Who can you trust?

JESUS SPEAKING

                “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  Which of you convicts me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8: 46-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                No human being can live a completely sinless life.  Jesus however, being the Son of God, never once indulged in iniquity.  He was so confident of his own moral perfection, that he publicly challenged any willing soul to accuse him of sin.  In turn, his numerous enemies watched and waited; hoping he would make some grave error.  Despite their continuous inspections and endless observations, he spoke plainly, and publicly.  And yet no one could find him guilty of sin.  In fact, at his trial, Pontius Pilate actually said of Jesus, “I find no fault in this man.”  Still he was crucified. Those who are wise, understand that trusting a man who is sinless, is far better than trusting one who is not.

                Throughout history there have been many self-proclaimed prophets; men seeking the trust of others, who were themselves, untrustworthy. None of these liars ever dared place their own personal lives under examination.  Joseph Smith for example (false prophet and founder of the Mormon faith) claimed to be God’s chosen messenger.  However, he lived a life of sexual debauchery; marrying other women without telling his first wife Emma.  He also married other men’s wives in secret; and engaged in wife-swapping. He even went so far as to marry both a mother and her daughter (an offense punishable by death, according to God’s law.)  Unlike Jesus who invited others to scrutinize his life, Joseph Smith viciously sought to keep his sins a secret.  After being kicked out Missouri, Joseph and his followers went to the town of Nauvoo Illinois; where the local newspaper began printing articles about his many wives and sexual indiscretions. In June of 1844, fearing he might be exposed, Joseph ordered his followers to destroy the printing press; they broke in to the newspaper office and dragged the machine in to the street; smashing it with sludge hammers.  Smith was arrested for this crime and later killed in jail.  

                Unlike Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ had nothing to hide; his life was without sin. He never lied, never exploited anyone, and never abused his position of authority to indulge in selfish pleasures.  Instead he served others, loved others, and delivered the word of God to all those who were willing to listen.  Only Jesus Christ can be trusted; only our messiah is worthy of praise and honor.  Won’t you put your faith and trust in him today?  Obey him and follow him, and he will lead you in to eternal life. In turn, you will know true freedom, and you will take hold of the ‘peace that surpasses all understanding.’

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You and we thank You for Your Son; recognizing that he is sinless and completely trustworthy.  Help us to submit to his leadership; may he be at the center of our lives.  May we be more like him, and may we fully trust in him.  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.

Being Prepared

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes […] But understand this:  If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12: 35-37, 39-40.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jewish weddings were long engagements; often lasting many days.  The guests reclined on pillows, feasting day and night; often falling asleep beside the table.  The length of the celebration was uncertain; it could end at one in the morning, or three in the afternoon. When the master of a household attended a wedding, his servants had to be prepared for his return at any moment. Therefore, Jesus used this parable as an illustration of his second coming. After ascending in to heaven he promised to return; yet gave no specific day or hour. He could return today; in one month; or a hundred years from now. Consequently, his servants must eagerly await his arrival every second of every day.

               Many years ago, prior to my conversion, I practiced a life of sinful disobedience.  I lived alone, in an apartment paid for by my Dad.  He would occasionally pop in to make sure the apartment was clean and in proper condition.  One evening, while hosting a drunken bash, things got out of hand.  We smashed beer bottles in my living room with a golf club.  I shattered an exterior window, and another partygoer broke my car window with an empty beer bottle.  The toilet clogged and overflowed; and someone used shaving cream to scribble an obscenity across my bathroom wall. Eventually, I passed out; thinking I could clean up in the morning before anyone noticed.  However, early the following day, I was rousted from sleep by the shouts of an angry man. “Get up,” my dad yelled in my ear!  I sprang from the mattress, in shock.  I was embarrassed, ashamed, and filled with fear.  I hadn’t expected him; never contemplating that he might witness the carnage of my drunken debauchery. He stood by, patiently watching as I picked up every shard of broken glass.

                Much like my Dad, the Lord is coming at an hour when we least expect Him.  We must always be ready for his return at any moment.  Those who obey the teachings of Jesus Christ are prepared to meet him. If we continually love and serve others, then when our savior arrives, he will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant […] enter in to the joy of the Lord.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may our hearts be filled with the expectation of Your return.  Reveal to us any areas where we are being selfish, rather than selfless. Convict our hearts and give us the strength to repent. May we always be giving, kind, and obedient; that we might better serve You and our fellows.  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.

