Archive for January, 2014

Follow Me

JESUS SPEAKING

            “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Mathew sitting at the tax office.  And he said to him, “Follow Me.”  So he arose and followed Him” (Mark 9: 9.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The calling of Mathew is among the shortest conversion stories recorded in the bible.  As a tax collector, he was hated and despised by his own people.  Still Jesus saw something in him worth saving.  As the Lord passed by He uttered two simple words that would forever transform Mathew’s life; “Follow Me.”  His response was concise, immediate, and unwavering.  Mathew arose, abandoned his position, and began following Jesus Christ.  

            During the 1880’s, a famous baseball player named Billy Sunday had a similar experience.  One day, he and his teammates entered a saloon and began drinking.  Upon exiting, Billy spotted a group of Christians singing hymns and preaching about God’s salvation and forgiveness.  As tears rolled down his face, he turned to his teammates and said, “Boys, I’m through!  Going to turn to Jesus Christ.  We’ve reached the parting of the ways.”  Some mocked him, while others encouraged him.  He then entered the Pacific Garden Mission and gave his life to the Lord.  Later he said, “I called upon God’s mercy.  I staggered out of my sins into the outstretched arms of the Savior.  I became instantly a new creation in Him.  The next morning at practice, my manager, Mike Kelly, greeted me and said, ‘Billy, I read in the paper what occurred yesterday.  Religion isn’t my long suit, but I won’t knock you, and I’ll knock the daylights out of anyone who does.”  Billy Sunday went on to become one of the greatest evangelists of the early 20th century.

            Like Mathew, and like Billy, God is still calling many to follow Him today.  Jesus Christ desires that all would come to know Him and submit to His discipleship.  Some respond to His call; still others do not.  How can you respond to God’s call and receive salvation?  First, go to a quiet place, and ask God to enter your heart.  Turn away from sin, and profess a faith in Jesus Christ.  Get involved at a local church and be baptized.  Request an easy to read version of the bible (read it every day; beginning with the gospels.)  As you grow in the knowledge of God and submit to His commandments, you will experience a transformation.  You will feel the old things pass away; for behold, God will make “all things new.”

            “Lord Heavenly Father we thank You for calling us to be Your disciples.  May You always dwell within our hearts and minds.  Give us the strength to turn away from sin and death, that we might embrace the new life we have in You.  Teach us, guide us, be our Father and we will be Your children.  Give us Your Holy Spirit that we may lovingly serve You and our fellows.  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.

The supremacy of necessity

JESUS SPEAKING

            Now it happened that He went through the grain-fields on the Sabbath; while they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain.  And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”  But He replied saying, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him:  how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”  And He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.  Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2: 23 – 28.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            God commanded that the seventh day of every week be observed as a day of rest.  When the Pharisees witnessed Jesus and His disciples casually plucking and consuming wheat on the Sabbath, they accused Him of violating God’s commandment.  Jesus asked them to consider an illustration from the Old Testament.  As a youth, David spent many days and nights fleeing from King Saul (an evil man who sought to kill him.)  On one occasion, he and his companions were so malnourished that, in desperation, they entered a temple and ate the showbread from the altar (a bread set aside solely for the priests.)  God did not punish David for eating the bread because he was starving and needed nourishment.  On rare occasions, necessity can supersede the legalistic application of certain biblical laws.

            Recently, I became aware of a child in Pakistan who desperately needed a hernia operation.  A large portion of his intestines had begun to protrude from the walls of his abdomen.  His family could not afford the surgery.  After praying for God’s wisdom, my wife and I decided to use a portion of our tithe money to pay for the operation.  Although we understood our biblical obligation to give ten percent of our income to the church, we also understood that a young child’s life was at stake.  We chose to forgo one law in order to embrace another.  The need to preserve life was the greater need [By God’s grace the boy is now healthy and doing well.]

            Following biblical law is essential.  Every statute is righteous and good.  However, as Christians we must never submit to extreme legalism (a strict adherence to the law that leaves no room for exceptions.)  Occasionally we will be asked to bend in order to accomplish God’s will.  May we always remain flexible; may we be sensitive too the needs of others; and may we seek to fulfill and apply the teachings of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we are thankful that You continually provide for our needs; use us to provide for the needs of others.  Soften our hearts that we might never be too rigid or legalistic.  May You continue to show us favor and aide us in knowing and doing what is right.  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. 

