Difficult Choices

JESUS SPEAKING

     Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  And he took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be troubled and deeply distressed.  Then he said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.  Stay here and watch.”  He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.  And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.  Take this cup away from me; nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done” (Mark 14: 32-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    After eating the Passover meal, Jesus and his disciples traveled to a garden area near the temple, known as Gethsemane.  There, in solitude, clothed in a heavy garment of darkness, the first drops of blood and sweat dripped from the forehead of God’s only Son; this peaceful garden became the scene of the greatest battle ever fought; the knock-down-drag out fight for the redemption and salvation of mankind.  With the pain of his crucifixion looming on the horizon, Jesus experienced overwhelming anguish.  Falling on his face in agony, he asked God to use an alternative means of accomplishing mankind’s deliverance; but in the same breath he also said, “nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.”  In a single sentence the battle had been won, and the world would come to know true obedience.  God’s will and our will are often in great opposition.  Like Jesus, there are moments when we are required to make difficult choices.  Do we choose to do what is right, despite any resulting hardships; or do we choose what is evil because it is less painful.

  [Warning:  Some individuals may find the following information disturbing.  If you have ever undergone an abortion, remember that God loves you; if you have asked Him for forgiveness, then you are guilty of nothing; by the blood of Christ you are a ‘new creation.’]  Statistically, nearly 25% of all women will have at least one abortion by the time they are 45 years old.  Every year, approximately 879,000 thousand women choose to abort their developing babies because it is the easy way out.  A quick trip to the clinic and a life is traded for a few more years of freedom; a future job; or, greater financial security.  In a 2004 study, 86% of abortions were justified by one of the following excuses: ‘unready’ (25%); ‘Can’t afford a baby now’ (23%); ‘has all the children she wanted, or all children are grown’ (19%); ‘has relationship problems or wants to avoid single parenthood’ (8%); ‘is too immature or young to have child’ (7%); ‘would interfere with education and career plans’ (4%).  Regardless of the excuse, the true cause is selfishness (Definition of selfishness: ‘exclusive regard for one’s own interest or happiness; supreme self-love or self-preference which leads a person to direct his purposes to the advancement of his/her own interest, power, or happiness.’)

    Women and men who choose life, have made the decision to do what is right; and yet the correct path is frequently the most difficult.  Quite often, following God’s will is very costly.  Every disciple must embrace hardship and self-sacrifice.  Denying our own desires to satisfy the will of God is a daily battle that can only be won when we say, “nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.”   The cost of eternal life is death; to live, we must lay down our lives here.  May each of us choose to serve God rather than ourselves; may we do what is right, no matter the cost; may we joyfully embrace a life of sacrifice; and may we always accomplish the perfect will of our Everlasting Creator.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, You truly are awesome and amazing God.  Help us to accomplish Your will.  Give us the strength and the courage to embrace any difficulties that may arise from doing what is right.  Guide us and direct us, that we might know what is pleasing to You.  May we deny our own desires when they are not incongruent with Your wishes.  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!

Things Old and New

JESUS SPEAKING

    Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”  (Mathew 13: 52.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

   The bible consists of two parts; the Old Testament and the New Testament.  The Old Testament contains prophecies, inspired writings, and recorded historical events and information dating from approximately 4004 B.C. to around 440 B.C.  God then chose to remain silent for 450 years, until around 15-30 A.D. when John the Baptist began preaching in the wilderness; announcing the near arrival of the messiah; Jesus Christ.  Jesus soon appeared on the scene, completing God’s message and laying the foundation for the New Testament (the gospels, the apostles’ letters, and the book of revelation.)  Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament and added to it.  In turn, any scribe that understood the message would combine the Old Testament and Christ’s words into one complete revelation from God.

    While I was at the swap meet one day, I made an interesting observation.  Some merchants were selling expensive antiques, which were highly valued because they were old.  Still others sold items that were completely new; it was their newness that gave them their value.  Things that are neither old nor new are extremely cheap; like VHS videos; which aren’t new; but are also not old enough to be valuable yet.  The wise retailers, like the householder Jesus was speaking about in this parable, got the most money for what they were selling because they sold items that were both old and new.  Similarly, God’s truth is not complete unless both the New and the Old Testament are combined as one.  The Holy Bible cannot be divided, altered, or added too in any way; it is a complete work.