Division and Unity

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (Mathew 12: 25.)

INSIPRED THOUGHTS

                Division produces strife; which in turn, creates weakness.  Although there are many forms of discord, by far the most damaging is ‘internal conflict.’   Hatred between friends is often more devastating than hatred amongst enemies.  Divisiveness breaks the bonds of marriage; it sets parents against their children; it tears families apart; it defeats armies and conquers entire nations.  The body of Christ is a divine family; made perfect in unity and peace.  Hatred and resentment have no place amongst God’s children; for hostility creates division; and division leads to destruction.

                Since its inception, the United States has been involved in many military confrontations.  Despite the numerous wars waged in foreign lands, the bloodiest conflict was actually fought on American soil.  The Civil War erupted in the 1860’s; ending nearly 620,000 lives and producing millions of crippled war veterans. The property damage was astronomical; the cost exceeding 6 billion dollars. In fact, the entire city of Atlanta was burned to the ground.  Railroads were destroyed; homes and businesses were looted and vandalized; entire crops were set ablaze. Many families were also torn in two. There are several historical accounts of siblings fighting against one another in battle.

                Much like 1860’s America, the church has historically experienced great disunity.  The number of issues that have fostered division include: differing methods of baptism; observance of certain holidays; adherence to dietary restrictions; the structure of church authority; the recognition of a pope; priestly marriage; confessional; child baptism, etc. Avoiding such tedious divisions means placing our emphasis upon a common faith in Jesus Christ; choosing instead, to refrain from arguing over ‘uncertain things.’ We, as believers, are faithfully united in our acceptance of his sacrifice, the desire for obedience, and our hope in his future return. As eternal brothers and sisters, we are “all one in Christ Jesus.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desperately desire spiritual unity.  Destroy the things that divide us; that we might love each other. Forgive our transgressions and cleanse our hearts of hatred and resentment. Strengthen Your body; that we may endure the hardships of this life as a family. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and we pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Standing up for what’s right

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  And he found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.  When he had made a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers money and overturned the tables.  And he said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away!  Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise!”  Then the disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house has eaten me up” (John 2: 13 – 17.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Long ago King David prophesied that the messiah would be zealous concerning the things of God.  Jesus, having witnessed his fellow Israelites using the temple for selfish gain, became enraged. After constructing a whip, he drove out those who were defiling his Father’s house. Today, we too will occasionally observe acts of unspeakable evil. In such instances, the Holy Spirit will eradicate our fears and fill our hearts with zeal; enabling us to publically oppose those engaging in malicious conduct.

                One afternoon, while studying in the coffee shop, a man and his teenage son sat down beside me.  Without provocation, the youngster began persistently berating and verbally abusing his father. As the disrespect escalated, my heart was filled with righteous anger. The boy eventually threatened his Dad, saying, “Have you ever been punched in the face?” I lashed out; telling the young man to ‘Shut his mouth!’ The boy fell silent. I proceeded to lecture him concerning the fifth commandment; honoring his father and mother. Embarrassed and afraid, he stepped outside; later returning to apologize.

                In this life, we will occasionally witness acts of such unspeakable evil, that Jesus will inspire us to intervene. In these moments, He will fill our hearts with zeal; giving us the words to speak and the strength to overcome our fears. The Lord will use us to rebuke, to exhort, and to correct many who eagerly violate the basic laws of God.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the courage to speak the truth when necessary.  May we love what is good, and be zealous for Your ways.  When great acts of evil are being practiced, may we stand against them; allowing our desires for righteousness to eradicate our fear of reprisal.  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.   

Giving is better than receiving

JESUS SPEAKING

            “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20: 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The word ‘blessed’ most commonly translates in to the English word for ‘happiness.’  Those who live a ‘blessed’ life regularly experience joy, peace, and contentment.  Such a pleasant existence can only be achieved and maintained through daily acts of selflessness and service.  Sadly however, nearly all human beings are resoundingly selfishness.  In an endeavor to acquire as many possessions as possible, many become isolated, depressed, and discouraged. They aren’t aware that true happiness doesn’t come from selfish gain; rather, it is the product of selfless giving.

