Archive for September, 2011

The glory of God

JESUS SPEAKING

                “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”  Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that he took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.  As he prayed, the appearance of his face was altered, and his robe became white and glistening.  And behold, two men talked with him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his decease which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  But Peter and those with him were very sleepy; and when they were fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him […]while he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.  And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son.  Hear him!”  When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen (Luke 9: 27-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus told his disciples that some of them would see God’s Kingdom before they died.  Eight days later, Peter, James, and John witnessed God’s perfect order.  They were suddenly awakened by a splendid vision; a revelation of Jesus Christ in his glorified state.  His garments were as white as snow, and they shimmered with astonishing beauty.  His face shown like the sun and illuminated Moses and Elijah (two Old Testament prophets who appeared with him.)  In the Kingdom of God, Jesus is the source of all light.  He is not just a man; nor is he merely a prophet; he is the physical manifestation of God Himself.  The Father’s glory (or light) radiates from His Son and fills every corner of heaven; those who enter the Kingdom glow as they absorb the light of Christ [In the Old Testament, Moses climbed to the top of Mount Sinai to speak with God.  During his conversation he requested that God appear to him.  For Moses’ sake the Lord refused; but he did allow him to see His glory (or radiant glow.) In Exodus 33, we read, ‘Then He said […] “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live […] So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand […] Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”  Moses had absorbed the glory of God and his face continued to shine as he descended the mountain.  The glow was so brilliant that the children of Israel were afraid; to calm their fears, Moses covered his face with a veil.]

                In life, truly incredible moments are rare; instances of such great peace and joy that if it were possible to stop time, we would live in those moments forever.  My moment occurred one summer on the shores of Lake Superior.  As a child, my family often vacationed at our cabin near the beach; we would go hiking, fishing, and boating; we relaxed around an open fire and cook hot dogs and marshmallows.  We also went swimming and water skiing, but the lake was never warm; in fact, it was down-right frigid.  One morning, my cousin and I had spent too much time in the water; (I’m sure we came out with our bodies shivering and our teeth chattering.)  Luckily there was an asphalt road right next to the beach that would heat up by midday.  On that nearly unused highway, my cousin and I stretched ourselves out like lizards; the sun warmed our backs, and the road warmed our bellies; in that moment I experienced a feeling of complete peace.   Encased in the warmth of the sun, I was whole.

                One day, the Lord’s true servants will exit this cold and dark world, and will enter in to the light and warmth of Jesus Christ (the glory of God.)  All of God’s children will live in the splendor that emanates outward from Him; and every believer will be transformed in the presence of their messiah.  Those who inherit eternal life will exist in communion around the one true and living God.  From Him flows life, and love, and peace without end.  Are you looking forward to seeing God face to face and basking in His glory?  Are you able to comprehend the goodness of that future time?  Are you prepared to enter the rest that Jesus Christ has been preparing for you? 

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we live in a cold world, but one day we will live eternally with You in Glory.  Strengthen us Father, that we may always do what is right.  May we guide others to Your Son; may we strive to save the souls of those who are lost.  May we always be pleasing to You; help us to be a light to others; that many may see our good deeds and desire You.  We look forward with great joy, to our future time with You in Your Kingdom.  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.

Are you teachable?

JESUS SPEAKING

                [The Lord had just finished healing a blind man; but Jesus was gone by the time the man’s eyes had completely healed.  The Pharisees, seeking to expose Jesus as a fraud, brought the man in for questioning.  After a lengthy examination, the Pharisees banned the man from their synagogues because they hated their messiah.] […] ‘Jesus heard that they had cast him out (the blind man he had healed); and when he had found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”  He answered and said, “Who is he Lord that I may believe in him?”  And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen him and it is he who is talking with you.”  Then he said, “Lord, I believe!”  And he worshipped him.  And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”  Then some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these words, and said to him, “Are we blind also?”  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘we see.’  Therefore your sin remains” (John 9: 35 – 41.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                There are two kinds of disciples; those who can be taught, and those who can’t.  Although there are many reasons why some students fail to learn, the most pervasive is pride; a student who already knows everything is no longer teachable (rigid intellectualism is stupidity impersonating true wisdom.)  Those who possess great knowledge are often the most misinformed.  For example, many religious leaders who interacted with Jesus were very well educated; they were proud of their intellectual superiority; they were blinded by pride and they rejected the Son of God.  In turn, when Jesus Christ chose his followers, he did not seek scribes or rabbi’s; nor did he approach priests and Holy men.  He did not scour the ancient centers of higher education; nor did he hunt for scholars at the great theological institutes of his day; instead, he lovingly embraced fishermen, prostitutes, and tax collectors; he selected them because they were eager to admit their ignorance (and to listen in humility); because they were willing to learn, societies outcasts became God’s first choice.

                Historically, surgeons have been society’s most well educated professionals.  In the 1800’s most surgeons wore white butcher’s aprons; as they operated on different patients, more blood would accumulate on them.  Most Doctors refused to wash them, because a strange but powerful custom had arisen; a surgeon was considered accomplished based upon how bloody his apron was (the more blood, the better the surgeon.)  During this time, a young doctor named Joseph Lister was conducting medical research; he discovered that 40-50% of amputee victims died from secondary infections (infections that resulted from the procedures themselves).  He proved that cleanliness and disinfection of surgeons, instruments, and staff, would reduce the amputee mortality rate to 15%.  The results of his research however, brought him in to conflict with the majority of his colleagues.  Most surgeons scoffed at his suggestions because it meant they would have to give up their bloody aprons.  Many educated men became unwilling to learn.  Their delay in applying Dr. Lister’s suggestions caused the deaths of thousands of patients.  Although the changes were slow, they were eventually established.  By the time Joseph Lister retired in 1893, nearly every medical institution had implemented his sanitation procedures.

