Archive for February, 2012

Anger is murder


                “You have heard it said long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin.  But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Mathew 5: 21-22.)


                Few evil offenses can rival the act of murder; and murder, like so many sins, is merely the outward expression of an inward disposition.  All actions have their beginnings deep within the spirit.  First century Judaism stressed external adherence to the laws of God.  Jesus however, emphasized internal obedience; he focused on the heart; and rightly so; for murder is hatred which has grown to full maturity; laziness gives birth to poverty; and adultery is the offspring of lust.  Unless the heart is continually cleansed, evil will take root and produce a plethora of unholy actions.  God judges the inner man; therefore the believer must be diligent to maintain a clean heart; in so doing, they will also outwardly adhere to God’s commandments (In regard to inward purity, Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”)

                John Wilkes booth is one of the most famous assassins in U.S. history.  On April 14th 1865, as the U.S. civil war drew to a close, President Abraham Lincoln was watching a play at Ford’s theatre in Washington D.C.  Mr. Booth, a famous stage actor, crept up behind the president with a pistol and shot him in the back of the head (a wound which proved to be fatal.)  Although Booth escaped, he was later caught and killed (Booth had been a loyal southerner, disillusioned and angered over Northern aggression.)   Abraham Lincoln’s death, although shocking and horrific, was not the result of an assassin’s bullet; instead it was the offspring of fully matured anger; hatred led to the deaths of both John Wilkes Booth and the 16th president of the United States of America.  [Another illustration:  It is interesting to note that unchecked anger can not only lead to spiritual death, but it can also lead to physical death.  A recent study conducted by John Hopkins university tracked 1,337 male medical students for 36 years following medical school; the study found that those who were quick to anger when undergoing stress, were three times more likely to “develop premature heart disease, and five times more likely to have an early heart attack.  Angry young men, it appears, turn in to angry old men with heart problems” (Cleveland Clinic, Anger and Heart Attack.)]

                Anger cannot be contained; it is a seed that grows in to hatred, and hatred generates sin; therefore, the Lord teaches that anger and murder are indistinguishable.  God makes no distinction between the seed that enters the ground and the fruit it eventually produces.  Search your heart; if you discover any anger or resentment, discard it; it only serves to separate you from your creator.  Allow God to cleanse you of all unrighteousness; let Him purify you, and fill you with His Holy Spirit.  Let go of your hostility, and you will experience the freedom of absolute forgiveness.

                “Lord Father we come before You and we ask and pray that You would let the truth of this scripture sink deep down into our hearts.  May our souls be pure and free from evil thoughts and desires.  Take away our anger and resentment; may we not judge others, but may we love them; knowing that you are the only righteous judge.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and transform us from the inside out.  Lord, 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!  

The richness of charity


            And he said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.”  Then he spoke a parable to them saying, “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.  And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’  So he said, ‘I will do this:  I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’  But God said to him, ‘Fool!  This night your soul will be required of you; then whose things will those things be which you have provided?’  So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God?” (Luke 12: 13-21.)


            Jesus warned his followers to avoid covetousness; covetousness is the “excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves.”  Most people are unsatisfied with the bare necessities.  They, like the wealthy man in this parable, need abundance in order to feel secure.  When the rich man had fully filled his barns, he selfishly sought to keep the additional grain for himself; shamefully, he never considered the needs of the less fortunate.  The man’s plans for a comfortable future were short lived however; for death would visit him that same day.  The man lost his life, his possessions, and because of his greed, he lost his eternal place with God.

            When I was a child, my mother would often bake cookies.  When she had finished using most of the cookie dough, she would give the bowl and spoon to my siblings and I.  We would scrape the bowl and lick the spoon clean.  To us, every crumb was a nugget of sweet golden goodness.  Whatever was not consumed was unfortunately wasted.  God as well is not fond of wastefulness.  Whenever one seeks to possess more than they can use, they engage in a worthless and futile endeavor.  The Lord is greatly pleased when His children utilize their wealth to bless those in need.  Nothing in God’s kingdom ever goes to waste.  When asked how to prepare for the coming of the messiah, John the Baptist said, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food let him do likewise” (Luke 3: 11.) 

