Avoiding Covetousness



                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.)



                Jesus fervently warned his followers to avoid covetousness.  Those who covet strongly desire the belongings of others; as a result they lack the proper gratitude for what they have been given.  Due to the destructive nature of this particular 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 because it can lead to a number of other sins such as theft, adultery, and even murder.

                In ancient times, King David was an extremely powerful man who possessed great riches.  He had countless wives and concubines at his disposal to satisfy his physical needs.  Yet, one evening, while walking along the rooftop of his palace, his eyes beheld a woman bathing naked.  Her name was Bathsheba; the spouse of a military commander named Uriah.  David abruptly began coveting her, and eventually committed the act of adultery.  He was soon informed that Bathsheba had conceived and was with child.  After numerous attempts to cover up his dreadful deed, David finally had Uriah murdered in battle; thus taking 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 the Lord has given us.  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 God grant us true contentment and everlasting peace.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your many blessings.  Fill us continually with unending 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; but instead take pleasure in the gifts that You have given us.  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.

Blessings and Cursings


            “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you […] for the Son of Man’s sake […] for indeed your reward is great in heaven […] But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6: 20-26.)


            The pronouncement of blessings and cursings was an intimate part of the Jewish culture.  Many Israelites would bring their children to the Rabbi’s to undergo a formal blessing.  A blessing is a prophetic profession of some future good in an individual’s life.  A cursing however, foretells of some impending calamity.  The blessings that Jesus pronounced over the crowds were entirely dependent upon their reaction to his message.  Those who chased after the passing pleasures of this life would ultimately enter into unending sorrow.  Those who chose to deny their own desires in order to serve God would eventually inherit eternal rewards.  Without question, every true believer must embrace sacrifice.  Some common sacrifices include wealth, a career, power, property, selfish indulgences, and even a good reputation.  Because the path to peace with God includes enduring some form of present pain, the majority of individuals will continue to reject the gospel message.

            In order to understand this scripture, we need only look at the modern day credit card crisis.  Right now Americans possess more individual debt than any time in our nation’s history.  This current epidemic is the direct result of extreme self-indulgence.  When a person goes out shopping and they can’t afford something, they will often use a credit card to avoid having to deny themselves of some passing pleasure.  But paying for things with money we don’t have doesn’t make the pain disappear; it simply postpones it.  Eventually the credit card company is going to come looking for their money; causing those who have fed their fleshly appetites to endure the suffering they so desperately attempted to avoid.

            Many people have spent an entire lifetime avoiding pain and indulging in pleasurable endeavors.  However, their agony has only been deferred, rather than eliminated.  They will eventually be required to ‘pay the check.’  Chasing after wealth, material possessions, careers, and even a good reputation can lead to an eternity of pain.  Still, self-denial is the way to inherit eternal blessings.  Volunteering, giving our excess wealth to the needy, spending time listening to others, evangelizing, as well as visiting widows and orphans, are just a few of the ways we can deny ourselves in this life.  Where are you currently denying yourself?  What do you have in excess?  Is it time, money, or knowledge? What can you give away?  By denying yourself, you will become a servant of the living God; and in the coming kingdom, you will receive the blessings of eternal life.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to willingly endure pain in the present; that we might refuse our own desires in favor of fulfilling Your purposes.  May we deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow You.  Reveal to us where we can be more selfless; where we can be more giving; and where we can be more loving.  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.

Guiding others to the Lord


                While journeying through Samaria, Jesus became tired and sat down next to a well; as he rested, he began speaking with a Samaritan woman who had come to draw water; during their conversation he revealed to her the intimate details of her life; details that only God Himself could know.  Amazed and astonished, ‘the woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet […] I know that the messiah is coming (who is called Christ.)  When he comes he will tell us all things.”  Jesus answered her saying, “I who speak to you am he.” […] The woman then left her water-pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I ever did.  Could this be the Christ?” […] And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in him because of the word of the woman who testified saying, “He told me all that I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans had come to him, they urged him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of his own word” (John 4: 19 – 41.)


                One fateful afternoon, Jesus Christ chose to reveal himself to an immoral woman who was attempting to draw water from a well.  She was completely unaware that on that particular day she would find the Son of God and receive salvation and eternal life.  Upon hearing every intimate detail of her life, she becomes overwhelmed with joy.  The astonished woman therefore leaves her water-pot behind and enters the city; seeking to lead others to Jesus.  As expected, those who chose to follow her eventually received the free gift of God.  Everyone who places their faith in Jesus Christ becomes his messenger.  Having been redeemed, they must then strive to lead other sick individuals to the ‘Great Physician;’ the only one capable of mending their wounds and healing their broken hearts.

                Like our ‘Great Physician’, there was once a missionary Doctor who was practicing medicine in one of China’s many hospitals.  As he sought to alleviate the suffering of his fellows, he surgically healed a man afflicted with cataracts (a clouding of the lenses of the eye that causes blindness.)  A few weeks later, 48 blind men arrived from the wilds of china (each one seeking to undergo the same incredible procedure.)  Incapable of proper navigation, they were clinging to a rather long rope.  Not surprisingly, the man who had been cured was guiding them.  These desperate men had journeyed nearly 250 miles prior to safely reaching the hospital.

