Archive for March, 2012

Being Prepared


                “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes […] But understand this:  If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12: 35-37, 39-40.)


                Jewish weddings were very long engagements that often lasted many days.  The guests would recline on pillows and feast day and night; often falling asleep right next to the table.  The length of the celebration was uncertain; the guests could leave at one in the morning, or three in the afternoon.  When the master of a household went to a wedding the servants needed to be prepared for his return at any moment.  The servants remained dressed at all hours and their lamps stayed burning through the night.  Jesus used this parable as an illustration of his second coming.  After ascending in to heaven he promised he would return; yet he gave no specific day or hour; he could return today, in one month, or a hundred years from now.  Therefore those who serve him must eagerly await his arrival every minute of every day.  Those who are prepared are careful to maintain good works, to serve others, and to obey the Lord’s teachings and commandments.

                Many years ago, prior to my conversion I practiced a life of sinful disobedience.  Unable to support myself, I lived alone, in an apartment paid for by my Dad.  He would occasionally pop in to make sure the apartment was clean and in proper condition.  One evening, I hosted a drunken party and things got out of hand.  We smashed beer bottles in my living room with a golf club.  I shattered one of my apartment windows; someone even broke my car window with an empty beer bottle.  The toilet clogged and overflowed, and someone had written obscenities all over my wall with shaving cream.  I eventually passed out, thinking I could clean up in the morning before anyone came over.  However, early the next day I was roused from my sleep by the shouts of an angry man.  “Get up,” my dad yelled in my ear.  I sprang from the mattress, in shock.  I was embarrassed, ashamed, and filled with fear.  I had not expected him; I never foresaw that he would witness the carnage of my drunken debauchery.  He stood by and watched as I cleaned the apartment and picked up every single shard of broken glass.

                The Lord is coming at an hour when we least expect him.  We should eagerly await his return and always be ready.  Those who obey the teachings of Jesus Christ are prepared to meet him.  We must be kind to others; we must love others; and we must serve others every moment of every day.  May you never waver; may you always be prepared; and when your savior returns he will say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant […] enter in to the joy of the Lord.”

                “Lord Father, may our eyes be wide and may our hearts be filled with the expectation of Your return.  Reveal to us any areas of our lives where we are serving ourselves rather than others; may we be convicted and may we repent; may we always be selfless, kind, and obedient.  May we receive more of Your Holy Spirit, that we may better serve You and our fellows.  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.

Fearlessly spreading the gospel


            “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?  And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Mathew 10: 29-31.)


                Jesus Christ commands every believer to boldly preach the gospel.  Some will be despised and rejected; many will be ridiculed and threatened; still others may even face death.    No matter the consequence, the faithful must never remain silent.  Those who fear man cannot obey God, for men may kill the body, but God has the power to condemn the soul for all eternity.  The ancient Israelites feared God and in turn suffered great hardship.  They were conquered by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans.  Each new conqueror imposed laws that made honoring God punishable by death.  At one time circumcision was outlawed; Jewish mothers caught circumcising their children were crucified.    Another law made it a requirement for the Jews to make sacrifices to pagan God’s; the many faithful followers who refused were immediately put to death.

                In the sixth century B.C., three young Jewish men feared God more than men.  A powerful King named Nebuchadnezzar resurrected a large golden statue in his own likeness.  On the day it was unveiled he called together the rulers of the provinces and the peoples of every nation; they were commanded to bow down and worship his image.  The multitudes were warned that anyone that refused would be burned alive.  Three faithful believers named, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego refused to obey (choosing to offend the king rather than to anger God.)  They were bound hand and foot and cast into a fiery furnace.  As the king watched he saw a fourth person with them in the flames; somone who protected them; a man who looked like the ‘Son of God.’  When the boys emerged from the furnace unharmed, the king pardoned them and proclaimed the awesome power of the one true and living God.  Much like Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, the apostles remained faithful.  Many were beaten, humiliated, imprisoned and tortured because they refused to remain silent.  Eventually, eleven of the twelve disciples were put to death for the sake of the gospel.  According to church history, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome.  Andrew, Simon, and Thaddeus were also crucified.  Bartholomew was crucified after having his skin cut off.  Philip was crucified and then stoned to death.  James was beheaded by King Herod.  Thomas was stabbed to death and Mathew was killed with an axe.  James the less was clubbed to death and Mathias was burned alive.  Although they perished for the faith, they are not dead; they are alive with Christ, in his eternal kingdom.

