Archive for May, 2011

The Greatest Commandment

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then one of the scribes came and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”  Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, will all your mind, and with all your strength.’  This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”  So the scribe said to him, “Well said teacher.  You have spoken the truth.” (Mark 12: 28-32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                A teacher of God’s law happened by and was captivated by the wisdom of Jesus.  The scribe tested him by asking which commandment was the most important.  The Lord responded by proclaiming the oneness of God.  What separated the Jewish people from every other culture was their faith in one God; an almighty and unseen Creator (unlike the surrounding pagan cultures who worshipped many Gods.)  Jesus identified man’s place in relation to the One True and Living God; every person has been designed by God to be in fellowship with Him (to love Him with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.)  The second commandment was an expression of the first; complete love for God would be revealed in true love for others.  It says in 1 John, If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.”  Loving God and loving others are the same commandment; it is impossible to do one without the other.  A person who claims to be near to God, and to love and cherish Him completely, but seems distant, cold, and unloving toward others is either deceived or disobedient (neither of which is good.)  [Note:  Many leaders and members in the church, who proclaim to be close to God, reveal, through their indifference toward others, that they are very distant from Him.] 

                Some weeks ago, I was walking and praying to God behind the coffee shop where I study.  I was practicing, one of the greatest commandments (loving God with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength.)  After having made my connection with the Lord in prayer, I was headed back to the coffee shop to continue studying, when God gave me the opportunity to love another person as I would love myself.  Glancing over at the intersection next to the coffee shop, I spotted an accident; a truck had flipped over on its side.  I rushed across the street; I arrived at the scene to find most people standing at a distance; there was a woman who was trapped inside the overturned vehicle.  The police and the fire department had not yet arrived, so I moved forward and cleared away some debris.  I got down on my stomach and was able to slide my head and one of my arms between the concrete and the driver’s side window opening.  The girl inside was young, and obviously upset.  She was hanging in place by her seatbelt.  I held her hand, and reassured her that everything was going to be okay.  I talked with her as the tears flowed from her eyes.  After a short while, the fire department arrived, I told her that I would be praying for her, and she had the sense of mind to say ‘thank you.’  I walked away from the accident knowing that I had loved that woman as myself; the love of God, a God that lived within my heart had made Himself known to that woman in the hour of her greatest need.

                There is one God, and the two greatest commandments He has given are actually one in the same.  Those who love God and draw near to Him, become like Him.  He is kind; He is compassionate; He is loving; He is merciful; He is truthful; and those who love Him with all of their heart are moved to love others as God loves them.  Throughout your day, connect with God in prayer; cherish His words and hold them within your heart, and contemplate His truth within your mind.  If He is the priority in your life, then you will have a supernatural love for others that will shine the like sun; a love that cannot be denied; a love that comes from the One True and Living God.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we desire to be close to You, and to be in love with You; fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  May our hearts be completely devoted to You, and to others.  Give us opportunities throughout the day to express our love for You, in the lives of those around us.  Use us to reveal Your goodness to the world.  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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The sinless can be trusted

JESUS SPEAKING

                “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  Which of you convicts me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8: 46-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus boldly proclaimed himself to be completely sinless.  Not only was this an impossible claim, he also publicly challenged others to prove him wrong.  No man would be foolish enough to issue this challenge, because every man, woman, and child sins daily (No so called Godly prophet, has ever made this type of proclamation, with the exception of Jesus Christ.)  Although his enemies watched and waited for him to make a mistake, he spoke plainly and publicly without fear.  They found no sin in him, and he was crucified without cause.

                Unlike Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect existence, every self-proclaimed prophet throughout history has never dared to place their own personal lives under true scrutiny; in fact, all false prophets try desperately to hide their personal acts from being examined.  Joseph Smith for example (false prophet and founder of the Mormon faith) claimed to be God’s chosen messenger; but unlike Jesus Christ, Mr. Smith tried to keep his secretive sexual debaucheries from being made known.  While living in Nauvoo Illinois, Joseph became enraged when a newspaper began printing accounts of his sinful life.  In June of 1844; Joseph ordered the printing press destroyed.  His followers dragged the machine in to the streets and smashed it with sludge hammers (a crime for which he was arrested.)  After his death, the accounts of his evil behaviors began to surface.  He married many wives (without informing his first wife Emma until after the initial unions had been made.)  He also married other men’s wives, and married both a mother and a daughter (today, all of the books that he wrote have been revealed to be fraudulent.  His sinful personal life was an indicator of his trustworthiness.) 

