Making a Stand

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 publicly 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 Dad. 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.

It is Finished

JESUS SPEAKING

       After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst.” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to his mouth. So, when Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished!” And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit (John 19: 28-30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Jesus had come to the end of his suffering on the cross. He was betrayed, arrested, abandoned, beaten, humiliated, falsely accused, interrogated, publicly ridiculed and teased, spit on, and pierced by thorns; he was maimed by a whip about the neck, back and legs (the whip contained sharp shards which tore open his flesh;) a bag was placed over his head and he was struck in the face; Jesus carried a cross through mobs of people who hurled insults at him. Spikes were driven through his hands and feet. Despite the long list of pains, he endured, thirst was one of the greatest agonies of the cross. The condemned were denied water. Dehydrated and nearing death, Jesus said, “I thirst.” The soldiers responded by raising a vinegar-soaked sponge to his lips (vinegar is an extremely bitter tasting liquid—even the Romans mercy seemed cruel.) In his last moments, Jesus tasted the bitterness of man’s sin. He then said, “it is finished,” and he died. In a single day he had finished his greatest work; the salvation of mankind. He took the penalty of man’s sin upon himself. He suffered God’s wrath, so that those who would believe in him could avoid destruction.
       The following is a fictitious story which illustrates the work of Jesus on the cross: A girl and her mother lived next to a snake farm in India. From the time of her youth, the girl was told not to wander near the snake pits. One evening the girl began to argue with her mother; frustrated and filled with anger, she struck her mother; in shock the girl ran from her home; because it was evening she didn’t realize she was running toward the snake farm. Suddenly she plummeted into one of the pits. Seeing a single cobra staring her in the face, she screamed. Hearing the scream, her mother came running and looked down into the pit and saw her daughter’s distress. The woman jumped into the pit and lunged toward the cobra to save her daughter. The mother was bitten. The young girl reached forward to pull her mother away from danger, and the cobra also bit her. The owners of the snake farm heard the commotion and came running. They pulled the women from the pit and rushed them to the hospital. The mother went into cardiac arrest, but the young girl showed no symptoms. After a half an hour, the girl’s mother was pronounced dead. The girl began to sob uncontrollably. The Doctor approached her with a somber look on his face. The girl asked him, “How could this have happened? I’m completely fine; we were bitten by the same snake; why is it I am healthy, and my mother is dead?” The Doctor compassionately replied, “Well, your mother was bitten first; and the snake used all of its venom on her. When it bit you, it had nothing left to inject. Your mother saved your life.”
       Similarly, Jesus Christ has placed himself between God’s wrath and those who deserve to experience it. He has taken the full penalty for sin upon himself; he has paid the price; he has suffered death, so others may live. As Jesus endured agony, he thought of you, and he thought of me; he thought of us. Have you accepted his sacrifice? Have you allowed him to take your place? Give Jesus Christ the opportunity to heal your spirit and to wash your sins away. If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, you can do that today. Contact me, or your local pastor, or even another Christian, and ask about how you can partake in Christ’s offering and receive eternal life.
       “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You, and we praise Your son for his suffering. We thank You for allowing Him to take our place on the cross. Thank You Jesus, for enduring God’s wrath so our sins can be forgiven. Father, be our God; be our salvation; be the center of our lives; fill us with Your Holy Spirit, and help us to sacrifice our lives for 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.

Loving Your Neighbor

JESUS SPEAKING

         “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered him saying: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise, a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he looked upon him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn and, and took care of him. The next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend when I come next time, I will repay you.’ So, which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 29 – 37.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Samaria was a community of pagan individuals living within the borders of the nation of Israel (just north of Jerusalem); as non-Hebrews, they frequently engaged in immorality and idolatry; for this reason, they were despised by most religious Israelites. In fact, when traveling, many orthodox Jews would contemptuously journey around Samaria rather than through it. After Jesus had confirmed the importance of loving one’s neighbor, he was asked to define what constituted a neighbor. His reply came in the form of a story; in the narrative a man was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road; two religious Jews passed by, without stopping to help (one a priest, and the other a supposed man of God.) Soon after, a Samaritan happened by, and his heart was filled with compassion. In order to preserve the man’s life, he gave of his time, his money, and his resources. He showed true mercy and great generosity. Many today, like the priest and the Levite are so concerned with what lies ahead that they fail to stop and help those who are hurting and in need of assistance.
        Some time ago, during a cross-country meet in Minnesota, a young man named Mark Paulauskas was injured in the first half-mile of a two-mile race. He had been spiked by another runners’ cleats (a wound that would eventually require 20 stitches and a walking boot.) As Paulauskas cried out in agony, most of the other runners passed him by; they were focused more on the finish line than on the pain of an ailing opponent. Yet, one individual heard his cries and was moved with compassion. A runner named Josh Ripley willingly abandoned his vision of victory in order to stop and help; without hesitation he picked up Mark Paulauskas and carried him a half-mile back to the starting line. After handing his wounded competitor into the arms of the coaches, Josh Ripley sprinted off into the wilderness to complete his race. Although he didn’t win, he was victorious in the eyes of God.
         Our fleshly nature commonly causes us to become so focused on what lies ahead that we ignore those who are right beside us. If we are not careful we can pass by those who are hurting and ignore the call of God to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves.’ The world is cold and apathetic; yet in the midst of indifference, there are those who show great compassion and mercy; they give selflessly; they love unconditionally; they are examples of God’s Spirit in action; they are followers of Jesus Christ. They are friends; they are family; they are neighbors; and they are Christians.
         “Lord Heavenly Father, may we always show sympathy toward those who are hurting and in need. May we be relieved of indifference and filled with mercy. May nothing ever be more important than compassion, nor greater than love. Fill us to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit, that we might be examples of Your warmth in a world that is cold and apathetic. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.

