Archive for June, 2012

Christ creates division

JESUS SPEAKING

                “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!  Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth?  I tell you, not at all, but rather division.  For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.  Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12: 49-53.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus corrected the commonly held belief that he came to bring peace to the earth; his real purpose was to give everyone the opportunity to choose their eternal destinations for themselves.  The baptism Jesus underwent on the cross divided the world in two; some have accepted his sacrifice and followed his teachings; still others believe he was just a man, and the cross has no meaning in their lives.  On this earth the strongest of all bonds exist within the family unit.  Loyalty among siblings is paramount; as is the fidelity between children and their parents; yet not even these sacred relationships can withstand the new order Christ’s sacrifice has produced; the believer’s new supreme allegiance belongs to the Son of God, and those who share this allegiance make-up, ‘The Body of Christ.’

                In the book of Luke, Jesus presented a man with the gospel, saying, “Follow me;” the man responded, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  Jesus then replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you, go and preach the kingdom.”  Then another man came to him and said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”  Jesus responded saying, “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”  In both cases Jesus caused turmoil and division.  Both men were given the opportunity to choose allegiance to family, or allegiance to Jesus Christ.  Two choices; two sides; two paths; the choices presented to them are the same choices we face today.

                Jesus Christ is the prince of peace; however, he is also a sword that cuts the world in two.  He came to create unity amongst followers and division between those followers and everyone else.  If we are at peace with the world, then we are in opposition to God.  Persecution is a very real part of a genuine faith.  We will suffer; we will be divided from many loved ones, but we will never be alone.  We must be strong for each other; as one body, we can endure, and we can overcome the world through the power of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we ask that You give us the strength to step out in faith.  We desire to be Your followers; may we be filled with love, and may we never be ashamed of the truth.  May our allegiance to You and to Your Son be supreme; may we never put anyone ahead of You Lord.  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.

Don’t let the passion fade

JESUS SPEAKING

                “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says he who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:  I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil.  And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored and have not become weary.  Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2: 1-5.)          

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Eleven of the twelve disciples were martyred for their faith; the apostle John however, lived to be an old man.  In his final days, he received a revelation from God; in this revelation, he recorded a message from Jesus Christ to the seven churches that had been established around the Mediterranean. In his address to the Church at Ephesus, the Lord had many good things to say.  He commended the congregation for questioning those who had come to them claiming to be prophets.  He praised them for their continued patience; and he honored them for loving righteousness and despising evil.  Even still, Christ did find among them one grievous sin; they had left their first love.  The Ephesians, like most Christians, had initially been zealous for the things of God; as new converts they were more than eager to spread the gospel and to obey the teachings of Christ.  Over time however, they had grown cold and apathetic.  In turn, Jesus commanded them to repent and to once again accomplish the works of God.

                Dating and marriage are essential parts of the human condition.  When a man courts a woman he is filled with enthusiasm and excitement.  He spends large amounts of money taking the woman out; he buys her flowers, candy, and perhaps even jewelry.  He does everything he can to impress her, and to let her know that she is loved.  After years of marriage however, men and women have a tendency to become apathetic toward one another.  They slip in to routine and lose their enthusiasm and zeal.  The result is a marriage that is no longer founded upon love; if the love does not return, divorce is extremely probable.

                Like many marriages, the church of Ephesus had grown cold.  Today there are many Christians who have become indifferent and apathetic.  As we examine our hearts, if we have lost our excitement and zeal, then we must repent.  We must once again do the works of God; we love others unconditionally and spread the gospel message with eagerness and enthusiasm.  May the Lord’s Spirit fill you; may He guide you; and may Your heart burn with mercy, passion, and the love of Jesus Christ.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, if we have grown cold, help us to repent and to once again be filled with passion and zeal.  May we desire to serve You and our fellows; may we long to spread Your gospel; may we love others, and accomplish Your will in this place.  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.

