Actions Speak Louder than Words

JESUS SPEAKING

        “But what do you think?  A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’  He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.  Then he came to the second and said likewise.  And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir’ but he did not go.  Which of the two did the will of his Father?”  They said to him, “The first.”  Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that the tax collectors and the harlots enter the kingdom of God before you” (Mathew 21: 28-31.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        There are two kinds of people; those who do and those who don’t.  The priests and religious leaders failed to obey God despite their many years of biblical study; they preached of righteousness but were unsuccessful in achieving it.  They confused knowledge with wisdom (knowledge is the comprehension of truth; whereas wisdom is the application of it.)  While the intelligent refused obedience, many prostitutes and tax collectors were receiving salvation.  These social outcasts possessed very little knowledge of scripture; yet what little they did possess, they chose to apply.  The gospel is not a thought or a good intention; it is an action.

        In the spring of 1862 a confederate Major General named ‘Stonewall Jackson’ fought a famous military campaign in a valley near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  His tactics were unorthodox and his troop movements unpredictable (he utilized speed and stealth to attack his union counterparts.)  Concerning speed, he reportedly marched his 17,000 men nearly ‘646 miles in 48 days’ (approximately 13 miles a day.)  Traveling at this furious pace, they met many natural obstacles (such as hills and streams.)  At one point however, they encountered a river too treacherous to cross.  Jackson told his engineers to draw up plans for a bridge; he then summoned his wagon master and informed him that they urgently needed to cross the river.  The wagon master immediately began to gather together every rock, fence rail, and log he could find; before sunrise the next day, the wagon master approached General Jackson and said, ‘The artillery and wagons have crossed the river sir.’  General Jackson replied, ‘Where are the engineers, and what are they doing?’  The wagon master replied, ‘they are in their tent, drawing up the plans for the bridge.’

        Knowledge is useless unless it is implemented to accomplish a task.  We are called to be ‘doers of the word, and not hearers only.’  The Christian life is a life of action.  When God commands us to love our enemies, we must love them.  When he instructs us to give to the poor and needy, we must open our wallets (and purses.)  When we are directed to pray for those who persecute us, we must drop to our knees.  Keep the commandments of God and you will be blessed; obey Him and you will experience peace; follow Him and you will know joy; joy eternal; joy everlasting; joy without end.

        “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the strength to live out Your commandments.  May we receive Your words and accomplish them.  May we be ‘doers of Your word and not hearers only;’ may our actions bring others to repentance; may we love our neighbors without restraint or indignation.  We love You Father, and 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

JESUS SPEAKING

        “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.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        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 potential career, power, property, selfish indulgences, and often 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 some of the highest individual debt than nearly any other time in our nation’s history.  Although not always, 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 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, using our excess wealth to bless 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.

God’s Greatest Work

JESUS SPEAKING

             Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said:  “Father, the hour has come.  Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  I have glorified You on the earth.  I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17: 1-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ, he continually referred to an hour; a time that had not yet come.  None of his disciples knew what he was referring to in this scripture; it wasn’t until after his resurrection that they understood he was speaking about his crucifixion.  Jesus accomplished so many good works; the healings, the miracles; and yet his greatest work would be the cross.  He is looking forward to when God will raise him up to a place of honor.  Jesus says, “and this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  The cross tells us about God; the cross is an invitation; a love-letter sent out to every human being, inviting them to fall in love with the creator of all things.  Have you accepted that invitation yet? 

             As an oil painter, when I paint I don’t paint merely for my own pleasure; I am always mindful of those who will see the painting when it is finished.  Every sculptor who sculpts a masterpiece, doesn’t put it in a storage locker when he completes it; rather, he puts it on a pedestal, or places it on display in a museum, or in the center of some fountain in a city square.

             When the Hubble space telescope captured the first images of the distant Galaxies, with their beautiful colors, nebulae, and gas clouds large enough to swallow the sun, we saw first hand, some of God’s creation.  When the electron microscope was pointed into a cell, we discovered that it was more complex than the space shuttle.  When we see a brand new baby most don’t realize they began as a single cell, no bigger than the period at the end of a sentence; all of the information on how to build your dad, your grandmother, your son or daughter, was held within that single cell; a genetic blueprint from which even you were formed.  God created those blueprints.  Yet, within this enormous universe, out of every work ever displayed, Jesus Christ upon the cross is God’s masterpiece.  We can still look to that masterpiece today and admire God.  He loves us, and his work of love was accomplished by way of crucifixion.