            Christians are required to employ their abundant possessions to glorify God, and to bless the needy.  If you are wealthy put your money to work for The Lord.  If you own property and you are not using it, offer it to someone who can.  If your closet is overflowing, gather up the overflow and bring it to the thrift store.  If you have excess time, don’t waste it; instead use it to love those who are hurting.  If God has given you abilities and talents, exercise them constructively; use them to serve your fellows.  No one is guaranteed tomorrow; put whatever you have been given in excess to work for God today.  May His generosity fill your hearts; may the desire to serve and to provide for the needs of others become a newfound principle in your life; and may you find comfort in knowing that your earthly charity will produce eternal riches.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask that You help us to be generous toward You and toward those who are in need.  Relieve our fears, so we can let go of greed and seek to use our abundance to bless others.  As we become willing to give, may we procure eternal riches; riches without end; riches reserved for us in Your Heavenly 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.

God’s true intentions


                Now it came to pass, when the time had come for him to be received up, that he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face.  And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for him.  But they did not receive him, because his face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.  And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them just as Elijah did?”  But he turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”  And they went to another village.  (Luke 9: 51-56.)


                As Jesus neared Jerusalem, his disciples were sent in to the towns and villages ahead of him to preach the gospel and to prepare for his arrival.  A certain Samaritan village however, rejected the disciples and their message.  James and John felt insulted and dishonored; in turn, they asked if they should destroy the village with fire from heaven, just as Elijah had done centuries earlier [Elijah was a powerful Old Testament prophet; he was hated by Ahab, an evil king who reigned over Israel.  At one point Ahab sent fifty soldiers to arrest Elijah.  When they arrived Elijah called down fire from heaven and they were burned to death.  The king sent another fifty men; the prophet again called down fire from heaven and they too were consumed.  Finally, fifty more men approached Elijah, but the captain of the men immediately dropped down before him and begged for his mercy.  Moved by the plea, Elijah spared their lives.]  The disciples had come under the control of an evil spirit; a spirit which demanded vengeance.  Jesus rebuked them for their wicked aspirations.  If an action or desire is not motivated by God, it is the product of an evil spirit.  Revenge is never a Christian endeavor [On the contrary we read in Romans 12: 20 – 21, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink […] Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”]

                In 1962, a young black man named Nelson Mandela was fighting to end racial segregation in South Africa.  He gained a great deal of support and power; when he became a military threat the Caucasian lead government had him arrested and put in to prison for 27 years.  While in prison, he was forced to do hard labor in a rock quarry.  Since he was black he received fewer rations than the whites; as a political prisoner, he was denied many privileges; he was only allowed one visitor and one letter every six months (and often the letters were delayed for long periods of time and ‘made unreadable by the prison censors.’)  By the time he was released in 1990 Nelson Mandela was a different man; he was no longer anti-white, but pro-peace.  In 1994, he was elected as the first black president of South Africa.  The day that he took office the world held its breath.  Would he take out his vengeance on those who had put him in to prison?  Would the nation fall in to violence and chaos?   Many expected him to at least dismiss all white people from their government positions and replace them with black counterparts.  But when he took office he displayed a true Spirit of forgiveness.  Most white cabinet members were boxing up their things, preparing for the new administration to take over.  Shockingly, President Mandela called an administrative meeting and asked many of the Caucasian staff members to stay and to help build the New Africa (and many of them did.)  Both black and white South Africans had misjudged the intentions of their leader.  His heart wasn’t filled with hatred; instead it was filled with mercy.  He had forgiven his enemies; and he was ready to love those who had once hated him.

                Many throughout history, and today, misjudge their Creator’s intentions and desires; they mistakenly feel that if they error, God is just waiting to cast them in to hell.  But God is not vengeful; nor is His heart filled with hatred; He is a loving Father, and His Son is the perfect example of mercy and grace.  Jesus Christ did not come to condemn mankind, but to set them free.  He offers forgiveness to all those who crave fellowship with the Almighty.  People need to know that there is a God who loves them; won’t you deliver that message to others today?  May the love of God flow out of you; may you be a messenger of reconciliation and peace; may you proclaim the good news to all those you meet, that many might receive the gift of everlasting life and eternal fellowship with God.  [If any of you have never experienced the love of God, get in touch with me, and we can discuss how you might do that today.]

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask that You help us to share Your heart with others.  May we be confident and bold in preaching Your message of love and reconciliation.  Protect us from evil spirits, that we might do all things by the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Fill us with Your love, Your life, and Your truth.  Give us opportunities to share Your gospel.  Most of all Father, may we resemble Your Son in all that we do.  If there is any selfishness in us, we pray that You would heal our hearts, and bring them in to submission to Your perfect will.  We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise 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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