Archive for January, 2013

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

JESUS SPEAKING

                “I still have numerous things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you in all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify me, for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are mine.  Therefore I said that He will take of mine and declare it to you” (John 16: 12-15.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Shortly before Jesus was crucified, he foretold of the arrival of a mysterious entity known as the ‘Holy Spirit;’ after the resurrection he ascended in to heaven; and he fulfilled his promise to every believer by sending “the Spirit of Truth.”  For nearly 2000 years, Jesus has been seated in glory at the right hand of God; and for 2000 years there have been countless true confessions of faith.  With every confession received, a gift has been given; the faithful obtain the indwelling of the fullness of God’s Spirit.  (Through the Holy Spirit) The desires of Christ become intuition; his path becomes transparent; evil (unable to hide) is exposed by the divine light of the living God.  Finally able to discern what is true from what is false, the new born child of God recognizes counterfeit prophets and artificial religions; the inner Spirit boldly declares the authority and authenticity of a single book; the Holy Bible.  Ignorance is no longer an excuse as God Himself directs the steps of His Faithful followers.    

                Many years ago, I was invited to attend a church service.  Near the end of the service, there was an opportunity to walk to the front of the stage and publicly profess a faith in Jesus Christ; I went forward.  Afterwards, I was given a bible; however I was afraid that the church might be a cult.  I didn’t trust the accuracy of the bible they had given me.  So, I made my way to the local bookstore.  I asked one of the employees where I could find the “original bible.”  With a confused look she replied, ‘Let me get another employee who is a Christian; she will know more about this than I will.’  When the Christian girl returned, I explained my situation to her; “I want the original bible.”  She replied, ‘Well it doesn’t really work that way.  The original is in a different language’ (a language I did not understand.)  [Note:  she did impress upon me that the English translations were very accurate.]  After our discussion I had one of my first experiences with the Holy Spirit.  A voice spoke from my heart; a voice I didn’t hear with my ears; yet my mind perfectly comprehended what was said; the voice said, “You’ve always been too smart for your own good; just read the bible I gave you.”  Through the Holy Spirit, God had spoken to me.  I began reading the bible He wanted me to read; the bible I had received at my conversion (it was easy to read and understand; and it proved to be exactly what I needed.)  With every turn of the page, my heart turned more fully toward God.  Without the Holy Spirit I might have fallen victim to my own pride and arrogance.

                The Holy Spirit is essential; without it we are blind, ignorant and lost.  But God in His great wisdom has said, “I will not leave you orphans.”  The Spirit proclaims God’s desires; He testifies of what is true; He helps us to choose what is good and to avoid what is evil.  Believe in Jesus Christ, and you will fellowship with the living God.  Receive His Holy Spirit and you will share in the knowledge, power, and love of your Eternal Father, and His beloved Son.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we love Your Son, and we thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit.  Continue to speak to us and to guide us in the ways of righteousness.  With every breath, we desire to draw nearer to You.  Lead us, that we might do Your will in this place, and bring glory and honor to You and to Your Son.  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. 

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Persecution

JESUS SPEAKING

                “If the world hates you, you will know that it hated me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I have spoken to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15: 18 – 20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus was persecuted relentlessly during his earthly ministry.  He was slandered publicly and privately.  He was shunned by many, and ridiculed, even by members of his own family.  His message was so offensive that he was nearly stoned to death on a number of occasions (once an angry mob unsuccessfully attempted to throw him from the precipice of a cliff.)  Eventually, despite his miraculous feats, and his immeasurable love and compassion, Jesus Christ was abandoned by his closest friends; he was bound, beaten, spit upon, and crucified.  Those who choose to follow him can expect to experience similar forms of persecution.

                Eleven of the twelve disciples were brutally martyred for their unwavering faith (the twelfth was imprisoned until his eventual death.)  Each disciple paid the ultimate price for fearlessly spreading the gospel throughout the known world.  Although physical peril is a common type of persecution, it comes in many other forms.  One day as I sat studying in the local coffee shop, I began talking with a Muslim friend concerning the tenants of the Christian faith.  As I presented her with the gospel, a women sitting next to us became visibly upset.  Not knowing that we were already friends, she yelled “Can’t you see she doesn’t want to talk to you about that?”  The woman continued to verbally harass me, making every effort to subvert our conversation.  I looked across at my friend and said, “This is the type of persecution that occurs when you become a believer.”  Eventually the woman became so disruptive that we had to end our discussion.

