Archive for December, 2014

Anger is murder

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You have heard it said long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin.  But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Mathew 5: 21-22.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Few evil offenses can rival the act of murder; and murder, like so many sins, is the outward expression of an inward disposition.  All actions begin deep within the spirit.  First century Judaism stressed external adherence to the laws of God.  Jesus however, emphasized internal obedience; he focused on the heart; and rightly so; for murder is hatred which has grown to full maturity; laziness gives birth to poverty; and adultery is the offspring of lust.  Unless the heart is continually cleansed, evil will take root and produce a plethora of unholy actions.  God judges the inner man; therefore we as believers must diligently guard our hearts; allowing the Lord to cleanse them; in so doing, we will also outwardly adhere to God’s commandments.

                John Wilkes booth is one of the most famous assassins in U.S. history.  On April 14th 1865, he crept up behind Abraham Lincoln, and shot him in the head (a wound that proved fatal.) Booth was a loyal southerner, angered over what he believed to be the evils of Northern aggression. He too was later killed. Abraham Lincoln’s death, although horrific, wasn’t the result of an assassin’s bullet; rather, it was the offspring of fully matured anger; hatred led to the deaths of both John Wilkes Booth and the 16th president of the United States of America.  [Additional illustration:  It’s interesting to note that unchecked anger can not only lead to spiritual death, but it can also lead to physical death.  A recent study conducted by John Hopkins university tracked 1,337 male medical students for 36 years following medical school; the study found that those who were quick to anger when undergoing stress, were three times more likely to “develop premature heart disease, and five times more likely to have an early heart attack.  Angry young men, it appears, turn in to angry old men with heart problems” (Cleveland Clinic, Anger and Heart Attack.)]

                Anger grows in to hatred, and hatred generates sin; therefore, the Lord teaches us that anger and murder are indistinguishable.  The seed that enters the ground and the fruit it produces are one in the same.  Search your heart; if you discover any anger, discard it; it serves only to separate you from your creator.  Allow the Lord to cleanse you of every lingering resentment and He’ll draw near to you; in turn, you’ll come to experience the peace and freedom of unconditional forgiveness.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we ask that You would let the truth of this scripture sink deep into our hearts and minds.  May our souls be pure and free from evil thoughts and desires.  Take away our anger and resentment; may we not judge others, but may we love them; knowing that You are the only righteous judge.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and transform us from the inside out.  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!  

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The Holy Spirit

JESUS SPEAKING

            “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.  However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14: 25-26.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus informed his disciples that he would soon be departing; leaving them behind, but not alone. In his absence, he promised to send a replacement; a helper; a person to guide them; a spiritual entity that would remind them of every word he had ever spoken. After the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus ascended in to heaven; having been glorified, he sent his Holy Spirit in to the hearts and minds every believer (on the day of Pentecost.) The disciples were granted the authority to forgive sins; cast out demons; raise the dead; and heal the sick. Similar acts of service and love currently reveal the presence of the Holy Spirit living within the believer; irrefutable proof that Jesus Christ did indeed arrive at his destination. Even today, he sits at the right hand of God; a position of honor, from which he continues to guide and direct his church.

                In the early 20th century a bold and daring explorer named Roald Amundsen set out to reach the remote poles of the earth.  He arrived at the South Pole in 1911, and the North Pole in 1926.  As the story goes, during his northern expedition, he carried along a homing pigeon. Homing pigeons mate for life; and when separated from their mates, they have a unique ability to return to their nests from anywhere in the world. Before journeying North, Amundsen, not wanting his wife to worry, promised to release the pigeon upon arriving at the North Pole. When the bird reached its nest in Norway, his wife was elated. The pigeon was a symbol; a message proclaiming that although the explorer had arrived in a harsh and distant land, he was still very much alive; and would undoubtedly return someday.