                Unlike Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ’s life was completely pure; he can be trusted and believed.  He spoke no lies, exploited no one, and brought the words of God to all those who were willing to listen.  Only Jesus Christ is worthy of praise and honor.  Only Jesus Christ is able to save.  Only Jesus Christ is Godly enough to be followed and obeyed.  Won’t you put your faith and trust in him today?

                “Lord Heavenly Father we praise You and Your Son.  We recognize that he is sinless and worthy to be praised and followed.  Help us to submit to his leadership, and to make him the center of our faith.  Lord, help us to be more like Your Son, and to trust all that he has told us.  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.

Jesus the ‘Christ’

JESUS SPEAKING

                ‘Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi.  On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked.  “Who do you say I am?”  Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”  Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him’ (Mark 8: 27-30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Many people were confused about the nature and purpose of Jesus during his earthly ministry.  He did not immediately reveal his identity as the Son of God, and the savior of the world; instead he allowed others to discover his identity for themselves.  Many believed Jesus was a Holy man like John the Baptist who remained pure and ministered to the lost; others believed he was a worker of extraordinary miracles like Elijah who rained fire down from heaven and raised the dead; still others who heard him speak believed he was a prophet whose words were a message from God.  He was far more than just a minister, a miracle worker, and a prophet.  When the disciples were asked who he was, they proclaimed him to be the Christ.  ‘Christ’ was a title reserved for the promised savior. [Note:  The word ‘Christ’ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word ‘messiah,’ which means ‘anointed one,’ or ‘Chosen of God.’]  Throughout the Old Testament, God promised that He would send a redeemer to His people; Jesus Christ was (and is) the fulfillment of that promise; he came to save mankind from the sins that had sentenced them to certain death, and eternal separation from God.  His work upon the cross signaled the completion of God’s promise (indeed today, anyone who professes Jesus as the Christ, is forgiven by the blood that was shed upon the cross.)

                During world war two, the Jewish people that were unable to flee Nazi controlled Europe, found themselves surrounded by death.  They were slowly stripped of their rights, their property, and eventually their lives.  As the Jews were herded in to concentration camps, it appeared there was no way out; death was an inevitable certainty.  But there was a slight glimmer of hope.  Those within the camps knew there was a war going on.  If the Nazi’s were defeated, they would keep their lives.  In 1944, the Germans began to retreat from Poland.  As the Russians advanced, they liberated the first ‘concentration camp,’ and many Jews tasted salvation.  As the Russian, American, and British forces made their way to in to the heart of Germany, they freed hundreds of thousands of sick and malnourished Jewish prisoners from the jaws of death.

                Throughout history, death has been the enemy of all people.  People die when they are young; they die when they are old.  It has been said that only two things are certain, “Death, and taxes.”  This is true, for all those who believe Jesus is just a man (or a prophet; or spiritual guru.)  Those who desire to live will find hope in him, and know that he is the Son of the Living God, and the savior of mankind.  When we call Jesus the ‘Christ’ he enters in to our hearts and lives and delivers us from death.  In him we will live forever; in him we will receive the promise of God; in him we will know the goodness of God’s salvation.  There is a question you need to answer; a question that has been asked throughout every generation, to every person who has ever lived; and that question is now being asked of you, “Who do you say I am?”  Who is Jesus Christ to you?

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today, and we profess that Your Son is the Christ, and that through him we have our salvation.  Help us Father to never lose sight of the hope that we have in him.  Help us Lord to present this question to others in love, that they too, might know what it means to be free from death, and to be wholly forgiven for our sins and transgressions.  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.

