A Genuine Servant

JESUS SPEAKING

    But Jesus called them to himself and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  However, it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 42 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    As children we are taught that dominance is better than submission, and that a higher social status means a better life.  Many therefore seek to acquire positions of great power and authority.  Yet Christ’s teachings are in direct opposition to such worldly principles.  Those who follow Jesus must deny what they have been taught, in order to embrace the doctrines of genuine faith and divine humility.  Only by abandoning the desire for greatness, can one completely and lovingly serve others. [Note: This does not mean you need to quit your job or stop seeking a higher wage or position. However, we must always be humble, no matter our station in life.]

    For years young men from across the country have flocked to the church where I used to serve, seeking to do pastoral ministry.  Many hopefuls were initially referred to a pastor named Romain, who employed a special technique designed to separate the qualified from the unqualified.  As the prospects approached, he would hand them a broom and tell them to go sweep a portion of the church.  Although many were obedient, others felt insulted and became upset.  One common response sounded something like this, “I came here to be a pastor and to teach the bible, not to sweep floors.”  Pastor Romain knew then that they did not have a servant’s heart; they had not come to serve and to practice humility, but to acquire power and authority.

    Those who follow the Son of God must give-up the desire for worldly greatness in order to pursue lowliness and humility.  Seeking to serve others rather than to be served, we become the men and women God has called us to be.  We can serve at home, in the community, at work, and in our church.  We can serve our family members, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers.  Only through selflessness and sacrifice can we be transformed into the image of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.     

    “Lord Heavenly Father, inspire us to seek lowliness and humility.  May we hunger to love and serve others in sincerity and singleness of heart.  Provide us with opportunities to place the needs of our fellows ahead of our own, that we might be examples of Your great mercy and everlasting affection.  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!

Actions Matter

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 were refusing to be obedient, 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 just 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, 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 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.

The Rapture

JESUS SPEAKING

    “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man (Jesus Christ):  For they ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all […] even so will it be in the day that the Son of man (Jesus Christ) is revealed.  In that day, he who is on the housetop and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away.  And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.  Remember Lot’s wife.  Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you in that night there will be two men in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.  Two women will be grinding together; the one will be taken and the other left.  Two men will be in the field; the one will be taken and the other left” (Luke 17: 26 – 27, 30 – 36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    The event Jesus describes in this scripture has collectively become known as ‘the rapture.’  In a moment, in the blink of an eye, God will gather up his faithful believers from around the world before pouring out His wrath upon the earth.  Co-workers, relatives, friends, and complete strangers will vanish in an instant.  Those who are left behind will face God’s judgments.  How can we be prepared for the rapture?  By loving eternal rewards more than worldly possessions (wealth, homes, jobs, belongings, etc.)  Jesus asks us to consider Lot’s wife; a woman who was ill-prepared for God’s deliverance.  In the Old Testament, she and her family were lead out of the wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah just prior to its destruction.  Sadly she disobeyed God’s command, by turning around and looking back upon the city with fondness and affection.  As a result she was turned in to a pillar of salt.

    Like Lot’s wife, many people throughout history have mistakenly loved worldly possessions more than their own lives.  One day as my dad and I were driving through the town where I grew up, we happened by a certain building.  He informed me that decades earlier the building had caught on fire.  The owner foolishly rushed in and went to the basement to collect some of his valuables.  Unfortunately he became trapped inside.  He desperately tried to crawl through a basement window; but it was too small for him to fit through.  Unable to help, onlookers could do nothing but watch as he perished in the flames.  He died because he valued his possessions more than his own life.

    Similarly, some people today value their belongings more than their eternal lives. Those who take great comfort in their worldly possessions might be ill-prepared for the coming kingdom.  As believers we must be ready for ‘the rapture;’ an event that could occur at any moment.  To be completely prepared is to love God more than anything else.  We must make truth more important than trust funds and make people more valuable than possessions.  As our values change we will come to embrace the rapture and look forward to it with great joy and overwhelming anticipation.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to value the things that are truly important.  Prepare our hearts and minds for the rapture; may our thoughts be continually focused upon Your coming Kingdom.  Strengthen us by the power of Your Holy Spirit that we might accomplish your will and bring honor and glory to your Holy name. We love you, and praise you, and thank you, and ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name,  amen.”  God bless all of you!

