Archive for October, 2010

Honoring your Father and Mother


                Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing by, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!”  Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!”  And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.


                The oldest son in the Jewish faith was responsible for taking care of his mother.  Jesus, being the first of Mary’s children, was fulfilling his obligation when he gave his mother over in to John’s care.  The fifth commandment was to “Honor Your Father and Mother,” and he was being obedient even to the very end.  In his absolute agony, near death, he wasn’t focused on his own pain, or his own trials.  In torment, Jesus was still teaching the world what true self denial looked like; and true love for his mother.  [John was the disciple who was standing by; he was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, and it is a bit of a mystery as to why he did not flee with the rest of the disciples; some believe his Dad was one of the wealthiest men in the area, and therefore he had less fear of persecution from the Jews and Romans; although we can’t know for sure.  Ultimately, God ordained it so Jesus could fulfill his earthly obligations.]

                There was a time when the term ‘rest home’ wasn’t in the vocabulary of the average American.  The elderly weren’t put aside so their children could have more freedom and time to enjoy themselves.  Rather, children used to not feel obligated to care for their parents in old age, rather they felt privileged to do so.  Children would marry young, and often would grow old in their parents’ home.  The parents helped to steady the family, and would be able to help raise their grandchildren; a huge benefit in the home.  Somewhere along the way, in our culture (not all cultures), children began to despise their parents, and the elderly had a new phrase of their own, “I don’t want to be a burden on my children.”  Is it any wonder then that young children, not seeing the daily example of their parents honoring their grandparents, have begun to rebel horribly.

                Today, as Christians, we aren’t obligated to love our parents and to honor them, but we are privileged to be able to do so.  Anyone who can’t honor their earthly mother and Father, can’t possibly honor their Eternal Father.  What does it look like to honor our parents?  One of the best ways is to love them.  If you talk to your mother or father once every 6 months, something has gone terribly wrong.  Next, you must live properly yourself.  For example, if your parents don’t want you to get a tattoo, you shouldn’t get one.  If you have one, and it pleases your parents for you to have it removed, remove it.  If your parents don’t want you living with your boyfriend or girlfriend before you get married, you don’t do it.  If you’re doing drugs, or living a life that is destroying the body your parents worked so hard to feed, clothe, and protect, then the first step back toward honoring them is to stop those things that are destroying you.  Parents are to become more honored in our lives; they’re concerns and their desires for us are to be weighed very heavily and often times with greater authority than our concerns and desires.  When we begin to honor our parents, we can begin to Honor our Father in heaven.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today and we honor You, and we lift You up.  You are awesome, powerful, full of truth, and worthy of praise.  We ask You lord, to help us to honor our parents, and our grandparents.  Help us Lord to keep Your command and to love them, and esteem them as more honorable than ourselves.  Give us opportunities to respect them, to obey them in matters that would adhere to your commandments.  Lord, if any of our lives are lived in a manner that is unpleasing to our parents, help us to can honor them by making those changes.  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.

God uses believers to forgive sins


                Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

                When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you!  As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 19-23.)


             Jesus, although flesh and blood was no longer bound by the physical world.  He simply manifested himself in the center of a locked room.  They were scared and hiding from the Jews who wished to kill them too, and so Jesus gave them his peace (the presence of God in your life today is a source of peace.)  With his breath he gave them the Holy Spirit, and with it, all of the authority that God had given him.  They were given the authority to forgive the sins.  This scripture is the reason why Catholic Priests have confessionals; from this scripture it would appear they are correct in doing so (the ‘hail Mary’s’ and penances are not in the bible however.)  Those who are Christ’s Apostles, the ones who are sent out in to the world, have the authority to forgive sins (not in themselves, but by God through them.) (This does not include simply Catholic Priests, but all those who have given their lives to Jesus Christ.)  [Word of caution:  From the fullness of scripture, it is apparent that the types of sins that are forgiven are those that are not repeated on a regular basis.  Many in the Catholic faith (as well as other faiths) abuse drugs and alcohol, engage in promiscuity, adultery, premarital sex, and go to church confessional and believe they have been forgiven.  Then they leave and continue sinning until the next confessional.  Those sins are retained, because there is no repentance.  Repentance is the turning away from that sin.  Jesus continuously forgave sins with a warning; “Go and sin no more.”]

             ‘Sin’ is a medieval term that just means ‘missing the mark.’  Archers used to get drunk and compete in archery contests.  When they missed the target it was called a ‘sin.’  I played basketball in high school, and I shot thousands of jump shots, but every time, I was aiming for something; just like those medieval archers were trying to hit the mark.  Christians as well have a target; the target is Jesus Christ.  As believers we are called to aim for Him; to be like Him; to be pleasing to Him.  We are human, but that doesn’t mean we can throw up our hands, continue on in sin without restraint, and be forgiven for those sins.

