Loving sinners

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then Levi gave him a great feast in his own house.  And there were a great number of tax collectors (sinners) and others who sat down with them.  And their scribes and the Pharisees (religious leaders) complained against his disciples saying, “Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5: 29 – 32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Those who had committed the greatest offenses were also the most eager to receive forgiveness. The prostitutes and tax-collectors, devoid of any delusions of purity, were wholly capable of conducting an honest self-appraisal.  The religious leaders however, believing themselves to be righteous, refused to accept the message of repentance and reconciliation.  The initial step toward the restoration of divine fellowship includes a genuine recognition of sin. Still today, those who need the greatest measure of healing, are often rejected by the self-righteous. Although most have forsaken the worst offenders, God has not abandoned them.

                Many living within the boundaries of the Roman Empire had little compassion for the sick and the infirmed.  There were no retirement homes, assisted living facilities, or modern hospitals.  Poor sanitary practices often lead to outbreaks of disease that devastated entire towns, cities, and nations.  Those who fell ill were usually abandoned by the healthy; and left to die in the streets. Still, as Christianity spread, so did mercy, compassion, and love. During a plague in Alexandria, Egypt, in 416 A.D., a group of Christians assembled to care for those who were sick. They became known as “the Parabalani” (“the reckless ones”); because in caring for the infirmed, they selflessly exposed themselves to infection.  As they ministered, they undoubtedly preached the gospel; drawing many to the foot of the cross.

                In similar fashion, we are called to care for the sickest of sinners; those who have been abandoned and left to die.  Drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, thieves, adulterers, and fornicators are frequently the most willing recipients of God’s message of forgiveness and salvation. May we never abandon the lost; nor shun the wretched; for Jesus Christ himself loves every outcast.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we never forget that we are but sinners, saved by Your grace.  Provide us with opportunities to minister to the lost.  May we have compassion on the sick and love those who are dying.  May we be instruments of Your mercy; delivering Your message of salvation to the lost.  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.

Avoiding Covetousness

JESUS SPEAKING

               Then one from the crowd spoke to Jesus saying, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”  And he said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12: 13 – 15.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus fervently warned his followers to avoid covetousness.  Those who covet strongly desire the belongings of others, and lack proper gratitude for what they have been given.  Knowing the destructive nature of this sin, God gave mankind the tenth commandment which states: “You shall not covet (desire) your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet (desire) your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”  Covetousness is dangerous, and can lead to a number of other sins such as theft, adultery, and even murder.

                In ancient times, King David was a powerful man who possessed great riches.  He had countless wives and concubines at his disposal to satisfy his physical needs.  Yet, one evening, as he walked along the rooftops of his palace, his eyes beheld a woman bathing naked.  Her name was Bathsheba; the spouse of a military commander named Uriah.  David began to covet her, and eventually committed the act of adultery.  Soon he was informed that Bathsheba had conceived and was with child.  After numerous attempts to cover up his dreadful act, David finally had Uriah murdered in battle and took Bathsheba to be his wife.  King David was later judged for his sin and the penalty was severe.

                As faithful servants, we must be careful to continually maintain a spirit of gratitude, and to take pleasure in what we have been given.  In so doing, we will fulfill the tenth commandment and avoid covetousness.  May we never desire the possessions of others; may we always remain grateful for what we have been given; and may our loving God grant us true contentment and everlasting peace.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your many blessings.  Fill us continually with true gratitude and genuine appreciation.  If we have broken the tenth commandment convict our hearts and help us to change.  May we never desire the possessions of others; instead may we take pleasure in the gifts that You have given us.  We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.

The Rapture

JESUS SPEAKING

            “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man (Jesus Christ):  For they ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all […] even so will it be in the day that the Son of man (Jesus Christ) is revealed.  In that day, he who is on the housetop and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away.  And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.  Remember Lot’s wife.  Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you in that night there will be two men in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.  Two women will be grinding together; the one will be taken and the other left.  Two men will be in the field; the one will be taken and the other left” (Luke 17: 26 – 27, 30 – 36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            ‘The Rapture,’ is another name for the unique event being described in this scripture.  In the blink of an eye, God will gather up the faithful from among the nations; prior to pouring out His wrath upon the earth.  Relatives, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers will vanish in an instant.  Those who are left behind will endure God’s judgments.  How can we be prepared for the rapture?  Simply put; by valuing eternal rewards more than earthly possessions.  Jesus implores us to consider Lot’s wife; a woman who was ill-equipped for the Lord’s deliverance.  In ancient times, she and her family were lead out of the wicked city of Sodom before its destruction.  She disobeyed God by turning back and affectionately gazing upon the city.  In turn, she was transformed in to a pillar of salt.           

