Archive for October, 2010

Honoring your Father and Mother

JESUS SPEAKING

                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.

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                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

JESUS SPEAKING

                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.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             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

JESUS SPEAKING

             “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.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             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.

Persecuted for Christ

JESUS SPEAKING

                “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love you as it’s own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember that the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept my word, they will keep yours also” (John 15: 18-20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                This is a warning and an encouragement for true believers.  He is telling the disciples what the future will be like for them, if they choose to follow him.  The Lord explains that there are two distinct and opposing sides; the world and the believer; there is no in between; no grey area; no peaceful place where a person can safely practice the faith without being persecuted.  God’s people are despised by those who seek worldly ends.  Worldly motivation and Godly motivation are at war, and the believer is on one side or the other.  This scripture is meant to encourage us as we walk through life being taken advantage of, stepped on, beaten down, excluded, gossiped about, and persecuted; knowing that these things are proofs that we are traveling down the right path, and that we are following Jesus Christ.  Jesus wants us to be encouraged and overjoyed when we are persecuted for being his followers, knowing that this prophecy has come to pass in our lives.  [Warning:  Persecution that arises because you are rude is not rewarded by the Lord.  Do all things in love; others can tell if you care about them when you are reaching out.]

                Previously I worked in sales, and I did receive a great deal of persecution in many different forms.  One incident occurred with a truck-driver who did the majority of the deliveries for us.  He was going around handing things out.  They were calendars; but, these calendars had naked women on them.  He came in to my office and threw one on my desk, and I told him, “I don’t want this.”  He was offended, and angry, but he took the calendar back.  He had been convicted of the darkness in him, and his anger turned toward me.  [Persecution is not just physical or social.  The persecution is also spiritual.  A person who begins to stand up for Christ is often bombarded with images, thoughts, and emotions that come from being attacked by evil spirits that seek to destroy the chosen of God.  This is often the toughest persecution there is.]  These persecutions become too much for many to handle and they walk away from God.  You and I as believers will certainly undergo persecution of one form or another, but need to take heart.

                Jesus wants us to be encouraged, to not give up, and to know that when we are being persecuted, he is with us, and his words are coming to pass in our lives.  We can know that we are on his side, and that we are heading in the right direction on the path that leads to an eternity with him.  We endure because we are filled with that hope.  As we grow closer to God, and as we become more like him, we will often be persecuted with more regularity and severity.  The world today and the world in the days of the Lord are exactly the same; nothing has changed (Sex, money, power, lust, covetousness, self-fulfillment, entertainment, recreation, career, house, violence, status, strength, freedom; all prideful things; they still make the world go round.)  When you make a stand for God, you are going in the opposite direction, and those who are seeking selfish things see in you, their own evil and ugliness.  Be lowly in a world where everyone is trying to be exalted, and be a messenger of the Lord in this place.  If you are not being persecuted, might I suggest you apply the teachings of Christ to your life?  Your faith is an action.  [For the unsaved:  If you have never accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, please contact me and we can pray that he would come in to your heart, and in to your life.]

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You Lord, and we ask and pray that You would make us more like Your Son.  Help us Father to endure persecution with love and patience and joy.  If we haven’t truly been applying Your words in our lives, we ask now they would manifest in us, and that by Your power, we would be bold for You.  Give us Your word to speak, and give us more of Your spirit.  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.

Muslims need Jesus

JESUS SPEAKING

             “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.  For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.  They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’  But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.  And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ” (Mathew 23: 1-10.)