             “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You.  Your work upon the cross is what we look too, and we see Your glory, and we thank You.  Father, continue to help us to look to You in love.  Help us to pick up our crosses daily so that others would see Your Glory in our sacrifice as well.  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.”

Doing the Word of God

JESUS SPEAKING

       “But why do you call me Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6: 46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       The term ‘Lord,’ or ‘Master,’ is a title that implies supreme authority.  Every master employs servants; and a faithful servant obeys his master without question.  An unfaithful servant says he will obey but doesn’t.  Although the faithful and the unfaithful may both hear the word of God, hearing alone accomplishes very little.  Many atheists have read the bible; even those who hate Christ may have some knowledge of scripture; the devil himself excels in his understanding of divine truth.  Yet understanding and knowledge are meaningless without genuine obedience.  What distinguishes the faithful from the unfaithful isn’t years of contemplation or careful study; rather, it is the application of God’s word to daily living.  Only those who fully implement the teachings of Jesus Christ can truly call themselves servants of the living God.

       Jesus said, “You are the light of the world […] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Some time ago, after reading this scripture, I chose to implement it; I bought brownies for the coffee shop employees and attached a card thanking them for their wonderful service.  I then delivered brownies to the bank employees.  I also purchased and delivered a small snack to an acquaintance who works at the grocery store; and another to a friend in the coffee shop.  I gave a gift to an employee at the gym.  I then bought and delivered a toy to the church office for the toy drive.  While answering the prayer lines at the church I gave gifts to everyone in the front office.  When I arrived at work later in the day, I handed a gift to my co-worker.  Then I shared my dinner with the client I was working for at that time.  Because I had been obedient to the teachings of the Lord, he used me to bring Him Glory.  Being exposed to God’s commandments is important; but applying them is perhaps even more critical.

       Reading the word of God is merely half of an absolutely essential task.  To listen to a sermon is to receive inspiration that demands application.  Faith in its most complete form is an action.  Faithful servants are therefore those who hear the words of Jesus Christ and do them.  If you desire obedience, become familiar with your masters teachings; read His word daily, and seek to carry out His desires in the lives of all those you meet. [Note:  In the bible, ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ is the most concise and condensed summary of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Become acquainted with this section of scripture.  The discourse begins in Mathew Chapter 5 verse 1, and ends in Mathew chapter 7, verse 27.]   

       “Lord Jesus Christ, we want to be doers of Your word and not hearers only.  May Your inspiration find its application in our lives.  Teach us Your precepts and fill our hearts with Your commands.  Give us the opportunities to accomplish Your will in this world.  May all of our deeds exemplify Your love for others.  May we lay down our lives to serve You; our Lord and our master!  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 name, amen.”  God bless all of you.

Receiving the Message

JESUS SPEAKING

          “I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me out of the world.  They were Yours, you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they have known that all things which you have given me are from you.  For I have given them the words which you have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from you; and they have believed that that You sent me” (John 17: 6-8.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Jesus was speaking directly to God in the presence of his disciples.  He identified his task, and acknowledged that it had been completed.  His task was to make God known to all those willing to listen.  The true children of God listened to Jesus, accepted him as God’s messenger, and received his words as the very words of God.  God gave those children (the disciples), to Jesus, to teach, to love, to protect, and to nurture.  Today, God is still selecting people out of the world, to be his eternal possessions.  Anyone who accepts the message of Jesus Christ, has become a true child of God.  We believe his words are God’s words; we believe his ways are God’s ways; and we believe his followers are God’s followers.  Those who follow God are saved, but those who choose to ignore His message will perish.

          In 1912 the Titanic slipped beneath the icy evening waves of the Atlantic Ocean; nearly 1000 people joined it on its journey to the bottom of the ocean depths.  There weren’t enough lifeboats to carry all of the passengers; but no one needed to die.  Most are unaware that there was a large ship named ‘The Californian,’ less than 20 miles away that evening (close enough to have saved most of Titanic’s passengers.)  ‘The Californian’ received distress calls from the Titanic (via radio and lamps;) they also saw 8 distress flares, and crew members later testified that the Titanic appeared to be listing in the water (leaning to one side.)  No one but God knows why, but the captain of ‘The Californian’ didn’t seem to take these messages seriously; he returned to bed after hearing the reports.  During an official inquiry in to the captain’s actions, he remained elusive, continually changing his story; he even made attempts to doctor the log book and change their reported position on the evening of the tragedy.  The real circumstances of his inaction were never clear.  Many however would speculate that the Captain simply didn’t take the messages seriously.  He heard the reports, but he didn’t believe them, and for that reason 1000 people lost their lives.