Talking too much

JESUS SPEAKING

                      “A good man out of the good treasure of his heartbrings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  (Mathew 12: 35-37.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Words originate in the heart.  The heart is a place hidden from sight, deep within every human being.  The motivation for every action and the inspiration for every word ever spoken had its beginning in the heart.  Words can be damaging or constructive; they can tear people down or build people up; they can deceive or express the truth; they can inspire fear or promote faithfulness.  Jesus was aware of the power of words and warned his followers to choose them carefully.  The disciples were commanded to guard their mouths and use words in moderation.  In referring to excessive speech, Jesus used the word ‘idle.’  ‘Idle’ speech was filled with inactive, unnecessary, or useless words (being talkative often leads to sin, in much the same way as excessive alcohol consumption leads to drunkenness, infidelity, and automotive catastrophe; similarly, overconsumption of food produces diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.  Excessive speech leads to slander, gossip, and exaggeration (lies.)  [Note:  Slander entails spreading lies about another person; in the Hebrew culture, an accused slanderer would be hauled before a judge; witnesses would establish the words of the accused and the judge would determine the sentence.  Jesus made use of this cultural practice to illustrate God’s future judgment of all mankind.  Someday, everyone will have their day in God’s divine courtroom, where every excessive word and slanderous remark will be revealed (those who have been saved by the blood of Christ will not be condemned by their words (according to God’s wisdom), but they will be confronted with every account of their idle talk.)]

                I grew up in a small town where ‘everyone’s business’ was ‘everyone’s business.’  In our isolated community there was no shortage of extremely notable gossips.  I observed that each of them shared one common trait; they talked too much.  One of my close friends was a gossip.  He (like all gossips) would briefly talk about the weather, or about himself; but within minutes, fear of silence, and the scarcity of appropriate content would lead to sin.  In order to keep his mouth going, he would move from socially acceptable, to socially reprehensible topics.  He singlehandedly spread gossip like wild fire; within the flames of that fire he wove a tapestry of perversion and socially damaging information.  His foul words revealed a heart that was filled with evil expressions and sick innuendos.  [Note: we are all guilty of gossiping from time to time; none of us is completely innocent.]

                Excessive speech leads to gossip, slander, and evil speaking.  Today, every word that comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what resides within our hearts.  A clean mouth is the expression of a clean heart.  We must choose our words carefully, knowing that our mouths can sin against God and others.  We can choose to use our mouths to build others up, or to tear others down.  Our words can serve God, or oppose Him.  May our words be clean, and may our mouths always be instruments of God’s divine love.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, give us clean hearts; make them pure and Holy, that our speech may be appropriate and proper for expressing Your love to others.  Control our tongues and bring them under the control of Your Spirit.  Make our words to be few, and protect us from the inherent evils of excessive speech.  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 Emissary (God in the flesh)

JESUS SPEAKING

                “He who believes in me, believes not in me, but in Him who sent me.  And him who sees me sees Him who sent me […] He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.  For I have not spoken on my own authority; but the Father who sent me gave me a command, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12: 44-50, condensed.)   

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                No telephones existed in the ancient world; no telegraphs, and certainly no computers.  The only way to communicate a message across any great distance was by letter or emissary.  An emissary was a person who was given a message to bring from one leader to another.  The messages they were given to communicate had to be repeated word for word; all of the words the messenger spoke were considered the words of the king who sent him.  The kings emissary was treated exactly as the king himself would have been treated if he had visited in person.  If the king’s emissary was treated poorly, it meant that they did not respect the king.  Jesus, although distinct in person from God, was God.  He was God’s one and only son and solitary messenger (emissary.)  He had all of God’s authority; all of God’s power, and all of God’s words.  Every word he spoke, God Himself spoke.  Every miracle he performed, God performed; every emotion he expressed, God expressed; every act of love he showed, revealed a loving God and caring Father.

                When Jesus walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he was treated in one of two ways.  Some respected him, invited him into their homes, and honored him as God.  Others treated him as just another man and believed he was crazy and demon possessed; those who hated him didn’t realize that by persecuting him, despising him, and rejecting him, they were persecuting, despising and rejecting God Himself.  When they nailed Jesus to cross they crucified God.  Today Christ is still being accepted and rejected; some are crucifying him while others are calling him ‘King,’ ‘Lord,’ and ‘God.’

