Archive for February, 2012

The meaning and purpose of life

JESUS SPEAKING

                Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said:  “Father, the hour has come.  Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may bring glory to You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they also may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  I have glorified You on the earth.  I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17: 1-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus performed many miracles; he presented the gospel, he healed the sick; he brought hope to the hopeless; he even raised the dead; yet despite his many profound acts, his suffering was his greatest work.  The single most prolific event in human history was, and always will be the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; for God glorified his Son by lifting him up upon the cross (high enough for the whole world to see.)  The cross is a love letter from God to mankind; it is an invitation to know the almighty creator.  [Every human being desires to know their true purpose; Jesus has taught us that we were created to know and love God (Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God.”)  Unless one accepts the blood of Christ, they will never be complete; they will never experience peace; they will never know their true purpose.]

                For many years I was an atheist/agnostic.  I rejected the bible and the idea that there was a loving God.  In turn, I sought to discover the truth through learning; I studied philosophy, physics, and cosmology.  I read the works of great thinkers; people who were renowned for their supposed wisdom.  I wanted to know the meaning of life; why was I here; what was my purpose?  Despite diligently seeking the truth, I never found it.  Those intelligent men I idolized were great at asking interesting questions, but miserable at providing any meaningful answers.  When I finally accepted Jesus Christ, my many years of searching were over; at last, I had discovered the truth.  I had all of the answers to every question I could ever ask.  I understood that I was created to bring pleasure to God; to serve Him, to love Him, and to be loved by Him.  For the first time in my life I began to know peace.  [Illustration:  The pound is full of animals that sit anxiously waiting for some loving person to snatch them up.  They were created to live in a loving relationship with a protector, a provider, and a friend; they were designed to love and to be loved.  Those that are adopted come to experience the fulfillment of their intended purpose.  Sadly many never leave the pound; equally distressing, there are many humans who reject the cross, and with it, they reject the God who loves them.

                The meaning of life is to love God, and to be loved by Him.  The sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross is God’s gift to every human being; it is His invitation to experience fulfillment.  Stop searching and embrace your true purpose.  Accept Christ’s work of redemption and you will know peace; love God and He will love you; give yourself to the Lord and you will finally be complete.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your sacrifice and we accept it; may we live in eternal fellowship with You; may we know true peace and may we fulfill our intended purpose; may we always be pleasing to You; may we create joy in Your heart; and may we feel the awesome power of Your love and Mercy.  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.

Seeing loved ones again

JESUS SPEAKING

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give to you whatever you ask.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me shall live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”  […]  Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb.  It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”  Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.  […] Now when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”  And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11: 21 – 27, & 38 – 44.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus asked Martha if she believed, and she affirmed that her faith was true.  The Lord then walked with her to the tomb, and ordered the stone to be rolled back; he commanded Lazarus (who had been dead for four days) to arise and come forth; Lazarus was instantly restored to life.  As he staggered out of the tomb Martha’s mourning heart was healed; she had experienced a miracle; she had been reunited with her dead brother.  Those who have felt the devastating loss of a family member or friend can understand Martha’s pain (and her joy.)  Death has been causing extreme heartache and sorrow for thousands of years; it separates loved ones; it takes and never gives back; death is cold, and without remorse; it is always on time and never accepts no for an answer.  Yet in the midst of the mourning and sadness, Jesus Christ has the power and authority to reunite those who have been separated.  There is no death for those who believe.  In His kingdom relationships are renewed and restored; friendships are revived; widows embrace their husbands, and children are reconciled to their parents.

                Recently, a South African man suffered a very serious asthma attack.  His family examined him and he appeared unresponsive; he was not breathing and had no pulse.  They called the morgue to come and pick him up; upon arriving, the driver also examined the body, and deemed the man to be dead.  He collected the body, returned to the morgue and put the man in a freezer for 21 hours.  The morgue workers were startled and distressed when they began to hear someone calling out from within the frigid compartment.  They were so frightened that they first called the police to come and investigate the matter.  The police opened the freezer and discovered the dead man was very much alive.  As the family members were mourning together and planning the funeral they received a phone call informing them that their loved one was still living; in an instant, their hurting hearts were healed and their sadness was turned to joy.  This amazing story became headline news and a spokesman from the health department urged South Africans to leave pronouncing people dead to medical health professionals.

