Archive for February, 2015

Loving sinners

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then Levi gave him a great feast in his own house.  And there were a great number of tax collectors (sinners) and others who sat down with them.  And their scribes and the Pharisees (religious leaders) complained against his disciples saying, “Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5: 29 – 32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Those who had committed the greatest offenses were also the most eager to receive forgiveness. The prostitutes and tax-collectors, devoid of any delusions of purity, were wholly capable of conducting an honest self-appraisal.  The religious leaders however, believing themselves to be righteous, refused to accept the message of repentance and reconciliation.  The initial step toward the restoration of divine fellowship includes a genuine recognition of sin. Still today, those who need the greatest measure of healing, are often rejected by the self-righteous. Although most have forsaken the worst offenders, God has not abandoned them.

                Many living within the boundaries of the Roman Empire had little compassion for the sick and the infirmed.  There were no retirement homes, assisted living facilities, or modern hospitals.  Poor sanitary practices often lead to outbreaks of disease that devastated entire towns, cities, and nations.  Those who fell ill were usually abandoned by the healthy; and left to die in the streets. Still, as Christianity spread, so did mercy, compassion, and love. During a plague in Alexandria, Egypt, in 416 A.D., a group of Christians assembled to care for those who were sick. They became known as “the Parabalani” (“the reckless ones”); because in caring for the infirmed, they selflessly exposed themselves to infection.  As they ministered, they undoubtedly preached the gospel; drawing many to the foot of the cross.

                In similar fashion, we are called to care for the sickest of sinners; those who have been abandoned and left to die.  Drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, thieves, adulterers, and fornicators are frequently the most willing recipients of God’s message of forgiveness and salvation. May we never abandon the lost; nor shun the wretched; for Jesus Christ himself loves every outcast.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we never forget that we are but sinners, saved by Your grace.  Provide us with opportunities to minister to the lost.  May we have compassion on the sick and love those who are dying.  May we be instruments of Your mercy; delivering Your message of salvation to the lost.  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.

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Avoiding Covetousness

JESUS SPEAKING

               Then one from the crowd spoke to Jesus saying, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”  And he said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12: 13 – 15.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus fervently warned his followers to avoid covetousness.  Those who covet strongly desire the belongings of others, and lack proper gratitude for what they have been given.  Knowing the destructive nature of this sin, God gave mankind the tenth commandment which states: “You shall not covet (desire) your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet (desire) your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”  Covetousness is dangerous, and can lead to a number of other sins such as theft, adultery, and even murder.

                In ancient times, King David was a powerful man who possessed great riches.  He had countless wives and concubines at his disposal to satisfy his physical needs.  Yet, one evening, as he walked along the rooftops of his palace, his eyes beheld a woman bathing naked.  Her name was Bathsheba; the spouse of a military commander named Uriah.  David began to covet her, and eventually committed the act of adultery.  Soon he was informed that Bathsheba had conceived and was with child.  After numerous attempts to cover up his dreadful act, David finally had Uriah murdered in battle and took Bathsheba to be his wife.  King David was later judged for his sin and the penalty was severe.

                As faithful servants, we must be careful to continually maintain a spirit of gratitude, and to take pleasure in what we have been given.  In so doing, we will fulfill the tenth commandment and avoid covetousness.  May we never desire the possessions of others; may we always remain grateful for what we have been given; and may our loving God grant us true contentment and everlasting peace.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your many blessings.  Fill us continually with true gratitude and genuine appreciation.  If we have broken the tenth commandment convict our hearts and help us to change.  May we never desire the possessions of others; instead may we take pleasure in the gifts that You have given us.  We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.