            Michael Norton, a Harvard business professor, sought to discover a link between overall happiness and daily giving.  He conducted an experiment in which a small amount of money was given to a group of test subjects.  Half of the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves; the other half were told to spend the money on someone else.  When researchers contacted the subjects at the end of the day, they found that those who had spent the money on someone else reported feeling much happier than those who had selfishly squandered their’ allotted funds.  [Note:  In another study, Norton found that sales team productivity and relationship quality increased as salespeople were given money to spend on other team members.]

            Norton had discovered that, although selfish gain seems appealing, it also lacks the power bring about lasting joy.  Genuine peace and contentment are the products of selflessness and sacrifice.  By serving and giving, we can demonstrate the generosity and love of Jesus Christ. May we never forget that happiness comes not from what we might receive, but rather, from what we are willing to give.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, pour out upon us Your many blessings.  As we love and serve our fellows, may we be filled with happiness and joy.  May our selfish desires come to an end; that through sacrifice, others might come to glorify Your holy name. 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.

The Destination

JESUS SPEAKING

                And when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave a command to depart to the other side.  Then a certain scribe came and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus spoke to him saying, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to rest his head” (Mathew 8: 18 – 20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

               Jesus Christ was born in human form and raised in the house of Mary and Joseph.  Yet his true home was with God in heaven.  He was a sojourner, perpetually mindful of his eventual destination.  With no earthly residence, every miracle, act of love, and profession of truth brought him one step closer to home.  As he traveled, he sought to persuade others to join him in journeying toward the Kingdom of God.  A divine mission, which through the faithful, currently continues.

                In the Old Testament, Moses led millions of Israelites out of slavery and bondage in Egypt.  After passing through the Red Sea, they wandered in the desert for 40 years; roaming the wilderness; living in tents; with no stable place to call home.  Yet God had sworn an oath, to eventually provide them with a permanent dwelling place; a promise that kept them alive as they embraced a life of hardship.  After many long years of sacrifice, God fulfilled His pledge; safely guiding them in to the land of Israel.

                Similarly, Jesus Christ leads many out of bondage to sin; in turn, they become travelers; reliant upon God’s provision.  Each one, clinging to the promise that they will one day enter His permanent dwelling place.  As we journey toward the Kingdom of God, we must embrace a life of sacrifice, humility, and service.  By denying our love of this world, we can lay hold of the world to come.  The road to heaven is long and the way is hard; but the destination is more wonderful than anything we could ever imagine.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we cling Your promises.  May we deny our own desires and embrace sacrifice.  Strengthen us as we continue journeying toward Your kingdom; make us ever mindful that we are but travelers heading home.  May we always reach out to the lost; persuading them to join on us on our journey.  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 Servant’s Heart

JESUS SPEAKING

            But Jesus called them to himself and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  However, it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 42 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            As children we are often taught that dominance is better than submission, and that a higher social status means a better life.  Many therefore seek to acquire positions of great power and authority.  Yet Christ’s teachings are in direct opposition to such worldly principles.  Those who follow Jesus must deny what they’ve been taught, in order to embrace the doctrines of genuine faith and divine humility.  Only by abandoning the desire for greatness, can we completely and lovingly serve others.

            For years, young men from across the country have flocked to my home church; seeking to practice pastoral ministry.  Many hopefuls were initially referred to a pastor named Romain; who employed a special technique designed to separate the qualified from the unqualified.  As the prospects approached, he would hand them a broom and instruct them to sweep a portion of the church. Although many were obedient, some, feeling insulted, became upset. One common response sounded something like this; “I came here to be a pastor, and to teach the bible; not to sweep floors.” Pastor Romain knew then that they lacked a servant’s heart; they had not come to serve in humility, but rather, to acquire power and authority.

            Those who follow the Son of God must abandon the desire for worldly greatness in order to pursue lowliness and humility.  By seeking to serve others rather than to be served, we become the men and women God has called us to be.  We can serve in our church, at home, in the community, and at work.  We can serve our families, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers.  Only through sacrifice and selflessness can we truly be molded in to the image of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, inspire us to pursue and embrace humility.  May we strive to serve others in sincerity and singleness of heart.  Provide us with opportunities to place the needs of others ahead of our own; that in so doing, we might be living examples of Your great mercy and everlasting affection. 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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