Archive for May, 2014

Rest is important

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught.  And he said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”  For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  So they departed in the boat by themselves” (Mark 6: 30-32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus sent the apostles out on a short missionary trip.  They were commanded to heal the sick, to cast out demons, and to preach the gospel throughout the land of Israel.  They returned with a good report; under his authority they were able to perform many miracles.  The crowds however, had not permitted them much rest.  The Lord saw that they had been wearied by the long hours, and needed to relax.  In turn, he led his disciples in to a deserted place; away from the crowds and the clamor of the ministry.  God desires for his children to have a certain amount of rest.  Rest is an essential part of maintaining physical, mental, and spiritual health.

                Nowhere in the world is work more highly esteemed than in the United States of America.  Many put their careers ahead of their families, their friends, and sadly, even their God.  Seventy hour work weeks at the office are not uncommon.  Currently, because of technology, the problem has gotten worse; people aren’t just working at the office; they are now working everywhere they go.  Many work while they are driving; some work at the gym; some work from home; some even work while on vacation.  All of this work has caused large numbers of people to neglect their need for rest.

                Jesus Christ recognizes that every human being needs time to relax.  Many of us walk through life without taking time out to recuperate.  Some of us have pushed ourselves too hard.  We need to remember that rest is essential, and that relaxation is a gift from the Lord.  Take time out to fellowship with God one on one; relax and allow your mind, body, and spirit to regenerate.  Give God a portion of your day; a time of peace and quiet reflection.  If you would only take the time to listen, in those still moments, you would hear the voice of God speaking to your heart, and you would grow strong.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to rest, and to take time out to fellowship with You; when we neglect our need for relaxation, speak to our hearts and help us to find the time to pursue peace.  In our moments of rest, we ask that You fill us with Your Holy Spirit; speak to our hearts and give us strength and courage to continue doing Your work 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.

Idolatry and destruction

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.

Correcting Others

JESUS SPEAKING

                “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Mathew 7: 3-5.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                There is no better way to feed pride than to look at the faults and shortcomings of those around us.  Most people, whether consciously or unconsciously, critique and compare themselves to others daily.  Some however, go to extremes; correcting their fellows to dodge facing their own demons.  Jesus warned his followers to avoid this form of hypocrisy.   A disciple may humbly address another person’s sin, only when they themselves have had victory over that same sin.  Any alternate form of correction is dangerous, because God inspects and corrects us using the same standard we have used to correct others.

                In 1986, a very well known radio and television minister became aware that a fellow Pastor was guilty of carrying on numerous affairs.  He went public with the information and his friend was removed from his position within the church and humiliated.  This pastor, who had been more than willing to expose the faults of his colleague, became embroiled in a far more insidious scandal just two years later when he was caught with a prostitute.  Filled with tears, he went on television and confessed his sins to the world, to his family, and to his congregation.  He pleaded and begged for forgiveness.  This minister was guilty of trying to correct the sins of another, before cleaning up his own deviant lifestyle.  In turn, God judged him according to the standard by which he judged his colleague.

                As believer’s today, self-examination is crucial.  We must face and be victorious over the demons’ in our own lives, before we can help others to overcome similar difficulties.  Extreme caution is required when attempting to lovingly correct our fellows; for the standard by which we correct them, is measured back to us by God.  

                “Lord Heavenly Father, protect us from the sin of hypocrisy.  May embrace humility and refrain from pride-fully comparing ourselves to others.  Empower us as we fight against the enemy.  Give us victory over our sins, that we might help our fellows also conquer their sins.  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.

Staying passionate

JESUS SPEAKING

                “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says he who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:  I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil.  And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored and have not become weary.  Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2: 1-5.)          

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Eleven of the twelve disciples were martyred for their faith; the apostle John however, lived to be an old man.  In his final days, he received a revelation from God; in this revelation, he recorded a message from Jesus Christ to the seven churches that had been established around the Mediterranean. In his address to the Church at Ephesus, the Lord had many good things to say.  He commended the congregation for questioning those who had come to them claiming to be prophets.  He praised them for their continued patience; and he honored them for loving righteousness and despising evil.  Even still, Christ did find among them one grievous sin; they had left their first love.  The Ephesians, like most Christians, had initially been zealous for the things of God; as new converts they were more than eager to spread the gospel and to obey the teachings of Christ.  Over time however, they had grown cold and apathetic.  In turn, Jesus commanded them to repent and to once again accomplish the works of God.

                Dating and marriage are essential parts of the human condition.  When a man courts a woman he is filled with enthusiasm and excitement.  He spends large amounts of money taking the woman out; he buys her flowers, candy, and perhaps even jewelry.  He does everything he can to impress her, and to let her know that she is loved.  After years of marriage however, men and women have a tendency to become apathetic toward one another.  They slip in to routine and lose their enthusiasm and zeal.  The result is a marriage that is no longer founded upon love; if the love does not return, divorce is extremely probable.

                Like many marriages, the church of Ephesus had grown cold.  Today there are many Christians who have become indifferent and apathetic.  As we examine our hearts, if we have lost our excitement and zeal, then we must repent.  We must once again do the works of God; we love others unconditionally and spread the gospel message with eagerness and enthusiasm.  May the Lord’s Spirit fill you; may He guide you; and may Your heart burn with mercy, passion, and the love of Jesus Christ.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, if we have grown cold, help us to repent and to once again be filled with passion and zeal.  May we desire to serve You and our fellows; may we long to spread Your gospel; may we love others, and 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 according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.