Archive for September, 2010

The Illusion of Control

JESUS SPEAKING

Then he said to his disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.  Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them.  Of how much more value are you than the birds?  And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?  Consider the lilies, how they grow:  they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12: 22-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus commanded his disciples not to worry.  What is worry?  Worry is a feeling of discomfort in the present that is produced by the expectation of some future pain (By the way, this is the opposite of hope; hope is a present feeling of elation brought about by the expectation of some future pleasure.)  Many were worrying about not having what they needed in the future.  Jesus identified two sources of worry common to human beings; food and clothing.  He presented two animals victorious over their fear in these areas; birds and lilies.  Birds lived in nests, but stored nothing in them.  Birds foraged daily and took with them only what would fit in their stomachs.  Unlike birds, those whom Jesus was speaking too were run on fear; fear of not having enough tomorrow would drive them to horde and strive to gain as much as they could today; in their pursuits they had abandoned truly living life the way that God had desired them to live.  The second organism Jesus pointed too was the Lillie.   The Lilly was a commonly held symbol of beauty in the Middle East.  Jesus said, the lillies don’t toil (work hard), nor spin (sow on a sowing loom), and yet they were dressed more beautifully than King Solomon (Solomon was a king of Israel, and by many accounts the richest man who had ever lived.)  His clothing was the finest money could buy.  The least of God’s works were far better than man’s best efforts.  The people were so focused on providing for themselves, they missed out on what was truly important.  They were ruled by fear instead of faith.  They were focused on the excesses and not the necessities.  They believed they were in control.

                How can worry bring about sick and unhealthy living.  Many people have heard of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.)  The symptoms of the disorder consist of two parts.  First, there is an internal feeling of uneasiness or discomfort (anxiety) that arises out of fear (in severe cases the fear is completely irrational.)  The fear of some future calamity stirs the person to take actions (compulsions) that help them to avoid said calamity.  However, most of the time, the compulsive actions taken, serve only to give the person a false sense of security, or an illusion of control.  For example, someone may have a fear of getting sick, so they believe that if they wash their hands 18 times, they will avoid getting sick (but if a person breaths on them they may catch a cold anyways.)  Some people have allowed fear to rule their lives so much, they can’t even leave the house, or do fun things with others.  Some people work 80 hours a week, and put everything they have in to a 401K account, fearing they will not have enough for retirement, and two days before they retire they die.  Now there are others, who have come to know God, and to follow the teachings of Jesus, and they know a freedom from fear; they focus on today, and the person sitting in front of them.  The important things in life begin to be their focus, and they learn to place all of their trust in God, and in his mighty power, and not in themselves.

                Today, control is an illusion (almost all things are outside of our control), and if we desire to follow Jesus Christ, we need to give up seeking to provide for ourselves in areas where only He can provide.  If we focus on things that we fear we will lose the peace that Jesus provides to those who trust Him.  When you feel yourself getting scared, or anxious, simply step back, relax, and remember this scripture.  Praying can help as well.  God is in control of nearly every aspect of your life, and he handles your future so you can live in today.  Focus without worry on what today has for you, and you will know a peace that surpasses all understanding.  There is such a great freedom in knowing that God is your provider, and that he can always be trusted.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You help us to stop living in the fear of tomorrow, or the fear of anything other than You.  Help us Lord to know deep down in our hearts that You will provide for us, and use us today to do Your will.  Help us Father to focus on the basic things in life, and to not focus on the excesses that can distract us from serving You.  Give us Your peace, and make our hearts and minds still, knowing that we can trust You in all things.  We love You Father, 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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Honoring God, is obeying God

JESUS SPEAKING

                “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you.  I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”  They answered and said to him, “Abraham is our Father.”  Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham” (John 8: 37-39.)

