Fearlessly Spreading the Gospel

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?  And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Mathew 10: 29-31.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus Christ commands every believer to boldly preach the gospel.  Some will be despised and rejected; many will be ridiculed and threatened; still others may even face death.    No matter the consequence, the faithful must never remain silent.  Those who fear man cannot obey God, for men may kill the body, but God has the power to condemn the soul for all eternity.  The ancient Israelites feared God and in turn suffered great hardship.  They were conquered by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans.  Each new conqueror imposed laws that made honoring God punishable by death.  At one time circumcision was outlawed; Jewish mothers caught circumcising their children were crucified.    Another law made it a requirement for the Jews to make sacrifices to pagan God’s; the many faithful followers who refused were immediately put to death.

                In the sixth century B.C., three young Jewish men feared God more than men.  A powerful King named Nebuchadnezzar resurrected a large golden statue in his own likeness.  On the day it was unveiled he called together the rulers of the provinces and the peoples of every nation; they were commanded to bow down and worship his image.  The multitudes were warned that anyone that refused would be burned alive.  Three faithful believers named, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego refused to obey (choosing to offend the king rather than to anger God.)  They were bound hand and foot and cast into a fiery furnace.  As the king watched he saw a fourth person with them in the flames; somone who protected them; a man who looked like the ‘Son of God.’  When the boys emerged from the furnace unharmed, the king pardoned them and proclaimed the awesome power of the one true and living God.  Much like Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, the apostles remained faithful.  Many were beaten, humiliated, imprisoned and tortured because they refused to remain silent.  Eventually, eleven of the twelve disciples were put to death for the sake of the gospel.  According to church history, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome.  Andrew, Simon, and Thaddeus were also crucified.  Bartholomew was crucified after having his skin cut off.  Philip was crucified and then stoned to death.  James was beheaded by King Herod.  Thomas was stabbed to death and Mathew was killed with an ax.  James the less was clubbed to death and Mathias was burned alive.  Although they perished for the faith, they are not dead; they are alive with Christ, in his eternal kingdom.

                Every disciple is called to boldly preach the gospel; to speak the truth in love no matter the consequence.  Today many are suffering persecution; in Muslim countries, Christians are being attacked and beheaded; in communist countries they are being imprisoned and tortured.  Yet in the United States, many professing Christians won’t even lean over and tell a stranger that Jesus loves them.  Won’t you reach out in love today?  Won’t you speak up and tell your friends and family about Jesus Christ?  Present the gospel to your neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances; for when you honor God, God will honor you; and you will walk in eternal fellowship with Him in His kingdom.

                “Heavenly Father, take away our fear of death and our fear of others; may we fear only You.  May Your words and Your message burn within our hearts and may the gospel freely flow from our mouths.  May we share eternal life with all those who have been persecuted and put to death for their faith in Your Son.  Provide us with opportunities to share the truth with others in love.  We thank You Father, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Christ’s Replacement

JESUS SPEAKING

            “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.  However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14: 25-26.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The Lord informed his disciples that he would soon be taken away from them.  In his absence, he promised to send them a replacement; a helper; someone to guide and direct them; a spiritual entity that would remind them of all of his teachings.  After the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus ascended in to heaven; having reached his eternal position, he sent the Holy Spirit in to the hearts and minds of every believer (on the day of Pentecost.)  The disciples began to speak in foreign languages; they were given the power and authority to forgive sins; to cast out demons; to raise the dead; and to heal the sick.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit was, and is, proof that Jesus Christ did reach his destination; the work of the Spirit today confirms that he is still seated at the right hand of God; a place of honor from which he continues to guide and direct his church.

                In the early 20th century a bold and daring explorer named Roald Amundsen set out to reach the remote poles of the earth.  He succeeded in reaching the South Pole in 1911, and the North Pole in 1926.  As the story goes, during his northern journey, he took along a homing pigeon (homing pigeons mate for life; in turn, when separated from their mates they have a unique ability to return to their nests from anywhere in the world.  Before leaving for the North Pole, Amundsen, not wanting his wife to worry, promised to release the pigeon when he reached his destination; when the bird arrived at its nest in Norway, his wife was elated.  The pigeon was a symbol; a message proclaiming that although the explorer had arrived in a distant land, he was very much alive.