                Persecution is an inevitable consequence of genuine faith.  Those who have never experienced it are likely keeping their beliefs hidden away; choosing safety and security above obedience to the Lord.  Still there are those who boldly spread the gospel of message.  They make every effort to lead others to God.  Such individuals love their fellows and serve one another in sincerity of heart.  These bold men and woman can expect to be persecuted.  Persecution in any form, although not very pleasant, is a reminder that we are Christ’s disciples; that we are earnestly following in the footsteps of our teacher, our master, and our friend.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, provide us with opportunities to preach the gospel to the lost.  May we reach out to those who might become our eternal brothers and sisters.  Strengthen us when we encounter persecution, that we might stand firm in our faith.  Give us courage to boldly speak the truth, that we would continue to emulate our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  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 key to happiness

JESUS SPEAKING

                And it happened, as he spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breast which nursed you.”  But he said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and ‘keep it’ (do it)” (Luke Chapter 11: verse 27 – 28.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The word ‘blessed’ fairly accurately translates in to our modern word for ‘happy.’  Those who are ‘blessed’ possess a genuine measure of peace, joy, and contentment.  In this scripture, Jesus emphasizes two essential steps, that when followed, lead to true happiness.  First, an individual must become aware of God’s commandments and teachings.  Secondly, they must apply His doctrines in their lives and the lives of those around them.

                Concerning happiness, Americans are more depressed than ever.  From 2005 – 2008, the use of antidepressant medications increased by nearly 400%.  One in every ten individuals is currently taking some form of antidepressant.  Many however are not suffering from chemical imbalances (although some might be); rather, many are unhappy because they either do not know God’s word, or they know it but refuse to apply it.  Those committing great sins are consistently less happy than those who are not.  For instance, approximately 1.5% of women who are married report experiencing some form of depression; yet 5.1% of women living with a man before marriage report being depressed.  Further, those who engage in a homosexual lifestyle are more than 200% more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.   Additionally, men who watch pornography daily are 3.5 times more likely to experience severe depression than the general population.  Simply put, those who avoid sin are happier than those who do not.

                God lovingly gave mankind guidelines, which when followed lead to satisfaction and joy.  When His statutes are ignored, the disobedient can expect to experience emotional instability, depression, and fear.  The formula for achieving lasting happiness and complete peace is uncomplicated; simply read God’s word daily, and apply his teachings in every area of your life.  In so doing you will be blessed; you will avoid the misery of sin, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire true obedience.  May we read Your word daily, and apply what we have learned in our lives.  May we act out Your commandments; may we love others; may we spread Your message; may we avoid sin, and in so doing, may we receive your eternal rewards.  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! 

Covetousness/Gratitude

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then one from the crowd spoke to Jesus saying, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”  And he said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12: 13 – 15.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus fervently warned his followers to avoid covetousness.  Those who covet strongly desire the belongings of others, and lack proper gratitude for what they have been given.  Knowing the destructive nature of this sin, God gave mankind the tenth commandment which states: “You shall not covet (desire) your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet (desire) your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”  Covetousness is dangerous, and can lead to a number of other sins such as theft, adultery, and even murder.

                In ancient times, King David was a powerful man who possessed great riches.  He had countless wives and concubines at his disposal to satisfy his physical needs.  Yet, one evening, as he walked along the rooftops of his palace, his eyes beheld a woman bathing naked.  Her name was Bathsheba; the spouse of a military commander named Uriah.  David began to covet her, and eventually committed the act of adultery.  Soon he was informed that Bathsheba had conceived and was with child.  After numerous attempts to cover up his dreadful act, David finally had Uriah murdered in battle and took Bathsheba to be his wife.  King David was later judged for his sin and the penalty was severe.

                As faithful servants, we must be careful to continually maintain a spirit of gratitude, and to take pleasure in what we have been given.  In so doing, we will fulfill the tenth commandment and avoid covetousness.  May we never desire the possessions of others; may we always remain grateful for what we have been given; and may our loving God grant us true contentment and everlasting peace.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your many blessings.  Fill us continually with true gratitude and genuine appreciation.  If we have broken the tenth commandment convict our hearts and help us to change.  May we never desire the possessions of others; instead may we take pleasure in the gifts that You have given us.  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.