Archive for September, 2013

Idolatry leads to death

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.  And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothing.  But woe to those who are pregnant and nursing babies in those days.  And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.  For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been seen since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be” (Mathew 24: 15 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Throughout Christ’s ministry he spoke of a day when great destruction and tribulation would befall the nation of Israel, and the world; (the prophet Daniel also spoke of such a day.)  In the future there will be an unmistakable sign preceding the tribulation of all nations.  This sign will appear within the reconstructed temple itself.  An evil man will erect an object, image, or shrine in the ‘Holy of Holy’s;’ an abomination that many will come to worship in the place of God.  Deep within the heart of every human being, there is a pedestal; a peak; a position of absolute supremacy; a space reserved for what every person loves the most.  When the Lord occupies this position He is in His rightful place.  Those who idolize their creator also walk in genuine fellowship with Him.  Many however, replace God with other things; and in so doing, they commit the sin of idolatry; a sin that always precedes some form of imminent destruction.

                In the Old Testament there lived a rich and powerful ruler named Belshazzar who dwelled within the seemingly impenetrable city of Babylon (the walls of this city were rumored to be 300 feet high and 80 feet thick.)  His Father Nebuchadnezzar had sacked Jerusalem decades earlier, stealing the gold and silver artifacts from within the Jewish temple.  These relics sat inside of the Babylonian treasury for years, until one evening, Belshazzar held a great feast.  We read, “Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple […] and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them; they drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone” (Daniel 5: 3 – 4).  Belshazzar did not worship the living God; rather he preferred precious metals.  That night a haunting vision appeared before him.  The king asked Daniel the prophet to interpret its meaning.  Daniel prophesied saying “And you have praised the gods of silver and gold […] and the God who holds your breath in his hand and owns all of your ways you have not glorified […] Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”  The sentence for his idolatry was carried out that very night; an invading army conquered the city and killed King Belshazzar.  [Note:  From the historical accounts it is believed that a giant river flowed through the city of Babylon.  While Belshazzar was feasting, the Persian King Darius used a dam to divert the flow of the mighty river; his army then cleverly followed the dry riverbed under the giant walls, and conquered the vibrant metropolis in a single night.]

                Idolatry is dangerous and inevitably leads to destruction.  Those who desire preservation must avoid putting anything in the place of God.  The Lord must come first; before money, a career, a relationship, a business, or a hobby, etc.  When we elevate God into His rightful position in our hearts, then we are truly free; when He is the most important person in our lives, then everything falls in to place.  Love God and you will find peace; put Him first and you will experience everlasting life; for “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we love You with our whole hearts.  May we always worship You in Spirit and in truth, and may we never forsake Your ways.  If any form of idolatry has entered our lives, may you uproot it and cast it in to the sea.  May we be purified, and once again comprehend the goodness of humility and faith.  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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The Harvest is plentiful

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then Jesus went around to all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.  But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he spoke to his disciples saying, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mathew 9: 35 – 38.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Vast numbers of people had traveled great distances to be healed, to see miracles, and to hear Jesus speak.  As he looked upon the sea of lost and broken souls, his heart swelled with compassion.  These men and women, having been denied the truth for so long, had become spiritually malnourished.  Many weary souls eagerly devoured the gospel; and with it they received salvation through faith in God’s only Son.  Jesus, realizing the enormous task that lay ahead, instructed his disciples to pray that the Father would send more workers in to the fields; that countless others might be delivered from death.

                Many in the world today are unfamiliar with agricultural practices; yet during the time of Christ, farming was a close and intimate part of daily life.  Modern farmers often utilize large machines to gather their crops; ancient farmers however, had to harvest their wheat by hand.  When the grain had ripened, nearly every member of the household was needed to aid in collecting the produce.  Often even an entire family wasn’t enough; farmers would then hire seasonal laborers to assist them in accomplishing their goals [Note:  A proper harvest was such an essential part of first century living, that even warring armies would call a truce during the reaping season; the soldiers could return home to work in the fields; when the harvest had concluded, the men would resume their armed conflicts.]

