Archive for February, 2014

Praying with expectancy

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Have faith in God.  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11: 22 – 24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Faith is defined as a strong belief or trust in God’s abilities.  He alone is able to move mountains, heal the sick, and raise the dead.  Jesus urges every follower to pray with a measure of expectancy.  We must truly believe that God is willing and able to provide for each and every one of our needs.  When we ask in faith, and do not doubt, we can fully expect to receive the desires of our heart.

            Hudson Taylor was a prominent missionary who lived in the 1800’s.  He established the China Inland Mission, an organization that still exists to this day (known now as the OMF.)  On his first journey to China, his ship hit a patch of windless ocean and began to drift uncontrollably toward an island known to be inhabited by vicious cannibals.  The concerned captain approached Mr. Taylor and asked him to pray to God for help.  “I will” said Taylor, “Provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.”  The captain refused, not wanting to appear silly for unfurling in a dead calm.  Taylor replied saying, “I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails.”  The captain reluctantly obliged.  Soon there was a knock at Hudson’s door; “Who is there?”  The captain replied, “Are you still praying for wind?”  “Yes” responded Taylor.  “Well” said the captain, “you’d better stop praying, we have more wind than we can manage.”

            Hudson Taylor understood the principle of praying with expectancy.  He prayed knowing full well that God would answer his prayer.  If we pray with that same confidence and faith, we too, will receive the blessings of the Lord.  May our hearts be free from doubt; may our requests be brave and bold; and may we fully expect our prayers to be answered according to the measure of our faith.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, You are an amazing and mighty God.  Create in us faithful hearts; hearts that do not doubt; hearts that completely trust in Your ability to provide for our needs.  May we always pray with confidence, unwavering faith, and genuine expectancy.  We love You Father, we praise You, and 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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Only one way to enter God’s Kingdom

JESUS SPEAKING

Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10: 7-10.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In the days of Jesus sheepherding was a very common profession.  A good shepherd would effortlessly love and care for his sheep.  Most shepherds were continually concerned with feeding and watering their livestock; they also fended off hungry predators, and made sure to keep the sheep free from dangerous parasites.  Over time, the sheep would come to trust in and rely upon the one who guided them and loved them.  After many days and nights of grazing in the open fields, the shepherd would need to rest; he would return home and put his animals in a pen where he knew they would be safe; the pen prevented them from wandering off; it also protected them from hungry predators.  Jesus is the ‘Good Shepherd.’  He came to gather together his sheep, and to lead them to safety.  The sheep pen is an illustration that represents heaven; a place free from predators, where all of God’s children will one day dwell safely in peace.  The Lord also proclaimed that there is just one way to enter the Kingdom of God.  Only those who have faith in and follow Jesus Christ can truly be saved.

                Today, flying is a common mode of transportation.  In recent years, many terrorists have utilized airplanes to commit atrocious acts of violence against many innocent people.  In an effort to prevent these attacks from occurring, airport security has become appropriately severe.  There is only one way in, and one way out.  Those seeking to enter through the security checkpoints must have proper identification.  No license, or government identification, means no entry.  This rule is without exception (a nice smile, a kind face, and an appealing excuse are of no benefit.)  God’s kingdom is similar in many respects.  There is one way to enter; only those who have faith in Jesus Christ can be admitted.  If someone has been a kind and generous person for 85 years, but is not a child of God, they lack the proper identification.  No non-believing Buddhist, Muslim, atheist, or agnostic, for example will be allowed entry; for they lack the one thing needed to fellowship with the Eternal Father; his one and only Son.

                Jesus Christ is the ‘Good Shepherd.’  He came to lead his sheep into everlasting life.  Many have heard his words and have received Him.  Still many others have rejected him entirely.  Despite the differences between them, the faithful and the unfaithful share in this; they will both one day stand at the gate; however, only those who called Jesus master and Lord will be able to enter God’s eternal Kingdom.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to continue in the faith.  We have come to trust in You fully; lead us Lord; teach us; provide for all of our needs.  May we be Your sheep, and may You be our Shepherd; may we know Your voice and never be deceived.  Protect us from those who would seek to do us harm and inspire us to reach out to those who are lost.  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.