   The Bible is filled with valuable treasures; gems of truth and nuggets of pure wisdom.  Jesus did not come to discard the Old Testament, but to combine the old and the new into a single masterpiece; a correspondence between God and man.  The world is filled with books, written by individuals and inspired by their own desires; and yet there is only one book that God himself has written.  The Bible is a treasure chest that just begs to be opened; inside you will find every answer you have ever desired to know.  Open it and experience the fullness of the one true God.

   “Lord Heavenly Father, as we read Your Word, please give us a desire to dig deeply; to search for new insights and truths.  Guide us as we read and speak to our hearts; make Your plan for us clear in our minds and in our hearts.  We yearn to know the full, complete goodness of Your book; and in turn, the complete knowledge of your affections for us.  We love You Lord, 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!

A True Servant

JESUS SPEAKING

       But Jesus called them to himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the gentile’s lord it over them, and their great one’s exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you 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

       Nearly every society, from the fall of mankind until the present day, has been structured to facilitate the pursuit of power and authority.  All social orders are shaped like pyramids that narrow near the top.  As people grow older, those who have secured positions of influence are treated with greater respect.  Those who do not rise to the top, settle near the bottom; the strong rule, while the weak become servants.  Yet Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, was not born in a palace; he was born on the dirty floor of a manger.  A life began in humility, was lived in like manner; the prince of peace served the poor and embraced the unworthy.  He turned an ‘upside down world’, ‘right side up.’  To pursue Christ is to forsake the quest of idolatrous power and authority.  [Note:  This does not mean that you must quit your job if you are in a position of authority, or in charge of other employees.]  Those who desire to follow the Son of God must search for the lowest position.  A disciple is greatest when he is the least; he is the most alive when he is dead; he only rules when he truly serves.

       The nation of India was founded on the teachings of Hinduism.  Social order is a centralized feature of the Hindu Religion (as is the belief in reincarnation.)  They believe in a divine hierarchy; a caste system in which a person’s position is the result of their prior life.  When someone dies, they are immediately reborn; and the deeds of their past life dictate their present social standing.  Those who were good are born into one of the four respectable classes (the top class being comprised of kings, warriors, and rulers.)  However, those who were evil in their previous life are born into a class known as the ‘untouchables.’  This group is poor, plagued with sickness, and most have historically only been able to hold menial jobs (such as the removal of dead bodies.)   This principle of Karma is well known by every Hindu; bad Karma needs to be worked off; by suffering miserably in this life, one can pay for the sins of their past life; through anguish, every ‘untouchable’ can hope for a better life when they die.  Therefore, in India, helping the needy and the poor is often seen as interfering with their karma (if they help to relieve some of the suffering, they can actually prolong it.)  Therefore, there is now a permanent underclass; a group of people the world has forsaken.  And yet, although most of mankind has forgotten about these people, God has not.  In the 1950’s, a Catholic Nun named Mother Theresa was led by the Lord to begin caring for lepers in India; she established a colony and made a place for them to call home.  She also reached out to the abandoned orphans, the disabled, and the sick.  From that time until her death in 1997, she served the poorest, weakest, and most insignificant people, the world around.  When she received the Nobel Peace prize, she said, “I am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless…the crippled… the blind…the lepers, (and) all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared-for throughout society; people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

       Mother Theresa followed Christ; and it led her into the slums of Calcutta.  Jesus has asked nothing less of every true believer.  Service is a requirement.  Whether at work, school, the coffee shop, the grocery store, or even at home, disciples are servants.  A true servant seeks out opportunities to help others.  The way up is down.  Humble yourself and allow God to use you; lowliness leads to honor, and humility is the path to everlasting life.  Those who serve others, serve the true and living God.  Deny yourself; give to the needy; embrace the outcast; love those who have been abandoned; prefer others, and God will one day raise you up to a place of eternal honor.

