Archive for October, 2011



God is your friend

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15: 14 – 15.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                After eating the Passover feast, the Lord said farewell to his closest companions.  In a long discourse (filled with emotion and love) Jesus revealed God’s complete plan to the disciples.  During this address, those who had called him Master were urged to consider him a ‘friend.’  The term ‘friend’ implied a deeper, more intimate relationship.  In ancient times, masters and servants were never equals; they weren’t partners; and they certainly were never friends; their positions prevented them from close personal fellowship.  In order to preserve authority and respect, the master had to maintain a safe distance (as “familiarity breeds disrespect.”)  Yet the ‘King of Kings’ (Jesus) shattered the barriers that hindered true intimacy.  The disciples became his equals; no longer was he just their Lord and master; he became their brother; their closest companion; and their greatest friend.

                At the age of 19, I worked as a guard and a counselor in a minimum security juvenile facility.  My role was that of a disciplinarian.  Often, when a child misbehaved, we had to intervene and physically restrain them.  The staff was given a great deal of power and authority.  Although we interacted with the children in positive ways, we had to maintain a professional distance.  Too much intimacy caused them to lose respect for us and our positions.  If they came to believe we were their equals, they would question and disobey our commands.  Those who falsely see God as an equal lose respect for Him.  Fear of God is good; those who fear Him are aware of his power and authority.   We read in Proverbs, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  In turn, God sent His Son, so that all could know Him as a ‘friend’ as well as a Father.  [Jesus also made all things known to his disciples—For three years I worked in sales; my job was to sell; the sales reps were rarely informed of the reasons, motives, or future goals of the company.  We were told only what we needed to know and were seldom included in the decision making process.  Unlike my former bosses, our present Lord has withheld nothing; in his final discourse, the disciples became his equals; he informed them of his immanent crucifixion; his resurrection, ascension, and eventual return.  He revealed the purpose of his death; he foretold of their future hardships; he even informed them of the impending arrival of the Holy Spirit (read the bible and you too can know God’s complete plan.)]

                God must always be honored and respected; (He is our master and we are His servants) in turn, there is a distance between God and man.  In His divine wisdom, He chose to use His only Son to draw near to all people.  Jesus Christ is God’s gift to mankind.  He is God in a form we need not fear; we need only approach Him in love; we are free to speak to Him; to fellowship with Him; and to be in communion with Him.  He is more than our teacher, our master, and our shepherd; he is our brother; he is our closest companion; he is our best friend.  Would you like to know God?  If you seek closeness with God embrace Jesus Christ and he will comfort you and give you peace; look to the Son of God and you will know his Father.  Invite him in to your heart and he will teach you all things; and “you will know the truth; and the truth shall make you free.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father we love You, and we thank You for Your son.  We desire to draw near to him; may every obstacle be removed, and every barrier destroyed.  May he be our brother, our companion, and our friend.  May we confide in You Lord; may we look to You for direction, for love, and for comfort.  We love You Father; we love You Jesus; we praise You and we thank You; and we ask all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.   

Opposing Evil

JESUS SPEAKING

                “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.  But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God.  Abraham did not do this […] You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you desire to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and he does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.  And because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me” (John 8: 39, 44 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus opposed the religious leaders with great zeal; they claimed to be descendents of Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish people.  However, Abraham was a righteous man; a man who looked forward to the coming of the messiah; yet as Jesus stood before them, they sought to kill him.  They did not know God; instead they served Satan (a fallen angel who continually opposes God.)  Lucifer has an influence in every act of rape, murder, incest, theft, divorce, drunkenness, and dishonesty (to name a few.)  God’s truth is a light that exposes Satan’s lies.  Those who serve the ‘son of perdition’ will stop at nothing to extinguish God’s divine illumination, so they can continue in sin without remorse.  Where ever God is not, evil exists in abundance. 

                Adolf Hitler orchestrated one of the largest mass murders in world history.  He rounded up and killed nearly 6 million Jews.  He rejected God and the bible.  He avidly believed in the evolutionary teachings of Charles Darwin (his teachings attempted to explain creation by means of naturalistic processes—if life could arise and evolve on its own, then a divine creator would no longer be necessary.)  To Adolf Hitler, human beings were nothing more than animals; animals that could be enhanced through proper breeding.  As a believer in ‘survival of the fittest’ (an evolutionary term), Hitler assumed some human beings were less advanced than others.  In turn, he sought to create a master race by systematically destroying the unfit; before his campaign of ethnic cleansing, he killed the elderly, the deformed, and the disabled.  When the Godly stood up to oppose him, he killed and imprisoned them as well.  After he invaded Poland he killed nearly 3 million Christians and Catholics.  He also killed 3,000 church clergy members; another 2,600 Catholic priests were murdered throughout Europe.  He didn’t stop there; his goal wasn’t to control the churches, but to destroy them.  Following his death, the truth about his design to obliterate Christianity after the war became known.  Jesus Christ stood in the way of his twisted ideology; many disciples stood up and spoke the truth; they testified of his evil deeds.  Hitler (much like the Pharisees who opposed the Lord) had to remove the light of Christ before he could practice his atrocities uninhibited.  [As believers, we are obligated to resist what is evil; to speak the truth and to oppose the wicked.  One day in a crowded coffee shop, I heard a young man badgering another customer who was Asian (the man had done nothing to warrant this aggression.)  As the aggressor threatened the Asian man, he called him ‘slanty-eyed.’  I yelled across the coffee shop, “I think it’s time for you to take off buddy.”  He left the store, but then returned; he approached me and said, “Who said that to me.”  I said, “I did.  Do you think its right for you to be using racial slurs toward that man?”  Immediately the man became convicted and apologized to me.  I said, “Don’t apologize to me; apologize to that man over there.”  Surprisingly he agreed; he walked over to the man, shook his hand and apologized.  He then left the store.  A woman who had been listening to the conversation said, “Thank you.”  I told her I was a Christian, and said, “If I don’t oppose evil then I become evil myself.”]