                The Holy Spirit is also a symbol; it is a message and a reminder that Jesus Christ still lives.  Many have received the message, many have not.  Those who have opened their hearts to God’s messenger have acknowledged that Jesus is their Lord and master.  That he is a living God; that He currently guides and directs His church through the power of the Holy Spirit.  If you have never received His gift, go somewhere quiet, and ask God to provide you with the Spirit of truth.  The Lord never withholds this good thing from those who genuinely ask Him.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we believe that Jesus Christ is Your Son, and that he is seated at Your right hand.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit; guide and direct us; teach us, and remind us of Your ways.  May we be faithful believers; may we never waiver; may we never grow weary, and may we never turn away from Your truth.  May You continue to use us to fulfill Your will in this place, until the time when we will see You, face to face.  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.

Living in the moment

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.  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 them daily.  Violating this law meant focusing on tomorrow’s needs and concerns [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 in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

The Resurrection

JESUS SPEAKING

              “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him” (Luke 20: 34 – 38.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The resurrection from the dead is a central tenant of the Christian faith.  Jesus Himself rose from the dead, revealing that everyone who has faith in Him will never die; instead, although the body may temporarily perish, the believer’s spirit continues on in God’s eternal kingdom.  When God establishes a new heaven and a new earth, every faithful soul will receive an eternal body.  A body that does not grow old; diseases will be obliterated; death and suffering will not exist.  Pregnancy will no longer be necessary; marriage also will be a thing of the past.  Everyone will live in perfect fellowship with one another, and with God Himself.

            To prove that there is life after death, Jesus quoted an Old Testament scripture.  In Exodus 3: 6 God says to Moses, “I am […] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (present tense.)  He doesn’t say I was the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (past tense.)  Although Abraham Isaac and Jacob were physically dead, they were, and are still spiritually alive, living peacefully in God’s eternal kingdom.

            There comes a time when every human being must make the journey from this life to the next.  For those who believe, death is not the end; it is merely the beginning.  Faith in Jesus Christ is the vessel that carries us in to the presence of the almighty and everlasting Father.  May your faith remain strong as you are transformed in to the image of your savior; and may God comfort you as you eagerly look forward to your eternal future with great hope and joy.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we faithfully await the resurrection of the dead.  We know that you have prepared a special place for us in Your eternal Kingdom, and we look forward to that day with great pleasure and overwhelming gladness.  Sanctify us, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might do Your works and accomplish Your will in this place.  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.

Gratitude

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now it happened as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.  Then as he entered a certain village, there met him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.  And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  So when he saw them, he said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  And so it was that as they went they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks.  And he was a Samaritan.  So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed?  But where are the nine?  Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  And he said to him, “Arise, go your way.  Your faith has made you well” (Mathew 17: 11 – 19.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Leprosy is a debilitating bacterial disease that has existed for thousands of years; it causes fingers, toes, and other extremities to rot away, horribly disfiguring its victims.  Despite modern treatments, Leprosy remains highly contagious.  As a result, the infected have been ostracized since the days of Christ; lepers were forced in to isolated colonies outside of the cities.  When traveling, they were required to maintain great distances between themselves and the healthy; when entering crowded areas, they were obligated to yell out, “unclean, unclean,” as a warning for others to keep a safe distance.  The lepers who approached Jesus stood “afar off;” and pleaded with him to heal them.  Although nine of the lepers were Jewish, one leper was a Samaritan (The Jews considered Samaritans half breads; because when Alexander the great conquered Israel hundreds of years earlier, he settled a portion of the land (known as Samaria) with Greek citizens and retired soldiers; they mingled with the Jewish people, but were unable to completely adopt Hebrew customs and traditions.  The Samaritans were so hated that many Jews would travel around Samaria when journeying to Jerusalem; the only people more hated than Samaritans were lepers.)  Jesus ordered the lepers to go and show themselves to the priests (In Jewish society, the priests were charged with diagnosing leprosy; if someone was healed, the priests had to examine them before they could return home to their families.)  As they journeyed, all ten lepers were outwardly healed; but only one was inwardly healed.  The dirty Samaritan, filled with gratitude, returned to praise and honor Jesus Christ.