                Today, there are billions of lost souls wandering the earth; seemingly unaware that God has sent His only Son that they might have eternal life.  Those who believe and receive the message are in turn called to be messengers.  True Christians must share in the labors of Jesus Christ, by delivering the gospel to those who are starving for truth.  The fields are vast, the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  We must pray to God to send more workers to aid in gathering up His crop.  As you labor for Christ, may compassion fill your heart; may love reign in your soul; and may God use you to convey His message to those who are in need.

         “Lord Heavenly Father, may we share in Your labors; may we be filled with mercy and love; may we continually seek to deliver the gospel message to those who are perishing.  We pray that You would send more workers in to the fields; that Your harvest might be plentiful.  May the lost be found, may sinners repent, and may salvation be received by those who believe.  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.

JESUS SPEAKING                

                “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself.”  This he said signifying by what death he would die.  The people answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you.  Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (John 12: 32-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                While addressing his followers, Jesus prophesied concerning the manner in which he would die.  He would be crucified, and the cross would come to symbolize healing, forgiveness and reconciliation with God.  Those who look to it in faith receive everlasting life and the free gift of salvation; those who refuse to accept Christ’s sacrifice continue under condemnation, and will eventually face eternal judgment.                     

                In the Old Testament, God lead the children of Israel out of slavery and bondage in Egypt.  They passed through the Red sea unharmed, and they entered the desert.  While in the desert many Hebrews rebelled against God and the authority of Moses.  Angered by their arrogance, God sent poisonous snakes in to their midst to bite them.  Moses fervently approached the Lord and begged Him to show mercy.  Moved with compassion, God told Moses to sculpt a brass snake and to fasten it to a long pole; he was then told to raise the pole up in the middle of the camp so everyone could see it.  The Israelites were instructed that if they looked upon the snake in faith, they would be healed from their venomous bites (simply put:  look at the snake and you will live; refuse to look and you will die.)  Jesus Christ was also lifted up on the cross for everyone to see; those who look to him in faith receive eternal life; those who refuse, experience judgment and eternal separation from God.  Jesus said in John 3: 14-16, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.”

                The cross has always been a powerful symbol.  It has the power to bring light in to the lives of those who walk in darkness.  It has the power to heal and the power to reconcile sinful man with a pure and Holy God; it has the power to grant eternal life to those who would but look to it in faith.  May you look upon the cross and receive the free gift of salvation.  May you receive the blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sins.  May you be ‘reborn’ and may God guide you as you travel toward his eternal kingdom.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your wonderful plan of salvation.  As we look to the cross in faith, we receive Your sacrifice and we embrace our new lives with You.  Forgive us our sins through the blood of Christ Jesus.  Grant us eternal life.  Heal our hearts and minds; help us to be ‘children of light;’ that others might see our good works and honor You.  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.

God heals the sick

JESUS SPEAKING               

                Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.  And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.  But when Jesus saw her, he called her to him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.”  And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God (Luke 13: 10-13.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus regularly taught in the synagogues on the Sabbath day.  One particular Sabbath day the attentive listeners witnessed a wonderful act of divine charity.  In the midst of the crowd, there sat a deformed woman, who unknowingly would become the target of God’s merciful affections.  For 18 years her twisted spine had condemned her to a life of humiliating hardship.  Jesus beckoned her forward; and with one touch, she received her long awaited freedom; freedom from embarrassment and ridicule; freedom from shame; freedom from unending pain and discomfort.  Overjoyed, and filled with gratitude, the once twisted woman honored and praised God for his merciful work.  Miracles and healings such as this, serve two wonderful functions; they relieve suffering; and inspire others to honor and glorify God.