INSIPRED THOUGHTS

                The Jews were very fixated on, and blindly devoted too, their ancestors, whom they professed as being righteous and worthy of honor.  The fifth commandment said, “Honor Your Father and Mother” and Abraham was one of the original Fathers of the Jewish people.  Abraham’s children honored him by recognizing his authority.  They lifted him up as being wiser, stronger, purer, and holier than they were.  So his grandchildren, who honored their parents, honored Abraham twice as much.  As the Jewish nation continued onward through history, Abraham continued to be held in ever greater esteem by each successive generation.  They began to idolize him and put him in the place of God.  Many were outraged when Jesus proclaimed himself to be in a position of greater honor than Abraham.  Although many professed to honor Abraham they had no respect for him, because they lived lives in opposition to his obedient life lived for God.  Jesus told them they were descendants of Abraham, but not his children; instead, he identified them as Son’s of the Devil.  In their obedience to Satan, they sought to kill Jesus, the “Son of God.”  Although words can be used for self-deception and to deceive others, Jesus reminded them that their actions revealed the truth of whose children they were.

                Nowhere is this better illustrated than in many of the orthodox churches of today; the Catholic Church for example (not that everyone in this denomination is unsaved; this is simply an example of how a church in the past has claimed salvation could only come through allegiance to them.  This church is changing a bit today, and there are many Godly people in these churches, both in the church itself, and in the leadership, despite recent corruption.)  They replaced obedience to God with church affiliation.  Some people believe that if you tithe and show up to church, you’re secure for an eternity.  Unfortunately, sons and daughters of God aren’t those who attend a specific church, but whose actions are consistent with those of Jesus.  This behavior stems from a faith and an honor for God; not from an honor for a Bishop, a pastor, a priest or a pope; God and His Son, and the Holy Spirit, alone are worthy of honor…believers should be led by, and seek to follow, them.  A tattoo of a cross on the back or body means nothing (not that they are bad, I wear a cross, but they mean nothing in terms of my closeness with God.)  What good is a bible if the words aren’t manifested in your actions?  What good is church attendance if the night before was spent living in opposition to God?  Holding to symbols, and professions of faith are inadequate; living the faith is sufficient.

                Today, we have to let God use us.  How?  Give up honoring other things, and make Jesus Christ your God.  Open His word, and when you read a passage, don’t close the book and forget what you read, but seek to make that passage manifest in your life.  Jesus said to invite the lame, the sick, the outcasts to dinner.  Can you take your lunch break and spend it with someone who fits that description?  Is there someone who might want to eat lunch with you but can’t afford it?  Jesus said to give to everyone who asks; when you pass by a beggar who asks you for money and you’re in a hurry, stop and be a child of God; give what you can if you have it.  When you are talking to another person, how difficult is it to share with them how much Christ has done for you?  When your employer asks you to give 100%, give 200%.  When you’re on your way to work, turn off the radio and pray as he has taught you, “Our Father who art in heaven…”  There are so many more ways you can be like Jesus; but it begins with honor.  Can you give up what you think to be the right way so that you can follow his way?  Relearn how to live, and let him be your teacher, your guide, and your Father.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we ask and pray that You would mold us and shape as you will.  Father, Help us to honor You, and to lift up Your Son up.  Make us Your children, and help us to be doers of the word, and not just hearers only.  Remove from us Lord any hope in worldly things, or affiliations that are not of You.  Continue to manifest Your words in our lives, that our actions may bring others to You.  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.

