Archive for July, 2010

Stewardship

JESUS SPEAKING

            “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who is will commit to your trust true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16: 10-12)

 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            There are two kinds of riches; earthly riches, and heavenly riches.  The heavenly riches are far more valuable, for they are eternal.  ‘Mammon’ is a reference to earthly wealth (homes, gold, silver, money, beauty, careers, education, power, etc.)  Most people are seeking after this wealth rather than seeking after God, and as a result, they are serving their possessions instead of the living God who created them.  God has given the earth and all that is in it to mankind as a temporary possession.  Every man and woman is a steward of what God had given them.  A steward is ‘someone who manages property or other affairs for someone else.’   How someone handles mortal life, indicates how they will handle eternal life.  No one who abuses what is God’s should expect to inherit eternal life for themselves.

            When I was young (way before God came in to my life), I had very little respect for the possessions of others.  Whenever I got to take my mother’s car for a ride, I would abuse it; I would hit jumps, take friends out riding on dirt roads, and drive through snow banks with it.  Once, after returning my sisters car to her in a damaged conditioned she began to cry.  My dad later bought me a new vehicle; a car ‘all my own.’  I abused that car to within an inch of its life.  I smoked in it; I left garbage wrappers in it; I hit jumps with it; I rode over a bunch of mail-boxes with it (popping the tire), I had a friend kick in the side door; I got it stuck in a ditch; I had a window smashed in; the door handle was ripped off etc.  Had my Dad read this scripture, he would have known how poorly I would treat my own car after looking at the damaged I caused to others cars.

            Today, the things that we have in this life are not ours.  Our wives, our kids, our houses, our cars, our friends, our families, our bodies, even our money; it all belongs to God, and we are supposed to care for them accordingly.  If we succeed in being good stewards of the possessions of this world, we will receive for ourselves, eternal possessions from the living God.  Be a good steward of your things; take care of what is his; and your reward will be great.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask and pray that You please give us the desire to serve You rather than the possessions of this world.  And help us to be good stewards of what You have given us.  We ask that You help us in our endeavors to please You, that we may inherit Your true riches.  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.

Pure Motives

JESUS SPEAKING       

            “Take heed that you don’t do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.  Or else you have no reward from you Father in heaven.  Therefore when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men.  Assuredly I say to you they have their reward.  But when you do your charitable deed, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.  That your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will himself reward you openly” (Mathew 6: 1-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Many acts of charity were being done by the religious leaders in the days of Jesus.  Yet the majority of them were doing these works to benefit themselves, rather than to give glory to God.  Jesus identified two types of rewards (motivations) for any good action.  Some were motivated by a desire to please God and be rewarded by Him, and some were motivated by a desire to be acknowledged and rewarded by their peers.  The human heart is a deep and mysterious thing that no man can see in too, and no person can know, except God.  In fact the majority of people don’t completely understand their own motivations for doing good or evil.  God says in scripture, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it.  I the Lord search the heart.” (Jeremiah 17: 9-10.)  Nearly everyone claims to be a ‘good person.’  Only, the majority of people are good because it benefits them in some way.  Some people set out to do something selfless, but before the act is done, they have been corrupted by some selfish motive.  The heart is the battle ground on which worldly and spiritual motives war; symbolized by the left and right hand spoken by Christ in this scripture.  As soon as a pure motive arises within the heart, a selfish motive attempts to corrupt it.  What then is a suggested remedy for this corruption?  Jesus suggests that you make no provision to satisfy your worldly desires, by removing all possible human benefit.  Charity done in secret cannot possibly be rewarded by anyone but God.  Knowing this, it is easy to see why Jesus condemned those who appeared to be the most Godly in His day.  Their actions and their hearts told different stories; that is why they were called hypocrites by Jesus; everything they did was for their own benefit.  Their motives were corrupted [Important to note:  This does not mean that God wants us to do all of our works in secret.  He says in Mathew 5: 16, Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  He wants us to always be mindful of our hearts when we do a good work in front of others, and we should always make sure that God gets the credit for that deed.  We must live in this world and God desires us to be constantly doing good works, public and private.]      

            Most churches have teams of talented individuals that lead the congregation in song.  The purpose of a worship team is to direct others in focusing on God.  Sadly, being on stage can lead the pure in heart to begin to desire for themselves, the attention that is God’s.  Many performers shake their hips and dance around on stage; they wear clothing that sparkles and belt out lyrics in a manner that emphasizes their vocal talents rather than God’s worthiness.  The focus is to be placed on God and not a performer.  It is human nature to want to be the center of attention…to receive the admiration of others, but as Christians, we are never to be the center of attention; rather, we are to place all of our attention on God, and attempt to point others toward Him. 

