Archive for March, 2012

Promoting Peace

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Son’s of God” (Mathew 5: 9)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The world is full of conflict.  Yet in the midst of the hostility, God’s children are called to promote peace.  The Lord Himself is a peacemaker; He detests war, and abhors senseless aggression.  Many who share His heart also share His mission; to bring harmony where there is hatred and tranquility where there is contempt.  Those who choose to make peace will inherit the unending and eternal blessings offered to the ‘Sons and daughters of God.’

                (As the story goes)  In the 4th century A.D., a monk named Telemachus felt God calling him to go to Rome.  He packed up his meager possessions and set out for the great city.  When he arrived, the streets were bustling with excitement.  He asked why everyone was so energized; he was informed that the gladiators would soon be fighting to the death in the coliseum.  He was horrified that men would be killing one another for sport.  The monk headed to the stadium; after entering he pushed through the crowds, hopped a fence, and made his way to the center of the arena.  As he stood between the two gladiators, he shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop.”  The crowd began to yell, “Run him through, Run him through.”  A gladiator approached the monk and struck him in the stomach with the back of his sword.  Telemachus fell to the ground, but soon recovered.  He once again placed himself between the two armed men and shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop.”  Suddenly the other gladiator approached the monk and plunged his sword in to his belly.  Telemachus immediately fell to the ground and began to bleed out.  Before dying, he was able to utter one last statement, “In the name of Christ, stop.”  A hush came over the crowd.  Suddenly one man got up and left; then another; and another; within minutes all 80,000 people had exited the coliseum.  That was the last gladiatorial contest in Roman history [Source Unknown.]  [Another illustration:  Just recently, two men began to argue in Star Bucks; as everyone watched, the conversation began to escalate; finally, one man put his hands on the other, and they were about to fight.  I stood up quickly and approached them.  I said in a loud voice, “Guys, Guys, you both need to cool off.  This is getting way too serious; just calm down.”  The men separated until the police arrived.  Afterwards I felt a feeling of joy, knowing that God had used me to accomplish His will.]

                The people of God are called to be peacemakers, no matter the consequence.  When others are silent we must speak up.  Where there is discord we must bring unity; where there is conflict we must promote peace.  In so doing we will be called ‘The children of God,’ and we will know the eternal blessings and unending joy of genuine and faithful obedience.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we long for obedience; may we share the desires of Your heart.  May we love others as You do.  May You continually use us to promote peace and to end conflict.  Give us the courage and the strength to speak up when others fall silent; may we be Your sons and daughters; and may we experience the blessings of genuine obedience.  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.

Avoid Gossip

JESUS SPEAKING

The high priest then asked Jesus about his disciples and his doctrine.  Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world.  I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet and have said nothing in secret” (John 18: 19-20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

After being arrested, the Lord was taken before the Jewish leaders to be interrogated.  They sought to find something in his teaching by which to condemn him.  Jesus was considered a Rabbi; Rabbi’s spoke publicly; they gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions and to cross examine them (In fact, the religious leaders sent many servants in disguise to ascertain the nature of Christ’s doctrine.)  Jesus never said anything in secret that he did not also profess openly.  Speaking in secret is a sign of ungodliness (Gossip for instance is a type of destructive, private communication.  The Lord never gossiped and he never slandered; instead, he spoke the truth publicly and without remorse.)

One day a group of pastors began to talk.  They all agreed that those who confessed their sins on a regular basis were more joyful.  So the four men decided that they should meet and confess their sins to one another.  Upon meeting, the first pastor confessed that he routinely called in sick so he could attend the theatre.  The second pastor confessed that in the evenings he liked to smoke cigars.  The third pastor confessed that he had a major gambling problem; he often flew to Las Vegas where he would lose large sums of money.  The final pastor refused to confess.  But the other pastors pressed him until finally he made his admission.  He said, “Well, I confess that I really like to gossip, and I can hardly wait to get out of here.”

Although this fictional illustration is humorous, Gossip is not.  Jesus never engaged in gossip, and his followers should strive to be like him, ‘in thought, word, and deed.’  Everything we say must stand up under scrutiny.  Our private communication must be congruent with our public communication; if what we say cannot be printed on the front page of the newspaper, perhaps we have no business saying it.  Speak openly; speak truthfully; speak lovingly; and you will never be ashamed.

“Lord Heavenly Father, help us to avoid gossip; may we speak openly; may we never speak out of hate or contempt, but out of love.  Fill our hearts with Your Holy Spirit, and may our mouths always speak the truth.  May Your words be our words; may Your thoughts be our thoughts; may Your desires be our desires.  May we glorify You in ‘thought, word, and deed.’  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.

Giving when it hurts

JESUS SPEAKING

Now Jesus sat across from the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury.  And many who were rich put in much.  Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a farthing.  So he called his disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in much more than everyone who has given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mark 12: 41 – 44.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Generosity is an essential part of the Christian faith.  God has commanded everyone to use their resources to bless others.  Giving to God what belongs to Him is known as tithing; a tithe is an offering of the first fruits of one’s increase; for example, a person who earns $100 dollars is instructed to give $10 dollars to the church; or to use it as charity in the lives of the less fortunate.  As Jesus watched the money box, he observed many wealthy people putting in huge sums of money; yet along came a poor widow, who couldn’t afford to tithe, and still she gave what she had; she gave when she couldn’t; she gave when it hurt; she trusted in the Lord, and in turn, Jesus honored her sacrifice above all others.

Despite giving larger quantities of money, many of the wealthiest people in America are actually the least charitable, proportionately (this is not always the case, many wealthy people do give what God has asked them to give, and they do give more than they can afford.)  A study published in Newsweek found that ‘most church members give far less than 10 percent;’ most actually give under 2 percent.  ‘Further, it seems that the poor give a far greater portion of their income than the rich (USA Today, Oct. 25, 1990.)  Actually, families that earned $10,000 dollars gave 5.5 per cent of their income to charity.  Families that earned between $50,000, and 60,000 dollars gave only 1.7 per cent of their earnings.’  It seems that the poor are often, but not always, the most generous givers.

Giving when it hurts is not always easy; nor is it completely logical; but it is praiseworthy.  When we give from our abundance we honor God; when we give from our poverty we learn to completely trust in Him.  The blessings of faithful charity are abundant; those who give in love, receive the gifts of the Spirit; as they draw nearer to God they experience peace, faith, and hope; the generous inherit an eternal possession that can never be taken away.  May you give when you can and may you give when it hurts; and may God honor you for your sacrifice.

“Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to honor You with our possessions.  Help us to give to those in need; may we tithe continuously and may we receive the blessings of our faithful generosity.  We trust You Lord, and we withhold none of our resources from You.  May we give when we can, and may we give when it hurts.  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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