Willing to change

JESUS SPEAKING

                “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put in to new wineskins and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5: 37-39.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In the ancient world, when an animal was slaughtered the stomach and the bladder were extracted and utilized to store and transport valuable liquids.  Wine was a very common first century beverage.  Unlike water, wine underwent a process known as fermentation; as the wine fermented gases were produced; these gases caused the wineskins to swell and expand.  The older wineskins were hard and inflexible (like leather.)  As the new wine expanded, it would cause them to tear open.  Therefore, unfermented wine was always placed in to new wineskins.  In this parable, the old wineskins represent old ideas, habits, and beliefs that are incompatible with the new life God has offered through His Son Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately, most people desperately cling to their old lives; those who choose to follow Jesus must let go of the old and grab hold of the new; they must abandon the fear of change, and allow God to transform them.

                Shortly after becoming a Christian, God began to make some very serious changes in my life.  For many years I had enjoyed listening to secular rap music and heavy metal.  One day God showed me how it was negatively affecting my spirit.  So, I made a commitment to only listen to worship music (which was positive, clean, and uplifting.)  My appetite for the old music was strong; at first the new music wasn’t appealing to me; but slowly I began to enjoy it.  Soon I was joyfully singing along with the songs; I noticed my attitude was more positive; my thoughts were more peaceful; I even began to smile with ever greater frequency [Note: today, the old songs are no longer appealing to me; I even find them repulsive.]  God has made similar changes in many other areas of my life.  He has healed me; the old things have passed away; behold, He continues to ‘make all things new.’

                God desires to pour out His Spirit into the hearts and minds of those who are willing to receive it.  His Spirit produces great transformation.  We must let go of our fears; we must become willing to change; we must not be rigid and inflexible; only by embracing and allowing God to transform us, will we truly experience new life.  Let go of your old ideas, habits, and beliefs, and receive the fullness of God’s Spirit.  Allow Him to guide and direct you and He will lead you into His eternal joy and everlasting peace.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You make wonderful transformations in our hearts and minds.  May we become flexible; may we embrace change.  Jesus, we desire to become more like You; remove any habits, ideas, or beliefs that stand in the way of our growth; destroy the old and make all things new.  May we experience the fullness of Your Holy Spirit.  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.

Stop worrying, start trusting

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is , and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Mathew 6: 25 – 32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            God is a Father, and like any good Father, He provides for the needs of His children.  Fear is the result of a lack of trust in God’s abilities.  Birds are just one example of an animal that never worries; they gather no seed nor strive to possess more than they can use.  Instead they rely upon their creator to provide for their daily necessities.  As believers we must be of a similar mind.  Worrying is counterproductive; in turn Jesus commands every follower to stop worrying and start trusting.

            Although worrying has been around for thousands of years, it has only recently been studied scientifically.  Most modern day inquiries have yielded some surprising results.  Worrying has been found to break down the immune system, causing many to succumb to colds and infections; worrying also produces:  high blood pressure, upset stomach, ulcers, acid reflux, heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, panic attacks, cardiovascular problems, increased blood sugar levels, irritable bowel difficulties, backaches, tension headaches, migraines, sleep problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, respiratory difficulties, worsening of skin conditions such as eczema, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, depression, rashes, shingles, hot flashes, twitching, lethargy, sweating, heart attacks, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, irritability, etc.  The list of physical and mental ailments linked to worrying seems endless.

            Worrying is so detrimental that The lord has ordered every follower to abandon fear and embrace faith.  Trusting in God is our divine duty.  He is our provider and protector.  May we continually remember that God loves us and lives within our hearts.  May we seek Him at every turn, and tirelessly submit ourselves to His care and affection.

            Lord Heavenly Father, may we be free from fear; may we stop worrying and start trusting in Your complete provision.  Clothe us, feed us, love us, and receive us.  Be our Father that we might also be Your children.  We love You Lord, 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.