Archive for October, 2011

Tragedies can be blessings

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.  Imust work the works of Him who sent Me while it is still day; the night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the blind man’s eyes with the clay.  And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent).  So he went and washed, and came back seeing (John 9: 1–7.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In the first century it was commonly believed that all deformity and dysfunction was the result of sin.  Therefore the disciples inquired whose sin had caused the man’s blindness.  Jesus revealed that the man’s deformity came not by sin, but by the will of God.  In healing the man, God was honored and glorified.  Often the things that appear tragic are designed to bring God the greatest glory.  Tragedy and adversity are not always punishments; in fact, frequently they are the greatest blessings we will ever know.

                In 2003 a 13 year old Christian girl named Bethany Hamilton was surfing when a 14 foot tiger shark attacked her.  The shark severed her left arm just below the shoulder.  She nearly bled to death before being rushed to the hospital.  Bethany had been one of the top competitive junior surfers in the world prior to her injury.  Despite her strong faith, she questioned why God would allow her to endure such a tragedy.  She was determined to surf again competitively.  Trusting in God, Bethany entered the water and began training nearly 3 weeks after her accident.  She started with a long board (making it easier to paddle.)  She then moved to a smaller board, and then to a smaller board; until finally, she was once again surfing on a short board.  Because Bethany refused to quit she has gone on to place in and win many of the world’s top female surf competitions.  Her experience has become world famous; she has received thousands of letters and numerous awards; she has appeared on ‘20/20, Good Morning America, and the Oprah Winfrey Show,’ to name a few.  She eventually published a book chronicling her struggle and victory (her story has recently been made in to a major motion picture entitled “Soul Surfer.”)  Throughout her ordeal, Bethany has remained an outspoken Christian.  She thanks Jesus Christ for her strength, her courage, and her triumph.  Was losing her arm God’s will?  Yes.  What appeared to be a tragedy, has become the greatest blessing she has ever known.  With two arms she would have likely won some surf competitions (she might have even made it on to the cover of a surf magazine.)  Yet with God in her heart and one missing arm, she has been able to reach the whole world.  She is a symbol of faith and a living example of God’s ability to take the broken and make them whole again.

                Is there anything in your life that you struggle with; something that seems tragic; a source of shame or pain?  Take another look; you may find a wonderful victory hidden within a great calamity.  Seek the Lord, and He will strengthen you and lift you up.  Lean on God, and let Him use you; He will take your weaknesses and make them your strengths.  When He transforms your life, remember to give Him the credit He deserves.  Utilize God’s power and have faith; never give up; face your fears; and many will see ‘the glory of God,’ revealed in you.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You turn our weaknesses in to our strengths.  May Your enduring power and wisdom give us victory over the obstacles we face.  Heal us Father, and fill us with Your courage, that by faith, we may overcome our fears and shortcomings; through the power of Your Holy Spirit may we all be able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  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 Law of Love

JESUS SPEAKING

                At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath.  And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.  And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”  But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?” (Mathew Chapter 12: 1-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                God created the universe in six days.  On the seventh day He rested.  Mankind was commanded to follow His example.  Every seventh day was a day of rest; a day on which no work was to be done; a day of fellowship with family and friends; a time to pray and remember the blessings of God.  During the time of Christ, the religious leaders were Zealot’s.  They believed it was their duty to enforce God’s laws; they were blinded by their rigid traditionalism, and unable to see the numerous situations that warranted breaking the fourth commandment (the Sabbath law) — for example, if a man’s donkey fell in to a well on the Sabbath, he was required to work to save it’s life (to allow the animal to die would be evil.)  They accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath; he responded by quoting an Old Testament scripture.  When King Saul sought to kill David, David fled with a handful of soldiers.  Wearied and hungry, David and his companions entered a temple and ate the showbread from the altar (a bread strictly reserved for the priests.)  To survive he did what was not lawful; yet God did not condemn him.  Providing for those in need is the greatest of all of the commandments; it supersedes every other law.