Being prepared for His return

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then Peter said to him, “Lord do you speak this parable only to us, or to all people?”  And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.  But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Luke 12: 42-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Before ascending in to heaven Jesus promised to return one day in power and great glory; (it has been nearly 2000 years and his followers are still anxiously awaiting his arrival.)  As he spoke to his disciples he used a wedding parable to illustrate his future delay.  Often, when the master of a household left to attend a wedding, he could be gone for days.  His arrival was uncertain; he could return at 2:00 in the afternoon, or 2:00 in the morning (therefore the servants had to be continually prepared.)  In this parable, the master represented Jesus Christ, who after being resurrected, left the earth and journeyed in to heaven (promising to one day return.)  The servant placed over the master’s household represented the disciples whom Christ left behind to guide and care for his church.  Although the original disciples have gone to be with the Lord, God has placed new leaders in to positions of authority.  Some are just and wise stewards; some however, have lost faith; they have become impatient with Christ’s return, and in turn they have begun to mistreat God’s people.  When Christ does return, he will reward those who have been faithful, and he will punish those who failed to serve in the absence of their master.

                In the United States, a brand new industry known as ‘mystery shopping’ has become popular.  Most employers find it beneficial to tour their own facilities.  They must continually evaluate their products, their procedures, their equipment, and especially their employees.  Employees however, do not act naturally when their bosses are present; most tend to ‘put on a show;’ they work harder and more efficiently; and they become more positive and polite toward the customers and other staff members.  This effect makes it nearly impossible for managers and owners to accurately evaluate their workers.  In turn, many employers are now hiring individuals to pretend that they are customers; as they shop, they are secretly evaluating the employees.  When the employees become aware that the owner is using mystery shoppers, it causes them to continually maintain a higher level of performance in the work place.

                Many believers are slack because their master is not present; but Jesus could return at any moment.  A lack of faith in his second coming will lead to increased sin, and unrighteous living.  To avoid disobedience, we must constantly expect his arrival; every day; every hour; and every second.  We must never lose hope; we must trust in his promise, and wait patiently.  As we wait, it is our duty to continue to serve and love our fellows.  When he does return, those who were faithful in his absence will receive eternal blessings and everlasting life.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may our hearts be expectant, and may we continue to hope in Your return.  Increase our faith that we might forever trust in Your promises.  May we always desire to serve You and our fellows.  Guide and direct our steps, that we may know with certainty, the duties and responsibilities that You have given to each us.  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.

Moving Forward

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away.  And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.  Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.  Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.  Now about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.  And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled.  But immediately He talked with them, “Be of good cheer!  It is I; do not be afraid.”  Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased.  And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled” (Mark 6: 45 – 51.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The Lord, desiring solitude, sent His disciples to the other side of the lake.  However, a great wind began to oppose them and they were unable to reach their destination.  Filled with compassion, Jesus walked across the sea to meet them.  After a fearful exchange, He was received into the boat.  Immediately the wind and the waves ceased, and the disciples were finally able to move forward.  Like that boat, many human beings can also become trapped.  Reaching a point of stagnation, they are no longer able to move forward.  Sadly, most are unaware that the key to progress is to receive Jesus Christ.

            In the 1890’s, Melvin Trotter had reached just such an impasse.  The son of a drunken bartender, he began drinking and gambling at an early age.  After marrying, he started a career as a barber.  However his rampant alcoholism made it difficult for him to hold down a steady job.  Eventually he began leaving his family for weeks at a time.  One day, upon returning home, he was informed that his two year old child had died.  Believing he was responsible, he considered suicide.  As he stood beside the coffin he vowed never to touch another drop of alcohol.  Two hours later he was drunk.  He proceeded to steal the shoes off of the body of his lifeless child and headed to Chicago, where he sold them for another drink.  Drunk and penniless he was nudged into the Pacific Garden Mission, where he accepted Jesus Christ into his heart.  His life was suddenly transformed.  God gave him the ability to work, to love, to live, and to stay sober.  He was finally free to move forward.  He began leading others to Christ and he eventually started his own rescue mission.  Melvin would later say, “I had taken cure after cure.  I had taken everything known to science, and had made resolution after resolution.  But just one glimpse of Jesus Christ, and I have never wanted a drink from that instant to this!”

            Many, like Mr. Trotter, will come to experience periods of stagnation.  Facing obstacles that seem immovable, they will struggle to find a solution.  However, the only real remedy is to receive Jesus Christ and to allow Him to eliminate the obstacle.  Upon entering the heart, He causes the winds to cease and the waters to calm; by His power those who are trapped can finally move forward.  May we all receive Jesus and be transformed by His mercy and grace.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, please soften the hearts of those who are suffering, that they would receive Your beloved Son.  By Your power may they grow, and learn, and be transformed.  As every obstacle is removed and every barrier is destroyed, may they be healed and free to continue moving forward.  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.