                Pride can blind even the most intelligent people; much learning often stands in the way of true comprehension.  Those who know everything are not teachable (and unable to follow God.)  Those who admit their ignorance and let go of any ideas that oppose the teachings of Jesus Christ, are wiser than all of the scholars, scientists, and doctors who have ever lived.  Disciples must become blind before they can see; they must be ignorant before they can attain true wisdom; they must be willing to lay down human understanding, before they can pick up the cross.  Listen to the Lord and He will guide you; have faith in Him and you will know truth; follow Him, and you will enter in to everlasting peace [Note:  Not all educated people are ungodly; God has gifted many people with great minds; there are also many uneducated people who reject Jesus Christ.  Learning is very beneficial, but only if it does not oppose the teaching of the Lord.]

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we be Your disciples; may we be blind to the wisdom of the world.  Help us to know the difference between prideful philosophies, and beneficial information; that we may always choose what is good and reject what is evil.  Teach us, instruct us, and make us willing to learn.  We admit that we are ignorant, and in humility we ask You to lead us.  We desire to have childlike faith; may we trust You completely, and may we know the blessings of Your eternal wisdom.  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!

Gratitude

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now it happened as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.  Then as he entered a certain village, there met him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.  And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  So when he saw them, he said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the preists.”  And so it was that as they went they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks.  And he was a Samaritan.  So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed?  But where are the nine?  Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  And he said to him, “Arise, go your way.  Your faith has made you well” (Mathew 17: 11 – 19.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Leprosy is a debilitating bacterial disease that has existed for thousands of years; it causes fingers, toes, and other extremities to rot away, horribly disfiguring its victims.  Despite modern treatments, Leprosy remains highly contagious.  As a result, the infected have been ostracized since the days of Christ; lepers were forced in to isolated colonies outside of the cities.  When traveling, they were required to maintain great distances between themselves and the healthy; when entering crowded areas, they were obligated to yell out, “unclean, unclean,” as a warning for others to keep a safe distance.  The lepers who approached Jesus stood “afar off;” and pleaded with him to heal them.  Although nine of the lepers were Jewish, one leper was a Samaritan (The Jews considered Samaritans half breads; because when Alexander the great conquered Israel hundreds of years earlier, he settled a portion of the land (known as Samaria) with Greek citizens and retired soldiers; they mingled with the Jewish people, but were unable to completely adopt Hebrew customs and traditions.  The Samaritans were so hated that many Jews would travel around Samaria when journeying to Jerusalem; the only people more hated than Samaritans were lepers.)  Jesus ordered the lepers to go and show themselves to the priests (In Jewish society, the priests were charged with diagnosing leprosy; if someone was healed, the priests had to examine them before they could return home to their families.)  As they journeyed, all ten lepers were outwardly healed; but only one was inwardly healed.  The dirty Samaritan, filled with gratitude, returned to praise and honor Jesus Christ.

                There was once a prominent doctor who was a devoted golfer.  His long time caddy had a club foot (a deformity in which the foot bends inward, making it difficult to walk.)  ‘Doc Gordon,’ as he was known, often traveled south for the winters to continue his golf game.  One winter, he decided to take his caddy with him; during their trip, the doctor operated on the man’s foot and he was made completely whole.  Soon after they returned, the doctor became ill and passed away.  One day, the caddy was carrying another member’s bag; at every hole he stopped to pluck a flower, until eventually he had gathered a very beautiful bouquet.  The member was curious and asked the caddy about his new girlfriend.  He replied, “Oh no, I don’t have a girlfriend.  These are for Doctor Gordon.  I go to his grave twice a week and place these flowers there.”  Over his lifetime, Doctor Gordon had helped thousands of sick people; he had corrected many physical ailments, and prolonged the lives of numerous individuals.  Yet, only one patient was truly thankful; the young caddy continued to praise and honor his deceased friend and benefactor because his heart was filled with gratitude (This illustration was a parable taken from another source; whether the characters were real, is not certain.)

                Jesus Christ has healed and given life to so many people, but only those whose gratitude is a daily expression, have truly experienced a miracle.  There are a number of ways to show your gratitude for God; prayers of thanksgiving; testifying of His greatness; gathering together with other believers; worship and singing; acts of love on His behalf; service work; care giving; charity, etc.  Have you received the gift of healing and eternal life?  Gratitude is a fruit of true salvation; those who understand the value of what they have been given, honor and praise God every day (Note:  If you have never received Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, please contact us and we can discuss how you can do that today.)

                “Lord Heavenly Father we praise You; we honor You; and we thank You for our salvation.  We are unworthy servants, and yet You love us.  Thank You for healing us and protecting us; thank you for Your kindness and provision.  You are truly an awesome and amazing God.  May our hearts be filled with gratitude; may we be compelled to speak to others of Your greatness, and may we be filled with Your Holy Spirit.  We love You Father, and we honor 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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