                There are so many people in this world who have been blinded by sin and death.  These individuals need someone to guide them toward the ‘Great Physician.’  Like the Samaritan woman, those who have been enlightened are given the task of leading others to Jesus Christ.  As ‘reborn’ Christians we are instruments in the hands of an almighty God.  If we are willing, He will use us to reach out to our family members, co-workers, and friends.  Our singular task is to testify concerning the wonderful works that He has accomplished in the lives of all those who believe in Him.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  May we be amazed every day by Your miracles and righteous deeds.  Help us to embrace our obligation to lead others to Your Son.  Provide us with opportunities to witness to our family members, co-workers, and friends; that they would hear our words and greatly desire the free gift of eternal life.  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.

Fear versus Faith


            Now it happened, on a certain day that he got into a boat with his disciples.  And he said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.”  And they launched out.  But as they sailed he fell asleep.  And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.  And they came to him and awoke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”  Then he arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water.  And they ceased, and there was a calm.  But he said to them, “Where is your faith?”  And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be?  For he commands even the winds and water, and they obey him!” (Luke 8: 22-25.)


            The Sea of Galilee is the lowest (below sea level) freshwater lake in the world.  Because it sits beside the Mediterranean Sea, warm and cool air collide, often creating fierce storms that arise almost instantaneously.  Jesus and his disciples were crossing this body of water when a violent squall engulfed them; threatening to capsize their vessel.  As the Lord slept peacefully in the back of the boat, his disciples began to panic.  Fear had caused them to forget who was riding with them. They also failed to recall that moments earlier he had said, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake;” thus ensuring that they would successfully complete their journey. After being awakened from his nap, the Lord calmed the wind and the waves; subsequently asking them, “Where is your faith?”  Fear and faith are natural enemies.  The presence of one often signals the absence of the other (and vice versa.)  Most people become fearful when they lose faith in the God who dwells within them; a benevolent creator who will never leave them, nor forsake them.  As David once wrote in Psalm 23, “I shall fear no evil, for you are with me.”

            Many years ago, I regularly interacted with a man who frequented the coffee shop where I often studied.  He habitually appeared to be under a great deal of stress. He seemed fearful, anxious, unsettled, and distracted.  One day, he leaned over and said, “Can you give me a scripture, or something from the bible that will help me to remember that ‘God will never give me more than I can handle?’”  So I recited the story of Jesus calming the storm.  Although the disciples feared that they were going to capsize and drown, God kept them from perishing.  I told the man that the size of the waves and the level of desperation were unimportant; instead, what truly mattered was who was riding in the boat with him.  I proclaimed that if Jesus was in his heart, he would always remain afloat.

            Today, our lives are like vessels sailing across the surface of the ocean.  Sometimes the sea is tranquil, and sometimes it’s stormy. However, those who invite Jesus to accompany them on their journey will receive God’s promise; for the Lord has declared that every true believer will eventually make it to the other side. No one traveling with the Son of God will ever slip beneath the waves.  By means of His divine power, He will calm the wind; He will quiet the seas; and you will receive the “peace that surpasses all understanding.”  When you feel afraid, simply remember God’s promises and continue moving forward. Cling to the faith and you will live, because the Lord is with you.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that Your Son would accompany us as we journey through this life.  Protect us from the storms that might arise along the way. Increase our faith. May we never fear, knowing that You are always with us.  Grant us Your mercy, Your wisdom, and Your peace.  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.

Expecting His return


                “Be dressed 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.)


                Jewish weddings were very long engagements that often lasted for many days.  The guests would recline on pillows feasting both day and night; often falling asleep beside the table.  The duration of the celebration was uncertain; the guests could be dismissed at one in the morning, or three in the afternoon.  Therefore, when the master of a household attended a wedding, the servants were required to be prepared for his return at any moment.  They remained dressed at all hours with their lamps burning throughout the night.  Jesus used this parable as an illustration of his second coming.  Before ascending in to heaven he promised to eventually return; yet he gave no specific day or hour; he could return later today, in one month, or a hundred years from now.  Those who serve him must faithfully await his arrival every minute of every day.  Being prepared means maintaining good works, serving others, and obeying the Lord’s teachings and commandments.

                Many years ago, prior to my conversion, I practiced a life of sinful disobedience.  Incapable of supporting myself, I lived alone in an apartment paid for by my Dad.  He would occasionally stop by to make sure the apartment was clean and in proper condition.  One evening, I hosted a drunken party and things got out of hand.  We smashed beer bottles in my living room with a golf club.  I shattered one of my apartment windows; someone even broke my car window with an empty beer bottle.  The toilet clogged and overflowed, and a friend used shaving cream to scribble an obscenity across my wall. Thinking I could clean up in the morning before anyone came over, I eventually passed out.  However, early the next day I was awakened by the screams of an angry man.  “Get up,” my dad shouted in my ear!  In a state of shock I sprang up from the mattress.  I was embarrassed, ashamed, and filled with fear.  I didn’t expect him to make an unscheduled visit. I never once thought that he would witness the carnage of my drunken debauchery.  He stood beside me watching as I cleaned the entire apartment; picking up every single shard of broken glass.

