Hope

JESUS SPEAKING

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I also go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know; and the way you know.” (John 14: 1-4)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Jesus says, “let not your heart be troubled;” a clear reference to the anxiety, fear, and depression that can afflict the lives of those who have lost hope. The definition of hope is, the feeling of joy and optimism experienced in the present, as it relates to the anticipation of some future good. By simply contemplating the wonders of God’s coming kingdom, those who believe can feel joy even in the darkest moments. In this scripture, Jesus reiterates His promises; those who choose to follow Him will one day inherit a place in heaven; a permanent residence where they can walk in eternal fellowship with Him. Contemplating this faithful promise can eradicate the distress of any present suffering. Therefore, hope is at the very foundation of the gospel message; without it we are lost; but with it we can endure and overcome any challenges we might encounter.

As the story goes, a large school system once had a program to assist children who were sick in the hospitals with their school work. One day a teacher was asked to visit a particular child. She spoke with the child’s regular teacher who told her, “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.” That afternoon, the hospital teacher went to see the boy. No one had told her that the child had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upon witnessing the boy’s injuries she was upset and began to stammer. “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” Having completed her session, she left; feeling as though she had accomplished very little. However, the next day a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” Believing she had committed some offense, the teacher began to apologize. “No, no,” replied the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.” Two weeks later the boy explained that, until the teacher had arrived, he had completely given up hope. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization which he expressed this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

The child in this illustration had been struggling because he had lost hope in the future. If we have lost our joy in the present, it is because we have taken our eyes off of the eternal life we have been promised in the future. We are therefore instructed by Jesus to look forward to our everlasting fellowship with Him in God’s kingdom. If we believe God, we can endure any trial or tribulation in this place. The Kingdom of Heaven is coming; and when that day arrives, we will fully know our Father. Never lose hope; never doubt in the promises of the Lord; and you to will experience “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.”

“Lord Heavenly Father, we trust You with our lives and believe in Your promises. Increase our faith, that no matter what circumstances we might encounter, we can experience the joy that accompanies our hope of eternal fellowship with You. May we continue to spread the gospel message to others; that they too might walk as Christians, from this day forward. May they receive salvation and be edified by Your unwavering promises. 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!

Serving Others

JESUS SPEAKING

Just before the Passover feast, on the night that Jesus was arrested, he knelt down and washed His disciples feet. We read, ‘So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.'” —Jesus— (John 13: 12 – 17)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

During the first century, nearly everyone wore sandals. The roads and pathways were comprised of small stones and dirt; making daily foot washing an indispensable necessity. Servants and low ranking members a house were usually called upon to accomplish this filthy task. And yet Jesus, being the Son of God, lowered Himself down and washed His disciples feet; creating an example for all those who may desire to follow Him. Being a Christian means embracing a life of humility and selflessness. Rather than seeking to be served, we must strive to serve others. And in turn, we will experience the joy derived from emulating our Lord and Savior.

There once lived an influential evangelical preacher named Gypsy Smith. One day he recounted the story of a woman who was interested in Christian work in London. She wrote him a letter stating, “I have a meeting I want you to come to speak to. It is only a small meeting and will take nothing of you.” He answered, “I cannot come, and it would be of no use if I did come. If it takes nothing out of me it will do nobody any good.” It is service which costs, and a cheap religion is not worth preaching […] Another Christian missionary named E. Stanley Jones once said, “The man is not greatest who has the greatest number of servants, but the man is greatest who serves the greatest number of people.”

Serving others represents the foundation of Christ’s earthly ministry. To follow Jesus is to embrace a life of selflessness and service. If we let go of our own wants and desires, we can more resoundingly accomplish God’s will in this place. Jesus said in verse 17, “if you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” The word ‘blessed’ generally refers to the happiness that accompanies God’s favor. And so He promises that a service oriented life will bring us more joy than a self-centered existence ever could. By serving others we can know God’s blessings.

“Lord Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength and desire to live a life of service; to sacrifice for Your kingdom and Your glory. May we lay down our selfish concerns to better represent Jesus Christ; that we too might be an example of Your love in this place. May we care for our fellows, may we serve others, and may we receive the blessings that accompany genuine Christian living. 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!

Get Baptized

JESUS SPEAKS

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” —Jesus— (Matthew 28: 19 – 20)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Jesus identifies baptism as an essential component of the gospel message. When an individual is baptized in water, they are committing themselves to the lifestyle of repentance that accompanies genuine faith. Salvation and forgiveness are from the Lord alone; but the decision to turn away from sin and permit God to transform us is an individual decision. Abandoning sin is difficult; fornication, idolatry, lewdness, adultery, deception, addiction, etc. can be familiar and comfortable; and yet every authentic convert must abandon their sins and attempt to live rightly. Baptism is therefore the outward manifestation and public profession of our commitment to Holy living.

As the story goes, some years back a man who was practicing Hinduism chose to place his Faith in Jesus Christ. He immediately chose to be baptized. He arrived at the ceremony wearing, as all Brahmins do, the ‘Yagnopavita,’ or sacred thread that hung from his neck; these decorative sashes also identify the highest members of India’s caste society. During the baptism, after coming up out of the water, he snapped the thread and tossed it into the surrounding water; thus signifying the death of his old life and his commitment to, ‘walk in newness of life’ in Christ.

Like this converted Hindu realized, Baptism is an act of submission to God’s will. Those who embrace the gospel must choose to repent of their sins and return to the Lord. Being baptized is a public profession of this commitment; a promise to follow the teachings of Christ. Those who are baptized will experience a strengthened relationship with God. If you have placed your faith in the Lord and have never been baptized, consider undergoing the ceremony whenever possible. If you desire to accept the faith and convert, then be baptized and know the fullness of God’s love for you.

“Lord Heavenly Father, you are an amazing and powerful God. We accept and recognize the importance of water baptism; especially among those who are turning to the faith. Give us the strength to live according to the commitments we have made. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we continually remain faithful and repentant; transformed by the beauty of Your 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!


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