Archive for July, 2011

Genuine Prayer

JESUS SPEAKING

                “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do.  For they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Therefore do not be like them.  For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Mathew 6: 7-8.)             

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                By the first century, the repetitious prayer so common to the heathen nations surrounding Israel had infiltrated the Jewish ranks.  By repeating the same prayer many times in one sitting, they believed God was more inclined to listen and respond (in their estimation God was hard of hearing.)  To the unwise, the blessings of God were not just gifts received from above, but wages earned from below.  The quantity of prayer soon replaced the quality of prayer.  As repetition increased, genuine belief decreased; as religious practice became the focus, true expression of faith began to whither [Note:  Jesus was not referring to daily prayer.  He specifically commanded that his followers persist in petitioning God for their daily needs.  Ex., to pray for a wife or husband daily is good.  What is not good, is to sit down and petition God 30 times in one day (he hears the first request.)]

                In the Catholic Church, the members confess their sins to a priest, and the priest gives them an assigned act of penance (or repentance.)  Repentant acts are considered payment for the wrongs done. Commonly, many priests sentence the sinner to a few minutes of repetitious prayer (the amount varies based upon the severity of the sin.)  For example, if a man confesses to the act of adultery, he might be commanded to say 50 hail Maries (a short prayer lifting up the Virgin Mary.)  And again one week later, the adulterer returns after committing adultery again; and again he is sentenced to 50 hail Maries.  For three years, the man returns, until finally his wife has left him and his marriage is destroyed.  The man was allowed to believe that God’s forgiveness could be attained through ritualistic repetitive prayer; forgiveness however is only bestowed upon those who truly repent; had the man truly felt shame and guilt in his heart he would have confessed his sin and discontinued it.  The religious system fails anyone who is taught that repetitious prayer can take the place of true genuine repentance (Note:  This does not mean that Catholicism is evil; it is simply one practice in Christianity that can be used as an illustration.  There are many faithful believers in the Catholic Church.)

                Rituals and traditions have infiltrated the body of Christ.  Genuine faith has been crushed beneath the weight of religion.  Long repetitious prayers are wasted on God.  And not only are they wasted, they obstruct true faith and prohibit authenticity.  Draw near to Him with your heart, not just your posture; may your words be few, and may your requests be genuine and congruent with the perfect will of our loving God and Father.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we come before You today and thank You for all that You have done for us; please strengthen us and make us more genuine believers.  May we not fall victim to the trappings of tradition, but instead, be reborn in the newness of Your Spirit.  Hear our prayers Father.  We love You, 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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Tough Choices

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  And he took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be troubled and deeply distressed.  Then he said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.  Stay here and watch.”  He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.  And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.  Take this cup away from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14: 32-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                After eating the Passover meal, Jesus and his disciples traveled to a garden area near the temple, known as Gethsemane.  There, in solitude, clothed in a heavy garment of darkness, the first drops of blood and sweat dripped from the forehead of God’s Son; a peaceful garden became the scene of the greatest battle ever fought; the knock-down-drag out fight for the redemption and salvation of mankind.  With the pain of his crucifixion dawning on the horizon, he succumbed to overwhelming anguish.  Falling on his face in agony, Jesus pleaded with God to use an alternative means of accomplishing His deliverance.  In the same breath he said, “nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”  In one sentence the battle had been won, and the world would come to know true obedience.  God’s will and our will are often in great opposition; like Jesus, there are moments when we are faced with tough choices.  Do we choose to do what is right despite any resulting hardships; or do we choose what is evil because it is less painful.

                [Warning:  This illustration is emotionally disturbing; if you have ever committed the sin outlined below, remember that God loves you; if you have asked for forgiveness you are guilty of nothing; by the blood of Christ you are a ‘new creation.’]  ‘Nearly 43% of all women will have at least one abortion by the time they are 45 years old.’  Every year, 42 million women choose to abort their developing babies because it is the easy way out.  A trip to the clinic and a life is traded for a few more years of freedom; a future job; or, greater financial security; in a 2004 study, 86% of abortions were justified by one of the following excuses: ‘unready’ (25%); ‘Can’t afford a baby now’ (23%); ‘has all the children she wanted, or all children are grown’ (19%); ‘has relationship problems or wants to avoid single parenthood’ (8%); ‘is too immature or young to have child’ (7%); ‘would interfere with education and career plans’ (4%).  Regardless of excuse, the true cause is selfishness (Definition of selfishness:exclusive regard to one’s own interest or happiness; supreme self-love or self-preference which leads a person to direct his purposes to the advancement of his own interest, power, or happiness.’)  Every child forming in the womb has already taken shape in the eyes of God; this year, like Jesus, millions of women and men will be faced with a choice; to obey the will of God and endure hardship, or to obey their own desires and avoid adversity.

