Archive for June, 2010

The number one priority

JESUS SPEAKING

            Jesus had just finished speaking to a rich man who had come to him to ask him a question; “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  The rich man claimed he had been faithful in keeping all of the commandments, but Jesus told him he lacked one thing; he needed to sell all that he had and give it to the poor and then come and follow him.  This was too much for the rich man to concede and he left very sad.  The scripture below is what followed.

 

            Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed  you.”

            So he said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom  of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18: 29.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Peter draws attention to the fact that he and his fellow believers had left everything to follow Jesus.  Jesus replied to this declaration with a promise.  He promised not just to replace what they had sacrificed, but to return it in abundance (more than what was laid down.)  There was a stipulation placed on the rewards; just giving things up wasn’t sufficient; the sacrifices had to be made for the sake of the kingdom of God.  There were also two kinds of rewards; the rewards provided for them in the present time (their lives upon the earth; not necessarily material in nature) and the rewards coming to them after their deaths (eternal life with God.)

            Jesus runs down a list of things that many people placed before God.  Many people refused to sell their homes and go out in to the ministry field with Jesus because they made their homes the most important thing in their lives; for some it was their parents, for some, their brothers, for some, their wives, and for still others, it was their children.  There are priorities in life, and everyone has something in the top spot, and whatever is in that top spot set’s the limitations on all of the other priorities.  In one portion of scripture a disciple said to Jesus when faced with leaving everything to follow him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father;” to which Jesus replied, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”  Another example was the rich young man who refused to sell all of his possessions and follow Jesus; he had placed his wealth first, and because of this, he walked away sad, choosing to keep his wealth.  The man was a servant to his wealth.  Those who put God first find that their wealth actually begins to serve God.  Everyone serves the number one priority in their lives.  There are very basic needs that most people think of as essential priorities.  For instance, food, water, and clothing seem to be of utmost importance; yet let’s examine what type of priority Jesus places on these things; “Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Mathew 6: 31-33.)  For those who are following Jesus, the number one priority must be God.

            I asked a man ounce who claimed to believe in Jesus, how much time he spent brushing his teeth in the morning and at night.  Apparently his daily tooth care composed about 4-5 minutes.  Then I asked him how much time he spent reading the bible, and he replied, “0.”  I said, “Then it is safe to say, that in your life, your teeth are more important than God?”  He conceded this to be the case.  A person who spends a lifetime putting God off will, in the end, be put off by God.

            Today, in our lives, God must come first.  He has to be the number one thing and everything else has to come in second.  Yes, sacrifices are necessary to make this happen.  Selling all your possessions is not necessarily what he is asking, but he is asking to come before those possessions.  If a man has wealth in the place where God should be, he has to sacrifice his love for wealth and replace it with his love for God.  Yet, not everyone has placed wealth above God.  Many have placed family, loved ones, children, time, possessions, freedom, recreation, sleep, drugs or alcohol, a job, a car, a house, land, education, and the list goes on and on.  We can place God first if we are willing to let go of whatever it is we are serving and turn to serve him.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to sacrifice those things that are getting in the way of our service to You.  Help us to place You first and to not be afraid to make changes in our lives.  Please be the number one priority in our lives; be the thing we love most in our hearts.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we look forward to Your Coming Kingdom.  We praise You, we thank You, and we love You, and we ask all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Admiring 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 all of his works; the healings, the miracles, but his greatest work would be the cross; he is looking to God to 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? 

             As an oil painter, when I paint I don’t paint only for my own pleasure, but I am always keeping in mind 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.  I assure you that the man responsible for designing the statue of liberty was very motivated to please those in the future who would lay their eyes upon ‘lady liberty.’  All of the millions that would see her arms, her face, her wide stance, her crown, and her flowing robes would undoubtedly be admiring the man who designed her.

             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 the crucifix.