                Those who follow God oppose evil; no matter the cost.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit we boldly speak the truth (as Christ has taught us.)  Speaking the truth may not be popular; we may be excluded, hated, or even persecuted by those who seek to sin without conviction.  Satan will stop at nothing to see man disobey God.  Are you willing to stand up for what is right?  Are you able to be a light in the darkness?  Are you prepared to preach the truth in a world that prefers lies?  Speak the truth, and God will bless you.  Stand firm, and He will strengthen you.  Allow the light of Christ to shine through you, and you will “dwell in the house of the Lord, Forever.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father we desire to oppose what is evil and to expose the works of Satan.  Give us the strength and the courage to preach the truth in a world that prefers lies.  May we be a light in dark places.  May we not fear the reprisals of man; may we always seek to do Your will; no matter what the cost.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of the these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Giving God the Glory

JESUS SPEAKING

                ‘Now around the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach.  And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this man know letters, having never studied?”  Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not my own, but His who sent me.  If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority.  He that speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him” (John 7: 14-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The educated men who heard Jesus were astonished at his perfect knowledge of scripture.  Unlike them, he did not attend a notable Hebrew school; nor did he sit at the feet of a prominent rabbi; his knowledge and wisdom came from God (not man.)  For their extensive learning, the Jewish scholars demanded admiration and praise; Jesus however, sought to honor God.  To seek glory is to embrace unrighteousness; to glorify God and his only Son is to live rightly.  One man, who thoroughly understood this, was John the Baptist; when Jesus began baptizing people in the Jordan river, John’s followers became concerned; they said, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, he is baptizing, and all are coming to him.”  John replied, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven […] he must increase, and I must decrease.”  John was devoid of selfish pride; he humbled himself and sought only to glorify the Son of God (the savior of the world.)

                To glorify Jesus Christ, one must embrace humility.  God does not share praise with those who serve him.  A disciple’s benevolent acts are the possessions of God.  Every work of love is done in the name of Jesus (not in the name of Thomas, Danny, Timothy, or Rhonda.)  The savior has said, “For whoever gives you a cold cup of water in my name […] he will by no means lose his reward.”  When we exercise charity; when we give; when we love; the Lord obtains the credit.  Upon receiving salvation I made great efforts to glorify God.  Whether buying a sandwich for a homeless person, or giving to someone in need; each act was accompanied with a statement; “This is from Jesus Christ.”  At Christmas time the presents I gave were labeled, to: ‘blank’, from: ‘Jesus Christ.’  I began signing my oil painting with the initials ‘JC’ instead of ‘JP.’  I deleted my photos from Facebook, and replaced them with pictures of Jesus (also, I am now committed to posting only scriptures in my status update section; instead of my own thoughts.)  God has used me to start a ministry called ‘Jesus Speaks;’ a ministry solely devoted to the teachings of His Son.  In nearly every area of my life, He has increased and I have decreased.  (Shortly after my conversion I frequently visited an orphanage in Mexico.  On one occasion, as our missionary group waited to cross back over in to the United States, a man approached our van begging for money; I handed him some cash and told him, “this is from Jesus.”  Over a year and a half later, I was browsing in the church bookstore when I bumped in to a woman who had been in the van when I had given the man the money.  The incident had made an impression on her, and she told me that at the time she didn’t understand why I said that (she even implied that it seemed strange.)  As she continued, she told me that she had just heard a lesson about doing things in God’s name; it reminded her of what I had done; she finally realized that I was simply attempting to give God the glory.

                Although Jesus Christ reigns in heaven, his deeds continue on earth.  He performs his miracles through his disciples.  Those who desire glory will take credit for God’s works.  Trustworthy servants however, render to God the praise and honor He deserves.  To glorify God we must humble ourselves.  He must increase, and we must decrease.  Are you willing to forgo admiration so that God may receive what is His?  Will you lift his words up above your own?  Are you able to live in the name of Christ; to give in the name of Christ; and to love in the name of Christ?  May you decrease, and may He increase; may you die so that He may live; give God the glory, and He will provide you with immeasurable joy and everlasting peace.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may You increase as we decrease.  May we let go of our selfish need to be praised; that You may receive the credit for the good works that You are accomplishing in us, and through us.  May we be vessels of Your love and mercy.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit Lord that we might be pleasing to You at all times.  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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