                Women and men who choose life, have made the choice to do what is right; the correct path is often the most difficult.  Following God’s path is very costly.  Every disciple must embrace hardship and self-sacrifice.  Denying our own desires to satisfy the will of God is a daily battle that can only be won when we say, “nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”  The cost of eternal life is death; to live, we must lay down our lives.  May we all choose to serve God rather than ourselves; may we do what is right, no matter the cost; may we joyfully embrace a life of sacrifice; and may we always do the perfect will of our Almighty Father.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and praise You; You are truly an amazing God.  Help us to do Your will.  Give us the strength and the courage to embrace any difficulties that may arise from doing what is right.  Guide and direct us, that we might know what is pleasing to You.  May we deny our own desires when they are not congruent with Your desires.  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.

 

When Tradition opposes God’s will

JESUS SPEAKING

               Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?  They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

               Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?  For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say that if a man says to his father or mother ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it.  Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.  You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:  “‘These people honor me with their lips, But their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; Their teachings are but rules taught by men’” (Mathew 15: 1-9.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

               Over the course of many centuries, the Jewish people began to elevate their own traditions above the commandments of God.  One tradition required the people to ritualistically purify their hands before eating a meal.  The religious leaders condemned the Lord and his disciples for not observing this custom.  In turn, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for allowing one of their traditions to nullify God’s fifth commandment (“honor thy father and thy mother.”)  The tradition known as ‘Corban,’ made it acceptable to commit any or all of one’s wealth to God (and to the temple treasury.)  In turn, any money needed to care for or aide ailing parents or loved ones became null and void.  God did not create this tradition; for if He had, He would have clearly outlined it in scripture.  Jesus Christ does not honor the traditions of men; instead, he and his followers obey the laws and commandments of God (Note:  Not all traditions are evil; traditions such as adult baptism, communion, and the Lord’s Prayer are wonderful scriptural practices.) 

               There is no doubt that the Amish people possess a zeal for God.  Unfortunately, at some point, the Amish community contracted a serious case of ‘rigid traditionalism.’  They became paralyzed by rituals not outlined in scripture; rendering them nearly incapable of effectively evangelizing anyone other than their own children (evangelism is the requirement of every believer; Jesus said “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”)  The (old order) Amish have made their customs a requirement for Church membership.  New members must become farmers.  Automobiles, radios, and televisions are prohibited; electricity can no longer be utilized; bicycles and wrist watches are forbidden; photographs are shunned; married men must grow beards and telephones can only be used outside of the home for business purposes, etc. (What began as a desire to not be conformed to the evils of society, has rendered them incapable of reaching the lost.) (Note:  Not all Amish traditions are wrong; many do have their genesis in scripture:  modest dress, pacifism, and the sanctity of marriage, to name a few.)

               Today, there are countless Christian denominations (non-essential practices have caused numerous divisions.)  Many have placed traditions above the laws of God.  Potential believers in Christ are seen as potential believers in the church.  But the Father has one set of standards; He has laid out what pleases Him in a book (the Holy Bible.)  Any requirements of a church not founded on God’s word are the rules of men; such rules can serve to confuse, divide, and neutralize the people of God.  (Note:  Does this mean churches that have non-biblical traditions are evil?  No.  All churches contain a measure of ‘traditionalism.’  However, we must never allow non-scriptural traditions to gain power and importance.  They are not requirements for salvation or church membership.  How can we know and understand what is truly important?  Confusion can be avoided by simply reading the bible; it is our guide; it is our source of true understanding and wisdom.  Traditions come and go, but the laws of God are eternal.)

               “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to avoid being victims of ‘traditionalism.’  May we always honor Your commandments above man-made practices.  Help us to find common ground with all those who believe.  Give us the strength to live by Your word; may we know each precept and every teaching; may we never replace Your word with our own understanding.  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.

