hymns and preaching about God’s salvation and forgiveness.  As the tears rolled down his face, he turned to his teammates and said, “Boys, I’m through!  Going to turn to Jesus Christ.  We’ve reached the parting of the ways.”  Some mocked him, while others encouraged him.  He promptly entered the Pacific Garden Mission and gave his life to the Lord.  Later he said, “I called upon God’s mercy.  I staggered out of my sins and into the outstretched arms of the Savior.  I became instantly a new creation in Him.  The next morning at practice, my manager, Mike Kelly, greeted me and said, ‘Billy, I read in the paper what occurred yesterday.  Religion isn’t my long suit, but I won’t knock you, and I’ll knock the daylights out of anyone who does.”  Billy Sunday would go on to become one of the greatest evangelists of the early 20th century.

            Like Mathew, and like Billy, God is still calling many to follow Him today.  Jesus Christ desires that all would come to know Him and submit to His discipleship.  Some respond to His call; still others do not.  How can you respond to God’s calling and receive salvation?  First, find a quiet place; reach out to God in prayer, and ask Him to enter your heart.  Turn away from your sins, and publicly profess a faith in Jesus Christ.  Get involved at a local church and be baptized.  Request an easy to read version of the bible (read it every day; beginning with the gospels.)  As you grow in the knowledge of God and submit to His commandments, you will experience a marvelous transformation. The old things will pass away; for behold, God makes “all things new.”

            “Lord Heavenly Father we thank You for calling us to be Your disciples.  May You continuously dwell within our hearts and minds.  Give us the strength to turn away from sin and death. May we receive the Holy Spirit and embrace the new life we have in You.  Teach us; guide us; be our king and our friend. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Miracles Happen

JESUS SPEAKING               

                Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.  And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.  But when Jesus saw her, he called her to him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.”  And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God (Luke 13: 10-13.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS    

                On a certain Sabbath day, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue; those who were listening would soon witness a wonderful act of divine charity.  In the midst of the crowd, there sat a deformed woman; who would unknowingly become the target of God’s mercy and grace.  For 18 years her twisted spine had condemned her to a life of humiliating hardship.  Jesus called her forward; and with one touch, she received her long awaited freedom; freedom from embarrassment and ridicule; freedom from shame; freedom from discomfort and pain.  Filled with gratitude, the once distorted woman honored and praised God for His compassionate work.  Miraculous healings such as this, serve two wonderful functions; they relieve suffering and inspire others to honor and glorify God.

                Approximately ten years ago, I was a resident in a mental institution; I was unable to work and incapable of completing even menial tasks; like laundry and cooking. I was filled with fear and couldn’t sit still for any extended period of time without suffering a fit of extreme anxiety. I was also surrounded by other disturbed individuals; one poor woman was actually undergoing electro-shock-therapy. In a place where pajamas and slippers were the daily norm, I was unaware that God would eventually call me forward. Sometime after being released, He laid his hand on me; healing my unhealthy mind. But he didn’t just heal me; He also transformed me in to a completely different person. Today, I’m married and own a home; I hold down a job and have wonderful friendships; I’m involved in a number of ministries. I give as much as I can and I serve others whenever possible; I truly love and empathize with those who are suffering. I am a responsible individual that can be relied upon. A man who was once dead, has been made alive again. I’m an example of God’s miraculous power. I have become whole, not because of anything I have done, but because of what God has done for me.

                Have you experienced a miracle?  Has God called you forward; has He done something amazing?  If so, then you are truly blessed; if not, He can and will heal you…if you let Him.  Have faith in the Lord and nothing will be impossible; trust in God and you will experience something miraculous. When you do, remember to give God the glory and honor He so greatly deserves; point at Him and proclaim, ‘My deliverer has arrived…and I have been set free; praise be to God.’

                “Lord Heavenly Father You are worthy to receive glory and honor and praise.  We thank You for all of the amazing things you’ve done in and through us.  We desire to see even greater miracles; increase our faith; and do the impossible. We’re excited to see You accomplish Your mighty works. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.” God bless all of you.

Promoting Peace

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Son’s of God” (Mathew 5: 9)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The world is full of conflict.  Yet in the midst of the hostility, God’s children are called to promote peace.  The Lord Himself is a peacemaker; He detests war, and abhors senseless aggression.  Many who share His heart also share His mission; to bring harmony where there is hatred and tranquility where there is contempt.  Those who choose to make peace will inherit the eternal blessings offered to the ‘Sons and daughters of God.’