                In much the same way, when a believer dies they appear lifeless; their bodies turn cold and begin to decay; yet although they may be laid to rest in the ground, they are living with God in His Kingdom.  “To be absent from the body (is) to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5: 8.)  Have you felt the sting of death?  Have you experienced the sadness of a loss?  Is there someone you yearn to see again?  Take heart, for the lost are not truly lost; those who have died are not truly dead.  If you believe, you will be reunited with them (at least with those who were themselves believers.)  Your loved ones are waiting for you; they happily expect your embrace, and eagerly anticipate your arrival.  Believe in Christ and you will receive eternal life.  Hope in God’s promises and you will live forever.  Trust in the Lord and you will see those you have lost; faith will bring you to them, and your sorrow will turn to joy, and your heart will overflow with Gladness.

 “Lord Father, we ask for increased faith; strengthen us, and help us to trust in You.  We know that death no longer has power over us.  We are eternal and we will live forever with You in Your Kingdom.  We believe in Your son, and we trust in Your promises.  We know that many of our loved ones are with You; and we anxiously await the day of our reunion.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we endure until that day.  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 narrow path

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mathew 7: 13-14.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In the ancient world, cities were places of safety and refuge.  Most were surrounded by large walls designed to protect the inhabitants from hostile enemies.  The size of the walls depended on the prosperity of the city.  Babylon, (one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient world), was rumored to have had walls that were 80 ft. thick and 320 feet high (15 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.)  Every ancient city had one main gate (a large opening in the wall through which the majority of merchants, travelers, and citizens could freely pass.)  There were also many smaller gates that served a number of different purposes.  There were gates for livestock; gates for horses; gates for importing fish; and gates used to export garbage; many of these little gates were not connected to the major highway, and were more difficult to reach.  Most entered through the main gate because it was quick, easy, and convenient.  The road to eternal separation from God is also quick, easy, and convenient; but the way to eternal life is difficult; it requires great discipline, sacrifice, and selflessness.

                As a child and adolescent, my mother brought me to church quite regularly; however, despite many hours spent kneeling, standing, sitting and praying, I never heard anyone truly preach the gospel (at least not the whole gospel.)  I knew about Christ’s forgiveness and love; I was aware that he died for the sins of the world.  I understood the work of the cross, and the free gift of salvation.  I had learned about what God had done for me, and so I had comprehended the first half of the gospel message.  When I was in my twenties a friend took me to a church service; it was there that I finally heard the remaining half the message.  God expected something from me; I was required to repent and obey.  I had to turn away from fornication, adultery, drunkenness, lewdness, and deceit.  There in that church auditorium, I knew in my Spirit that I had to change [Illustration:  At one point during Christ’s earthly ministry, he chose to spend the evening in the home of a notorious sinner named Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus was a corrupt tax-collector.  He had amassed a fortune by overtaxing his own countrymen.  During the night, Jesus presented Zacchaeus with the whole gospel; and he received it gladly.  He immediately repented of his evil deeds and offered half of his wealth to the poor; he also promised to repay everyone from whom he had stolen.]

                Zacchaeus understood the full gospel message; he received the gift of salvation and immediately obeyed the teachings of Christ.  Most today refuse to repent; 78.4 percent of Americans claim to be Christian; yet 60 percent of young adult Christians believe that premarital sex and cohabitation are morally okay (to name just one of many ungodly behaviors.)  Millions are self-deceived; believing themselves’ to be Christians when they are not; they seek to enter through the wide gate because it is easy and convenient; it requires very little sacrifice; but it leads to eternal separation from God.  Few choose the narrow path; it is very difficult; it requires repentance and demands transformation; but it leads to everlasting life.  Which path are you taking?  Are you willing to embrace the complete gospel and to become a follower of Jesus Christ?  If you are, then remember that “God never claimed the journey would be easy; but He did say it would be worth it.”  

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we receive Your gift, and we take hold of Your sacrifice; may we turn away from the ways of the world, and embrace the commandments of Your one and only Son.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us the courage and strength to travel the narrow path; the path of righteousness; the path of repentance and transformation; the path that leads to Your eternal Kingdom; have mercy on us, that we may enter Your dwelling place with joy and thanksgiving.  We love You Father, 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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