                Every disciple is called to boldly preach the gospel; to speak the truth in love no matter the consequence.  Today many are suffering persecution; in Muslim countries, Christians are being attacked and beheaded; in communist countries they are being imprisoned and tortured.  Yet in the United States, many professing Christians won’t even lean over and tell a stranger that Jesus loves them.  Won’t you reach out in love today?  Won’t you speak up and tell your friends and family about Jesus Christ?  Present the gospel to your neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances; for when you honor God, God will honor you; and you will walk in eternal fellowship with Him in His kingdom.

                “Heavenly Father, take away our fear of death and our fear of others; may we fear only You.  May Your words and Your message burn within our hearts and may the gospel freely flow from our mouths.  May we share eternal life with all those who have been persecuted and put to death for their faith in Your Son.  Provide us with opportunities to share the truth with others in love.  We thank You Father, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.



                And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”  As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him.  Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”  Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.  And He said, “Where have you laid him?”  They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”  And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” (John 11: 28-37.)


                Many days earlier, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus had taken ill and was in grave danger.  Despite his great love for Mary and her family, Jesus did not set out for Bethany until Lazarus had been dead for four days; (he purposefully allowed Lazarus to die so he could raise him from the dead.)  When Jesus arrived Mary and Martha were weeping over the loss of their brother.  Jesus was filled with compassion and empathy; his heart was grieved and he began to weep with them.  His tears were not shed for Lazarus (for he knew that he would soon be resurrected); instead, Jesus cried because he shared the pain of those who mourned.  Concerning compassion, God has no equal; He is filled with it.  Compassion is defined asa feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate their suffering.”

                One day I happened by a man named Eric.  He was sitting outside of a coffee shop, slouching in a chair; he looked more dead than alive.  His skin was pale and clammy and he was sweating profusely.  His clothes were ragged and he badly needed a shower.  I saw his pain and my heart was moved with compassion.  I sat down and began to talk with him.  He informed me that he was withdrawing from heroine and was very sick.  I took him out to eat and gave him some clean clothes.  I also spent some time ministering to him.  Later, as his condition worsened, I took him to the hospital.  I sat with him in the emergency room for hours; I accompanied him in to see the doctor.  He was treated and released.  Before dropping Eric off, I bought him his needed prescription, and made sure he had enough food for the evening.  Nearly a year later, Eric showed up at the coffee shop to say hello.  He told me that after our interaction, he had nearly died and was hospitalized for an extended period of time.  He thanked me for my efforts, and said that without my assistance, he might not be alive.  He was grateful that (“even when his friends had abandoned him”) someone had cared enough to help.  Although Eric thanked me, I reminded him that it was God who deserved the credit; for it was God who had filled my heart with compassion; and in turn; it was the Lord who had moved me to action.  Without God’s Spirit, mercy, and love, I would have kept walking, just like everyone else.

                Jesus Christ is filled with compassion; his followers share his emotions, concerns, and cares.  In turn, he moves human beings to great acts of kindness and mercy.  The closer to God we grow, the more compassion we feel for those who are hurting.  God carries the wounds of the world around with Him every day.   When a person is beaten, the Lord feels every strike.  When someone is sick, our Father feels their pain.  When an individual is hurting, God inspires others to comfort them.  Wherever mercy and love abound, the Spirit of God is at work.  Where there is indifference and a lack of compassion, there is an absence of God within the human heart.  There are so many broken people in this world who need to be loved; the Godless and indifferent pass by the afflicted without stopping to consider them; yet there are many who are compelled by the Holy Spirit to act.  May God’s compassion lead you to action; may you feel what God feels; may you see with His eyes; may you be filled with mercy, and may God use you to relieve the suffering of others.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to know You and to be filled with compassion.  Inspire us, that our hearts may be sensitive to those who are hurting.  Give us the strength to be kind to those who are in need.  May we love our families, our friends, and even our fellows.  May we be used to express Your mercy to those who need to know that there is a God who loves them.  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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