 

Serpents and Doves

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and as harmless (innocent) as doves” (Mathew 10: 16.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Those who accept the Holy Spirit and forsake evil are cleansed of all unrighteousness.  They are made pure; the innocence that was lost through sin is finally restored (the sons and daughters of God are reborn as doves; lacking evil intentions and immoral hearts.)  Unlike natural born children whose innocence is accompanied by ignorance, the ‘reborn’ child of God retains the knowledge of good and evil.  In the heart of every believer, innocence and wisdom exist in harmony.  The serpent is a creature that symbolizes wisdom.  In Genesis, God created the serpent to be the wisest of all the animals (Satan himself took the form of a serpent when he cleverly convinced Adam and Eve to disobey God.)  Characteristically, snakes are rarely caught off guard; they patiently wait for opportunities to strike; and they always keep their eyes on potential predators.  In a world filled with evil, God’s eternal offspring must apply comparable wisdom to avoid destruction. Like the serpent, believers must see hungry predators as they approach and turn to face them.  How can we be kind and loving toward these predators while at the same time making sure we don’t get eaten is by them?  To be both a dove and a serpent can be a difficult task that demands discipline and divine guidance.

                A couple of years ago a man entered the coffee shop I frequent; it was late in the evening and there were very few customers; he was a peculiar man dressed in work out clothing.  He spoke in broken English and began to draw attention to himself by flirting with the workers behind the register.  When the workers were distracted, the man leaned over the counter and pulled some money out of the tip jar (quickly concealing it.)  Immediately I rose up and approached the counter.  The man turned around and was greeted with a stern look.  “Put it back,” I said.  “I’m so sorry” he replied; admitting to his actions, he returned the money and begged for forgiveness.  He claimed to be starving and in desperate need of money (possibly true; possibly a lie.)  I told him that what he really needed was Jesus.  I offered to help him so he didn’t have to steal.  I gave him money from my ATM and a bible from my car; he gratefully received them and went his way.  God had given me the wisdom to recognize evil in action.  Like a serpent I was able to expose and oppose a predator.  Like a dove I avoided harming the man; instead I loved and cared for him according to the will of God.

                God has called every follower to be wise; the child of God is able to recognize and oppose evil. The believer must also be harmless; showing love and kindness to those who oppose what is good.  The wicked despise God’s children; they seek to destroy, to pervert, and to devour the faithful; but the faithful seek to build up, to love, and to convert the wicked.  Walk wisely in the ways of God, and reach out to the lost; His Spirit will shine through you; you will bring hope to the hopeless; you will lead the blind to freedom; submit yourself to the call of God, and become a messenger of light in a very dark world.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the wisdom to avoid being harmed by evil while also opposing it.  May we be kind to those who walk in darkness; employ us to love the wicked.  May Your light shine brightly through us in this dark world.  Use us to direct others away from destruction and toward eternal life.  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.

Blessings or Cursings

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you […] for the Son of Man’s sake […] for indeed your reward is great in heaven […] But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6: 20-26.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The Jewish people were very familiar with blessings (the rabbi’s would often be asked to bless certain individuals.)  A blessing is a prophetic pronouncement of some future good in a person’s life.  A cursing is the opposite of a blessing (it is a prophetic pronouncement of some future calamity.)  Jesus reveals that those who are cursed in the present will be blessed in the future, and those who are blessed today, will know future ‘cursings.’  The rich will become poor, and the poor will become rich; the sad will know happiness, and those who are happy will one day mourn.  The hungry will eventually be satisfied, but the well fed will know hunger.  Jesus lived a life of self denial; a life in which the needs of others were more important than his own (even to the point of death; because he died for others he was raised to life.)  To follow Christ in to eternal life, self denial and self-sacrifice in the present are required; followers must sacrifice wealth, power, property, selfishness, ungodly careers, time, fleshly appetites, and even a good reputation (to name a few.)  This message was despised when the Lord spoke it, and it is still hated today (Note:  Jesus said, “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”)  

                We need only look at credit cards to understand this scripture.  Credit cards are designed to allow a person to avoid enduring present pain.  When shopping, scores of people are faced with opportunities they cannot afford (opportunities where self-denial is required.)  Not being able to afford a product produces pain; to avoid required sacrifice, future money is spent to enjoy the present.  But paying for pleasure with money we don’t have doesn’t make the pain go away; it simply postpones it.  Eventually the pain will be endured when the credit card company comes to collect.

