Want Forgiveness, Then Forgive

JESUS SPEAKING

      Now early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and he sat down and taught them.  Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in adultery.  And when they had set her in the midst, they spoke, saying to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do you say?”  This they said testing him, that they might have something of which to accuse him.  But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger, as though he did not hear.  So, when they continued asking him, he raised himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.  And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had raised himself up and saw no one other than the woman, he said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8: 2 – 11.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      The Pharisees had likely heard Jesus teaching about the importance of grace and forgiveness.  So, they brought to him a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.  Under Old Testament (Mosaic) law, she was to be stoned to death.  The religious leaders had hoped he would show mercy and speak out against God’s commandments.  However, instead of condemning her, Jesus placed her fate squarely in the hands of her accusers (but not before reminding them of their own sins.)  To condemn her would be to invite God’s judgment upon themselves.  Therefore, those who wished to continue receiving the Lord’s mercy had no choice but to be merciful.  One by one they threw down their stones until no one was left to condemn her.

      In the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 7, verse 21, we are given the reason why many individuals find it difficult to show mercy.  Verse 21 reads, “Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.  For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.”  According to Solomon, forgetting our own past sins, will result in anger and an inability to forgive.  The key to showing mercy then, is to be aware of our own shortcomings; and to remember God’s forgiveness [Note:  There was a time when driving in traffic was extremely frustrating for me.  Whenever someone would accidently cut me off, I would become angry and bitter.  One day however, someone swerved into my lane; but for the first time my reaction was quite different.  I remember a feeling of peaceful acceptance wash over me.  The peace came from my mind; and from a single thought; on past occasions I myself had unknowingly strayed into other people’s lanes.  I too was guilty of accidently cutting off other drivers.  Having remembered my own imperfection, I was able to accept and forgive another human being for their imperfection.]

      Whenever we feel bitterness, anger, and hatred toward others, it is likely that we have forgotten who we are.  We are sinners saved by grace; we are imperfect human beings who make mistakes.  When we remember rightly that we are inadequate and deficient without Christ, we will experience true humility.  How then can we refuse to forgive others when God has forgiven us of our sins? 

      “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire humility as we seek after Your truth.  May we never forget that we are sinners saved by grace.  Remove any bitterness that rests within us and replace it with love and understanding.  May we continually receive Your mercy, and may we bestow that same mercy upon others.  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!

Fasting

JESUS SPEAKING

     “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance.  For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting.  Truly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But I say to you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting; but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Mathew 6: 16 – 18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     Fasting is an ancient practice that elevates the spirit above the desires of the flesh.  Denying the body sustenance (food) for a time is a sacrifice that God honors; those who practice it draw near to Him and are given greater control over their fleshly impulses.  Many individuals were fasting for the wrong reasons; therefore, Jesus warned His followers to fast in secret, and to avoid disclosing their endeavors to others.  In so doing, they would reap the spiritual rewards they so richly deserved.

     Jonathan Edwards was an evangelical pastor who lived in New England in the 1700’s.  He wasn’t a very articulate man; nor was he astoundingly charismatic; yet on July 8th, 1741, he gave one of the most stirring sermons ever preached to a congregation; the sermon was entitled, “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God.”  The response from those in attendance was amazing; many came to rededicate or fully commit their lives to Jesus Christ.  How did a man with very little natural ability accomplish such a feat?  He fasted for three days and three nights before giving his speech.  His repeated prayer to God was, “Give me New England.  Give me New England.  Give me New England.”

     Like Jonathan Edwards, we too can use fasting and prayer to accomplish wonderful things for God.  Some may fast for days, others for shorter amounts of time; no matter the length, every period of fasting is accompanied by a blessing.  Each time we deny ourselves food and dedicate ourselves fully to spiritual principals we become more like Jesus Christ.  Commit a portion of your life to fasting and you will grow stronger in the faith.  As you draw nearer to God you will receive the many blessings He has reserved for those who love Him.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to commit to the practice of fasting, that we might grow strong in the faith.  May we fast in secret and receive your rewards openly.  Guide us and lead us; speak to our hearts and transform our minds, that we would be Your children, and you would be our Father.  We love You Lord, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

It’s Better to Give than to Receive

JESUS SPEAKING

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

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     The word ‘blessed’ most commonly translates into 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 sacrificial service.  And yet, nearly all human beings are resoundingly selfish.  In an endeavor to acquire as many possessions as possible, some have become isolated, depressed, and discouraged. They aren’t aware that true happiness doesn’t come from selfish gratification; but instead, 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.]

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

     “Lord Heavenly Father, shower us with 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 us, countless lost souls 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!