       “Lord Heavenly Father, we desperately desire to be lowly.  Help us to serve others with zeal.  Please provide us with opportunities to give of our time, resources, and knowledge.  Grant us humility, that we may give to those in need; may we love those who feel unloved.  We aspire to be great servants; may we deny ourselves to honor and prefer others; and may our hearts be filled with joy as we 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!

God’s Enduring Love

JESUS SPEAKING

       “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search diligently until she finds it?  And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I lost!’  Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15: 8 – 10.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       The greatest question one can ever ask is, “Does God love me?”  The answer expressed in this parable is Yes.  Every character in a parable has a corresponding real-life counterpart.  The woman who lost her coin represents God and the coins represent all faithful believers.  The lost coin represents those who have wandered away from God (Men and women who unknowingly subject themselves to painful and destructive experiences.)  God desperately seeks after those who are estranged (sparing not his only Son, to reveal His love for the lost.)  Despite the Lord’s long and arduous attempts at reconciliation, He is often painfully denied.  For those who truly understand the depths of His love, it becomes clear why there is such a joyful celebration in heaven when a single sinner repents; The Creator has once again found a lost son or daughter; someone precious and unique; someone who is completely irreplaceable; someone He will cherish for all eternity.

       The Old Testament book of Hosea is a glimpse into God’s enduring love for those who do not love Him.  Nearly 800 years before Jesus was born, God commanded the prophet Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman (a woman who was adulterous and unfaithful.)  Hosea was instructed to continually seek after her, and to continually forgive her for her indiscretions; in turn, he lived a tormented life; constantly loving a woman who did not love him (possibly going so far as to even raise a child he did not Father.)  The book of Hosea is a record of his heartache.  God used Hosea’s experience as a real-life illustration; an illustration of His relationship with mankind.  The Lord has sought after and loved even the worst sinners throughout history; yet most have returned his love with disbelief, hatred, contempt, and idolatry (worshipping other Gods.)  God’s heart aches for the lost; those who call Him Father, share in that same heartache.

       Like Hosea who never stopped seeking after his wife, God continues to search for the lost.  He stops at nothing; He spares no expense; He never falters; never grows weary; never takes a day off.  Even today, in coffee shops, in places of employment, in homes, and in public, His message of love and reconciliation are being preached.  As people continue to give their lives back to God, heaven is erupting in celebration.  Will you carry God’s message?  Will you seek after the lost?  Will you do the work of God?  Will you tell others that there is a God who desperately loves them; a God who waits for them; a God who can heal them; a God who will give them true life?  You too will experience rejection and heartache; but you will also experience true joy when you witness a sinner receive salvation.

       “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your love.  We thank You for constantly seeking the lost.  May we be reconciled to You today; help us to experience the joy You are so freely offering.  May we reach out to others; may we be instruments of Your love; may we too, lovingly seek those who are lost.  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 Light of the Eyes

JESUS SPEAKING

       “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light.  The light of the body is the eye.  Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.  Therefore, take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.  If then, your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole thing will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light” (Luke 11:  33-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Most ancient lamps were round, hollow clay containers filled with oil.  One end of the wick was plunged into the oil; the protruding end was then lit.  Although the visible wick seemed to be the source of the light, it was not; the true source was the oil hidden within the lamp.  Every human being is a lamp; a vessel; a hollow container that is meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Much like the flaming wick, the light from within a man, pours out of his eyes.  Those who observe the radiance of Christ are drawn to it.  God’s greatest desire is for others to receive His Holy Spirit; that they too might be transformed and become vessels of His light.

       As a new Christian, I remember interacting with some believers’ whose eyes were unique; looking into them was like staring into crystal clear water; there were no waves; there was no turmoil either; just a supernatural purity and peace.  On the contrary, some people’s eyes were filled with darkness.  I once knew a man who was engaging in perverse and despicable sins; his eyes were dull and covered in a yellowish film; his hair was greasy and thick; the skin on his face was also quite drab.  Still, his condition wasn’t biological; it was spiritual.  As he began to grow closer to God, that yellowish film began to fade away; his eyes started to clear up; and his face grew warmer and more alive.