                Most people have spent entire lifetimes avoiding pain and indulging in pleasure; but the pain hasn’t been avoided; only postponed.  Eventually everyone has to ‘pay the check.’  Chasing after wealth, material possessions, careers, food, and even a good reputation will lead to an eternity of hardship.  Hording money and making recreation and personal time the focus of living will bring about destruction.  Those who love comfort, gossip, lusting, weekend partying, unholy relationships, and other forms of pleasure will eventually be cursed.  Self-denial and sacrifice lead to eternal blessings.  Volunteer work, giving, spending time listening to others, evangelizing, visiting widows and orphans, working with drug addicts, caring for the sick, loving others, giving people rides (all acts of selflessness will be rewarded in God’s Kingdom.)  Where can you deny your own desires to better serve others?  What do you have in excess?  Do you have time, money, or knowledge; what can you give away?  When you deny yourself in this life, and make others more important, you are serving the Living God; and in turn, you will serve Him in the life to come.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask and pray that You will help us to endure pain and to give away what we have in excess.  May we deny our own wants and pleasures to fulfill Your purposes in the lives of others.  Father, help us to deny ourselves and to take up our cross and to follow You.  Reveal to us where we can be more selfless; where we can be more giving; and where we can be more like 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.

Four types of Hearts

JESUS SPEAKING

                But when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parable […] And He said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?  The sower sows the word.  And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes instantly and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.  These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a short time.  Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, right away they stumble.  Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” (Mark 4: 13-20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus had just finished presenting an agricultural parable to the masses (A parable is a short story that illustrates a deeper truth; to discover it’s meaning, the listener is forced to think.)  In the parable, a farmer went out to plant his crop.  His seeds landed on four distinct types of soil: hard soil; rocky soil; thorny soil; and good soil.  The disciples approached Jesus afterwards to find out what the parable meant; he lovingly explained its deeper meaning to them.  The seeds represent the word of God (the message of salvation.)  The soil represents the human heart; every heart is either hard, rocky, thorny, or good.  Only the good heart is capable of producing fruit.  When God’s word is allowed to grow unrestricted, it yields an abundance of loving works and infiltrates the hearts and minds of others.

                Let’s take a closer look at each type of heart:  Hard hearts cannot be penetrated […] God is rejected without contemplation or consideration.  Occasionally a little grey haired man enters the coffee shop I frequent (he is a lawyer who defended Charles Manson.)  I give him rides from time to time and try to help him when I can.  Although in his 90’s and near death, he still has a great distain for God and is quite a vocal atheist.  In our discussions, his rejection of God is outright and he refuses to listen.  His usual response is, “Do you know how many wars have been fought in the name of religion?”  He often goes on to make jokes about the Catholic priests that have been caught molesting children.  His heart is as hard as stone; any efforts to reveal God’s truth to him are in vain; I have ceased trying to do the impossible.

                Unlike hard hearts, stony hearts are just soft enough to receive the gospel […] God’s word penetrates, and takes root.  But difficulties arise; sacrifices must be made; and sinful practices need to be discarded.  To avoid hardship, God is denied authority or is discarded completely.  A friend of mine once eagerly received God’s word.  He soon came to a crossroads; he was required to give up fornication (sex before marriage.)  He refused to sacrifice his lust, so instead he sacrificed his relationship with God.  Over the years he has gone from woman to woman; he is currently with a woman who denies Jesus Christ entirely (Being a Christian is an unpopular and narrow road; it requires sacrifice.  Jesus actually told his disciples to, “Count the Cost.”  It is very costly, but it is also worth the cost.)

                Those with thorny hearts allow God’s word to penetrate them deeply (their initial response is similar to those with good hearts.)  They endure initial sacrifice to follow Jesus; however, as the years pass, thorns begin to grow in their hearts.  (Thorns are weeds; weeds infect the soil around useful crops; they compete for nutrients and resources; unless plucked out, they decrease the productivity of the plant, and can even cause it to die completely.)  Careers, bank accounts, hobbies, homes, relationships, and recreation are weeds that can grow in the heart.  They can compete with God for time, energy and resources.  In 1966 a committed follower of Jesus Christ began working for a Christian television network.  His heart was likely filled with good intentions.  He hosted some programs that became wildly successful.  Like many television evangelists, he did on-air fundraising; his love for Christ began to compete with his love for money; he started committing fraud and gave himself 3.4 million dollars in bonuses.  In 1988 a Federal grand jury indicted him on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy; he went from serving God, to serving time in prison.