Being Ready for His Return

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

      In ancient times, Jewish weddings were relatively prolonged engagements; often lasting for many days.  The guests would recline 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. In turn, 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 to illustrate His second coming.  After ascending into heaven, he promised to return; yet provided no specific day or hour. He could return today; in a 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.  I also broke an exterior window, and another partygoer broke my car window with an empty beer bottle.  Somehow the toilet clogged and overflowed as well; leaking into the apartment beneath me.  I eventually passed out; thinking I could clean up in the morning without anyone noticing.  However, early the following day, I was rousted from my sleep by the shouts of an angry man. “Get up,” my dad yelled in my ear!  I sprang from the mattress, in utter 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 behavior.  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.  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 into 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; never missing an opportunity to 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!

Making 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 into her home for the evening, Martha began feverishly serving her new guests.  In traditional Jewish culture, the women were responsible for preparing the meals.  Therefore, Martha became upset when she observed Mary sitting at Christ’s feet, intently listening to His every word.  She attempted to correct her sister, but the Lord corrected her instead.  Unlike Mary, Martha had failed to put 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, rather than manmade religious traditions.)  As the leader of this movement, he was an extraordinarily busy man.  However, 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 decision.  If God is our priority, everything else will fall into its proper place. And 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 into 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.

The Resurrection

JESUS SPEAKING

     “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him” (Luke 20: 34 – 38.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     The resurrection from the dead is a central tenant of the Christian faith.  Jesus Himself rose from the dead, revealing that everyone who has faith in Him will never die.  Instead, although the body may temporarily perish, the believer’s spirit continues onward in God’s eternal kingdom.  When the Almighty establishes a new heaven and a new Earth, every faithful soul will receive an eternal body.  A body that doesn’t grow old; every disease will be obliterated, and death and suffering will cease to exist.  Pregnancy will no longer be necessary either; marriage will become a thing of the past.  Everyone will live in perfect fellowship with one another, and with the God who created them.

     To prove that there is life after death, Jesus quotes an Old Testament scripture.  In Exodus 3: 6, God says to Moses, “I am […] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (present tense.)  He doesn’t say I was the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (past tense.)  Although Abraham Isaac and Jacob had physically perished, they were, and are still now, spiritually alive; living peacefully in God’s eternal kingdom.

     There comes a time when every human being must make the journey from this life to the next.  For those who believe, death is not the end; it is merely the beginning.  Faith in Jesus Christ is the vessel that carries us into the presence of the almighty and everlasting Father.  May your faith remain strong as you are transformed into the image of your savior; and may God comfort you as you eagerly look forward to your eternal future with great hope and joy.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, we faithfully await the resurrection from the dead.  We know that you have prepared a special place for us in Your eternal Kingdom, and we look ahead to that day with great pleasure and overwhelming gladness.  Sanctify us and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might do Your works and accomplish Your will right here 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 we pray.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!

Humility

JESUS SPEAKING:

      “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mathew 5: 3.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS:

      In this scripture, the phrase “poor in spirit” refers to the attribute of humility (a precious treasure that creates joy in the hearts of all those who possess it.)  Practicing humility means acknowledging that God is the giver of all good things.  The Lord provides us with our food, shelter, clothing, careers, relationships, and every other necessity of daily living.  He has complete power over all of creation; the very air we breathe is a gift from Him.  Although the humble offer God many praises, the prideful prefer to acknowledge themselves; mistakenly believing that everything they possess is the product of their own intelligence and hard work.

      An ancient ruler known as Nebuchadnezzar was once the mightiest king who had ever lived.  His reign over the Babylonian empire began in 605 B.C.  Like most powerful men, humility wasn’t one of his greatest attributes; he demanded that his subjects worship him in the manner of a God.  One day as he leisurely strolled through his palace, he spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”  Before he was finished speaking, a voice came from heaven saying, “The kingdom has departed from you […] your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field.  They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven years shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Daniel 4: 30 – 32.)  Indeed, because the Babylonian King had failed to give God the credit for his possessions, he slipped into madness and began acting like an ox for seven years; eating grass in the fields.

      As believers, we must not make the same mistake.  Instead, we must acknowledge that all good things come from God; that every possession is a blessing and a gift.  Those who desire to enter God’s kingdom would do well to continually honor Him.  Practically, Christian humility can be expressed through prayers of gratitude offered to God daily; we can also say grace before meals and praise the Lord in our private time and during worship services.  Tithing is another acknowledgement of God’s goodness.  Ultimately whatever form of thankfulness we choose to offer, it should come from the heart; and from a deep appreciation for everything that God has so graciously given us.

      “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your many gifts and provisions; for our food, our clothes, and our homes (to name a few.)  We recognize that all good things come from You.  Help us to maintain a spirit of gratitude and humility.  Cleanse our hearts of pride, that in lowliness 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!


Two messages a week will be sent to your email address.

Join 6,060 other followers