Archive for July, 2014

What God values

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.  And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.  For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to God” (Luke 16: 14-15.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                What the world considers valuable and what God considers valuable are often in direct opposition.  Most esteem beauty, wealth, fame, power, and intellect above Godliness, compassion, love, humility, and genuine mercy.  The Pharisees (religious leaders) hearts were wicked; they demonstrated extreme partiality toward the powerful, wealthy, affluent, and well-educated.  Jesus however, fellow-shipped with repentant prostitutes and tax collectors; he reached out to the lame, and befriended many outcasts.  He refrained from showing any form of ungodly partiality; rather, he continually honored and esteemed only those things God deemed worthy.

                In the Old Testament, we read of a time when it became necessary to anoint a new king to rule over the nation of Israel.  The Lord commanded the prophet Samuel to travel to Bethlehem, where he was instructed to choose a king from among the Sons of Jesse.  Upon arriving, Samuel laid eyes upon Eliab (one of the eldest sons); Eliab was mature, healthy, and strong.  The prophet, being mislead by worldly values, proclaimed, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him!”  God replied to Samuel, saying, “Do not look at his appearance or his physical stature, because I have refused him, for the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  After God had rejected seven of Jesse’s eldest sons, it appeared there were none left.  Samuel asked if all his Sons were present; Jesse replied, “Well there remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.”  When David, the youngest and weakest of Jesse’s son’s appeared, God said, “Arise and anoint him, for this is the one.”  [In time it became clear why God chose David; he was wise and loved God with his whole heart; his faith remained unshakable and his courage unfading.]

                In all cultures it is common to show partiality toward those who are wealthy, good looking, and affluent; yet to highly esteem such attributes is to oppose God.  The apostle James wrote, “For if there should come in to your assembly a man with Gold rings [and also] a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or “Sit at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”  Therefore, every true believer must make an effort to avoid valuing worldly things.  With God’s help, we can be impartial; we can see through His eyes; we can become lovers of truth; men and women who adore kindness, cherish compassion, and embrace mercy.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, guide us, and lead us in to the paths of righteousness.  Give us clean hearts, that we might avoid partiality, and love what is truly good.  May we turn away from worldly pursuits, and walk in Your ways; may we love what You love; may we value what You value; and may we live as You have lived.  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.

Advertisements

Does God love me?

JESUS SPEAKING

                “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3: 16.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                God is a loving Father who cares deeply for every man, woman, and child who has ever been born.  His love is so profound that He sent His only Son to suffer the punishment for our sins; that we might receive the gift of eternal life.  Because Jesus Christ was whipped, beaten, mocked, spit upon, and crucified, the world has come to know the love of the almighty God; his pierced hands and feet are a perpetual reminder of the awesome measure of His affections.  Without sacrifice there is no proof of genuine love.

                Many years ago a man named William Dixon lived in Brackenwaite, England.  He was a widower whose only Son had tragically died.  There lived near him a grandmother who was raising her orphaned grandson.  One day their house caught on fire; although the aged grandmother was rescued, her grandson was trapped in the blaze.  Dixon climbed an iron pipe on the side of the house and lowered the boy to safety.  The hand he used to hold on to the pipe was badly burned.  Shortly after the fire, the grandmother died.  The townspeople wondered who would care for the boy.  Two volunteers appeared before the town council.  One was a father who had lost his son and wanted to adopt the orphan.  The other man was William Dixon.  When given the opportunity to speak, Mr. Dixon said nothing.  Instead, he simply raised his scarred hand in the air for everyone to see.  The vote was taken, and the boy was given to Dixon.

                Like Mr. Dixon, Jesus Christ endured much pain and suffering to save us from certain death.  His scarred hands and feet are perpetual reminders of His immense love.  Who better to call our master and our Lord than the one who sacrificed his life so that we could live?  Having received salvation, we are then compelled to lay down our lives for others.  Abandoning selfish pursuits, we are called to embrace the attributes of sacrifice, selflessness, and service.  Through our acts of kindness and love, God will continue to make known to the world the fullness of His affections.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we thank You for Your immeasurable love.  We praise you Jesus for the pain that you endured on the cross for us.  May our hearts continually be filled with gratitude.  May we follow Your example and lay down our lives to serve our fellows.  Give us the strength to forfeit our fleshly desires, that we might genuinely love others as You have so graciously loved us.  We honor 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. 

Embrace fellowship

 

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Mathew 18: 19-20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The word ‘Amen,’ so commonly spoken at the end of most prayers, essentially means ‘I agree.’  ‘Amen’ is an expression used when two people have finished praying together.  Like so many Christian practices, prayer is meant to be exercised in community (as well as alone.)  No one can have a full relationship with God until they share Him with others.  When two or more gather together to celebrate Christ his Spirit is made manifest in the heart of every believer; those who are weak become strong; doubt is replaced by faith; the empty are made full, and every weary soul becomes glad.  An isolated Christian is a Christian who is weak and vulnerable to attack.  To avoid fellowship with believers is to avoid fellowship with Christ himself.      

                I have been answering prayer lines at my church for nearly two years.  Over that period of time I have been able to make some profound observations.  Those who are not involved in a church fellowship, or a small group bible study, suffer great difficulties.  Many isolators are doing drugs and struggling with grievous sins; nearly all who remain detached are in some kind of continual crisis.  On the contrary, those who express a spirit of joy are actively involved in service work; they usually attend a small group fellowship; most have made close friendships with other believers; and nearly all of them intimately share God with those who call Jesus their Lord.

                Are you involved in a fellowship today?  Do you have close Christian friends that you pray with regularly?  Is your experience with Christ exercised in community, or in isolation?  If you are not plugged in to the body of Christ, go down to your church and ask them about weekly fellowships you might attend.  They usually have lists, and you can always find one that fits your schedule.  Make friends with other believers, and pray with them daily; become a part of God’s family and be renewed by the Holy Spirit.  Without fellowship, you will never know the fullness of God’s power in your life.

                “Lord heavenly Father we come before You and ask that You help us to be members of Your body.  We desire to share You with others, and to be in fellowship with our eternal brothers and sisters.  May we draw near to one another as we all draw near to You.  May Your Spirit flow freely between us.  If we have isolated, give us opportunities to fellowship with others and to grow strong.  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.