                Like my dad, the Lord is coming at an hour when we least expect him.  We must therefore eagerly await his return and always be ready.  Those who obey the teachings of Jesus Christ are prepared to meet him.  We must love both God and our neighbors; and faithfully serve our fellows every moment of every day.  May we always be prepared and never waver in our commitment to our creator. In so doing, when our savior returns he will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant […] enter in to the joy of the Lord.”

                “Heavenly Father, may our eyes be wide and may we never stop expecting your return.  Reveal to us any area of our lives where we are serving ourselves rather than others; may we be convicted and may we repent; may we always be selfless, kind, and obedient.  May we also receive more of Your Holy Spirit; that we may better serve 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.

Faithful Prayers


            “Have faith in God.  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11: 22 – 24.)


            Faith is defined as a strong belief or trust in God’s abilities.  He alone is able to move mountains, heal the sick, and raise the dead.  Jesus therefore urges every follower to pray with a measure of expectancy.  We must truly believe that God is capable of providing for each and every one of needs.  When we ask in faith, and do not doubt, we can fully expect to receive the desires of our heart.

            Hudson Taylor was a prominent missionary who lived in the 1800’s.  He established the China Inland Mission, an organization that still exists to this day (also known as the OMF.)  During his first journey to China, his ship hit a patch of windless ocean and began drifting uncontrollably toward an island known to be inhabited by vicious cannibals.  The frantic captain approached Mr. Taylor and asked him to pray for God’s help.  “I will” said Taylor, “Provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.”  The captain refused; not wanting to appear silly for unfurling in a dead calm.  Taylor responded by saying, “I will not undertake to pray for this vessel unless you will prepare the sails.”  The captain reluctantly obliged.  Soon there was a knock at Hudson’s door; “Who’s there?”  “Are you still praying for wind,” inquired the captain?  “Yes” responded Taylor.  “Well” added the skipper, “you’d better stop praying, we have more wind than we can manage.”

            As a genuine believer, Hudson Taylor understood the principle of praying with expectancy.  He prayed knowing full well that God would answer his prayers.  If we pray with that same measure of confidence and faith, we too will receive the blessings of the Lord.  May our hearts be free from doubt; may our requests be brave and bold; and may we fully expect our prayers to be answered according to the measure of our faith.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, You are an amazing and mighty God.  Create in us faithful hearts; hearts that are devoid of doubt; hearts that completely trust in Your abilities to provide for our needs.  May we always pray with confidence, unwavering faith, and genuine expectancy.  We love You Father, we praise You, and 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. 

Embracing Change


                “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put in to new wineskins and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5: 37-39.) 


                In the ancient world, when an animal was slaughtered the stomach and the bladder were extracted and utilized to store and transport valuable liquids.  Wine was a very common first century beverage.  Unlike water, wine undergoes a process known as fermentation; during which gases are produced; these gases would therefore cause the wineskins to swell and expand.  The older wineskins were hard and inflexible (like leather.)  As the new wine expanded, it would cause them to tear open.  In turn, unfermented wine was always placed in to new wineskins.  In this illustration, the old wineskins represent old ideas, habits, and beliefs that are incompatible with the new life God has offered to us through His Son Jesus Christ.  Although most people will inevitably seek to cling to their previous lives, those who follow the Lord must let go of the old and grab hold of the new; they must no longer fear change, but rather, they must fully embrace it.

                Shortly after becoming a Christian, God began to make some very serious changes in my life.  For many years I enjoyed listening to secular rap music and heavy metal.  However, one day God showed me how it was negatively affecting my spirit.  So, I made a steadfast commitment to listen only to worship music; which was constructive, pure, and uplifting.  Because my appetite for the old music was strong, at first the new music wasn’t appealing to me; but slowly I began to enjoy it.  Soon I was joyfully singing along with the lyrics. I started noticing that my attitude was more positive and my thoughts were more peaceful; I even began smiling with increased frequency. Today, the old songs are no longer appealing to me; I even find them repulsive.  God has made similar changes in every area of my life.  He has healed me; the old things have passed away; behold, He “has made all things new.”

                God desires to pour out His Spirit in to the hearts and minds of all those who are willing to receive it; thus producing great transformation.  We must let go of our fears and become willing to change; we must not be rigid and inflexible. Only by embracing and allowing God to transform us, will we truly experience newness of life.  Let go of your old ideas, habits, and beliefs, and receive the fullness of God’s Spirit.  Allow Him to guide and direct you and He will give you everlasting peace.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You would transform our hearts and minds. May we become more flexible and learn to embrace change.  Jesus, we desire to be more like You; therefore remove any bad habits, detrimental ideas, or unproductive beliefs that stand in the way of our growth; destroy the old things and bring forth the new things.  May we experience the fullness of Your Holy Spirit.  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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