Destination Jesus

JESUS SPEAKING

             “And the Father Himself, who sent me, has testified of me.  You have neither heard His voice nor seen His form.  But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, him you do not believe.  You search the scriptures, for in them you think that you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me.  But you are unwilling to come to me that you may have life” (John 5: 37-41.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             The testimony concerning Jesus Christ is something that exists internally in the hearts of those who believed.  Those who didn’t believe, searched the scriptures, thinking that the scriptures themselves were eternal life, when in fact, the scriptures were simply a guide; a way to identify the true messiah; (this does not mean that they are not sacred, for they are the eternal words of God.)  Men wrote the bible physically as God inspired them to write; or God dictated to them verbally what to write (with the exception of the 10 commandments which God wrote with His finger.)  God, through men, identified when, where, and how the messiah would be born.  (The messiah was going to be the one that was going to bring peace once again between God and men; a forgiveness of sins.)  God revealed through scripture, the works that he would do; the miracles, the message; and the ministries.  He also foretold of how the messiah would be betrayed, would die, and be raised to life.  Knowing God and knowing that Jesus Christ is God’s Son are one in the same; for Jesus says, “But you do not have his word abiding in you, because whom He sent, him you do not believe.”  It is impossible to truly know God, and still doubt His Son.    

             When I was a child, we used to go sledding at a place called ‘The bowl.’  Basically, ‘the bowl’ was a small pond surrounded by high hills, and when the winter snow came, its slopes would be crowded with families and kids with sleds, inner tubes, and snowboards.  Since the hills stretched all the way around, there were so many different places to begin sledding.  Some were steep, and some weren’t; some had obstacles and jumps, and some didn’t.  Some started all the way from the top, some from the tree area, and even the young kids had a slightly less adventurous area to start from.  No matter where a person started from, they were all on a pathway to the same place, provided they chose to let go; the destination was a little patch of flat ice in the center about the size of ½ a football field.  This could get rather dangerous at times, because no sooner had one person stopped, than another was coming down right behind them, sometimes even from an different direction.  There was no shortage of crying children, that’s for sure.  The bible is very much the same.  A person can start reading in any book, but once they’ve started, all those who continue sliding, will eventually land up right in the arms of Jesus Christ.  The purpose of scripture is to testify about God’s plan for reconciliation in His son.  Some read the Old Testament, some the new, but all scripture relates backward or forward to Jesus Christ.  God has chosen to make His Son the focus, the main event, the person he desires for us to follow after, to be like, and to submit too; Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and we are to be live and move and have our being in him.

             Today, many people stay away from scripture entirely, because they understand and know that it leads them somewhere, and having denied Jesus, they don’t want to take that journey.  There are others who have seen the very wonderful gift that God has given us in Jesus Christ, because their hearts contain the word of God.  To those who have allowed God’s testimony to enter in to their hearts, they come face to face with a messiah who embraces them and loves them with God’s love, and with God’s heart.  Continue to read the word, and you will continue to grow stronger in your faith and in your relationship with the Lord, through His Son.    

             “Lord Heavenly Father, give us further testimonies concerning Your Son, and the eternal life that we have in Him.  Continue to point us in the direction of our messiah, and give us a peace as we come to rest upon Him, and in Him.  We love You Father, 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.

Difficult but necessary

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person.  But whoever slaps you on the one cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” (Mathew 5: 38-42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Let this sink inn.  This is no small command.  You are never to repay evil with evil, but overcome evil with good.  Implementing this scripture in to your daily life separates those who truly follow from those who don’t.  God bless all of you.

Faith leads to happiness

JESUS SPEAKING

             Then Thomas, called the twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  So he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in to the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.  And after eight days his disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them.  Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you.”

             Then he said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into my side.  Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

             And Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20: 24-29.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS 

                Thomas, having heard all of the accounts of Jesus appearing to others after his resurrection, said that he would not believe unless he touched the holes in Jesus’ hands.  So the Lord appeared to him and let him touch his wounds.  Thomas fell to the ground and worshiped Jesus and said, “My Lord and my God!”  Although Thomas came to believe, those who would come to believe in the resurrection and the gospel message without having laid eyes or hands on the resurrected Lord were going to be far happier and stronger in their faith than those who needed proof.  The word ‘blessed’ means ‘happy,’ and so those who have a strong faith, are also those who are extremely joyful.

