Archive for July, 2013

Who can be trusted?

JESUS SPEAKING

 “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  Which of you convicts me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8: 46-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

No human being can live a completely sinless life.  Jesus however, being the Son of God, never once indulged in iniquity.  He was so confident of his own moral perfection, that he publicly challenged any willing soul to accuse him of sin.  In turn, his numerous enemies watched and waited, hoping he would make some grave error.  Despite continuous inspection and constant observation, he spoke plainly and publicly.  No one, not a single person, could find him guilty of sin.  In fact, at his trial, Pontius Pilate actually said of Jesus, “I find no fault in this man.”  Still he was crucified.  Trusting a sinless man makes more sense than trusting a sinful one.

Throughout history there have been many self-proclaimed prophets; men who asked for trust, but were themselves untrustworthy; none of these liars ever dared place their own personal lives under examination.  Joseph Smith for example (founder of the Mormon faith) claimed to be God’s chosen messenger sexual impurity.  He married many women without telling his first wife Emma.  He also married other men’s wives in secret, and engaged in wife-swapping; he even went so far as to marry both a mother and her daughter (an offense punishable by death, according to God’s law.)  Unlike Jesus who invited others to scrutinize his life, Joseph Smith viciously sought to keep his sins a secret.  After being kicked out Missouri, Joseph and his followers went to the town of Nauvoo Illinois; the local newspaper began printing articles about his many wives and his sexual indiscretions; in June of 1844, fearing he might be exposed, Joseph ordered his followers to destroy the printing press; they broke in to the paper office, dragged the machine in to the street, and smashed it with sludge hammers.  Smith was arrested for this crime and later killed in jail.

Unlike Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ had nothing to hide; his life was without sin; he never lied, never exploited anyone, and never abused his position of authority to indulge in selfish pleasures.  Instead he served others, loved others, and brought the word of God to all those who were willing to listen.  Only Jesus Christ can be trusted; only our messiah is worthy of praise and honor.  Won’t you put your faith and trust in him today?  Obey him and follow him, and he will lead you in to eternal life; you will know true freedom, and you will take hold of the ‘peace that surpasses all understanding.’

“Lord Heavenly Father we praise You and we thank You for Your Son.  He is sinless and completely trustworthy.  Help us to submit to his leadership; may he be at the center of our lives.  May we be more like him, and may we trust him with our whole hearts.  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.

Love for God’s Messangers

 

JESUS SPEAKING

                “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” (Mathew 10: 40 – 42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTs
                In the first century there were no computers or telephones; nor was there any formal postal service. Therefore, long distance communication was carried out by personal messenger. Generally, when the individual carrying a message had arrived, they were received warmly and treated with great love and respect (most were provided with food, water, and lodging.) To disrespect and neglect a messenger was to disrespect and neglect the one who had sent him.

                Many centuries before Jesus Christ arrived, there lived a very powerful old testament prophet named Elijah. Due to the wickedness of King Ahab, Elijah was forced to pronounce a drought upon the nation of Israel. Eventually, the land became so dry that many began to starve. During this time, God instructed the prophet to travel to a foreign land (where he was to lodge with a widow and her son.) Upon arriving he asked the unfortunate woman for some bread. She replied, saying, “I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son; that we may eat it, and die.” Elijah replied saying, “Do not fear […] but make a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son for thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’” The widow woman did as she was told and God continually filled the bin with flour and the jar with oil (because she had shown love toward God’s messenger, she also received his reward: as others died, the widow and her son remained unharmed.)

               Each member of the body of Christ is a prophet; every priest, pastor,  teacher, evangelist, and elder carries an important message from the Lord. Those who love and care for God’s messengers, love and care for God Himself. When we support a missionary we receive their blessings. When we give to the church, we share in their labors, and reap their rewards. When we serve those who serve God, we serve Jesus Christ. Get involved at a church and ask how you can be of service; look for opportunities to love those who carry God’s message, and you will know the true riches of His mercy and grace.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we desire to love those whom You have sent. Provide us with opportunities to receive Your disciples, Your teachers, and Your prophets. May we draw near to Your messengers, and give to those who faithfully serve You; that we might obtain the blessings You have so graciously bestowed upon them. 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.