                One day a woman asked me an important question.  She said, “I was recently offered a part-time job working on Saturday and Sunday.  I really need the money, but I don’t want to break the Sabbath by working.  What should I do?”  I asked her if the job was necessary for her to survival.  She indicated that the additional income was needed to pay her rent and to buy food.  I told her that when David was hungry he broke the law and ate the showbread from the Altar.  God didn’t fault him for doing what was necessary to survive; he would not fault her either.  In unique circumstances, breaking the law is necessary to fulfill the law of love.  Unfortunately there are still some who refuse to see any divine exceptions.  God commanded his followers to refrain from drinking blood.  The blood from every animal needed to be drained before it could be butchered.  Today, in order to save lives, it is possible to perform blood transfusions.  One religious organization known as the J-hova’s witnesses, have adamantly opposed these procedures; believing them to be a direct violation of God’s law to refrain from consuming blood; as a result, many of their followers have needlessly died.  Human need and the preservation of life are God’s greatest concerns [Warning:  God does not condone situational ethics.  Stealing is always wrong; as is laziness and adultery; there is never a situation where drunkenness is necessary; nor will circumstances ever require fornication, lewdness, or idolatry.]

                The Lord is a compassionate and understanding Father; He is the giver of divine wisdom and discernment.  Although His laws are supreme and unflinching, His will is not always rigid and legalistic.  Extreme human need often necessitates exceptions; wisdom concerning such times, can only come from God.  We must never presume to know His heart; instead we must continually pray for direction.  May we always seek His will in every situation; may compassion be our guide and understanding our best friend; and may we never forget that the law of love is the greatest law of all.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask for Your wisdom.  Give us understanding, and fill our hearts with kindness.  Your laws are without error; yet we realize that You desire to provide for those in need; in so doing, You are not overly zealous; You make exceptions where they are needed.  May we recognize these circumstances as we minister to others.  Without condoning evil, may we reveal Your grace and compassion 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.

A common question?

JESUS SPEAKING

                “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.  He who hates me hates my Father also.  If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both me and my father” (John 15: 22 – 24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus Christ preached throughout Israel for up to three years before being crucified.  He preached in the cities; in the wilderness; in the temple; in homes and on street corners; he preached to every capable Israelite (He was so famous that he needed to travel by boat to avoid being thronged by the crowds.)  Still, despite seeing the miracles and hearing God’s message of repentance and forgiveness, many willingly embraced ignorance (and refused to listen); while others who did listen rejected Him entirely (In this scripture, Jesus implies that involuntary ignorance is an excuse; those who were not made aware of the message are not under condemnation.) 

                In my years of evangelism, I have interacted with many skeptics, agnostics, and atheists, who often use a common question to challenge God’s perfect justice: “If you can’t get to heaven without accepting Jesus Christ; what about the child in Africa who dies without ever having heard the gospel?  Are they going to go to hell?”  The answer is no.  God does not condemn the naive.  Those who are ignorant are innocent; yet those who have heard “have no excuse for their sin.”  (In the United States it is hard to believe that a single person has not heard the gospel.)  Many are willingly ignorant because they don’t want to change; they refuse to open a bible or enter a church believing that by not rejecting or accepting Jesus they will avoid condemnation.  Unfortunately voluntary ignorance is no excuse (those who enter hell have no one blame but themselves.)

                The Followers of Jesus Christ continue to preach the gospel.  Some accept him; some deny him; and others simply refuse to investigate.  God forgives the truly naïve, but he condemns the willingly ignorant.  There are very few places on the earth where Jesus Christ has yet to be preached.  Perhaps some isolated tribe in the Amazon; maybe some young children in a Hindu household; there are definitely many infants who tragically pass away who aren’t old enough to accept salvation.  God is just and holy; He commits no evil; and it would be evil to condemn the truly ignorant to eternal damnation.  No matter how strange or perplexing the question might be, remember, God’s word provides the answer.  Read His word and He will prepare you to speak on His behalf.  Dive in to scripture and you will be equipped.  Meditate upon His precepts and you will be His messenger; and He will use you to preach to lost; to bring hope to the hopeless; and to grant eternal life to those who are dying in sin.  Through you, many may come to know His goodness, His mercy, and His love.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we recognize Your perfect justice.  We acknowledge that You do no evil.  May we be equipped to answer those who seek to impugn your righteousness.  Empower us through Your Holy Spirit; may we be bold; may we illuminate darkened minds, and preach the gospel to those who are ignorant.  May we be Your messengers in this place; may we deliver the good news to those who are afar off.  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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