                Nearly 8 years ago, I was in a mental institution; I was unable to work; unable to complete menial tasks like laundry and cooking; filled with fear and overwhelmed with nervousness I couldn’t sit still for any extended period of time without being afflicted with fits of extreme anxiety.  Trapped in a delusional world devoid of mental stability, I was surrounded by other disturbed individuals (one poor woman had tried and failed every form of treatment and had to endure electro-shock-therapy.)  In a place where pajamas and slippers were the everyday attire, I was unaware that God would soon call me forward; I was ignorant of His future plan; one day He did lay His hand on me, and He healed my twisted and unhealthy mind.  Not only did He heal me, He created in me a completely new person.  Today, I hold down a job and have wonderful friendships; not only do I work, I volunteer; I’m involved in many ministries; I give as much as I can, and serve others whenever possible; I truly love people and feel deep empathy for those who are hurting; I counsel people on right living; I pay bills, and I am a responsible person that can be relied upon.  A man who was once dead has been brought to life.  I am an example of God’s miraculous power; He is a great and awesome God; a God of mercy and love; I am whole today, not because of anything I have done, but because of what God has done.

                Have you experienced a miracle?  Has God called you forward; has He done something amazing?  If so, then you are truly blessed; if not, He can and will if You let Him.  Have faith in the Lord and nothing will be impossible; trust in God and you will experience miraculous things; and when you do, give God the glory and honor He so greatly deserves; point at Him and proclaim, ‘My deliverer has arrived, and I have been set free; praise be to God.’

                “Lord Heavenly Father You are worthy to receive glory and honor and praise.  We want to thank You for all of the amazing things You have accomplished in and through us.  We desire to see even greater miracles; increase our faith and do the impossible; we are excited to see You move and do great and mighty works.  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 Truth revealed to the simple

JESUS SPEAKING

                At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.  Even so, Father, because it seemed good in Your sight.  All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father.  Nor does anyone know the Father except the son, and the one to whom the son wills to reveal him” (Mathew 11: 25-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In the Jewish culture, youth was often associated with weakness and stupidity.  So much so, that when a group of Jewish men gathered together, they spoke in order of age; the oldest spoke first and the youngest spoke last.  They believed that with age came wisdom.  Jesus however, corrected this commonly held belief.  Wisdom concerning the messiah and God’s plan of salvation could not be attained through many years of careful study; instead, the truth could only be received as a gift from God.  Those who thought themselves intelligent were blinded by pride and self-reliance; the simple and the ignorant however saw clearly the value of God’s grace and the blessing of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

                Sigmund Freud pioneered what we might consider the modern field of psychology.  In fact today, he is remembered as one of the most intelligent men who has ever lived.  Yet most people don’t know that at one point in his career he promoted cocaine as beneficial for curing many common ailments.  He even encouraged his close acquaintances and compatriots to indulge in its use.  When one of his dear friends became horribly addicted to the drug, he saw the dangers of cocaine and anxiously recalled his previous promotions; he carried the guilt of his friend’s continual drug dependence for the rest of his life.  Some of the most well educated and intelligent people are often the most horribly deceived.

                The truth is a gift from The Lord (it is not something that can be earned.)  Intelligence, although beneficial and extremely useful, can sometimes blind those who trust in it more than God (the intellect frequently remains in opposition to simple faith and practical wisdom.)  God yearns for His children to trust in Him completely.  Those who are simple, unlearned, and unwise, are often the first to see the true value of God’s mercy and grace.  Won’t you receive the gospel today as a little child?  Won’t you believe with your whole heart?  Won’t you allow God to take control of your life?  If you place your faith in Jesus Christ you will come to know the truth; and you will be smarter than the most well educated man, and wiser than the greatest king. 

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we be as little children.  May we remain simple, and may we completely trust in, and rely upon You.  We pray for those who are intelligent and wise in their own thinking; those who have faith only in the achievements of men.  Reveal the truth to them, that they may come to humbly receive Your mercy and grace.  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.