Like Lot’s wife, many throughout history have cherished worldly possessions more than their own lives.  One day my dad and I were driving through the town where I grew up.  As we passed a certain building, he informed me that the structure had burned years earlier.  The owner had foolishly rushed in to the basement to collect some of his valuables; becoming trapped in the process.  In desperation, he attempted to crawl through a basement window; but the opening was too small.  Firefighters and onlookers could only watch in horror as the man perished in flames.  Valuing his possessions more than his own life lead to his untimely demise.

            Today, many value their possessions more than their eternal lives.  Taking great comfort in worldly belongings has rendered them ill-prepared for the coming Kingdom.  Every believer must be ready for ‘the rapture;’ an event that could occur at any moment.  Complete preparation entails loving God more than anything else.  Human beings must be more prized than possessions, and truth more treasurable than trust funds.  As our values are transformed, we will look forward to the rapture with greater joy and anticipation.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to value our heavenly lives more than our earthly possessions.  Prepare our hearts and minds for the rapture.  May we remain focused on Your coming kingdom.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit, strengthen us; that we might 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.

God’s possessions

JESUS SPEAKING

             And it came to pass, when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that he sent two of his disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat.  Loose it and bring here.  And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”  So those who were sent went their way and found it just as he had said to them.  But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”  And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”  And they brought him to Jesus (Luke 19: 29 – 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

              Zachariah prophesied that the messiah would humbly arrive.  Riding not on a horse or chariot; but rather, on a donkey.  Jesus therefore sent out two disciples to procure an animal for his triumphal entry in to Jerusalem.  When the men were confronted by the owner, they did as they were instructed; saying, “The Lord has need of it.”  In turn, they were permitted to leave.  Much has been written about this brief encounter; most commentators highlight the omniscience of God, the wisdom of Christ, and the faithfulness of the disciples.  Yet in the midst of these obvious truths, there exists a nameless stranger; a generous individual who recognized that his or her possessions were divine endowments; heavenly gifts that, at any time, could be used to serve God’s purposes.

               Every year around the holidays, a Christian organization known as ‘Operation Christmas Child’ begins working with thousands of churches across the country.  Congregational members fill shoeboxes full of valuable items and deliver them to their local pastors.  The parcels are then transported to a warehouse and sorted by volunteers; packaged, and shipped to impoverished nations around the world.  Some givers even include heart felt letters and pictures of themselves.  I myself have participated in this endeavor.  Seeing millions of Americans respond to God’s call is truly inspiring.  By giving of their time and resources, they have effectively revealed the love Jesus Christ to some of the least fortunate souls.

              Like the donkey in this scripture, our possessions are not our own; our time, our money, and our resources belong to God.  We are stewards of what we have been given.  When the Lord calls, we must use our assets to spread the love of Jesus Christ.  Be still, and the Holy Spirit will instruct you how, when, and what to give.  Through generosity and faithfulness, you will know the joy of the Lord; now, and forevermore.

             “Lord Heavenly Father, give us opportunities to use our resources to further the gospel.  May we be generous; may we be faithful; and may we never turn away from those in need; serving others with gladness and singleness of heart.  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.

Give without expectations

JESUS SPEAKING

          “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back” (Luke 6: 34.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Even the most selfish human beings will lend to those who promise to repay them.  Jesus therefore implored his disciples to exercise genuine selflessness; to freely give; expecting nothing in return.  All those who desire true Godliness, must strive to practice the art of sacrificial giving.

          One day, as I was preparing to leave the gym, an acquaintance approached me and asked to borrow ten dollars.  After receiving the money, he repeatedly insisted that he would pay me back.  Using this scripture as my guide, I informed him that the money wasn’t from me; it was from God.  Thus I didn’t require nor desire any form of repayment.  Eventually he understood that the cash wasn’t a loan; it was a gift.  As we parted ways, the blessings of obedience filled my heart with joy.

          The Lord yearns for His disciples to standout; to shine; to be more loving and more charitable than the worldly masses.  Giving without expecting repayment is just one of many characteristics of genuine faith.  Whether a stranger is begging for change, or a family member needs financial assistance, we must freely give in order to fulfill God’s desires.  May we continue to embrace divine charity; giving without restriction; that through sincere obedience, we too might receive eternal rewards.