          Jesus Christ, and the words that he spoke are God’s signal flares in a very dark, and very cold world.  Some see the signals, and they are drawn to him.  They see Jesus, and realize that he is God’s message, and because they believe that message, they are saved from death.  Sadly, no matter how many flares He sends up pointing to his Son, most will never take God’s message seriously; for that they will perish in darkness.  Jesus Christ is God’s message to you.  Will you respond to that message?  Those who respond follow Jesus and dedicate their lives to spreading his message to others.  The initial response is your belief?  Do you believe today that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and that by your faith in him you have eternal life?

          “Lord heavenly Father, we come before You, and we ask that You please accept our allegiance to You and to Your Son.  We desire to be Yours, and we believe Your message, and we accept Your word.  We await the life you have promised, and we ask that you strengthen us in this world to do Your work.  Give us a desire to spread Your message to others, that we would make more disciples, and bring others out of death and in to life.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Using Our Wealth to Glorify God

JESUS SPEAKING

        “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12: 32-34.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Jesus commanded his followers to sell their earthly possessions and use the profits to help those in need.  For each sacrifice, he promised a future reward held for them in God’s eternal kingdom.  Although many amass great amounts of excess wealth, all possessions are impermanent; nothing tangible is of any eternal value.  Banks fail, thieves break in and steal, and death is inevitable.  No living person can carry any possessions from this life to the next; everything is left behind. Yet, for those who have heeded the command of Christ, far greater treasures await; no compassionate contribution, selfless act, or sacrificial donation is ever lost.  The Lord will credit those who have made charity ‘the backbone’ of their existence.  Death cannot take from the unselfish, what remains within the living God.  He is a divine vault that contains an eternal treasure.  In Him, every believer who has sacrificed their belongings will inherit the true riches of eternal life [Note:  Some things are necessary for living; if you own a home, a car, a computer, God is not necessarily asking you to sell them; especially if they are essential; pray about what Jesus Christ might be asking you to relinquish and use for His glory.]

        In the Old Testament, when Solomon succeeded his Father David as king, the Nation of Israel was at its Zenith; making him one of the wealthiest men who has ever lived.  Over the course of his 40 year reign he earned nearly 40 billion dollars worth of Gold (based on one estimate.)  He also acquired 700 wives and three hundred concubines.  He sat on a large mechanical throne covered in gold figures, which was allegedly carried around with him wherever he went.  His monumental building projects astonished onlookers for generations.  He constructed the temple in Jerusalem (one of the largest buildings ever created in the ancient world.)  His palace took 13 years to build and all of his drinking vessels were made of pure gold.  He owned many exotic animals and bread thousands of horses.  He owned 1,400 chariots and employed 12,000 horsemen.  Foreign rulers, the world over, traveled to his Kingdom to marvel at its prosperity.  The bible records that Solomon “made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones.”  With so much wealth and power, did Solomon live a satisfying life?  The answer can be found in the book of Ecclesiastes, which he wrote near the end of his life.  As he looked back upon his actions and accomplishments, he expressed extreme regret.  He concluded that the large buildings, the Gold and silver, the women, the exotic foods, the fine clothes, and the abundant possessions were all meaningless.  He wrote “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, by increase […] there is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: riches kept for their owner to his hurt […] as he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand […] just exactly as he came, so shall he go.”  As death approached, King Solomon had finally discovered the true value of wealth; homes are unimportant, bank accounts are trivial, and fine clothes are insignificant; but generosity lasts forever. 

        Jesus Christ continually reminds the world of the truth that Solomon discovered so many years ago; wealth is only valuable when it is used to bless others.  Those who have utilized their excesses to help the poor are in fact wealthier than the richest man who has ever lived.  For when death arrives, the wealthy man will have nothing, but the faithful believer will inherit true riches; everlasting possessions that cannot be taken away.  Our wealth serves no purpose, unless it serves His purpose.  The things we have that are not being used, can be used to glorify God and to help others.

        “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask that You give us the strength and the courage to use our wealth for Your purposes.  May our excesses be given over to help those in need.  Give us opportunities to be instruments of kindness; may we abandon ourselves to You.  May our lives be lived in sacrifice, and self-denial; and may we one day inherit the true riches of Your glorious Kingdom.  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 Tenth Commandment

JESUS SPEAKING

          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.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          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.


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