                The Holy Spirit is also a symbol; it’s a message and a reminder that Jesus Christ is alive.  Many have received the promised helper; others have not.  Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their lord and savior, have also opened their hearts and embraced his messenger. If you’ve never received the Holy Spirit, go somewhere quiet, and ask God to give you this free gift. The Lord never withholds His Spirit from those who genuinely ask Him.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we believe that Jesus Christ is Your Son, and that he’s seated at Your right hand.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit; guide and direct us; teach us; and remind us of everything that You have said.  May we be faithful followers; may we never grow weary; may we never waiver; and may we never turn away from Your truth. May Your will be done in our lives always; and in the lives of our fellows. 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.

Exceptions

JESUS SPEAKING

                At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath.  And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.  And when the Pharisees witnessed it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”  But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?” (Mathew Chapter 12: 1-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                God created the universe in six days and on the seventh day He rested. Mankind was therefore commanded to follow His example.  Every seventh day was set aside as a day of rest; a day on which no work was to be done; a day of fellowship with family and friends; a time to pray and remember the blessings of God.  During the first century, many overly zealous religious leaders believed it was their duty to enforce God’s laws. Blinded by rigid traditionalism, they weren’t able to see the numerous situations that warranted breaking the fourth commandment. When they saw Jesus plucking wheat, they accused him of harvesting; thereby violating the Sabbath. He responded by quoting an Old Testament scripture. When King Saul sought to kill David, David fled with a handful of soldiers.  Wearied and hungry, he and his companions entered a temple and ate the showbread from the altar (a sacred loaf strictly reserved for the priests.)  In order to survive, he did what wasn’t lawful; and yet God didn’t condemn him.  Providing for those in need is the greatest of all of the commandments; in certain unique circumstances, it can, and will supersede a number of other laws.

                One day a confused woman asked me an important question.  She said, “I was recently offered a part-time job working on Saturday and Sunday.  I really need the money, but I don’t want to break the Sabbath by working on the weekend.  What should I do?”  I asked her if the job was necessary for her survival.  Indeed, she needed the additional income to purchase food and to pay her rent.  I indicated that when David was starving, he broke the law by eating the showbread from the altar. God didn’t fault him for doing what was necessary to survive; and he wouldn’t fault her either. In very unique circumstances, we must break the law in order to fulfill the law of love. [Warning:  God does not condone situational ethics.  Stealing is always wrong; as is laziness and adultery; there is never a situation where drunkenness is necessary; nor will circumstances ever require fornication, lewdness, or idolatry, for example.]

                The Lord is a compassionate and understanding Father; He’s the giver of divine wisdom.  Although His laws are supreme and unchanging, His will is not always so rigid and legalistic. Extreme human need often necessitates exceptions. Wisdom concerning such instances can only come from God. We must never presume to know His heart. Instead, through prayer, we can receive critical direction and discernment. May we always seek His will in every situation; may compassion be our trusted guide and understanding our ally. May we never forget that the law of love is the greatest of all of the commandments.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we receive Your wisdom.  Give us understanding and fill our hearts with love.  Your laws are without error; yet You desire to provide for those in need; in turn, You aren’t overly zealous; You make benevolent exceptions, where and when they are needed.  As we minister to others, may we respond to every unique circumstance in love; without condoning evil.  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.

God is calling you

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then he said to another, “Follow me.”  But the man said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”  And another also said, “Lord, I will follow you, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”  But Jesus said to him, “No one having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9: 59-62.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus Christ called many; few chose to answer his call.  The calling of God demands immediate and absolute obedience.  When Jesus called Simon and Andrew they were busy fishing. How did they respond? We read, “They immediately left their nets and followed him.”  The priority of the first man in this scripture was to attend to the burial of his father.  Jesus beckoned him to focus on the living, not the dead (the man’s Father was likely an unbeliever.)  The second individual desired to return home to say farewell to his family; thereby placing his loved ones ahead of God. The Jewish people were very familiar with agricultural practices; plowing, planting, and reaping were intimate aspects of their existence. Which is why Jesus used a farming illustration to express an important truth. When driving the ox and plow, a farmer’s eyes remained focused on the field ahead; looking back served only to distract the driver from his necessary work. The world today is full of diversions, obstacles, and enticements. Distractions are dangerous; they can prevent us from accomplishing God’s will.

