Archive for October, 2013

Love is Sacrifice

JESUS SPEAKING

          But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.   On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves.” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 29 – 37.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            In this parable a man is badly beaten, and left to die on the side of the road.  The Jews considered Samaritans to be Godless degenerates; yet in this illustration, the only one to show compassion and love for the wounded stranger, is a Samaritan.  His love was expressed in the form of sacrifice.  Unlike the Levite and the priest, the Samaritan sacrificed his time, his wealth, and his reputation to aid the injured man.  Without sacrifice there is no real proof of love.

            Infants undeniably demand a great deal of time, attention, and resources.  ‘Good parenting’ is therefore a synonym for ‘Sacrifice.’  New parents can expect to forfeit many privileges on behalf of their children.  It is estimated that in the first year of a child’s existence, they will need to be changed 2500 times and fed every 4 hours (although the number varies widely.)  Similarly, newborns must be burped, bathed, clothed, held, and played with regularly; actions which require great selflessness and sacrifice.

            Like the Samaritan, and like any good parent, Jesus Christ has asked His children to lay down their selfish pursuits to love and care for those in need.  If we embrace a spirit of sacrifice, then God will provide us with opportunities to love our families, our friends, and our neighbors.  As we accomplish the will of God, our hearts will know peace and we will inherit the eternal blessings He has promised to those who faithfully serve Him.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask for the courage and strength to embrace sacrifice; may we be filled with compassion; may we always seek the lost; and may continually love those in need.  Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we become more like You each and every day.  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.

Making God the Priority

JESUS SPEAKING

            Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.”  And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 38 – 42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            After eagerly welcoming Jesus in to her home for the evening, Martha began feverishly serving her new guests.  In Jewish culture, the women were traditionally responsible for meal preparation.  Martha therefore became angry when she saw Mary sitting at Christ’s feet, intently listening to His every word.  She attempted to correct her sister, and was in turn corrected by the Lord.  Martha (unlike Mary) had failed to place God first, ahead of all of her other duties.

            In the 1500’s a German Monk named Martin Luther sparked the protestant reformation (a movement that sought to restore the church to biblical truths, as opposed to church traditions.)  As the leader of this movement, he was a very busy man.  Despite his many responsibilities, Marin Luther woke up early every morning to spend time in prayer.  It has been said that on his busiest days, he would wake up even earlier, conceding that on those days he needed God even more.  

            Like Martin Luther, we must make God the number one priority.  The distractions in life are innumerable; the busier we are, the less time we have to complete our daily tasks.  On our busiest days we can act like Martha and make less time for God and more time for our chores.  Or, we can choose to behave like Mary and make God our top priority.  When we read scripture, pray, and seek God’s will first thing in the morning we make the right choice.  When we make God the priority, everything else falls in to its proper place; and the peace of the Lord will remain in us, as He accomplishes His works through us.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to make You the most important thing in our lives.  May life’s busiest moments never distract us from focusing on Your goodness.  Teach us; love us; pour out Your Spirit in us, that we might be used to effectively 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 in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Love for God

JESUS SPEAKING

            “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me.  And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14: 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            True affection for Jesus Christ is not merely some immeasurable, intangible feeling; instead, it is expressed outwardly through actions, words, and deeds.  Those who genuinely love God’s only Son attempt to remain obedient to His commandments; as faithful believers, they seek to implement his teachings in every area of their lives.

            Marriage is one of the greatest blessings a person can receive from the Lord; it provides those who are willing with the opportunity to practice the Christian principles of selflessness and service.  Just as love for Christ is manifest in obedience, so too, adherence to the desires of a spouse is a measure of our love for them.  Yesterday my wife asked me to fix some shelving in our closet; a task I gladly accomplished.  She also asked me to do the dishes before leaving for work; I did them, and later she thanked me for my efforts.  If I did not love her, I would have ignored her requests in order to indulge in my own selfish desires.

            Like a spouse, Jesus Christ has asked us to accomplish many things; to adhere to His teachings and to obey His commandments.  The pathway to conformity is paved with the bricks of knowledge.  Only by reading the words of Jesus can we know what He is asking of us.  Read His words daily and God will give you the desire and the ability to accomplish His will [His teachings are contained within the pages of the Holy Bible; specifically within the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.  A condensed version is found in Mathew, Chapters 5 – 7; a discourse commonly known as ‘The Sermon on the Mount.’]

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for sending Your Son to teach us what it truly means to love.  Bring to our remembrance all of His words, that we might adhere to His teachings and obey His commands.  May we lay down our lives to serve and love others as He so willingly did.  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.

Going the second mile!

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person.  But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to everyone who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” (Mathew 5: verse 38 – 42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            In the first century A.D. the Roman army occupied the Holy Land.  As conquerors they were afforded certain privileges.  One legal provision gave every Roman soldier the right to compel any Jewish citizen to carry their equipment for up too, but not in excess of, one mile.  Jesus used this commonly understood law to impress upon His followers the importance of serving others in abundance.  When a soldier asked them to carry a load one mile, they were instructed to carry it two miles.  Simply put, accomplishing the bare minimum proves nothing; instead, the true love of God is made manifest when we exceed the demands, requests, and expectations of others.

            Recently, a very influential Pastor named Chuck Smith went to be with the Lord.  He was 86 years old, and had been battling cancer for some time.  When initially diagnosed, he began a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.  These treatments coupled with his age, made him unsteady on his feet.  I was asked to accompany him to and from his daily radio program to prevent him from falling. Once the program had ended, we would get in to his golf cart and head back to the church office.  On the way he would drive around the campus picking up garbage; he would also stop to talk to anyone in need.  One day a woman approached him in tears.  She explained that her marriage was suffering and that she had left messages with another pastor concerning counseling; however he had never returned her calls.  Pastor Chuck lovingly encouraged and comforted the woman; he then told her to speak to his secretary about setting up a counseling appointment with him later that week.  I was amazed that a man in his 80’s with lung cancer, undergoing radiation and chemotherapy was still out-serving many youthful, strong, and seemingly healthy on staff pastors.

            Like Pastor Chuck, Jesus has called all of his children to go the second mile; we must love others in abundance; we must give to one another more than is needed or required; we must serve our fellows with great intensity, sincerity, and passion.  Through our actions, others can and will come to know the mercy and love of God.  If we are obedient and continue to give glory and honor to the Lord, we will come to know the blessings of unending joy and everlasting peace.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, may we go the second mile.  May we serve and love others in abundance.  Use us to reveal Your love to the world.  Increase our faith and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might accomplish Your will in this place, and bring honor to Your sacred 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.