Giving

JESUS SPEAKING

     “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20: 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    The word ‘blessed’ most commonly translates into the English word for ‘happiness.’  Those who live a ‘blessed’ life regularly experience joy, peace, and contentment, despite the presence of any challenging circumstances.  Such a pleasant existence can only be achieved and maintained through daily acts of sacrificial service.  And yet, nearly every human being is resoundingly selfish.  In an endeavor to acquire as many possessions as possible, some have become isolated, discouraged and depressed. They remain unaware that genuine happiness doesn’t come from selfish gratification; but instead, is the product of selfless giving.

     Michael Norton, a Harvard business professor sought to discover a link between overall happiness and daily giving.  He conducted an experiment in which a small amount of money was given to a group of test subjects.  Half of the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves; the other half were told to spend the money on someone else.  When researchers contacted the subjects at the end of the day, they found that those who had spent the money on someone else reported feeling much happier than those who had selfishly squandered their allotted funds.  [Note:  In another study, Norton found that sales team productivity and relationship quality increased as salespeople were given money to spend on other team members.]

     Professor Norton had discovered that, although selfish gain seems appealing, it also lacks the power bring about lasting joy.  Genuine peace and contentment are the result of selflessness and sacrifice.  By serving and giving we can demonstrate the generosity and love of Jesus Christ. May we never forget that happiness doesn’t originate from what we might receive, but rather, from what we are willing to give.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, continue to shower us with your many blessings.  As we love and serve our fellows, may we be filled with Your unending joyfulness and peace.  May our selfish desires come to an end; that through us, countless wandering souls might come to glorify Your Wonderful Name.  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!

Conviction

JESUS SPEAKING

“But if I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness because I go to My Father and you see me no more; of judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16: 5 – 11)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

In this scripture Jesus contemplates the future arrival of the Holy Spirit (the indwelling of God that exists within the heart of every believer; sent to mankind after Christ’s ascension into heaven.) According to the Lord, this powerful spiritual entity convicts the world of sin. What then is conviction? Conviction is the recognition of guilt and subsequent expression of remorse that accompanies any evil act or ungodly behavior. Although conviction is emotionally taxing, when experienced by a believer, this shameful imposition is far more helpful than harmful. God uses conviction to shape and mold our behavior. Guilt then leads us to abandon sin and embrace repentance; thus making us more like our Creator.

Sociology professor Anthony Campolo recalls a deeply moving incident that happened in a Christian junior high camp where he served. One of the campers, a boy with spastic paralysis, was the object of heartless ridicule. When he would ask a question, the boys would deliberately answer in a halting, mimicking way. One night his cabin group chose him to lead the devotions before the entire camp. It was one more effort to have some “fun” at his expense. Unashamedly the spastic boy stood up, and in his strained, slurred manner—each word coming with enormous effort—he expressed a simple phrase, “Jesus loves me—and I love Jesus!” That was all. Conviction immediately fell upon those junior high students. Many of them began to cry. Revival had gripped the camp. Years afterward, Campolo still meets men in the ministry who came to Christ because of that testimony.

Like those young campers, God is still using conviction to create conversions and to strengthen and edify those who already believe. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the lines between right and wrong are no longer blurry; they have been redrawn; making God’s will easier to understand and obey. When we do something sinful or unjust, we are chastised by the Lord; corrected and driven to repentance and purification. Like any good Father, He is training us; molding and shaping us into a more ideal image; the image of His perfect Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. May we always seek after the Lord and never ignore our convictions.

“Lord Heavenly Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might recognize and experience the convictions that You have placed upon our hearts. Give us a willingness to change and the ability to understand Your will and to be transformed by it. If we have grown dull or become stubborn, may we rediscover a passion for accomplishing Your will. You truly are an awesome and amazing God. To You belongs all the glory and honor. 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!

Sanctification/Pruning

JESUS SPEAKING

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 1 – 5)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Jesus uses an agricultural illustration known as pruning to explain the biblical process referred to as sanctification. Pruning is the practice of cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems to promote healthier and more fruitful plant growth. Similarly, sanctification entails removing any decaying or unproductive practices from our lives. After making an initial decision to repent and to embrace the faith, we are then grafted into Jesus Christ (the vine through which all of our spiritual nourishment is delivered.) Despite repenting from our most egregious sins (adultery, drunkenness, fornication, and idolatry, etc.) we remain a work in progress. Over the course of many weeks, months, and even years, God prunes us; trimming away the remaining segments of our existence that are unfruitful (usually the lesser sins, such as impatience, selfishness, and pride, etc.) Through this process of sanctification we become more like God; which enables us to win many souls for His glory.

This process of sanctification is remarkably similar to the purification of precious metals. Within a refinery, the raw materials are placed into a kiln and heated until they melt. The dross, or worthless impurities separate from the metal and rise to the surface; this thin layer is then skimmed off, leaving the purified metal beneath. Without this continuous process of heating, melting, and skimming, purification could never occur. As additional impurities are removed from the molten ore, a more precise reflection of the metal worker appears in the smooth, pure, surface beneath. We too are being sanctified each day; an ongoing process of purification that causes God’s reflection to become clearer in our lives, and more apparent to those around us.

When we repent and believe in Christ, our lives are immediately transformed. And yet, although we’ve been reborn, we must also undergo a process of sanctification. Over time, the thorns and dead branches that prevent us from being a precise reflection of God are removed. As the Vinedresser, the Lord is the one who accomplishes this pruning. Only He has the power to mold us into the image of His Son. May we lay down our own selfish wants and desires to be transformed by God, that we might become even more fruitful.

“Lord Heavenly Father, continue pruning us every day. Trim away the dead and unfruitful portions of our lives, that we might more efficiently spread the Gospel to others. May we relinquish control and allow You to transform our hearts and minds. Give us the courage to step out in faith and be bold; that we might produce much fruit for You. 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 6,126 other followers

Archives