Religious Hypocrisy

JESUS SPEAKING

       Then he said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive great condemnation” (Mark 12: 38-40.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Jesus warned his children to be wary of the Pharisees who had been abusing their positions of religious authority to amass large quantities of wealth. Outwardly they appeared Godly; they wore the robes of holy men; they made long prayers in public for all to see; yet privately they would seize every opportunity to abuse those who were helpless. Jesus said that they “devour(ed) widow’s houses.” Widows were easily exploited. As a mandatory condition for marriage, a man had to build a house for his bride. When the husband passed away, the wife would inherit the home. With no source of income, widows would often be forced to sell their homes if they wished to survive. Many of the religious Pharisees who outwardly claimed to be Godly would exploit the widow’s circumstances; paying far less for the property than it was actually worth. Many, including these widows were victimized because they trusted in the outward appearance of Godliness. Jesus warned that such vile individuals would one day be judged for their misdeeds.
       Many years ago, I was working as a sales representative for a tile company. I had recently become a Christian, and the other employees were aware of my conversion. Suddenly, in walked a man who was the Pastor of a world-famous church located just up the street. He and his wife made a small purchase; he then pulled around to the back to pick it up. As I headed to the loading dock with the sales slip, one of my co-workers (who was not a Christian) contemptuously remarked, “Isn’t that your pastor friend’s car; the one that costs over a hundred thousand dollars?” Sure enough; there it sat, washed and waxed; in all its splendor. I felt contempt, anger, and sadness in my heart; knowing that he had likely been using God’s name for his own personal profit. [Concerning judgment, the words of Christ were eventually realized; a few years later, this man and his family lost everything. His mega church, with all its expensive buildings, statues, and complexes went bankrupt; the church dissolved in a few short months, and the entire establishment was sold to another institution.]
       In his earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ staunchly warned his followers to avoid hypocrites; especially religious hypocrites who would seek to exploit others and to use God’s name for personal profit. As Christians we are not to be deceived by the superficial appearance of Godliness. Rather, we must test people, to see if what they do is truly of God. If what a pastor, a teacher, or a preacher says on stage is not synonymous with who they are in private, then it is likely that they might be a Pharisee, who can’t be trusted [Warning: No one is perfect.]
       “Lord Heavenly Father, please reveal to us any areas in our lives where we are being hypocritical; and help us to change. May we always accurately represent You in every area of our lives. May we be loving, giving, and caring, in public and in private. Help us to recognize false teachers and religious hypocrites, that we may guide others away from them and toward You. We love You Father, and 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.

The Real Jesus

JESUS SPEAKING

        And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to him, “Are you the coming one, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of me” (Mathew 11: 2-6.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        After baptizing Jesus, John came to believe that Jesus was the messiah they had been waiting for. He, like so many in Israel believed the Messiah would set them free from their oppressors. Therefore, most were waiting for Jesus to usher in an earthly kingdom that would put an end to Roman Rule. John (who had been imprisoned by Herod) was growing impatient with Jesus; he sent messengers to him to ask if he truly was the messiah. Jesus simply responded by quoting an Old Testament prophecy, stating that the messiah would cleanse lepers, heal the blind, raise the dead and preach to the poor. Jesus wanted John to know he was accomplishing all of these miraculous tasks. The Lord finally addressed John’s impatient heart, saying, “blessed are those who are not offended because of me.” Jesus had not met John’s expectations. John expected a conquering messiah, not a messiah that would conquer sin through crucifixion. The lord was encouraging John to accept him as he was. Many today, like John, have an inaccurate view of Jesus Christ. Knowing the real Jesus is essential to properly following him.
        Early on in my relationship with God I made the decision that I could no longer call myself a Christian unless I actually knew who Jesus Christ was; what he had said and done. I knew I had to read the bible; I also knew it was going to change my life and challenge my beliefs. In my heart, I had an unclear picture of God. I chose to let go of what I thought I knew, in order to grab hold of the truth. As I read, I began to know God personally and accurately. Instead of being disappointed, my heart was lifted up with wonder and amazement. The real God is far greater than any God I could have ever imagined.
        Do you know Jesus Christ? Do you know his words, or are you holding on to your own personal beliefs? Have you invented a Jesus for yourself, or have you come to know the real Jesus? Read his words; get familiar with his deeds, his message and his truth; and I promise, you will never be disappointed; instead, you too will find something more amazing than anything you have ever known, and your life will never be the same.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to know the real Jesus. We want to know Your Son and His message. Implant his words in our hearts and help us to be his disciples, that we might be pleasing to You Father. Help us to let go of our fear of the truth and give us a hunger and thirst to know our Messiah; your gift to us all. 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!

