Archive for June, 2010



The ones who’ve wondered off

JESUS SPEAKING

            Then the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.  And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  So he spoke this parable to them, saying:

            “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15: 1-7.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             Jesus ate with social outcasts.  This type of behavior was not only unorthodox, it was ‘downright’ shocking.  The religious leaders were absolutely infatuated with ritualistic purity.  They avoided the impure as if they had leprosy.  Middle Eastern Dining consisted of tearing pieces of bread apart and dipping them in to communal bowls.  ‘Double dipping’ was unavoidable.  The Jews believed that if you ate with sinners and ingested their saliva you would become one with them.  Much of the Levitical Law (Old Testament teaching) was focused on proper dietary habits.  Pigs were considered unclean animals because they consumed their own feces.  Anyone who ate bacon for instance would become one with the pig, and they would be unclean and separated from God.  The religious leaders were likening Jesus to someone who was eating with pigs, because they saw sinners as dirty animals.  Jesus reveals to them that God loves every human being unconditionally, and morns for the lost; he doesn’t hate them. 

             Jesus goes on to use the illustration of the Sheppard and his sheep to show God’s relationship with man.  God is the Sheppard and human beings are his sheep.  Just as a Sheppard loves his sheep, so God loves all of his children.  Jesus was speaking to a group of people who were familiar with Sheepherding, which was one of the main industries in the region.  The religious leaders had become so twisted that they valued animals above other human beings.  They’d go after an animal that had wandered in to the wilderness to save it from a predator, but to chase after a human being that had wandered away from God was out of the question; and these were supposed men of God.  Instead of rejoicing with Jesus for all those who were returning to their Father, they attacked Jesus and tried to make him out to be God’s enemy.  They failed to represent God because they themselves were evil.  They were fighting against the working God amongst his people.

             In our society today, we have very little idea of the course of the natural things that surround us.  We’ve never had to dodge a hungry predator, or travel great distances to find food or water.  Most animals survive because they are able to stay in places that protect them from danger.  Birds make their nests in trees, and snakes make burrows for themselves under the ground.  Sheep are animals that have no natural protection; like baby bear cubs who rely on the protection of their mothers, so too, sheep are dependent upon the protection of their Sheppard.  When a baby bear wanders too far away from its mother, it is vulnerable.  The same is true of people, when they wander away from God.  God asks that we come to him because he loves us, not because he needs us to worship Him.  His love is so strong that he sent out his only son to gather his children together, allowing all who have wandered away to return to Him again; to know His love, His protection, and the eternal life that He has provided for all who are willing.

             We must recognize that there are two kinds of human beings, the Lost and the Found.  As Christians it is our ‘labor of love’ to reach out to those who are lost and wandering.  We are charged with the same task as our teacher.  How can we reach out?  We can eat a meal with someone who is not saved, or sit and have a conversation with a person who is in distress; we can plant seeds in the hearts of all of those around us.  We can let others know how warm and peaceful it is inside of God’s arms.  We are not to knock down anyone who has not received Christ, but we are to love them, and let them know that God loves them and wishes to have a relationship with them.  We should rejoice in our hearts when we see others come to Jesus Christ.  Do we have a heart for the Lost that reflects God’s heart?  If we do, then God can use us to go after those who have strayed, and we can lead them out of danger and back to their Father.

             “If you’ve never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, I encourage you now to sit down in a quiet place and ask him in to your heart, and in to your life.  Ask him to be the Lord of your life, and turn to Him, and know that in heaven the angels are shouting and rejoicing because you’ve chosen life, love, and a family united under a loving Father.”  God bless all of you.

Salt and Light

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor; how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven” (Mathew 5: 13-16.)

 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                First, let us understand that Jesus is addressing those who put their faith in him.  Whether it be a little faith or a big giant amount of faith […] faith in him produces visible, tangible effects in the lives of the believers.  In Israel salt was not just used for eating, but was also used for coating pathways.  The best salt was used for eating, however, if that salt underwent a chemical change, which it often could, it would lose its flavor, and the good salt would then have no other use but to be used in the roadways and pathways, as Jesus is alluding to here.  In much the same way that salt has a purpose, so do cities that everyone can see.  Most cities were constructed on hillsides and in places that were easy to defend against attacks.  So too, these cities were easy to see in the day, and at night, they were illuminated.  A lamp is another illustration used her to describe the believer.  No one would ever turn on a flashlight and hide it under a pillow today.  This wouldn’t make sense.  Flashlights are for seeing in the dark.  Jesus is revealing that everyone who put’s their faith in him will be a light in this dark world.  Jesus alludes to works being the visible light of God that shines out from the true believer in the last portion of this scripture.  However, it is important that we recognize that we should not take the glory away from God, but should make sure that when others see our good works they, ‘glorify our Father in heaven.’