             Today, many are struggling with sins, but many more are struggling in a life of sin, and that is a very big difference.  If your life is filled with unrestrained sin, in any area, you can turn away from that sin and be forgiven.  If you choose you can find an apostle, a priest, pastor, even a coworker who is filled with God’s Spirit, and confess your sins to them.  When your confession is coupled with true repentance, God himself has forgiven you of that sin (or that life of sin.)  You are clean, you are pure, and you are forgiven.  [Note:  Many people do not feel the need to go anywhere but directly to God to ask for forgiveness; the Lord’s prayer for instance says, ‘Forgive us our sins,’ and is directed straight to God.  Because of Jesus, believers can speak directly to God, and in turn, be directly forgiven by Him; but a person who confesses to an Apostle is also asking for God’s direct forgiveness, because it is not the Apostle that is forgiving, but God through them.  There are some benefits to confessing sin to another human being; sometimes confessing to a physical person can be more tangible.  [[One Final Note:  Many persons who confess their sins to God believe they are forgiven, but there can be another part that needs completion before that forgiveness is permanent.  Often times, we must also ask the person we have sinned against for forgiveness as well.  An example would be; if we stole money from someone twenty years ago, and then we come to Christ and ask God for forgiveness for that sin, we are obliged to repay the money we took from them (when it is in our power to do so; also, get counsel before making amends; some amends can do more damaging than good.)]]

             “Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You Forgive us our sins, and that if need be Lord, you give us the strength to go before another believer and ask them to forgive us under the power of Your authority.  Lord we ask that You would bring to our remembrance anything that we have done in which we are in need of forgiveness.  Also Lord, if we are Apostles, give us the boldness to stretch out to others who need forgiveness, and to not be ashamed to grant the forgiveness You have given us the privilege of bestowing upon them.  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.

The growth of God in your life


             “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Luke 13: 20-21.)


             What is leaven?  Leaven is microscopic organisms, sometimes known as yeast.   The yeast produces small bubbles of carbon dioxide, which are kneaded throughout bread dough.  When the bread is cooked the micro-organisms are killed, and the gas bubbles expand and give the bread it’s size and soft feel (unleavened bread is very flat and hard.)  Cooking bread without a leavening agent was common in the first century, especially among the Jews who were forbidden to eat leavened bread during the Passover week.  Jesus compared leaven to the Kingdom of God.  What do they have in common?  The kingdom of God is something that is hidden away inside of a person’s heart, just as leaven is hidden away (and cannot be seen) in an unheated loaf of bread.  A tiny bit of leaven will eventually move through the loaf until it is completely saturated.  Similarly, the kingdom of God often has a small beginning in the heart of the believer, but just a little bit of God’s kingdom is enough to eventually saturate the entire heart and life of the person who receives it.  (Also, here, I believe Jesus is referring to the spread of the gospel outward from Jerusalem through the world; and indeed, the message has spread throughout the entire world.)

             Today many people own an I-phones or an Apple Computer; they seem to be a part of the lives of millions, if not billions of people on the planet.  It would be easy to think that this company had its beginning in a huge office building, backed by some of the most powerful investors on the planet.  It would be easy to envision a national advertising campaign and literary buzz announcing the start of Apple Computers.  This would be easy to imagine, but it would be incorrect.  Apple Computers was started by two teenagers in a garage (Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.)  Steve’s dad had to clear out the garage so the boys had enough room to begin manufacturing their first personal computers.  Something that two children began in a garage today spans the globe and affects the lives of billions of people.

             Often times our understanding of faith is skewed.  We believe that strong faith in the Lord is something that a person just has, and there is no way to get it.  This is an unfortunate belief; faith is not necessarily something that explodes immediately in a person’s life (it can, but not always.)  Faith in Christ, can have meager beginnings from which it may grow to affect every area of the believers life.  Someone may start by professing a faith in Christ during a bible study, and before they know it, prayer has become a part of their daily life.  Another person may be an avid fiction reader, but after accepting Christ, they may begin to make the bible their book of choice.  Eventually, the love life, the business life, the personal life, the recreational life, and every area of their life may be taken over by the Spirit of God.  God wants every area of our lives to be lived for Him.  This can be a scary prospect for a lot of people, and this is why many often harden their hearts and refuse to allow God’s kingdom to even have a beginning in them.  Those who do allow the kingdom of God in to their hearts are transformed from the inside out.  Allow God to change you; allow Him to fill up every area of your life, and you will know peace, and you will know God.  The areas we hold back from God, are the areas which cause us the most pain; so let him make your areas of struggle his areas of peace.

             “Lord, we lift You up as an awesome and mighty God.  We come before You today and we ask and pray that You would continue to grow within us; fill up our hearts and lives completely Lord.  We ask You now to grow, and to enter in to the areas that we are holding back from You.  Lord give us more of Your Spirit, more of Your Truth, and increase our faith.  Consume our hearts, our minds, and our lives by the power of Your Holy Spirit.  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.

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