Archive for April, 2012

Take time to rest


                Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught.  And he said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”  For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  So they departed in the boat by themselves” (Mark 6: 30-32.)


                Jesus sent the apostles out on a short missionary trip.  They were commanded to heal the sick, to cast out demons, and to preach the gospel throughout the land of Israel.  They returned with a good report; under his authority they were able to perform many miracles.  The crowds however, had not permitted them much rest.  The Lord saw that they had been wearied by the long hours, and needed to relax.  In turn, he led his disciples in to a deserted place; away from the crowds and the clamor of the ministry.  God desires for his children to have a certain amount of rest.  Rest is an essential part of maintaining physical, mental, and spiritual health.

                Nowhere in the world is work more highly esteemed than in the United States of America.  Many put their careers ahead of their families, their friends, and sadly, even their God.  Seventy hour work weeks at the office are not uncommon.  Currently, because of technology, the problem has gotten worse; people aren’t just working at the office; they are now working everywhere they go.  Many work while they are driving; some work at the gym; some work from home; some even work while on vacation.  All of this work has caused large numbers of people to neglect their need for rest.

                Jesus Christ recognizes that every human being needs time to relax.  Many of us walk through life without taking time out to recuperate.  Some of us have pushed ourselves too hard.  We need to remember that rest is essential, and that relaxation is a gift from the Lord.  Take time out to fellowship with God one on one; relax and allow your mind, body, and spirit to regenerate.  Give God a portion of your day; a time of peace and quiet reflection.  If you would only take the time to listen, in those still moments, you would hear the voice of God speaking to your heart, and you would grow strong.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to rest, and to take time out to fellowship with You; when we neglect our need for relaxation, speak to our hearts and help us to find the time to pursue peace.  In our moments of rest, we ask that You fill us with Your Holy Spirit; speak to our hearts and give us strength and courage to continue doing Your work in this place.  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 Two Greatest Commandments


                Then one of the scribes came and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”  Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, will all your mind, and with all your strength.’  This is the first commandment.  And the second commandment is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”  So the scribe said to him, “Well said teacher.  You have spoken the truth.” (Mark 12: 28-32.)


                A teacher of God’s law asked Jesus which commandment was the most important.  Jesus initially responded by saying, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”  The Jewish people were unique in that they faithfully believed in and worshiped a single God; an almighty and unseen creator.  The surrounding pagan cultures believed in many Gods (the Greeks for example revered at least twelve primary deities.)  Jesus continued answering the question by declaring the true meaning and purpose of life; all humans were created to fellowship with the one true and Living God; to love Him with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.  The second law Jesus quoted commanded human beings to love each other in like manner.  The first and the second law are identical; for a complete love for God will lead to a supreme love for others; it is impossible to have one without the other [in 1 John we read, If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.”

                One day I was studying at the coffee shop.  I decided to go for a walk in the alley behind the complex; as I walked I prayed and worshipped God.  I was practicing the most important commandment, which is to “love the Lord [my] God, with all [my] heart, with all [my] soul, will all [my] mind, and with all [my] strength.”  After I had finished drawing near to the Lord in prayer, I headed back to the coffee shop; suddenly, God gave me the opportunity to love Him by loving another human being.  I glanced over at the intersection, and spotted an accident; a truck had flipped over on its side.  I rushed across the street and approached the vehicle.  After clearing away some debris I discovered that a woman was trapped inside.  I got down on my stomach and slid my head and one of my arms between the concrete and the driver’s side window.  I looked up and saw the young woman hanging in place by her seatbelt.  As the tears rolled down her cheeks, I reached out and took hold of her hand.  I calmly and lovingly reassured her that everything was going to be okay.  After a short time, the fire department arrived, and I told her I would continue to pray for her; amazingly, she had the sense of mind to say “thank you.”  I walked away from the accident knowing that I had obeyed the commandments of the Lord.  My love for Him had created the desire and willingness to selflessly love another one of His children.

                There is one God, and His two greatest commandments are actually one in the same (love God and love others.)  Those who draw near to the Lord become like Him.  He is kind; He is compassionate; He is loving; He is merciful; He is truthful; and those who love Him with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength are compelled to love others in like manner.  As you go about your day, connect with God in prayer; read the scriptures; cherish His words and keep them in your heart; contemplate the meaning of His statutes, and think upon His commandments continually.  May obedience be your goal, and faithfulness your foundation.  If you make God the priority in your life, then you will possess a supernatural love for others; a love that is unfading; a love that can never be denied; a love that can only come from the one true and living God.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we desire to draw near to You; fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  May our hearts and minds be completely devoted to You and to others.  Give us opportunities throughout the day to express our love for You, in the lives of all those we meet.  Use us Lord to remind the world of Your goodness 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.

A loving Father


                When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?”  He said, “Yes.”  And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon?  From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”  Peter said to him, “From strangers.”  Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.  Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first.  And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for me and you” (Mathew 17: 24-27.)


                All Jewish men were raised to believe that their lives belonged to God.  In turn, every male over the age of twenty was required to pay an annual duty; the fee would redeem them from God; for one year they belonged to themselves.  The season had arrived for the religious leaders to collect the yearly fees.  Simon (Peter) thought it proper to pay the tax, but Jesus questioned it.  He asked Peter to ponder the manner in which the surrounding nations levied taxes.  During this time, the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of the known world.  The nations they conquered were taxed heavily, while their own citizens (or sons) were free from nearly all forms of taxation.  If the Godless and evil leaders of the earth refused to tax their own people, why would a gracious God impose such duties upon his own subjects?  Peter immediately understood that the temple tax was man-made and not God-made.  Jesus however, agreed to pay the tax so that he would not offend those who did not understand this truth.  Miraculously, God provided the funds for Jesus and Peter.  The Lord revealed to Peter, that He was, and is, far more interested in giving to His children, than He is in taking from them.

                When I was in College, my dad would frequently visit me.  He really enjoyed talking with me over a nice meal.  In turn, we would meet at various restaurants in the area.  My Dad was well aware of my financial situation; I was a ‘broke college student’ who couldn’t afford to eat out.  He was never under the mistaken impression that (when the meal concluded) I would head up to the register to take care of the bill.  On the contrary, my Dad, who had great resources, was always aware that he would need to ‘pay-the-check.’  I am older now; I have graduated from college, but I still travel home for the holidays; and my dad still enjoys taking me out to eat; and yes he still enjoys paying for the meal (despite my abilities and sometimes fervent requests to pay.)  My dad has always given to me; he has always been a provider, because I am his Son, and he loves me.

                If you call Jesus your Lord, you also call God your ‘Father.’  If you are a Son or a Daughter of God, He desperately desires to give you good things.  The world is always asking for something from you, and those who are corrupted continually seek to take and to never give in return.  God however is in need of nothing; He gives liberally and lovingly to all those who ask Him.  Seek the Lord; make your requests known to Him, and He will provide for your needs; because He is not just the Almighty God, but He is also, a Loving Father.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we honor You and we praise Your name.  You are an awesome and mighty God, full of mercy and truth.  We also believe that You are a loving Father, and that we are Your children.  We know that You desire to give us good things; may You continue to provide for all of our needs, that we may better serve You, and worthily magnify Your Holy Name.  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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