Eradicating Doubt

JESUS SPEAKING

   And he left them, and getting in to a boat again (with his disciples), departed to the other side.  Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat.  Then he charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.”  But Jesus being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not yet perceive nor understand?  Is your heart still hardened?  Having eyes, do you not see?  And having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”  They said to Him, “Twelve.”  “Also when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”  And they said, “Seven.”  So he said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” (Mark 8: 13 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

   Shortly after feeding four thousand people with seven loaves of bread, Jesus warned his disciples to beware of doubtful thoughts.  Despite having just witnessed God’s heavenly provision, the disciples began to fear that they hadn’t brought enough food for their journey.  The Lord addressed their uncertainties by reminding them of his previous miracles.  On two separate occasions he had fed thousands with scarcely enough food to feed a small family.  If doubts arise within our hearts, they can quickly be eradicated by recalling the many miracles God has performed for us in the past.

   I once heard a man give his personal testimony.  As a youth he had been hopelessly addicted to drugs.  Eventually he received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  He began reading the bible and his life started changing.  Although sober, he hadn’t yet given up his old friends.  One day he was gathered together with them in a house; he was reading his bible while they were doing drugs.  Suddenly a group of heavily armed police officers broke through the door and began arresting everyone.  He was so frightened he could barely move.  He thought, ‘If I just sit here and read my bible, nothing will happen to me.’  He heard lamps falling and people yelling as they were being dragged to the ground and arrested.  As the commotion swirled around him he never took his eyes off of God’s word.  After a short time he heard the front door slam and the house was completely silent.  Looking up he realized he was all alone.  No one had tackled him; no one had arrested him; no one had even questioned him.  Sometime afterward, God told him that He had blinded the eyes of the officers so that they couldn’t see him.  This man has undoubtedly recalled this miracle on many occasions to dispel his doubts and to inspire his faith.

   Even the most faithful believers can occasionally experience doubtful thoughts.  If and when they arise, the natural remedy is remembrance.  How often has God healed our bodies; how often has He provided for our needs and protected us from trouble?  Our faith is preserved in times of trouble by remembering the wonderful miracles God has already performed in our lives.

  “Lord Heavenly Father, increase our faithfulness.  In moments of weakness may we be reminded of the many miracles You have already performed.  Through remembrance may our doubts be destroyed and our fears be put to death.  Fill our hearts with love, and peace, and truth, that we may continually trust in You and Your Son.  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!

Trust in God

JESUS SPEAKING

      Then he got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s (Peter’s), and asked him to put out a little from the land.  And he sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.  When he had stopped speaking, he said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon (Peter) answered and said to him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.”  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their net was breaking.  So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.  And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. When Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5: 3-8.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      The disciples had just finished fishing, and having caught nothing, they were busy cleaning their nets for the day.  Jesus told Peter to push out one last time and drop his nets.  Although he didn’t want to, Peter obeyed Jesus and pushed out to sea.  Because of his obedience, they caught more fish than they could’ve ever imagined; so many that the net was nearly bursting.  In recognition of this miracle, Peter humbled himself and fell down before Jesus.  His understanding of who Jesus was had abruptly transformed.  Peter had witnessed a miracle because he didn’t permit his experience as a fisherman, or his own reasoning to compete with the commandment of Christ.  Peter didn’t push out into the water because he expected to haul in the largest catch of his career; instead he pushed out into the sea because he was being obedient to Jesus Christ.

      Each of us woke up this morning with many preexisting expectations.  We expected our alarm clocks to work, our cars to start, and our cell phones to be functional; we have learned to rely upon them; we trust in them.  We can trust our gadgets, and even our own instincts and abilities, but when it comes to trusting Jesus Christ, we often have difficulty? Peter initially questioned Christ’s command to ‘push out;’ preferring instead to rely upon his own understanding and knowledge.  And yet he eventually witnessed God accomplish a wonderful work, because he stopped trusting in himself and began to trust in God. 

      Today, we need to trust in God and not always our own limited understanding.  We must be obedient to what God is calling us to do.  Is there some area of your life where you are refusing to relinquish control?  Search your heart.  God has called each of us to be obedient to His commands.  Obedience is often difficult, but unless we obey God we will never experience any of His miracles.  May we all ‘push out’ and always place our trust in the almighty and everlasting God.