 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             There are too many topics in this scripture to tackle in one sitting.  Let’s look at just one; ‘the binding of heavy burdens.’  Jesus says, “For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”  In the old testament, God commanded that anyone who passed by a donkey that was overloaded and straining under the weight was held accountable to God if he or she did not take some of that burden off of the donkey’s shoulders and place it on to their own.  They were required to stop everything, take some of the load from the donkey, and carry it themselves to where ever the donkey and its master were heading.  Imagine then what God would think of a person who walked by a struggling donkey, and instead of easing the burden, stacked what they were carrying on the donkey as well.  This is exactly what the religious leaders were doing to God’s people.  God gave simple rules and regulations by which to live; not all that many; still, man had been so corrupted that they had failed to keep them.  Yet, this didn’t stop the religious leaders from adding more rules to the ones they were already struggling under.  The Pharisees’ added laws numbered in the hundreds; many of which were completely ridiculous.  To illustrate how ridiculous they were, they outlawed the carrying of anything on the Sabbath (a day of rest commanded by God.)  On the Sabbath, Jesus healed a man who was paralyzed and laying on a mat; after the healing, he told the man to ‘pick up his mat and go.’  The religious leaders saw the man carrying his rolled up mat and attacked him for breaking the Sabbath laws.  God had commanded in the bible that no one was to carry a burden, but he never specified what that meant; the Pharisees were unsatisfied with leaving it as God had written; instead they felt the obligation to interpret what it meant and add new laws in to the existing ones.  For instance, God commanded them to refrain from work, but Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, and they blamed him for working.  God had never defined healing as being work, but they, so anxious to condemn Jesus thought they would make new laws where none existed.  They considered themselves then, to be the moral authority on what God had meant by something.  There rules were causing people to be resentful toward God; they were pushing God’s people even further away from Him.  The people, from the time of Adam, to the time of Jesus, had failed to accomplish what God was asking from them.  Sin is what happens when a person acts contrary to what God desires.  Acting in adherence to the law was to be without sin.  However, everyone fell short, everyone caved under the weight of the burden; no one was without sin.  The messiah came to relieve that burden.  Jesus carried the sins of the world on his shoulders when he carried the cross.  God used His Son to clear a path through sin, and in to eternal fellowship with him.  Jesus did for us, what we couldn’t do for ourselves.  He came to help those who were struggling and without hope.    

             Jesus came to help, so has anyone attempted to hinder others from receiving that help?  I very rarely bring up other religions, but I feel compelled too here.  Islam is a faith that offers no solution to the problem of man’s incurable nature to do, think, and behave in immoral ways.  Mohamed professed to believe in Jesus, but he denied his place in forgiving the sins of the lost; he certainly never read this scripture.  Instead of pointing others to Jesus he put himself up as an equal with Jesus.  Mohammed was not a messiah, but a Pharisee.  [He came hundreds of years after the crucifixion, and sidestepped all of Christ’s teachings, and all of God’s work for mankind.  He reinstituted most of the laws of the Old Testament.  He put the burden back on the people, and not only that, but he added to their burdens.  Outward adherence to the laws became the norm, once again.  Mohamed waged a Holy War (converting people with the sword), in which anyone who fought against him and refused to hail him as the prophet of God, was tortured, beheaded, or ordered to give up all of their wealth and possessions, and compelled to leave the country.  This Holy War is still happening today, which is why Muslim countries are born out of war and violence.]  In the Muslim Faith, there is no certainty in making it to heaven, with one exception; anyone who is killed in a ‘Jihad,’ or a ‘Holy War’ automatically goes straight to heaven.  In the Gulf war, they were sending people over in waves, across the lines with guns, fully knowing they would all be shot down.  Why?  Because they believe in creating martyrs (those who have been killed in a ‘Holy War.’)  They celebrate knowing that these men went straight to heaven.  In many Muslim countries, the side streets, and billboards are filled with images of suicide bombers, who have killed themselves along with innocent civilians.  They are seen as examples for the rest of the Muslims who want a guaranteed place in heaven (where there are 70 virgins, who perpetually receive their virginity over and over again.)  Why do they need this guarantee?  Because the alternative, according to the Koran, is to attempt to do far more good deeds than evil, and when you get to heaven, if you have been good enough, you will enter heaven; if you weren’t good enough you will go to hell.  Let’s look at Mohamed’s rules.  He believed that God had ruled on every area of life, leaving nothing open for debate.  In eating for example, Mohamed wrote, one should ‘only eat with the right hand, with three fingers.  In sleep a person was told to wipe off the bed three times before getting in, and to sleep on the right side with the right hand under the right cheek, and the knees slightly bent.’  All this from a man who set a rule for having only 4 wives while taking for himself, at least 18 (he was the prophet, so he was different.  This number could be even closer to 22.)  Most true Muslims will not read the bible, because the teachings of Jesus Christ run completely contradictory to what Mohammed had taught.  (Warning, we are not to feel hatred for Muslims, but compassion and love.  However, love means telling them the truth.  Jesus Christ next to Mohamed reveals the evil of a man under the control of Satan, and the truth of a God.  So, it is our act of love to bring them to the foot of the cross; to let them know that the burden of a Pharisee has been lifted from their shoulders, and that the grace of God has been granted to them.)

             Today there are many Muslims who are straining under the burdens of Mohamed and under the burdens of their clerics who have become even worse Pharisees than those Jesus had been dealing with.  These men live respectful lives, while their followers focus in on all of the rules they need to follow to be pleasing to God.  Their hearts are empty; their actions are done out of constraint and not a genuine love for others, or a genuine love for God.  They may fear him, but they don’t know His love.  When a person realizes the role of Jesus Christ, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, they are filled with love, and they begin to obey God with a genuine heart.  Real love cannot be forced, it cannot be shaped by actions, it comes from the presence of God within a person; the only way to have God enter a person is if they accept the free gift of God; reconciliation through the work of Christ upon the cross.  God is concerned with heart.  The Muslims need to receive the truth; they need to know that God loves them, and he desires to set them free.