God is in complete control

JESUS SPEAKING

                Pilate […] went again in to the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?”  But Jesus gave him no answer.  Then Pilate said to him, “Are you not speaking to me?  Do you not know that I have power to crucify you, and power to release you?”  Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above.  Therefore the one who delivered me to you has the greater sin.”  (John 19: 8 – 11.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Bound, bloodied, and beaten, Jesus Christ stood before Pontius Pilate (the Roman Governor of Judea.)  The Jews demanded he be sentenced to death.  Not wanting to kill an innocent man, Pilate proceeded to question him; but Jesus remained silent.  Unaware he was standing before the Son of God, Pilate warned him that his silence could lead to his crucifixion.  Jesus kindly corrected the Governor; reminding him that it was God who would dictate his sentence.  Pilate falsely believed he was in control of the outcome of the trial; in reality, he was merely an instrument in the hands of God; used to bring about His eternal plan of salvation.   

                Still today, many look back upon the events surrounding Christ’s death and blame the Romans or the Jewish people.  They forget that Jesus Christ was not murdered; his crucifixion was the work of God (not the work of man.)  Our Lord was not forced to endure the cross, he chose to endure it.  Nor was it the nails that held him in place that faithful day; it was love.  He died freely to accomplish the will of God.  The cross is not a symbol of anguish, but an emblem of grace and mercy; for upon the cross, the Lord endured the punishment for our sins; that through his selfless act, we might all enter in to fellowship with the Almighty God.  Sacrifice is a necessary expression of ultimate affection; Jesus Christ’s death is a love letter addressed to mankind.  The blood spilled at the foot of the cross is proof that God desperately loves His children.

                Have you come to know the love of God?  Do you know why Jesus Christ died for you?  He died so all those who believe can draw near to their eternal Father.  Accept God’s sacrifice and invite Him in to your heart.  Give Him your life, and let him guide you.  He will adore you; He will love you; and He will protect you.  Surrender to your creator, and you will know true peace.  Open your heart to the Son of God and receive His blessings.  Accept the love of God, and your heart will overflow with unending joy.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we accept Your sacrifice, and we thank You for sending Your Son to die for us.  His blood is our blessing; may we surrender our lives to You.  Draw near to us Father, that we might know you intimately.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us new life; and may You dwell in our hearts forever.  We love You Lord, 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.

Stony Places

JESUS SPEAKING

                “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while.  For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Mathew 30: 20 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The gospel is a powerful force; like a raging torrent, it demands reverence and respect.  Just as rivers gouge out valleys and tear apart mountains, the gospel transforms lives.  Many eagerly receive God’s Holy Spirit but lack foresight; they do not understand the magnitude of changes God intends to perform in their lives.  True faith is costly; the price of salvation is death; death to our old lives.  One must willingly be destroyed in order to be remade in the image of Christ.  Those whose hearts are stony experience a very shallow relationship with God.  They desperately cling to old familiar habits and abandon their faith when it requires real change.  They turn from the light and live in darkness; choosing comfort above growth and sin over righteousness. 

                When a famous gangster named Mickey Cohen was released from prison in the 1950’s, a Pastor by the name of Bill Jones made it his personal mission to convert him to Christianity.  When Jones presented Mickey with the gospel, he said a prayer and accepted Jesus in to his heart.  Soon, word of his conversion spread, and many were amazed to hear that this once villainous mobster had turned to Christ.  Although Mickey enjoyed being called a ‘Christian,’ he refused to live like one.  “He soon lost touch with Pastor Jones, and began to hang around his old buddies from the criminal underworld.  The disheartened Jones confronted Cohen to tell him that as a Christian, he needed to put distance between himself and his old [criminal associates].  Puzzled, Cohen responded, “Jones, you never told me that I had to give up my career.  You never told me that I had to give up my friends.  There are Christian movie stars, Christian athletes, and Christian businessmen.  So what’s the matter with being a Christian gangster?  If I have to give up all that – if that’s Christianity – then count me out.”

                Sadly Mickey’s story is not uncommon; out of the four different types of soil Christ describes, the stony heart can be the most deadly; for within it, there exists the greatest propensity for self-deception.  Believing a verbal profession of faith to be sufficient for salvation, many remain unchanged.  With their lips they affirm Christ, but with their lives they deny him.  Continuing in behaviors such as, pornography, fornication, drunkenness, idolatry, and dishonesty (to name a few), many delusional souls travel toward an eternal precipice from which there is no return.  If you can identify with this type of soil, then you have two choices; continue forward toward damnation, or get honest with yourself and begin a new life with Jesus; a life of repentance; a life free from darkness and unrighteousness; a life lived as a disciple of Christ; a life fully committed to purity, church fellowship, prayer, evangelism, and bible reading.  May the Lord give you the courage, strength, and conviction to make the right choice.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, transform us in to the image of Your Son.  May we lay down our old lives to take up our new ones.  May our relationships with You be deep and meaningful.  May our lives always confirm our verbal professions of faith.  If we have not fully committed our lives to You, reveal to us the areas where we have refused to change; and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to overcome and to conquer.  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.