Archive for March, 2011

Freedom from Sin

JESUS SPEAKING

            Then Jesus said to those who believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

            They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.  How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?”

            Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  Therefore if the son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8: 31-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             Slavery was common in the ancient world.  Although some masters treated their slaves well, most were treated poorly.  They were bought and sold like livestock.  Slaves had very few rights, and even fewer choices: they could not choose where to go, what to eat or what to wear; they could not Merry or have children.  Punishment for disobedience was often severe an occasionally fatal.  A compassionate master had the power to free a slave.  Many who were freed were given the opportunity to become permanent members of the family; similar to a son or daughter.  The master’s children often had the authority and power to grant a slave their freedom as well.  Jesus was the Son of God, and as the Son of God, he had the authority to   both, free anyone who was a slave, and grant them access in to the house of God permanently. Throughout history the Jewish people were conquered and taken in to slavery by other nations; yet, they had served an even crueler and more oppressive master than the Romans or the Greeks.  Sin was the worst of all of their task masters.  Sin had kept them from obeying God; sin had made them a disgrace to the nations; sin had fractured their marriages, and widowed and orphaned their children.  Sin had made them exploit their own people and use God’s temple to sell merchandise.  Jesus came to set them free from the bondage of sin.

             I have had many masters in my life […] alcohol, prescription drugs, pornography, fornication, mental illness, idolatry (body building), dating, envy, lust, laziness, lying, gossip, and self-centeredness (and God has delivered me from them all.)  Nicotine was the cruelest of all of my masters.  At one time I smoked nearly 2- 2 ½ packs a day.  I smoked first thing in the morning…I smoked in the car, and before and after a ‘work-out’…I smoked after I ate, and when I had a cup of coffee…I smoked before I went to bed and in the middle of the night.  There were burn holes in my clothes, car upholstery, couches, beds, and carpets.  My fingers, nose, and teeth were stained yellow.  The cigarettes were with me when I went camping; out with friends, to work, or to school.  I had to find exits in the airports during layovers.  While my friends sat through a movie, I would take a mid-movie break to get my fix.  Cigarettes kept me from making healthy relationship with healthy people.  Financially, I was spending 200-300 dollars a month to keep my lungs filled with smoke and my bloodstream bursting with nicotine.  My one constant thought was, ‘when is my next cigarette?’  After committing my life to Jesus Christ, I had a new master (I began to read the bible.)  The closer I grew to him, the less power cigarettes had over me, until finally, he set me completely free from my addiction, and added to my freedom, eternal life.

             Are you a slave to anything today?  Is there something that controls you?  You can be set free from bondage; the way to overcome sin isn’t to try harder, but to go deeper […] deeper with the savior of the world.  Read his word, pray to him, and become a disciple.  Make him your teacher, your master, and your brother; only then can you be set free.  You will remain a slave until you become a son (daughter) […] an eternal son of the one True and Living God.

             “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You to be set free from any sins that control us.  We desperately want to be Your Son’s and Daughters and to reside in Your house forever.  Save us from our bondage Lord; we cry out to You for our salvation; be our master, and may we be Your eternal children.  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.

The tomb is empty

JESUS SPEAKING

            Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?”  She, supposing him to be the gardner, said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

            Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to him, “Rabboni!  (which is to say, Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.’” (John 20: 15-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Mary arrived at the tomb to find the stone missing along with the body of Jesus.  Immediately she was grieved and began to weep.  She came to the tomb expecting to find the lifeless body of her beloved Lord; instead she encountered the living God.  Upon seeing Jesus, she embraced him tightly as if to never let him go.  He urged her to lighten her grasp (his return was not permanent; he would soon ascend in to heaven.)  His true place was not on earth with them, but with his Father (and their Father.)  Mary was instructed to bring this news to the despondent disciples who were in hiding for fear of being killed themselves.  Having seen the resurrected Lord, she became the very first messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

            Throughout history, many like Mary, have gone to the tomb expecting to find the body of Jesus Christ; and like Mary, they have found the tomb empty.  Every generation has had its share of doubters; people who believed they could do what no one had ever been able to do […] disprove the resurrection of Christ.  In the early 1900’s an English professor and journalist named Frank Ross set out to investigate and refute the claims that Jesus rose from the dead (as a journalist, he was skilled in examining the credibility of sources.)  As the evidence mounted, Frank was faced with the awesome truth; the accounts matched; the archeology was sound, and all of the witnesses were credible; Jesus Christ had in fact risen from the dead.  He had expected to find a dead man, but instead, he discovered the living God. Rather than writing a book that disproved the resurrection, he entitled his book, “Who moved the stone.”  In the book, Frank Ross, the convert and faithful believer, sought to bring what he had found to the rest of the world. 

The work that began with Mary on that third day has continued through the generations, and continues even today.  Anyone who goes looking for Jesus Christ in a dusty tomb is looking in the wrong place.  He is very much alive, and is seated at the right hand of God.  Frank Ross and Mary Magdalene, both set out to find Jesus; and they both found what they were looking for […] have you gone looking for him yet?  Have you made your way to the tomb and looked inside?  You too, will discover that Jesus Christ is not dead, but alive.  When you find him, please let others know that there is a God, and that they can discover him too?

“Lord Heavenly Father, we believe that Your Son rose from the dead.  We believe that he is seated with You in Your Kingdom.  We desire to carry this message to others; give us the strength to bring what we have discovered to the world.  May we be bold in declaring that we have encountered the risen Lord, and the living God.  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.

The Blessing of Christ

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mathew 5: 3-10)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             Thousands of people had followed Jesus up a mountain to hear him speak.  He began his discourse by pronouncing a blessing over the multitudes (a blessing is a prophetic proclamation regarding some future provision from God.)  The blessing was conditional.  Only those who were humble in life (“poor in Spirit”) would enter God’s kingdom; only those who showed mercy toward others could expect to one day receive mercy from God; only those who hungered for righteousness would find it in the life to come.  For many listening, they heard a message of hope; the outcasts, the infirmed, the poor, the lonely, the weak, the oppressed, the meek, and the suffering could suddenly have victory.  Those whose kindness and innocence had prevented them from achieving worldly rewards (success) were being promised a future reward from God.  At last, everyone who had been persecuted for obeying God could hope for the day when they would triumph over their oppressors.

             I worked in sales for many years.  Through careful observation of my colleagues, I could identify the characteristics of those who would succeed and those who would fail.  When we hired someone who was kind, easygoing, polite, soft-spoken, honest, and morally upstanding, I knew it would only be a matter of time before they were fired (not always.)  Those who succeeded were fast talkers; able to manipulate and influence others.  Kindness was only beneficial if it was beneficial.  The characteristics that made for a poor salesman were the very characteristics that God was looking for in a follower (note: not every successful salesman was ungodly; there were always exceptions.)  I discovered that worldly success and Godly success very rarely overlapped. 

             The hopes (blessings) of the Godly are no longer fulfilled in this life, but in the life to come.  Do you have the characteristics God desires?  Do you desperately desire right living?  Are you repentant, mild-mannered (gentle), compassionate, merciful, inwardly pure, peaceful, and humble?  If you are, then you too have a future and a hope.  You may have been rejected by the world, but God sees your heart, and when the last day comes, you will finally know the eternal blessings of God.  (If you seem to be more worldly than Godly, turn to Him, and ask Him to do a work in your heart, and you too might finally know what it truly means to be ‘blessed.’)

             “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today and ask that You help us to be Godly in our character; that we might receive Your blessings.  We look forward to our future time with You, and ask that You give us the strength to endure the trials of this life.  Fill us with Your hope and joy, and may we always be pleasing 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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