                There was once a prominent doctor who was a devoted golfer.  His long time caddie had a club foot (a deformity in which the foot bends inward, making it difficult to walk.)  ‘Doc Gordon,’ as he was known, often traveled south for the winters to continue his golf game.  One winter, he decided to take his caddie with him; during their trip, the doctor operated on the man’s foot and he was made completely whole.  Soon after they returned, the doctor became ill and passed away.  One day, the caddie was carrying another member’s bag; at every hole he stopped to pluck a flower, until eventually he had gathered a very beautiful bouquet.  The member was curious and asked the caddie about his new girlfriend.  He replied, “Oh no, I don’t have a girlfriend.  These are for Doctor Gordon.  I go to his grave twice a week and place these flowers there.”  Over his lifetime, Doctor Gordon had helped thousands of sick people; he had corrected many physical ailments, and prolonged the lives of numerous individuals.  Yet, only one patient was truly thankful; the young caddie continued to praise and honor his deceased friend and benefactor because his heart was filled with gratitude (This illustration was a parable taken from another source; whether the characters were real, is not certain.)

                Jesus Christ has healed and given life to so many people, but only those whose gratitude is a daily expression, have truly experienced a miracle.  There are a number of ways to show your gratitude for God; prayers of thanksgiving; testifying of His greatness; gathering together with other believers; worship and singing; acts of love on His behalf; service work; care giving; charity, etc.  Have you received the gift of healing and eternal life?  Gratitude is a fruit of true salvation; those who understand the value of what they have been given, honor and praise God every day (Note:  If you have never received Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, please contact us and we can discuss how you can do that today.)

                “Lord Heavenly Father we praise You; we honor You; and we thank You for our salvation.  We are unworthy servants, and yet You love us.  Thank You for healing us and protecting us; thank you for Your kindness and provision.  You are truly an awesome and amazing God.  May our hearts be filled with gratitude; may we be compelled to speak to others of Your greatness, and may we be filled with Your Holy Spirit.  We love You Father, and we honor You; and we ask and pray all of these things, 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 in to 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 (worshiping 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, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Don’t be lukewarm

JESUS SPEAKING

                “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God:  I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish that you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth […] as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.  Therefore be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3: 14 – 16, 19.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                After being seized by the Romans, the Apostle John was marched in to a crowded coliseum and plunged in to a vat of boiling oil.  But when he remained unharmed, masses of people within the coliseum began to convert to Christianity.  The Romans, fearing his influence, placed him in prison on a deserted Island off the cost of Turkey (known as Patmos.)  Church tradition teaches us that on this island, in about the year 95 A.D., an aging John (the last living Apostle) received a revelation from Jesus Christ.  In this revelation Jesus addressed the seven churches located in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.  The Laodicean church had become lukewarm in their faith; they were once bold, zealous, and uncompromising.  Yet, over time they succumb to personal comforts, complacency, and routine.  Jesus sternly rebuked them; his command: be zealous again; reach out; be bold; spread the gospel; be eager to do good and to serve; and work hard to save souls.  God’s message to the Laodiceans is timeless; it pertains to the church today.  There is no half-way; a moderate faith is a dead faith.  For the believer there are no vacations, no breaks, and no retirement.  Those who stop serving God fully, are in danger of becoming lukewarm, cold, and dead.

                Interestingly enough, a recent study revealed that early retirement can lead to an increased risk of death.  In 2005, three groups of people were studied; those who retired at 55; those who retired at 60; and those who retired at 65.  “In this research, death was almost twice as likely in the first 10 years after retirement at age 55 compared with those who continued working.”  The tendency to take it easy and relax can have disastrous results.  To lose enthusiasm for God’s message is to fail to fulfill the highest calling of God.  We must fervently work for the Lord until he returns to gather us together.

                Are you eager to serve God and others; or have you been serving yourself?  Are you on fire for the Lord, or have you become cold?  Are you readily spreading the gospel, or have you fallen silent?  Have you faded in to the background, or do you speak the truth in boldness?  Be brave and reach out for Christ.  May your heart be ignited by the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit.  May the words of God flow from your mouth, and may your good works never cease; may God use you to transform the lives of others; and may you represent the church of God with conviction and zeal.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit and cause our hearts to burn for You.  Grant us boldness and faithfulness.  May we shine brightly in the lives of all those we meet.  Give us the words to speak, and the strength to continue.  May we never grow weary or become lukewarm; may we never cease from serving others, knowing that one day we will have our rest in You.  Lord, we love You, 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.



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