          “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to be generous and kind.  To give without expecting anything in return.  May we abandon earthly rewards, in favor of eternal blessings.  May Your love flow through us; that our faith might be a light to all those who walk in darkness.  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.

Healing and Gratitude

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now it happened as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.  Then he entered a certain village, there met him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.  And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, master, have mercy on us.”  So when he saw them, he said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face, at his feet, giving him thanks.  And he was a Samaritan.  So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed?  But where are the nine?  Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  And he said to him, “Arise, go your way.  Your faith has made you well” (Luke 17: 11 – 19.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Although Jesus healed ten lepers physically, only the Samaritan was healed spiritually.  For he alone returned to worship and honor the one true and living God.  Gratitude is often the greatest indicator of genuine faith.  Those who have been healed, cling to Jesus; making him the foundation upon which they build their lives.  Every mended heart is full of love for God; a love that is communicated through prayers of thanksgiving, songs of worship, acts of kindness, daily bible reading, and obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

                Many years before God performed a miracle in my heart, I had been the resident of two mental institutions.  Daily I contemplated suicide; even attempting it on one occasion.  I was a slave to drugs and alcohol, cigarettes, fornication, and every manner of available sin.  I, like the demon possessed man Jesus healed, was cutting myself and burning my skin with lit cigarettes.  When I gave my life to the Lord, he cast out the demons living within me; healing my mind, my body, and my soul.  I no longer smoke, drink, do drugs, or live promiscuously.  Today, my heart is filled with peace and love; love for God, love for others, and love for myself.  The Holy Spirit is now living in me; and I am a new creation.  Having experienced such a wonderful miracle, I return to Jesus Christ every day to thank Him.  I speak to Him in prayer; I read His word; and I attempt to follow His teachings and commandments in every area of my life.

                Has the Lord done a work of healing in you?  Have you been transformed by the Spirit of the Living God?  If Jesus Christ has touched your life, then may gratitude pour from your heart.  Give God the glory, honor, and praise He so greatly deserves.  Obey His commandments and love your neighbor.  Read His word and offer up prayers of thanksgiving.  Reach out to the lost and tell them about the miracles the Lord has performed in your life.  May God guide you and sanctify you; and may His peace never leave you; from this moment forward, until the day of His return.  [Note:  If you’ve never experienced salvation, contact me; I would love to discuss how you can do that today.]

               “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your many miracles; and for the gift of salvation.  You’ve transformed us; You’ve healed us; You’ve given us new lives.  May we always remain grateful; may love rule in our hearts and minds; and may we continually praise, honor, and worship Your Holy name.  We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise 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.

Obedience leads to joy

JESUS SPEAKING

             And it happened, as he spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breast which nursed you.”  But he said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and ‘keep it’ (do it)” (Luke Chapter 11: verse 27 – 28.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

              The word ‘blessed’ fairly accurately translates in to our modern word for ‘happy.’  Those who are ‘blessed’ possess a genuine measure of peace, joy, and contentment.  In this scripture, Jesus emphasizes two essential steps, that when followed, lead to true happiness.  First, an individual must become aware of God’s commandments and teachings.  Secondly, they must apply His doctrines in their lives and the lives of those around them.

             Concerning happiness, Americans are more depressed than ever.  From 2005 – 2008, the use of antidepressant medications increased by nearly 400%.  One in every ten individuals is currently taking some form of antidepressant.  Many however are not suffering from chemical imbalances (although some might be); rather, many are unhappy because they either don’t know God’s word, or they know it but refuse to apply it.  Those committing great sins are consistently less happy than those who aren’t.  For instance, approximately 1.5% of women who are married report experiencing some form of depression; yet 5.1% of women living with a man before marriage report being depressed.  Further, those who engage in a homosexual lifestyle are more than 200% more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.  Additionally, men who watch pornography daily are 3.5 times more likely to experience severe depression than the general population.  Simply put, those who avoid sin are happier than those who don’t.

             God lovingly gave mankind rules, that when observed, lead to satisfaction and joy; even in the midst of trials.  However, when His statutes are ignored, the disobedient can expect to experience fear, emotional instability, and depression.  The formula for achieving lasting peace isn’t complicated; simply read God’s word daily and apply His teachings in every area of your life.  In so doing you will be blessed; you will avoid the misery of sin; and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we hunger and thirst for genuine obedience.  May we read Your word daily, and apply what we have learned in our lives.  May we act upon Your commandments; may we love others; may we spread Your message; may we avoid sin and receive Your eternal rewards.  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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