             “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today, and we lift You up; You are just an awesome and mighty God; full of truth, and love and mercy.  Lord, we ask and pray that You would help the Muslims, and help anyone else who is struggling under the burdens of others.  We pray that You would set them free, and bring them to the knowledge of your redemption through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Father, we ask that if there are areas of our lives where we are trying to carry a burden that You are desiring to carry for us, we ask You to take it now; we give it to You Father.  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.”

The miracle of God’s compassion

JESUS SPEAKING

                When he arrived at the house of Jarus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother.  Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her.  “Stop wailing,” Jesus said.  “She is not dead but asleep.” 

                They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.  But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!”  Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.  Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.  Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Do you believe in miracles, or do you laugh just like those who were morning laughed at Jesus?  What miracles are going on around each and every one of us right now?  We are currently hurtling through space at 67,000 miles per hour, on a round globe that circles a sun 1 million times its size.  (Huge asteroids can crash in to the earth at any time.)  We circle at exactly the right distance so that we are not burned alive, and we are not frozen solid.  As the earth hurtles, the moon stabilizes it’s rotation in just such a way so as to make the weather mild enough for living things.  The earth’s core rotates in such a way as to deflect deadly radiation away from you and me.  The astronauts have not been able to shoot off to discover another planet because this radiation will kill them if they leave the earth’s protective barrier.  This globe is peopled with creatures of unique character.  Every creature has within it, a code, we know as DNA.  The DNA from a single person’s body would fit into two table spoons if it was stripped out.  The information in those spoons is so complex, that if it was written down in books, you could fill the Grand Canyon with them.  If this information from just one human being was unraveled, it would stretch back and forth from the earth to the moon and back…Five million times.  One tree has enough atomic energy in it to power the entire United States for one whole year; atomic energy comes from the splitting apart of atoms; strangely enough though, there is nothing identifiable that is holding them together to begin with…I know it is God; he holds everything together.  There are spiders that spin webs that resemble a parachute, and the wind carries them up higher than where 747’s fly.  These little spiders have populated the globe using their unique webs, as they were designed by God to do.  There is a seed in South America that can sit around for 1000 years, and all that seed needs is water and dirt, and after all that time, it will grow.  If all of the worms on this planet suddenly died, so would most of the plants, because the worms ventilate the soil, as God has designed them to do.  The honey bees’ brain calculates over a billion calculations per second, and the space shuttle’s computer, so big and bulky only calculates in the millions.  A woman’s womb, barren and empty, brings forth new people each and every day, from something that begins as nothing bigger than the period at the end of this sentence [.]  In that period is all of the information to build a machine that contains millions to billons of cells, each cell more complex than the computer on which you are reading these words right now.  One woman however, a virgin, whose womb was barren, brought forth someone over two thousand years ago who revealed the reason for all of these miracles.  His name is Jesus Christ.  In this scripture, that man raised a little girl from the dead.  Does this seem any more impossible than the other miracles I’ve mentioned?

                The impossible is scoffed at by those who are under the illusion that they are in control, and who are not very perceptive or observant of their surroundings.  These types of people laughed at Jesus in this scripture because he told them that the little girl was not dead, but sleeping.  He was about to accomplish something that was beyond their’ comprehension.  Yet Jesus didn’t do this miracle for the purposes of proving God’s power to anyone.  He told them not to tell anyone; so if this wasn’t to glorify God (although it did) what was the purpose?  The purpose was to reunite a Father and mother with the daughter they loved.  Compassion is the miracle.  Jesus came to reveal to us the heart of God.  Is God a God who sits on a throne and sees human beings as insignificant?  Or does He care?  Jesus reveals that God is loving; He is willing to forgive, He is concerned with the relationships between fathers and mothers and their children.  God, the eternal Father, and creator and guiding force of all of creation, is concerned about the personal relationships you and I have with one another.  He feels our pain, and he knows our trouble, and his heart is filled with compassion.  The compassion of God is what is so miraculous in this story.  In a sea of impossible things, God decided to make his love for us, the miracle he wanted us to focus on the most.