Stay Focused on Today

JESUS SPEAKING

       “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mathew 6: 34.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Apprehension, fear, and anxiety are destructive emotions that cause turmoil in the hearts and minds of most human beings. Although the majority of our worries revolve around some real (or imagined) future difficulty, they usually cause us distress in the present. Such uncertainties can steal our joy and distract us from the work that God has currently called us to accomplish. Therefore, Jesus commands every believer to live in the moment and to focus wholly and completely upon the blessings, cares, and concerns of today.
       In the Old Testament book of Exodus, we are given a wonderful illustration that emphasizes the importance of living in the moment. After leaving Egypt and passing through the Red Sea, the Jewish people wandered about in the wilderness for forty years. Each day God miraculously fed them by causing a delicious bread to condense and accumulate on the desert floor. However, no one was allowed to collect and store excess amounts of bread (except on the day prior to the Sabbath.) Instead, they were only permitted to eat what was necessary to sustain their daily nourishment. Violating this law meant focusing on tomorrow’s needs and concerns [In the new testament, when asked how one ought to pray, Jesus reiterated this doctrine; we are told to ask God to, “give us this day our daily bread.” Not our weekly, monthly, or yearly bread; but rather, “our daily bread.”]
       Fear of tomorrow serves only to distract us from the joys, blessings, and obligations of today. When we focus on the present we are fully able to accomplish God’s will. As we trust in the Lord we can begin to cherish every second, of every hour, of every day. To live now is to live for God; knowing that His love is a present gift and not a future possibility.
       “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to live in the moment and to rely upon You for our daily needs. May our concerns and our cares be firmly rooted in the present. If our hearts possess fears and anxieties related to the future, remove them, that we may be joyful, loving, and better able to serve You today. 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.

Divine Authority

JESUS SPEAKING

        Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and elders of the people approached him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we proclaim, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So, they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (Mathew 21: 23-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        The religious leaders had been profiting from the sale of merchandise within the temple. They were also manipulating exchange rates in order to defraud unsuspecting pilgrims. Jesus entered the temple, and overturned the money tables, and chased out those who were selling merchandise. He then sat down and began to teach. As he taught, some of the religious leaders approached him, and asked him by what authority he had done these things. The Lord in turn asked them where John the Baptist had received his authority. John had been given God’s authority outside the bounds of the corrupt priestly hierarchy; he wore no expensive robes; he had no formal temple training; he didn’t spend years in a classroom studying theology; yet God used him to call tens of thousands of Israelites to repentance. There is an authority that comes from men; an authority that can be abused and used for selfish gain. In the midst of man’s attempts to exploit God’s people, the Lord often raises up leaders to oppose those in power; leaders who are given divine authority; leaders who are willing to disobey their superiors in order to accomplish the will of God.
        On September 9th of 2009, a military patrol made up of 36 American/Afghan troops was ambushed in the eastern province of Kunar (Afghanistan.) The men were pinned down and suffering casualties. In the midst of the firefight, these brave soldiers repeatedly requested air support; yet the off-site commanding officers denied every request. The men eventually radioed the base saying, “We’re going to die out here.” Dakota Meyer, a marine posted behind the main patrol, requested permission to drive into the ambush to haul out his distressed comrades; his fervent requests were denied four times. Knowing that his superior officers were wrong, Dakota disobeyed their direct orders. He and another marine selflessly jumped into a Humvee and headed into the “kill zone.” They made five trips back and forth. Each time, Meyer (who was manning the gun) exposed himself to a hail of enemy fire. The two marines were able to save 13 servicemen and 23 Afghans; they also collected the bodies of four dead American soldiers. Sergeant Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. However, three of the military officers who denied the requests for assistance, were issued letters of reprimand (‘likely leading to the end of their careers.’)
        Obeying authority is good; but sometimes those in leadership can error; some may even be completely corrupt, immoral, and unrighteous. On occasion, in order to accomplish God’s will, it becomes necessary to question and oppose those who are in positions of influence. As Christians we are given great authority; God Himself speaks through us; He uses us to accomplish His works; we are vessels of His love, His mercy, and His peace. May we continue to serve Him in love; may we preach the message without shame or remorse; may we continue to oppose those who pervert the gospel for their own personal gain; and may lovingly and persistently submit to the authority of those whom God has undoubtedly anointed.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we recognize Your authority. We understand that you have called us to accomplish Your will. Please continue to use and guide us in the ways of righteousness. When we encounter leaders, who are evil and unjust, give us the strength to oppose them. Concerning spiritual matters, may we never submit to the unrighteous; instead, may we continually be willing to serve under and obey those whom you have truly anointed. 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 6,021 other followers