            Christ came to put the focus back on the heart and back on God.  The good action is no longer just the action, but the heart that prompted that action.  How then can we make sure that our hearts are pure?  By practicing.  “How can I practice purity in my heart,” you might ask?  Easy; you make efforts to do things that only God can see.  You take the time to pray when no one is watching; you make giving in secret a new part of your life.  In this way you build your personal relationship with God (free from selfish motives), and that relationship then manifests itself in every area of your life (public as well as private.)

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we pray that You give us a clean heart Lord, free from the selfish motives of our flesh.  Help us Lord to desire Your rewards above all others, and give us opportunities to give, and to be charitable in secret.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we give You thanks, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Who are you rooting for?

JESUS SPEAKING

            On the next day, which followed the day of preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while he was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’  Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’  So the last deception will be worse than the first.”  Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.”  So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard (Mathew 27: 62-66.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            An ‘empty tomb’ frightened the Jewish leaders, who considered Jesus to be a deceiver.  Jesus had prophesied often concerning the third day of his burial.  He made his resurrection the final proof of his claims about being ‘The Son of God.’  All of the healings, all of the miracles, all of the wise words, all for nothing if he did not rise from the dead as he had proclaimed he would.  The Pharisees (religious leaders) didn’t believe in miracles, or the power of God.  They thought theft was the only means by which his body could go missing.  They faithlessly prepared a defense against earthly forces, not considering the power of a divine adversary.  They petitioned Pilate, the Roman Governor to provide them with battle hardened professional soldiers, capable of repelling even the most aggressive foe.  These leaders received their guard, and made the tomb secure.  Later in scripture we read what happened to these strong soldiers; the earth shook beneath them, and an angel appeared with such glory that they fell to the ground as if dead.  The angel then rolled the stone away from the entrance, and the Lord rose from the dead.

            American’s have made sports a part of their national identity.  One facet of that identity is a desire to see the ‘underdog’ overcome impossible odds and attain victory.  The ‘comeback’ is a term that most of us are familiar with.  In basketball, when we see a team that is losing in the fourth quarter by 16 points, with two minutes remaining, the game is all but over (some even turn off the T.V. or leave the stadium to get ahead of traffic.)  Just occasionally something amazing happens in those two minutes.  The team scores 2 points and steals the ball, they score again quickly, and again they get the ball back.  Each time they score, excitement builds in the hearts and minds of those who stayed to watch.  Finally, the game comes down to one last shot, and if the ‘underdog’ makes it, the game will go down in history; if they miss it, they lose, and all of the excitement and anticipation was for nothing.  No one remembers the ‘almost-miraculous.’  The ministry of Jesus Christ began with the miraculous, finished with the miraculous, and continues with the miraculous today.  Every miracle, every person that he brought to life, every healing, would have been for nothing had he failed to rise from the dead.  Had the body of Jesus been in the tomb, he would not be in the hearts and minds of millions of people today.  There would be no churches, no changed lives, no forgiveness of sins, no Holy Spirit, no meaning and purpose for living, and no hope for a future life with a loving God.  Jesus was victorious over his opponent in one final act.  He was raised to life; he defeated death; and all those who cheered for and hoped in him will eternally share in His victory.

            No one has ever produced the body of Jesus Christ; no tomb raider, no historian, no king, no religious leader; though thousands, if not millions have tried.   The reason they can’t find his body, is because he isn’t dead.  To those who have faith, and know the power of God, we have a hope in eternal life, with an eternal God, in a paradise prepared by Him.  To those who believe his body was stolen, they have no future, and no hope in anything but eternal separation from God.  In every generation, in every human heart, the question, “Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead?” must be answered.  The answer to this question puts you on one of two opposing sides, and only one side has a future with God!  Look to God’s power, and not human understanding, and a miracle will happen in your heart, and in your life now, and the life to come.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You Lord and we thank You for the resurrection.  We ask Lord that You increase our faith, and our hope in You.  Lord help us to minister to those who have not yet found an empty tomb, and a resurrected Lord.  Give us more of Your Holy Spirit, and help us to accept the victory that You have already won for us.  We love You Lord, we thank You, and we praise 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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