                Who is God to you?  Do you realize that He cares for you, and He loves you like a child; like Christ loved this little girl?  God desires that we be just as compassionate and loving as He is.  We are to emulate Jesus Christ.  His concern for a Father, a mother, and a child shows us that God is isn’t just all powerful, he is all loving, and all compassionate.  He wants to be reconciled to those we love, and to those he desires us to love.  So let’s be filled with compassion as we go out to minister to others.  Let’s see the world with God’s eyes, and let’s love others with His heart.

                “Lord Father, Lord Jesus Christ, we come before You humbled, and we truly want to know more about who You are, and we ask that You will not deny us when we wish to draw nearer to You.  Father, we love You, we love Your Son, and we want to be like Him, and we want to be like You; help us to be Your servants.  Help us Lord to be more like You.  We thank You, we praise You and we love You and we ask all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.  

Sharing God’s Love

JESUS SPEAKING

             “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.  For the son of Man has come to save that which was lost.  What do you think?  If a man has a hundred sheep, and one goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?  And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.  Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Mathew 18: 10-14.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Jesus gives a warning here, and when he gives a warning, it’s best to take it very seriously.  Indifference and distain for sinners is a symptom of an inner sickness.  Pride is the cause; those who fancy themselves as ‘good’ in comparison to those who are engaging in evil have become distant from God.  Followers of God share His heart and God’s heart beats for all people; sinners and saints alike.  Many of the religious leaders were criticizing Jesus for being friendly to tax collectors and prostitutes.  Those who were self-righteous misjudged God’s love for all of His children.  God loves sinners so much he sent his Son in to the world as His shepherd; his purpose, to gather together the lost sheep and to bring them back in to ‘the fold.’  God, contrary to popular belief, is not some distant, vengeful, angry God, but rather a loving Father, eager and ready to forgive [but many refuse to accept His love and His forgiveness.]  God feels pain when he sees one of his children destroying themselves.  So if God feels compassion and sorrow and love for the lost, those who call Him Father should share his concerns, his desires, and a love.  A love for God Himself, a true love, spills over in to a love for the things that God loves; and God loves the lost.

            Jesus illustrates this when he describes the story of the Prodigal Son.  I will paraphrase the story for you, ‘There were two sons of a wealthy Father [the Father represented by God.]  One of the Sons asked for his inheritance early, and he went in to a far country and spent it on wild living (women, parties.)  When the money was gone, he tried to work, and he began to be starved; as he was feeding the pigs, he wanted to eat the food he was giving to them.  He came to his senses, and decided to return home, hoping that his Father would take him back as a lowly servant and not a son.  When he came home, his Father ran to him, kissed him, put sandals on his feet, and a robe on him, and demanded that all of the household celebrate.  They killed an animal to cook and went in doors and began to dance and play music.  The Father said ‘my son was dead, but is alive again to me.  He was lost and is found.’  The father had gotten something back that was irreplaceable.  The Son was mistaken about his Father’s reaction to his return, because he misjudged the love of a father for his son (much like we do today as well when it comes to God.)  As they were all celebrating, the Son who had stayed (the one who had acted and behaved properly all of those years) refused to celebrate.  He wasn’t happy that his brother was alive, and that his brother had returned.  The Father came out from the party and begged his Son to join them as they celebrated; but he hated his hatred for his brother created a rift between he and his Father.  (In this parable, the Jews who were self-righteous were represented by ‘The Good Son.’  The sinners and prostitutes who were coming to Jesus to give their lives back to God were represented in this story by ‘the son who returned home.’  The Party is heaven, where God is, which the second son refused to enter because he hated his brother so much.)  Instead of celebrating and being happy that lost people were coming back to God in the days of Jesus, the religious leaders condemned Jesus, because they had always valued themselves in comparison to the ungodly and unrighteous.  (Suddenly, they were losing their value) and so they turned on Jesus and refused to join in on the celebration.  This hatred, this pride, had separated them from the very God they proposed to worship and love.

            Today, in this place, anyone who comes to believe in Jesus Christ becomes a shepherd, sent out in to the world to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ.  The shepherds share the same heart with God.  As shepherds we must never look down upon sinners or separate ourselves from them.  Rather, we need to love them and let them know about the loving Father they have that has sent us out to seek after them.  Has God called you to reach out to the person sitting next to you?  Are there any people at your work, in your family, on the bus, in the coffee shop, that need to hear about this Father?  The message is love, and we are His messengers in this place.  Let’s reach out to our brothers and sisters who are struggling, and let’s do it with the love of God in our hearts.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You now and we lift You up; You are an awesome and mighty God.  Lord, we ask that you remove any pride in our hearts that is separating us from You.  We ask that You help us to have Your compassion, and Your love for those who are lost.  Help us to continue Your work here in this place, and guide us by Your Holy Spirit.  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.