Marriage is permanent

JESUS SPEAKING

                The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him.  And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”  They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.”  And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.  But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”  In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter.  So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.  And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10: 2-12.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The religious leaders asked Jesus a controversial question concerning divorce (controversial even today.)  They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”  Jesus’ answered ‘No.’  He then referred to Adam and Eve as an example of God’s divine will concerning marriage.  In ‘the beginning,’ God created two people; Adam and his wife Eve.  They were created for one another; God intended them to be one inseparable person; one being, in eternal fellowship with Him.  They longed for one another; they had no desire to be apart.  Divorce is not God’s creation [Although God did not create divorce He allows it in only one instance.  Sexual immorality is just cause for divorce.  This would include any type of sexual contact outside of the marriage (pornography might also be considered sexual immorality.)  A faithful spouse may divorce an unfaithful spouse and still lawfully remarry; the spouse that committed adultery however, cannot remarry.  Note:  It is possible that extreme physical abuse may be cause for separation, if a person feels their life is threatened?]  The bond between a husband and wife is sacred; and if broken will result in eternal consequences.

                Every human being alive today is the product of the union between two people.  When the first cell is formed in the womb, it carries with it, all of the information necessary to create a person.  Half of the instructions come from the mother, and half come from the father.  The child may have the father’s eyes, but the mother’s hair; their mannerisms and behaviors will partially reflect either parent in some way.  Imagine attempting to separate the child in two; ‘half of Dad over there; half of Mom over here.’  Can a human being be divided in such a way and still hope to live?  No; any attempt at separation would surely result in death.  When two people get divorced they are trying to separate what cannot be separated.  Sadly, many married couples choose to divide and in turn they choose death rather than life.

                Today, anyone seeking to be married should understand that there is no turning back; there is no ‘jumping ship;’ there is no dividing what God has made one.  Divorce for any reason other than sexual immorality leads to death.  Although marriage is meant to be a blessing and a gift from the Lord, at times it can be challenging and extremely difficult; despite the challenges however, it is most certainly permanent; it is a contract that can never be broken.  So take the time to consider what marriage means before you enter in to an eternal union with another human being.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, please give those who are married the strength to continue forward in love with their eternal partners; may they understand the permanence of their marriage vows.  Also, provide those of us who are not married with wisdom in choosing our future wives and husbands.  Lord, continue to guide Your children; that those who love you may avoid the snares of death, and the tragedy and misery of divorce.  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.  

Letting go of the world, grabbing hold of God

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Again, the kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Mathew 13: 45-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The message of “The kingdom of God,” is priceless; it is a treasure; a treasure more valuable than gold, and more precious than any diamond.  For contained within it is the gift of eternal life and the love of God.  As Jesus preached the message, a fortunate few recognized the truth and were willing to trade in all of their possessions to receive the Lord’s everlasting gift.  Many who came to believe sacrificed great wealth, time, relationships, homes, and positions within the community, in order to take hold of the true riches of God’s eternal kingdom.  As believers, we must let go of the world in order to fully embrace the Lord.

                Some people actually make a living letting go of one thing so they can grab hold of another.  Trapeze performers, for example, swing effortlessly back and forth, high above cold concrete floors.  For these men, timing and precision can mean the difference between living and dying.  The man, who risks his life to spin through the air, must know when to let go of his swing and when to grab hold of his partner dangling from the opposite swing.  So too, the gospel is a message about ‘letting go’ and ‘grabbing hold;’ no one can ‘grab hold’ of the Kingdom of God unless they fist ‘let go’ of whatever they are clinging too in this world.  For the Christian, the pursuit of worldly rewards must end, and the pursuit of Godly rewards must begin.

               Sadly, during the Lord’s public ministry, thousands simply passed by him as he spoke; they chose to cling to their own lives rather than to grab hold of God and the life He was offering them.  Today, the Lord is still speaking; his message is still being proclaimed throughout the world.  Many still choose the temporary pleasures of this life over the eternal peace of God.  Most refuse because the Christian life is not easy.  There are many trials and hardships that accompany genuine faith.  Self-sacrifice and self-denial aren’t always popular, but they are necessary.  May we all choose to let go of our selfish pursuits.  May we loosen our grasp on the things of this world; and may we grab hold of and embrace the free gift of God.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You give us the strength to avoid selfish living; we long to serve others, and to sacrifice our lives to accomplish Your desires.  May we receive your kingdom with gladness, and may we let go of anything that is hindering us from completely submitting to Your perfect will.  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.