                Early on in my experience as a Christian, I attempted to use my intellect, logic, and reasoning to grow closer to God (although our minds play a part, they are not to rule over us at the exclusion of our hearts.)  As I began to understand that trust and faith in Jesus Christ were not things that could be attained by reason, my faith became stronger, and my joy began to increase.  I needed less proof (although there is a lot of evidence) because it had been replaced with trust in Jesus Christ.  As my trust in Jesus Christ grew, so did the smile on my face; as my faith increased, so I began to focus more and more on the eternity he has promised, and the hope of a future with the God that has created all things; in turn, the struggles of this life that bring most people down, seemed to become speed bumps and not mountains; they became ripples and not waves; the hope and faith in the future has not only made life bearable, but instead it has been conquered.

                Today, you may yearn and desire proof; but you will not know the greatest happiness that comes from simply trusting Jesus Christ without having laid your eyes or your hands upon him.  You can believe him when he says that he will return for you.  You can know that right now, God is watching, and He has a future and hope for you, in an eternal kingdom.  Your joy will increase, and your faith will be like a rock that cannot be moved.  You will begin a new life filled with happiness and love that comes from the eternal God, living inside of your heart.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we come before You and lift You up; You are just an awesome and mighty God.  We ask that You help us to believe, not only with our minds, but with our hearts.  Help us to trust in You, and to have faith in what we have not seen or touched.  We want our joy to be complete, and we want to be blessed, so give us the faith of a child; and fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  Help us to focus on Your eternal promise and the hope of the life to come.  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.

How dare you talk about repentence

JESUS SPEAKING

                And he opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the scriptures.

Then he said to them, “Thus it is written, and it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And you are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24: 45-49)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus was standing before them in his resurrected body while he spoke these words.  They were confused about the meaning of the resurrection and crucifixion.  They had excepted a king on a throne in Jerusalem, not one who had come back from the dead.  Jesus enlightens them about the crucifixion and resurrection, and he shows them how they fit into the scriptures.  The disciples were commanded to begin revealing this same purpose to the world.  The Gospel, the testimony of God to the people was theirs to take forth.  The entire world would have the chance to repent, and to be forgiven of all of their sins through their faith in what was done by Jesus on the cross.  Two words that are very important to note in this scripture are “repentance and remission.”  They are at the heart of the gospel message.  They are both actions, but one is man’s responsibility, and the other is God’s responsibility.  The initial contact point between God and man is faith in Christ; that faith, if genuine, then drives a person to change their behavior in a way that is pleasing to God.  What does “repentance” look like; if a man is sleeping with his girlfriend, he stops; if they are getting drunk, they quit drinking; if they have been lying, they begin telling the truth; if they have been unloving, they begin to love.  Disobedience to God comes to an end, and is replaced by obedience.  The second word, “remission,” is God’s responsibility, and He fulfilled his obligation on the cross (not an obligation, but rather a labor of love.)  Those who accept Jesus Christ as their substitute have received the removal of the filthiness that exists within them.  This is what is known as ‘the great exchange;’ we give Jesus Christ all of our Sin, and he gives us all of his righteousness.  The disease of sin is then put in to “remission.”

                One day, I was reading my bible in the coffee shop, and I leaned over to the gentleman across from me, who was reading as well.  I told him about the book I was reading, and he told me about his book.  He was having a hard time with drugs, and I began to minister to him.  He was without a vehicle because he had crashed it one night while drunk.  He had been attending a couple of church services with a friend, and so I invited him to come with me to a couple of services as well.  He began coming along to feed the homeless, and made some attempts to read the bible; he had a hard time walking away from the drugs and the woman he did drugs with.  We talked rather openly about what would happen if he didn’t repent.  He would often talk about buying a brand new car, as if that would make his life better in some way.  He was living at home and saving his money up for that nice new car.  After some time, he faded away and stopped coming to the fellowships.  I would call him and get no reply; I went to his house to see how he was doing, but I got ‘the cold shoulder.’  Last week, after nearly two years without contact, I received some disturbing news.  Apparently he did get that new car he had so desperately wanted; a brand new 2010 Scion.  Last week he was driving it in the middle of the night while intoxicated and he lost control of the vehicle and crashed; only this time, he hit a 70 year old woman who was walking home from work.  He survived and is in the county jail facing up to 10 years in prison.