             “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 so that others would see Your Glory in our sacrifice as well.  We love You Father, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”

Perfect Vision

JESUS SPEAKING

            Then he came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to him, and begged him to touch him.  So he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town.  And when he had spit on his eyes and put his hands on him, he asked him if he saw anything.  And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.”  Then he put his hands on his eyes again and made him look up.  And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.  Then he sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town” (Mark 8: 22-26.)

 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            A blind man who could see nothing had to be led to Jesus, but Jesus does something unexpected.  He leads him out of the city.  And for what reason?  (POSSIBLE INTERPRETATION:  Possibly because the city of Bethsaida was wicked and refused to believe in him.  In another scripture Jesus says, “Woe to you, Chorazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes” (Luke 10: 13.)  Jesus is comparing these two modern cities to a couple of ancient cities.  Tyre and Sidon were cities that God destroyed because they had refused to turn away from evil.  It appears as though Jesus has finished ministering to Bethsaida at this point, and so he leads the man out of the city to do his miracle.  He further tells the man not to return to the city and not to tell them about the healing.  It is interesting to note that the man was not instantly healed.  Jesus could have healed him right away, but there might be a lesson to learn here.  First, every human being needs to meet Jesus, and admit that they are completely blind to the things of God.  Next, they need to trust Jesus and take him by the hand, and allow him to lead them.  The blind man came to Jesus to receive his sight, and the first thing Jesus did was to begin to lead him somewhere else.  The man didn’t ask why, he just followed.  Jesus leads many people out of the life of sin they are in, symbolized in this scripture by Jesus’ leading of the man out of the sinful city.  He then warns the man not to go back in to the city, as Jesus warns those he leads out of a life of sin to not return to that life again.  There are two healings wrapped in to one; the partial healing and the full healing.  The first healing takes place when we follow Jesus, symbolized by the man’s initial healing when he sees trees walking around.  The second healing of the blind man may symbolize the second coming of Jesus Christ.  In other portions of scripture it is said that in this life we see dimly, but in the next we will see clearly.  We have had the first experience with Jesus, but still we are awaiting the second.

            Interestingly enough, I recently broke one of my molars.  The pain was severe, so I went in to see a dentist.  Apparently half of my tooth had broken off.  He went in and did a root canal.  The pain stopped immediately, and my troubles seemed all but over. The only difficulty was, I still had half a tooth and no dental coverage.  I waited a couple of months until I received my insurance and now I have a second appointment with a dentist to receive a crown and to have my tooth restored to ‘as good as new.’  In this life, those of us who come to Jesus Christ and put our faith and hope in him have whatever pain we feel inside relieved.  We come to know a peace that surpasses all understanding.  Yet, we are still afflicted by things because we have bodies made of flesh.  We know hunger, we know thirst, we know physical pain; some people contract diseases, some people suffer the losses of loved ones.  Christ has touched our hearts and our lives and we have received his Holy Spirit, and that Spirit leads us through this evil world to place where we will be healed completely.  We see with limited vision in this place and our understanding of heavenly things is blurred.  Yet, there is time that is coming when we will receive new bodies, that don’t grow old, in a place where there is no more pain and suffering.  We will never thirst, or hunger, or want for anything.  In that day, when Christ returns, we will see clearly, and we will be made perfect.

            Our goal as Christians is to bring blind people to Jesus Christ, that he may take them by the hand and lead them through this world, and in to the world to come.  We can do this by being his messengers.  We represent Jesus Christ in this place.  He is our teacher, and we are his students.  Knowing who he is not enough, we must be doing what he does.  Jesus continues his work in this place through all those who lay down their lives to take up the cross.  May God bless you as you reach out to those who are lost, and as you bring the blind to the only one who can help them to see.)

            “Lord heavenly Father, we come before You today and ask and pray that You would reveal the truth of this scripture to us.  Help us Lord to Look forward to your return and to put our trust and faith in Your leading.  Father, also we pray that You will bring blind people our way that we can lead them to You.  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.”


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