                When I was a young Christian it was difficult for me to love others because it was new and I was afraid, but today, it is easy, and it doesn’t seem strange at all.  As Christians we are to be distinguished from the rest of the world, easily recognized as followers of Christ, because we continue his works upon this earth.  We are to give light to others, and they should look at us and see Jesus Christ, working through us.  I encourage you to be swift to love everyone, everywhere you go, with as much love as you have to give.

                “Father, please, light up our hearts, and make them reflect the light of Christ.  Please Father; put others in our path that we can love today.  Father, please help us to be the salt of the earth, the city on the hill, the lamp on the lamp stand, that others may see our good deeds and praise You.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we ask and we pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

There is only one way to God

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

            Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?”

            Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14: 1-6.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Peter has just been told he will deny Christ three times before sunrise.  Jesus has also just made his disciples aware of his impending crucifixion, which was not a plan that was pleasing to them.  Their hearts were troubled, and so he addressed what was troubling them.  He pointed them to their belief in him.  Faith was the cure for what ailed them.  He imparted hope to them; hope of a future with him after his death and resurrection.  He wanted them to know that their time apart would not be forever.  Many of us know this scripture is speaking of what is called, ‘The second coming.’  He reminded them that they knew the way to the place he was about to go to.  Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?”  Jesus responded with three statements pertaining to himself; he said I am, “the way, the truth, and the life.”  He also implies that no other religion, or philosophy, or way of life could bring them to that place.  ‘The way’ is a path, a direction, a road that leads from one place to another.  In life, there are many paths, and many roads, and each leads to a different location.  There are people who are leading others down these pathways, with promises of great rewards, but all fail to deliver what they promise, which leads to the second claim Jesus makes.  He says that he is ‘the truth.’  The truth is a characteristic of God alone.  God never lies, never fails to honor a promise, and can always be trusted.  There are many liars that seek to mislead people.  He revealed that he is the only way to get to God, making other religions and their leader’s empty deceivers.  So, either Jesus is a liar and there is another way to get to God, or he is telling the truth and every other religious leader is lying, whether willfully, or in ignorance.  He also claims to be ‘the life.’  God is life, and He is eternal, and those who follow Jesus enter in to eternal life; the promise of God is that we can be with him, where he is.  Death is the absence of God, so all other ways lead to a place where God does not exist.  There is one way to God, and one truthful guide in a sea of liars.  There is one destination where God is and where we may be with him for an eternity.

            Jesus gave an excellent illustration describing the following of false prophets and spiritual leaders; he talked about ‘the blind leading the blind.’  He said, “Can the blind lead the blind?  Will they not both fall in to a ditch?”  Blind people are completely dependent upon someone who can see to direct them and lead them safely to where it is they are going.  There are many people who claim to see, but they themselves are blinded.  The religious leaders during the time of Jesus Christ were these blind guides he was referring too.  Today, we still have blind guides who are attempting to gain followings for themselves and not Jesus Christ.

              ‘All roads do not lead to God,’ as is the proper speech in our culture today.  The message of the Lord is not one that is politically correct.  If the message was, we would not have seen the deaths of the apostles, or the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, or the persecution of the church today.  To suggest that anyone’s beliefs are not correct will bring distain and contempt.  If Jesus Christ is telling the truth, then Buddhism leads to death, as does Islam, as does scientology, as does Judaism (without Jesus Christ), as does everything that is not a belief and a faith, and a following in Him.  To follow him, is to follow God.  (When we speak the truth, it is important that we speak the truth in Love; how we say something can be the difference between someone listening to our testimony, and turning away from the Lord because of our testimony.)

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today and we ask that You lead us.  Help us to give our entire lives over to You, and to listen to You and to trust You, and to have faith in You, and Your return.  Give us that future hope daily, that we may know and follow You, and be with You for an eternity in that place where You are.  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.


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