                Today, many people’s lives are shattered because they refuse to repent.  Prison is a place filled with people who had every opportunity to make a change but refused.  Rehabilitation centers are littered with individuals who have fought change to the bitter end; choosing some drug over even their own children.  Some will fight with God all the way to the grave, but the grave sadly is not the end.  Hell will be filled with people who died without making that change.  Every flag God raised; every person he sent in to their lives with a warning; every good thing he removed to bring them to their knees was rejected in favor of some lifestyle, drug, relationship, career, or pleasure that suited them.  So many people today are putting off repentance; don’t be one of them.  Whole churches have stopped talking about repentance, because it doesn’t bring up warm fuzzy feelings.  But it is a central part of the message of God, and of the gospel.  Half of the message is repentance (responsibility of the believer,) the other half is forgiveness (responsibility of God.)  Today, don’t be the one that refuses to change.  If there is an area of your life that needs a change, make that change (it’s keeping you from growing closer to God.)    If you are sleeping with a girlfriend, if you are cheating on your taxes, if you are refusing to forgive someone else; whatever it might be; give it up, and give in, and repent and offer yourself over to God fully; allow Him to transform you and mold you and shape you; and you will know true peace, undivided peace, and an incredible forgiveness that will fill your heart and spill over in to the lives of all of those around you.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today and we ask that You convict us in our hearts of the sin that remains in our lives.  Give us the strength to turn away from evil, and to be forgiven.  Lord we want to be more pleasing to You, and we want to be closer to You.  So please help us to repent; help us to change; help us to be ‘reborn.’  And help us to bear fruit for You Lord.  We love You Lord, 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.

Becoming as a little child

JESUS SPEAKING

             At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Mathew 18: 1-5.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Humility is the acceptance of helplessness.  The plan for salvation through Jesus Christ is not something that can be earned; it is something that must be received.  A child inherently realizes their own helplessness, and so they look to their parents for the fulfillment of their fundamental needs.  The disciples didn’t realize that those who were the most helpless, also were the ones who honored their God the most.  Those who are lowly, push themselves down, and lift up the one who provides for them.  So humility is the result of honoring God, and lowliness is the best way to know and love God, who is all powerful.  Children are inherently accepting and trusting of their parent’s provision; Jesus used this illustration to say something about how human beings need to relate to God; He is the provider, and his true children accept his provision.

                In nature, birds are very curious animals.  Their young sit in nests, and the parents go out to hunt.  They bring food back to their young.  No chick would know how to provide for itself; most can’t even fly.  They instinctively understand and know their own limitations, and in turn, they understand the value of their parents.  They wait eagerly as their parents venture out to catch fish, or worms, which they eat, and when they return they regurgitate the food in to the mouths of their chirping young.  The chicks stay in the nest, and receive their nourishment as little children.

                Today, God has sent his son to us, that we might eat eternal food.  Jesus says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  This eternal food is always filling.  We are in this world, which is our nest for a short time, and those who venture out to achieve righteousness for themselves find only death.  We have to receive salvation directly as a gift from God.  We must instinctively understand how powerless we are to become right with God outside of His provision.  How have you accepted God’s message?  Have you accepted it as a gift and not a wage?  Have you become helpless enough to understand that God provides you with all that you need?  Make yourself lowly, and be grateful that God has made a way for you to know Him, and you will have a relationship with Him.  Become as a child, and you will know and walk in relationship with the Living God.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we lift You up.  You are such an amazing, powerful, and awesome God.  You are Holy and righteous and we thank You for all that You have done for us.  We ask and pray that You help us to be humble, and we ask that You lead us in to a lowliness of heart; help us to seek Your righteousness and not our own.  Feed us with Your Spiritual food, and make us like little children.  We love You lord, 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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