Why the messiah needed to die?

JESUS SPEAKING

       Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  So it was, while they conversed and reasoned that Jesus himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were restrained so that they did not know him.  And he said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”  Then the one whose name is Cleopas answered and said to him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have you not known the things which happened there in these days?”  And he said to them, “What things?”  So they said to him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and crucified him.  But we were hoping that it was he who was going to redeem Israel […] Then he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter in to his glory?”  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24: 13-27.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       After the annual Passover feast, millions of pilgrims were leaving Jerusalem to return to their homes.  Two of Christ’s followers joined in the mass exodus; their hearts were broken and their minds filled with confusion; they like many, had believed Jesus to be the messiah; their hopes were shattered at the foot of the cross, and buried with Christ in his tomb.  Supposing him to be dead, the two disciples debated the meaning of his brief existence.  Suddenly Jesus Christ himself drew near to them in the guise of another pilgrim traveling along the road.  The men could not comprehend why the messiah would need to suffer and die.  Quoting the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus cited prophesies that foreordained his punishment and affliction.  The cross was not an example of weakness, but rather, an illustration of strength; neither was his blood a symbol of death; for every drop that was shed, has come to represent God’s forgiveness.  Jesus Christ took the punishment for sin upon himself; he died so that others could live. 

       In 1943, a ship named the USS Dorchester was sailing to Greenland as a part of a World War 2 navy convoy.  The Dorchester was carrying 903 American soldiers and 4 chaplains.  One evening, as the ship slumbered through the icy waters of the North Atlantic, the men were abruptly awakened by a loud explosion.  A German U-boat torpedo had torn a hole in the bow of the vessel.  All of the men immediately appeared on deck.  The four chaplains began distributing the life vests to the soldiers as they abandoned the sinking ship.  Within a matter of minutes, they ran out of vests.  One of the chaplains bravely removed his vest and gave it to a soldier; the other three chaplains followed his example; these brave men then locked arms and began to sing and pray before drowning in the frigid waters.  They chose to die so that others could live.  

       The disciples did not initially understand why Jesus Christ had to die.  He died, because the punishment for sin had to be administered; and the punishment for sin is death.  He perished in our stead.  He embraced agony and suffering so that we could inherit eternal life.  He took our place because he loved us.  Return that love today by embracing him.  Thank him for his sacrifice and honor him for his courage; you are only alive today, because he was willing to die for you.

       “Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you and praise you for receiving our punishment.  We understand that it was necessary for you to have suffered for our sins.  You loved us when no one else could.  Because of your sacrifice we have eternal life.  May we never forget what You have done; may we always remain grateful; and may we continually serve You and worthily magnify Your Holy name.  We love You Jesus, 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.

He could return at any moment

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then Peter said to him, “Lord do you speak this parable only to us, or to all people?”  And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.  But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Luke 12: 42-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Before ascending in to heaven Jesus promised to return one day in power and great glory; (it has been nearly 2000 years and his followers are still anxiously awaiting his arrival.)  As he spoke to his disciples he used a wedding parable to illustrate his future delay.  Often, when the master of a household left to attend a wedding, he could be gone for days.  His arrival was uncertain; he could return at 2:00 in the afternoon, or 2:00 in the morning (therefore the servants had to be continually prepared.)  In this parable, the master represented Jesus Christ, who after being resurrected, left the earth and journeyed in to heaven (promising to one day return.)  The servant placed over the master’s household represented the disciples whom Christ left behind to guide and care for his church.  Although the original disciples have gone to be with the Lord, God has placed new leaders in to positions of authority.  Some are just and wise stewards; some however, have lost faith; they have become impatient with Christ’s return, and in turn they have begun to mistreat God’s people.  When Christ does return, he will reward those who have been faithful, and he will punish those who failed to serve in the absence of their master.