       Today, many are overflowing with the Spirit of God, while others are wandering around in darkness.  How can non-believers be filled, and believers grow closer to the Lord?  They can ask God every day for more of His Holy Spirit.  They can take the time to pray and to speak with God.  Reading the bible is another act that produces faithfulness.  We can also practice the teachings of Christ, which will increase our spiritual growth.  With every act of selflessness, charity, outreach, and love, we will grow closer to God.  As the Lord continues to fill us, others will see something different in our eyes.  They will observe a peace, clarity, purity, and a genuine hope that only the children of God possess.  May God fill you with His Holy Spirit, and may you be a light to others in this dark world.

       “Lord Heavenly Father, you are an awesome and mighty God; full of grace, peace, and mercy.  Push the darkness out of our hearts and fill us with Your light.  Help our eyes to be a beacon of hope to others; that we might draw the lost to Yourself and Your Son.  May our eyes reveal all of Your glory, and all of Your goodness.  We love You Lord, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”

Professing Christ

JESUS SPEAKING

    “Therefore, whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in Heaven.  But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Mathew 10: 32-33.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    This pronouncement is clearly self-explanatory.  Public profession of Jesus Christ is an absolute necessity.  If we deny him before men, he will deny us before our Father in Heaven.  Most people today are not interested in making Christ a part of their public lives, let alone their private lives.  It seems that modern social norms have made it politically correct to leave Jesus Christ out of whole sectors of our society; like work, school, sports, and even recreation.  Some consider it inappropriate and even rude to bring him into places like coffee shops, grocery stores, banks, movie theatres, diners; etc.

    As we venture through our day, it isn’t hard to see that almost everyone is carrying some outward message along with them; perhaps it’s what they wear; maybe a shirt with a rock band’s name on it, or business name, or brand name.  Whatever it is, they are professing something about themselves, and about who they are and what they stand for.  If you listen to people talking in a crowded room, you’ll hear all kinds of conversations.  You might hear a person talking about something they love and enjoy; like working out, or shopping, or school, or some political candidate.  As Christians, we must realize that our actions, our behaviors, and even our clothing can be a means of expressing our faith in Christ.

    As Christians, we shouldn’t be shy about what we enjoy, what drives us, and who we love.  Others may not like what they hear, but if they are offended, they aren’t offended with us, but with God.  Don’t be shy, don’t be scared, and don’t be timid.  Profess him when he leads you, and make sure it is done in love.  You never know when God wants to use you to speak about the gospel message.

   “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You help us to be bold in sharing the gospel in accordance with Your will.  Give us a desire to make You a part of every area of our lives.  We also ask that You remove any fears that we might have, and give us courage, and strength, and faith; and especially, give us love for those who are lost and don’t know 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.

Knowing God

JESUS SPEAKING

      “O righteous Father!  The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent me.  And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17: 25-26.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      In this scripture, Jesus is finishing his prayer for the disciples prior to being crucified.  He reveals to us that most people don’t know God, but that Jesus does know God; and that all who believe in him will know God also.  Jesus faithfully delivered a message from the Master of all creation; and that message is a message of love.  Through him, we can know that God is our Father, and that he loves us and yearns to have a relationship with us.

      Today there are so many religions, with so many different beliefs and ideas about who, or what God is.  Some religions have claimed God has asked them to kill, some claim God hasn’t asked them to do much of anything.  However, Jesus has shown us that the one true God has commanded us to love.  God did not set the universe in motion and then walk away, leaving us with confusion and uncertainty; we can now know the true meaning of our existence.  God has always been reaching out to us; sending us messengers to speak on His behalf.  At last He has sent us Jesus Christ.  If we want to have a relationship with a Heavenly Father, it begins with knowing His son.  May we all desire to enter into a loving relationship with God.

      “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You would speak to our hearts concerning Your Son.  Help our souls to be open to receiving Your love, that we might also show that love to others.  Testify to us of the truth of Your messenger, and give us Your Holy Spirit, that we might be able to fellowship with You always.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!


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