                As the story goes, in the 4th century A.D., a monk named Telemachus felt God calling him to go to Rome.  He packed his meager possessions and set out for the great city.  Upon arriving, the streets were bustling with excitement.  When he asked why everyone was so energized, he was told that the gladiators would soon be fighting to the death in the coliseum.  Horrified that men would be killing one another for sport, he headed for the stadium.  After entering the complex, he pushed through the crowds and hopped a fence; making his way to the center of the arena.  As he stood between the two gladiators, he shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop.”  The crowd began yelling, “Run him through, Run him through!”  A gladiator abruptly approached; striking the monk in the stomach with the back of his sword.  Although Telemachus fell to the ground, he soon recovered.  Once again he placed himself between the two armed men and shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop.”  The other gladiator suddenly approached him and plunged his sword through the monk’s belly.  Telemachus plummeted to the ground and began bleeding out.  Before dying, he was able to utter one last statement; “In the name of Christ, stop.”  A hush came over the crowd.  A single spectator rose up from his seat and left; followed by another; and another. Within minutes all 80,000 people had exited the coliseum.  That day marked the last gladiatorial contest in Roman history.

                No matter the consequence, the people of God are called to be peacemakers. When others fall silent, we must speak up.  Where there is discord we ought to bring unity; where there is conflict we must promote peace.  In so doing we will be called ‘The children of God;’ and we will know the eternal blessings reserved for those who remain faithfully obedient.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we long for obedience; may we share the desires of Your heart.  May we love others as You have loved others.  Use us to continually promote peace and to end conflict.  Give us the courage and the strength to speak up when others remain silent; may we be Your sons and daughters; and may we experience the blessings of genuine obedience.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.

A Stony Heart

JESUS SPEAKING

                “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while.  For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Mathew 30: 20 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The gospel is a powerful force; like a raging torrent, it demands reverence and respect.  Just as rivers gouge out valleys and rip apart mountains, the gospel transforms lives.  Many, lacking foresight, eagerly receive God’s Holy Spirit without truly understanding the magnitude of changes that God intends to perform in their lives.  Genuine faith is costly; the price of salvation is death; death to our old lives.  In order to be remade in the image of Christ, we must willingly be destroyed.  Those possessing stony hearts, experience a shallow relationship with God. They desperately cling to old familiar habits; willfully abandoning their faith whenever significant changes are required.

                When a famous gangster named Mickey Cohen was released from prison in the 1950’s, a Pastor by the name of Bill Jones made it his personal mission to convert him to Christianity. Jones presented Mickey with the gospel; who in turn, said a prayer, receiving Jesus Christ in to his heart.  Word of his conversion soon spread; as many were amazed to hear that this once villainous mobster had turned to the Lord.  However, although Mickey enjoyed being called a ‘Christian,’ he refused to live like one.  “Eventually he lost touch with Pastor Jones; and again began hanging around his old buddies from the criminal underworld.  The disheartened Jones confronted Cohen; telling him that as a Christian, he needed to put some distance between himself and his old unlawful associates.  A puzzled Cohen quickly responded; “Jones, you never told me that I had to give up my career.  You never told me that I had to give up my friends.  There are Christian movie stars, Christian athletes, and Christian businessmen.  So what’s the matter with being a Christian gangster?  If I have to give up all that – if that’s Christianity – then count me out.”

                Sadly Mickey’s story is all too common; out of the four different types of soil Christ describes, the stony heart is often the most deadly; for within it, there exists the greatest propensity for self-deception.  Believing a verbal profession of faith to be sufficient for salvation, many remain unchanged.  With their lips they affirm Christ; but with their lives they deny him.  By continuing to practice behaviors such as, watching pornography, fornication (sex before marriage), drunkenness, idolatry, and dishonesty, etc…many delusional souls are journeying toward an eternal precipice from which there is no return.  If you can identify with this particular type of soil, then you have two choices; continue onward toward eternal punishment, or get honest with yourself and begin a new life with Jesus; a repentant life; a life free from serious acts of unrighteousness; a life lived as a disciple of Christ; a life fully committed to purity, church fellowship, prayer, evangelism, and bible study.  May the Lord give you the courage, strength, and conviction to make the right choice.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, transform us in to the image of Your Son.  May we lay down our old lives and take up our new ones.  May our relationships with You be deep and meaningful; that our lives might always affirm our verbal professions of faith.  If we have not fully committed our lives to You, reveal to us the areas where we are refusing to change; and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to overcome those shortcomings.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you. 



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