Archive for January, 2011

Wise and foolish builders

JESUS SPEAKING

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.  But everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was its fall” (Mathew 7: 24-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Everyone who has heard the words of Christ can be placed in to one of two distinct categories.  Individual membership in to one group or the other is based upon the hearers response to the Lord’s teachings.  One group puts in to practice what they have heard and one group does not.  Those who take action are wise while those who do not are foolish.

Both groups are likened to builders, who undertake the construction of a house.  One builds on solid rock (unmovable, sturdy, and permanent), another group builds on sand (movable, shifting, and impermanent.)  Every human being is a building, and their actions and behaviors are the result of following a blueprint.  Some blueprints are horrible, some are wonderful, but only one blueprint is eternal.  The wind, and the rains, and the floods that Jesus spoke of are the forces in life that attempt to break us down, cause us to fail and to lose hope.  Everyone suffers set-backs; everyone suffers trials, and those who don’t practice the teachings of the Lord crumble when those trials arise.  When a person acts and behaves in a manner that is pleasing to God, they are laying their lives down upon an eternal foundation.  They are building a life for themselves in a place that will never end; even when this world fades away and dies, those who have lived for Christ will never die, breakdown, or be destroyed.  They are eternal.

Are you the wise or the foolish builder?  There are a thousand self-help books, and endless television programs that offer advice on better living; but there is only one book that turns a better life in to an eternal life.  God has written a book, and in it are his blueprints; the directions begin with a foundation; Jesus Christ is that foundation.  Read his words, and do his words, and when this world passes away, you will not pass away with it; instead, you will spend an eternity with him in paradise, and the joy of the Lord will never depart from you.

“Heavenly Father we come before You and we ask that You empower us to do follow the commands of Your beautiful Son.  May his words be our blueprint for living.  Give us further opportunities to apply his teachings and give us a deep pleasure and satisfaction when we know we followed Your instruction.  Father help us to strive to please You, and to be a blessing to all those around us.  Give us the strength of Your Holy Spirit, and guide us in all that we do.  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.

 

Fruitful Branches

JESUS SPEAKING

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” (John 15: 1-5.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Wine was a very common commodity grown in Israel.  Most had a working knowledge of vineyards.  In a vineyard there are main vines that carry nutrients to the branches.  There are two types of vine branches, just as there are two types of people. There are those who produce fruit, and those who produce nothing.  A good branch produces fruit because it has a favorable connection with the main vine.  Many branches are grafted in to the main vine; often they can come loose and fall out and die.  Jesus Christ is the vine that connects every person to God’s power; he brings life to all those who remain in him; whenever a person chooses to disconnect from Jesus, they become unfruitful, and eventually they die.

Before I was plugged in to Christ, I was a taker; none of my behavior’s produced anything.  I fed off of whoever was around me.  One day, I remember bumping in to a person who was plugged in to Jesus Christ.  I asked him about a possible work opportunity counseling people at a crisis ‘hot-line.’  He told me they didn’t have any openings for paid positions, but he encouraged me to volunteer.  I remember thinking, “Why would I volunteer?”  There was no advantage for me in volunteering.  The very thought of doing something for nothing was crazy.  Good works (the fruit of those connected with God) were foreign, because God was a stranger in my life.  After being saved, and plugging in to Jesus Christ, I began to produce fruit.  I began to give people rides and buy things for those in need.  I started volunteering regularly.   I was able to visit orphanages and tend to the sick.  I reached out to those who needed help, and instead of taking, I began to give.  A man dying of selfishness, began to live selflessly.  An unfruitful branch began to produce much fruit.

Every human being has a function, and that function is to produce fruit.  Unless a person is plugged in to Jesus Christ they will remain fruitless.  Is your relationship with Jesus strong?  Are you plugged in to the ‘true vine?’  Are you connected to the Lord today?  How can you get connected?  You can read his words, you can pray, you can obey, you can love others and make every effort to please God.  When you are plugged in to Jesus Christ you will produce much fruit.  Your life will be filled with good works, and the love of God will spill out of you and in to the lives of others.

“Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we lift You up and honor You Father.  We ask to remain in Your Son Jesus Christ; help us to abide in Your true vine, that we would produce much fruit for You.  Give us more of Your Spirit, and may Your words remain in our hearts.  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.

God’s Power or Your Power?

JESUS SPEAKING

Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night, for it is written:  ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.”

Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”

Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you” (Mathew 26: 31-35.)


INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Jesus was about to be seized by the temple guards and crucified.  He told his disciples that they would abandon him upon his arrest.  Peter exalted himself above the other disciples, saying, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.”  Jesus told Peter his attempt to remain strong would end in failure; and indeed Peter went on to deny that he ‘knew Jesus’ three times before the morning had arrived.  Peter overestimated his own abilities to endure persecution and suffering without Jesus.  (Jesus had provided for their needs; he had protected them; their strength came from him; when Jesus was taken from them, they became as weak as any other men.) After Christ rose from the dead and ascended in to heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit (God) in to their hearts.  The same Peter who had denied Christ three times in fear, marched directly in to the temple filled with people who had crucified Jesus, and he preached the gospel with boldness.  He went on to endure beatings, and a life filled with persecutions, until finally being crucified in the city of Rome (upside down.)  What was the difference between the Peter who ran away, and the Peter who willingly endured a lifetime of suffering for his faith?  The first Peter relied on his own strength, but the second Peter relied on God’s strength.

Another example of reliance upon God comes from the Old Testament.  When the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, a young Israelite named Moses believed he was destined to free his people.  One day, as he saw an Egyptian beating one of his countrymen, he killed the Egyptian, and buried him in the sand.  A few days later it became known to him that his attempted burial had not worked, and that the Pharaoh was likely seeking his life.  Moses fled to the desert defeated, and spent decades shepherding sheep.  God appeared to him when he was nearly 80 years old and told him to go back in to Egypt to lead his people out of slavery.  He responded by telling God he wasn’t ‘the right man for the job.’  He didn’t believe he was able to accomplish the work.  A once prideful self-reliant young man, had become an old man who recognized his weakness apart from God, and for that reason, he was finally, ‘the perfect man for the job.’  The first Moses, under his own power, was unable to bury even one Egyptian.  The second Moses, under God’s power, lead a nation to freedom, and in the process, was able to bury the entire Egyptian army beneath the waves of the Red Sea.

Western culture promotes pride and self-reliance; but in the divine culture, reliance upon God is paramount.  Is there anything in your life that you are trying to accomplish on your own (outside of God’s power?)  Are you trying to get through a trying time without utilizing God?  Are you struggling alone with an addiction or a bad habit?  Are you seeking to fulfill a need in your life without asking for God’s provision in prayer?  Are you trying to repair some pain in your heart with positive thinking, or will you give in and ask for God to heal you?  Humble yourself, and know that apart from God, failure awaits; but take heart, for with God, nothing is impossible.

“Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we lift You up in honor.  You are truly amazing.  We recognize Lord that apart from You we are weak and incapable of accomplishing great things.  We ask You to be our strength; help us to rely upon You and not ourselves.  Give us victory Lord over the things that have caused us to stumble, and may we stand firm, knowing that You are holding us up.  Give us humble hearts that desire to be close 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.


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