                How are you treating Jesus Christ today?  Have his words found a place in your heart.  Have you accepted his sacrifice, and his message; have you called him master, and Lord.  In so doing, you accept the one true and Living God.  But if you reject Jesus and deny him, you deny God Himself.  If you have never submitted your life to Jesus Christ, and you would like to make that choice today you can.  Accepting him is easy; go to a quiet place, and be still.  Pray that he would come in to your life, and in to your heart; confess your sins to God and ask him to forgive you in the name of His son; profess your acceptance of His sacrifice upon the cross, and turn to Jesus and make him your new teacher.  By accepting him, and following him, you are accepting and following the living God.  [If you have taken that step, then you need to follow up; you need to get a bible and begin reading it daily; you need to get plugged in to a bible believing church in your area; most importantly, you need to begin following the commands of your Lord and master, for you are now an emissary of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Living God.]

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we accept Your Son and his message.  We call him master and Lord.  Give us the strength to be his disciples, and to be Your messengers in this world.  Father direct us and guide us, and give us the knowledge of Your will.  Also, Father, give us Your words to speak, and may we accurately transmit them to everyone You put in our path.  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.

Seperation from God

JESUS SPEAKING

                “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Mathew 5: 30) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Sin is a very serious; it is defined as any act of disobedience against God.  Sin causes a person to be separated from God, which leads to death.  God is an eternal being, for whom there is no death.  All living things are born, and eventually die; this was not always the case.  In the beginning of creation, Adam and Eve existed in the garden in complete fellowship with God; they were able to share God’s eternal nature as their own.  They knew neither death, nor disobedience.  God gave them a simple command saying, “Of every tree in the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.”  They disobeyed the command of God and ate the fruit; for the first time, they experienced separation from Him; in an instant they knew shame, guilt, embarrassment, dirtiness, and pain.  Adam and Eve began to grow old, and they eventually experienced death.  Sin is serious, because it separates us from eternal life and fellowship with the Almighty God.  He desires that we let go of sinful practices that keep us from truly living.  If there is any portion of dead flesh that has imprisoned you and kept you from fully knowing the Lord, you must be prepared to severe it; or risk facing the eternal consequences of your unwillingness.

                In april 2003, an experienced mountain climber named Aaron Ralston was hiking alone in a remote mountain pass in Utah.  While maneuvering through one of the crevices a giant boulder dislodged and pinned his arm against the canyon wall; for days he attempted to free his arm until he was extremely dehydrated and nearly out of water.  He had not told anyone where he was going, so he knew that no one would be looking for him.  Aaron was faced with a choice […] He could severe his arm with an ill-equipped pocket knife; or he could lie down and die.  The only thing standing between Aaron and the rest of his life were two bones, several muscles, and some tendons in his forearm.  Aaron chose to cut off his own arm and live, rather than keep his arm and die.  [Note:  Aaron made the right choice.  He broke both of the bones in his arm, and slowly and painfully cut through his muscles and tendons with his dull knife.  Nearly 127 hours after becoming trapped, he left his severed arm behind and climbled his way out of the canyon and lived to tell about it.  Until that day, Aaron had lived selfishly.  He had been ‘a loner’ who pushed others away.  Shortly after his experience he came to believe that the boulder had been waiting for him his entire life (it was destined to transform him.)  He said, “I left my hand behind in that canyon, but I gained my life back.”  His experience allowed him to see what was truly important.  He began to put the emphasis on his personal relationships, and went on to get married and have children.  He now travels the world telling other people about his inspiring story.]

                Like Aaron, there are boulders in our lives; giant rocks that pin us down and keep us from having a wonderful relationship with a loving God.  Grave sin keeps us from knowing the fullness of an eternal life with Jesus Christ.  If we have been washed clean and have accepted salvation, but have slipped in to adultery and fornication our future is in jeopardy.  If the Friday and Saturday night drunkenness and promiscuity that once defined our weekends before our conversion has again become our practice, we have some cutting to do?  If love is absent from our actions and compassion has no place in our hearts, we must examine where we have lost fellowship with a loving and compassionate God?  Ask God to reveal to you, any sin that has crept in to your life, and He will.  What you do with what you find, will determine your eternal destination; you have a choice to make; make the right choice.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we honor You.  You are an awesome and mighty God.  We recognize that sin can separate us from You.  We know that we have received forgiveness through Your Son, but if we have any grievous sin in our lives that has caused us to be distant from You, we ask that You bring that sin to our attention; and then give us the means, and the strength to put that sin to death, that we might live for 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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