                In the United States, a brand new industry known as ‘mystery shopping’ has become popular.  Most employers find it beneficial to tour their own facilities.  They must continually evaluate their products, their procedures, their equipment, and especially their employees.  Employees however, do not act naturally when their bosses are present; most tend to ‘put on a show;’ they work harder and more efficiently; and they become more positive and polite toward the customers and other staff members.  This effect makes it nearly impossible for managers and owners to accurately evaluate their workers.  In turn, many employers are now hiring individuals to pretend that they are customers; as they shop, they are secretly evaluating the employees.  When the employees become aware that the owner is using mystery shoppers, it causes them to continually maintain a higher level of performance in the work place.

                Many believers are slack because their master is not present; but Jesus could return at any moment.  A lack of faith in his second coming will lead to increased sin, and unrighteous living.  To avoid disobedience, we must constantly expect his arrival; every day; every hour; and every second.  We must never lose hope; we must trust in his promise, and wait patiently.  As we wait, it is our duty to continue to serve and love our fellows.  When he does return, those who were faithful in his absence will receive eternal blessings and everlasting life.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may our hearts be expectant, and may we continue to hope in Your return.  Increase our faith that we might forever trust in Your promises.  May we always desire to serve You and our fellows.  Guide and direct our steps, that we may know with certainty, the duties and responsibilities that You have given to each us.  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 second chance

 

JESUS SPEAKING

                When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”  A third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”  He said, “Lord you know all things; you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” […] and when he had said this he said, “Follow me.” (John 21: verse 15 – 19.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                On the night that Jesus was arrested, most of his disciples abandoned him.  As the armed soldiers escorted Jesus to the high priest for questioning, Peter (being strong willed), followed at a distance.  When they arrived at their destination, Peter sat down and watched as an angry crowd condemned his master.  They hurled insults at him and spit on him; they also blindfolded Jesus and repeatedly struck him in the face.  As Peter observed the brutality of the mob, his heart began to fail; his confidence gave way to fear.  Three times he was asked if he was a follower of Jesus Christ; three times he denied his affiliation and he ran off disgraced and ashamed.  After being crucified and buried, Jesus rose from the dead.  One day as the disciples were fishing he appeared to them; they shared in a time of food and fellowship.  The Lord then took Peter aside; he mercifully refrained from condemning him for his previous failures.  Instead, Jesus completely absolved him of his sins, and lovingly gave him a second chance.  He called Peter to continue in ministry, and to lead and care for those who would eventually come to believe in the Son of God.

                In the late 18 and early 1900’s there lived an ambitious inventor named Thomas Edision.  He is credited with inventing the battery, the phonograph, the telegraph, the movie projector, and many other well known devices.  One of his greatest inventions was the first industrial light bulb (an item we still use today.)  As the story goes, it took Mr. Edison and an entire team of men, 24 hours to produce the first working prototype.  After the many long hours, Edison gave the bulb to a young boy to carry up the stairs.  With the fragile device in his hands, the nervous assistant slowly started his ascent; every step was a carefully planned exercise.  Sadly, despite the child’s careful observance, he mistakenly shattered the bulb.  The disappointed team began again to manufacture another.  Twenty four hours later, the new bulb appeared.  Although the young assistant had failed the first time, Edison wisely understood that the boy needed, and deserved a second chance.  The youngster did not disappoint him; this time, he delivered the bulb to its destination intact.  [Note:  The world, unlike Mr. Edison, is not so forgiving.  There are many today who cannot find work, or are stuck in horrible jobs because of crimes they committed 10, 20, even 40 years ago.  They are condemned by, and find little reprieve from the sins of their past.]

                The world is filled with people who have failed in more ways than one; mistakes are a part of life.  Human beings can be unforgiving and cruel, but God is merciful.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to give others a second chance; to forgive and forget.  In so doing, we too will be set free from the guilt of our past mistakes; forgiveness is the pathway to peace; and mercy is the road that leads to true fellowship with the eternal God.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we have made many mistakes; but You have created in us a new heart.  You have given us a second chance.  May we show that same love toward others; may we forgive completely, and may we manifest Your mercy and grace in the lives of all those we meet.  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.