      “Dear Heavenly Father, help us to relinquish control over our lives and give them back to You.  Lord Jesus, please help us to be obedient.  Fill us with the Holy Spirit, that we might have the faith to trust in you.  Reveal to us any areas where we are walking in error, and help us to change.  We love You Father, we thank You, and we trust 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 Presence of Prophecy

JESUS SPEAKING

      Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all  things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.  For he will be delivered to the gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.  They will scourge him and kill him.  And the third day he will rise again” (Luke 18: 31-33.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      Although Jesus foretold of his impending death upon the cross, his suffering had been described in detail for hundreds of years.  Throughout the centuries, the old testament prophets (inspired by God) wrote about the arrival of God’s solution to sin; a sacrifice that would once and for all put an end to the iniquity that separated the divine creator from his fallen creations (Jesus Christ, was and is that sacrifice.) 

      One major prophetic scripture comes from the book of Isaiah; the book was written between 740 and 680 B.C.  Chapter 53 is particularly interesting because it describes the suffering of Jesus in great detail (hundreds of years before the crucifixion occurred.)  We read, “Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, Yet he opened not his mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare his generation? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people he was stricken. And theymade his grave with the wicked — but with the rich at his death, because he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief. When you make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see the labor of his soul,and be satisfied. By his knowledge my righteous servant shall justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

      Only God knows the future; only the creator can foretell of events before they occur.  Accurate prophecy is a characteristic, unique to the Holy Bible.  No other book or set of sacred writings have ever correctly predicted anything.  The scriptures are the Lord’s reliable revelation; they can be trusted.  As you read the word, remember, you are not simply reading a book compiled by men, but a book authored by God Himself.  May it inspire you, lead you, and transform you.

      “Lord Heavenly Father we praise You and thank You for providing us with the Holy Bible.  As we read it, may we approach it with reverence and respect.  Speak to us through Your word; with every word read, and every page turned, may our hearts be transformed; may we become more like You and Your wonderful Son.  We love You Father, we thank You, we praise 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 Amends

JESUS SPEAKING

    “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mathew 5: 23-24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    No one can have a close relationship with God in a vacuum; human beings live within complex social structures; these communities are made up of family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and even complete strangers.  Our relationship with others is a direct reflection of our relationship with God.  When we sin against our neighbor, we have also sinned against our Lord.  If we lie, slander, and despise another person, we have lied, slandered, and hated our own creator.  In the first century, many Jewish families traveled long distances to reach the temple in Jerusalem; where an animal would be sacrificed to atone for their sins; having received forgiveness, they were restored to a right relationship with God.  Similarly, Jesus has also taught us that we are to first seek out reconciliation with our neighbors; only then can we draw ever closer to the Lord.  Today, this commandment, known as ‘making amends,’ is still an essential Christian practice.

    When I came to California many years ago, I began working a 12-step program; a system designed to help me overcome a terrible drug addiction.  The creators of the first six steps were Christians; a gathering of believers known as the oxford group.  Naturally, the steps were heavily influenced by the teachings found in the book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians, verse 13.  After becoming a Christian, I discovered that Christ’s command to make amends likely inspired the founders to create the 8th and 9th steps as well.  The eighth step reads, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”  The ninth step reads, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”  From 2005 until today, I’ve continued making amends to those I’ve harmed.  I’ve made restitution and paid off every delinquent debt; I’ve also asked for forgiveness from those who were affected by my sins.  With every apology I’ve grown ever closer to the Lord.

    Today, in order to move forward with God, you might consider delving into your past.  Examine your previous mistakes more thoroughly.  If you’ve stolen from anyone, pay them back; if you’ve lied, and your lies have caused hardship, return and speak the truth.  If by mistreating others, you have created resentments, you are commanded to humble yourself, and request forgiveness.  Making amends is an important Christian practice.  We’ve all sinned; but what we do with those sins will determine whether we grow closer to the Lord or remain at a distance.  The choice is ours to make.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, bring to our remembrance the names of those we have harmed; may we approach them and make restitution.  Give us the strength and the humility to ask for forgiveness; that we might be reconciled to those who are resentful.  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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