                The rarest of all hearts is made up of good soil; these hearts receive God’s word and it fills them completely.  They exist to spread the word of the Lord and to bring others to the knowledge of God (without falling victim to apathy or idolatry.)  Nearly 2000 years ago a man named Paul received Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior.  From the day of his conversion he tirelessly sought to spread the gospel to every living soul.  His faith and determination did fade with age (his last days were just as spirit filled as his first days.)  He wrote a great majority of the letters that make up our new testament.  Near the end of his life, prior to be being beheaded for the lord, he wrote, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me in that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

                 Today, which type of heart beats in your chest?  What kind of soil has God’s word encountered within you?  Have you denied God access to your heart?  Have you allowed Him to enter, only to eventually kick him out?  Have you allowed other things to displace the prominence of a savior in your life?  Or perhaps your heart is one of the rarest of all of God’s creations; a heart completely submitted to the word of God.  If God’s word lives in you, may you never let it go; may nothing compete with it; may you cast sin aside and allow God to lead you.  Let His word produce fruit in your life and give Him the opportunity to pour out of you and in to the hearts and lives of others.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, soften our hearts, that Your word may find it’s home in us.  Help us to cast away sin, and to embrace sacrifice; knowing that our reward will be great.  Remove any distractions in our hearts that compete with You.  Compel us to spread Your word to others, that we may bear much fruit 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.

A finished work

JESUS SPEAKING

                 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst.”  Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to his mouth.  So when Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished!”  And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit (John 19: 28-30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus had come to the end of his suffering on the cross.  He was betrayed, arrested, abandoned, beaten, humiliated, falsely accused, interrogated, publicly ridiculed and teased, spit on, and pierced by thorns; he was maimed by a whip about the neck, back and legs (the whip contained sharp shards which tore open his flesh;) a bag was placed over his head and he was struck in the face; Jesus carried a cross through mobs of people who hurled insults at him.  Spikes were driven through his hands and feet.  Despite the long list of pains he endured, thirst was one of the greatest agonies of the cross.  The condemned were denied water; Jesus had lost huge amounts of blood and was exposed to the heat of the day; his body desperately sought water to repair itself.  Near death, he said, “I thirst.”  The soldiers responded to his thirst by raising a vinegar soaked sponge to his lips (vinegar is an extremely bitter tasting liquid—even the Romans mercy seemed cruel.)  In his last moments, Jesus tasted the bitterness of man’s sin.  He then said, “it is finished,” and he died.  In a single day he had finished his greatest work; the salvation of mankind.  He took the penalty of man’s sin upon himself.  He suffered God’s wrath, so that those who would believe in him could avoid destruction. 

                The following is a fictitious story which illustrates the work of Jesus on the cross:  A girl and her mother lived next to a snake farm in India.  From the time of her youth, the girl was told not to wander near the snake pits.  One evening the girl began to argue with her mother; frustrated and filled with anger, she struck her mother; in shock the girl ran from her home; because it was evening she didn’t realize she was running toward the snake farm.  Suddenly she plummeted in to one of the pits.  Seeing a single cobra staring her in the face, she screamed.  Hearing the scream, her mother came running and looked down in to the pit and saw her daughter’s distress.  The woman jumped in to the pit, and lunged toward the cobra to save her daughter.  The mother was bitten.  The young girl reached forward to pull her mother away from danger, and the cobra also bit her.  The owners of the snake farm heard the commotion and came running.  They pulled the women from the pit and rushed them to the hospital.  The mother went in to cardiac arrest, but the young girl showed no symptoms.  After a half an hour, the girl’s mother was pronounced dead.  The girl began to sob uncontrollably.  The Doctor approached her with a somber look on his face.  The girl asked him, “How could this have happened?  I’m completely fine; we were bitten by the same snake; why is it I am healthy and my mother is dead?”  The Doctor compassionately replied, “Well, your mother was bitten first; and the snake used all of its venom on her.  When it bit you, it had nothing left to inject.  Your mother saved your life.”

                Similarly, Jesus Christ has placed himself between God’s wrath and those who deserve to experience it.  He has taken the full penalty for sin upon himself; he has paid the price; he has suffered death so others may live.  As Jesus endured suffering he thought of you, and he thought of me.  He thought of us.  Have you accepted his sacrifice?  Have you allowed him to take your place?  Give Jesus Christ the opportunity to heal your spirit and to wash your sins away (Sadly, many will refuse to accept his work on the cross.  If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, you can do that today.  Contact me and we can talk about how you can partake in Christ’s offering and know the true peace of God within your heart.)

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and thank Your Son for his suffering.  We thank You for allowing him to take our place on the cross.  Thank You Jesus, for enduring God’s wrath so we can escape His punishment and be forgiven for our sins.  Father, be our God; be our salvation; be the center of our lives; fill us up with Your Spirit, and help us to sacrifice our lives for You (as You have done for us.)  We love You, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.


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