                According to the national highway safety commission, 80% of all car crashes involve driver distraction.  These statistics proved true for a man named Stephen in 1983.  One sunny morning he hopped in his new Mercedes Benz; with the top down and the wind in his face, he set out for an important appointment.  As he drove up the coast of Southern California, he passed by a certain beach.  His attentions unexpectedly turned to a young blond woman wearing a bikini.  As she jogged passed his vehicle, his mind, heart, and eyes, followed along with her. The image of a complete stranger took priority over the road, his destination, and even his new wife Sandy.  Suddenly, he smashed in to the back end of a Chevelle that had come to a complete stop in his lane.  Although Stephen’s body remained uninjured, his pride, and the front end of his Mercedes weren’t quite as lucky.  When driving, the road ahead must take precedence over everything else. To reach our destination, we must abandon every trivial distraction.

                Jesus Christ has called many; still, few have responded in the serious and immediate manner required for discipleship. If you have felt called by the Lord, let go of this fading existence and grab hold of the plow. Make God the priority. Preach the gospel to all those you meet; accomplish the work of the Lord and avoid distractions. This life is a passing dream; keep your eyes, mind, and heart, focused on God; and you will certainly reach your divine destination.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You would be our first priority.  May our eyes be continually focused upon You. Take control of our lives and be our Master.  Help us to avoid distractions.  Give us the wisdom and strength to finish what You have started; until the day that we enter Your eternal Kingdom.  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.

God is our Friend

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15: 14 – 15.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                After eating the Passover feast, the Lord said farewell to his closest companions.  In a long discourse (filled with emotion and love) Jesus revealed God’s complete plan to the disciples.  During this address, those who had called him Master were urged to consider him a ‘friend.’  The term ‘friend’ implied a deeper, more intimate relationship.  In ancient times, masters and servants were never equals; they weren’t partners; and they certainly were never friends; their positions prevented them from close personal fellowship.  In order to preserve authority and respect, the master had to maintain a safe distance (as “familiarity breeds disrespect.”)  Yet the ‘King of Kings’ (Jesus) shattered the barriers that hindered true intimacy.  The disciples became his equals; no longer was he just their Lord and master; he became their brother; their closest companion; and their greatest friend.

                At the age of 19, I worked as a guard and a counselor in a minimum security juvenile facility.  My role was that of a disciplinarian.  Often, when a child misbehaved, we had to intervene and physically restrain them.  The staff was given a great deal of power and authority.  Although we interacted with the children in positive ways, we had to maintain a professional distance.  Too much intimacy caused them to lose respect for us and our positions.  If they came to believe we were their equals, they would question and disobey our commands.  Those who falsely see God as an equal lose respect for Him.  Fear of God is good; those who fear Him are aware of his power and authority.   We read in Proverbs, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  In turn, God sent His Son, so that all could know Him as a ‘friend’ as well as a Father.

                God must always be honored and respected; (He is our master and we are His servants); in turn, there is a distance between God and man.  In His divine wisdom, He chose to use His only Son to draw near to all people.  Jesus Christ is God’s gift to mankind.  He is God in a form we need not fear; we need only approach Him in love; we are free to speak to Him; to fellowship with Him; and to be in communion with Him.  He is more than our teacher, our master, and our shepherd; he is our brother; he is our closest companion; he is our best friend.  Would you like to know God?  If you seek closeness with God embrace Jesus Christ and he will comfort you and give you peace; look to the Son of God and you will know his Father.  Invite him in to your heart and he will teach you all things; and “you will know the truth; and the truth shall make you free.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father we love You, and we thank You for Your son.  We desire to draw near to him; may every obstacle be removed, and every barrier destroyed.  May he be our brother, our companion, and our friend.  May we confide in You Lord; may we look to You for direction, for love, and for comfort.  We love You Father; we love You Jesus; we praise You and we thank You; and we ask all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you. 

 


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