The Rapture

JESUS SPEAKING

            “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man (Jesus Christ):  For they ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all […] even so will it be in the day that the Son of man (Jesus Christ) is revealed.  In that day, he who is on the housetop and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away.  And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.  Remember Lot’s wife.  Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you in that night there will be two men in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.  Two women will be grinding together; the one will be taken and the other left.  Two men will be in the field; the one will be taken and the other left” (Luke 17: 26 – 27, 30 – 36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            ‘The Rapture,’ is another name for the unique event being described in this scripture.  In the blink of an eye, God will gather up the faithful from among the nations; prior to pouring out His wrath upon the earth.  Relatives, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers will vanish in an instant.  Those who are left behind will endure God’s judgments.  How can we be prepared for the rapture?  Simply put; by valuing eternal rewards more than earthly possessions.  Jesus implores us to consider Lot’s wife; a woman who was ill-equipped for the Lord’s deliverance.  In ancient times, she and her family were lead out of the wicked city of Sodom before its destruction.  She disobeyed God by turning back and affectionately gazing upon the city.  In turn, she was transformed in to a pillar of salt.           

Like Lot’s wife, many throughout history have cherished worldly possessions more than their own lives.  One day my dad and I were driving through the town where I grew up.  As we passed a certain building, he informed me that the structure had burned years earlier.  The owner had foolishly rushed in to the basement to collect some of his valuables; becoming trapped in the process.  In desperation, he attempted to crawl through a basement window; but the opening was too small.  Firefighters and onlookers could only watch in horror as the man perished in flames.  Valuing his possessions more than his own life lead to his untimely demise.

            Today, many value their possessions more than their eternal lives.  Taking great comfort in worldly belongings has rendered them ill-prepared for the coming Kingdom.  Every believer must be ready for ‘the rapture;’ an event that could occur at any moment.  Complete preparation entails loving God more than anything else.  Human beings must be more prized than possessions, and truth more treasurable than trust funds.  As our values are transformed, we will look forward to the rapture with greater joy and anticipation.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to value our heavenly lives more than our earthly possessions.  Prepare our hearts and minds for the rapture.  May we remain focused on Your coming kingdom.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit, strengthen us; that we might 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.

God’s possessions

JESUS SPEAKING

             And it came to pass, when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that he sent two of his disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat.  Loose it and bring here.  And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”  So those who were sent went their way and found it just as he had said to them.  But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”  And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”  And they brought him to Jesus (Luke 19: 29 – 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

              Zachariah prophesied that the messiah would humbly arrive.  Riding not on a horse or chariot; but rather, on a donkey.  Jesus therefore sent out two disciples to procure an animal for his triumphal entry in to Jerusalem.  When the men were confronted by the owner, they did as they were instructed; saying, “The Lord has need of it.”  In turn, they were permitted to leave.  Much has been written about this brief encounter; most commentators highlight the omniscience of God, the wisdom of Christ, and the faithfulness of the disciples.  Yet in the midst of these obvious truths, there exists a nameless stranger; a generous individual who recognized that his or her possessions were divine endowments; heavenly gifts that, at any time, could be used to serve God’s purposes.

               Every year around the holidays, a Christian organization known as ‘Operation Christmas Child’ begins working with thousands of churches across the country.  Congregational members fill shoeboxes full of valuable items and deliver them to their local pastors.  The parcels are then transported to a warehouse and sorted by volunteers; packaged, and shipped to impoverished nations around the world.  Some givers even include heart felt letters and pictures of themselves.  I myself have participated in this endeavor.  Seeing millions of Americans respond to God’s call is truly inspiring.  By giving of their time and resources, they have effectively revealed the love Jesus Christ to some of the least fortunate souls.

              Like the donkey in this scripture, our possessions are not our own; our time, our money, and our resources belong to God.  We are stewards of what we have been given.  When the Lord calls, we must use our assets to spread the love of Jesus Christ.  Be still, and the Holy Spirit will instruct you how, when, and what to give.  Through generosity and faithfulness, you will know the joy of the Lord; now, and forevermore.

             “Lord Heavenly Father, give us opportunities to use our resources to further the gospel.  May we be generous; may we be faithful; and may we never turn away from those in need; serving others with gladness and singleness of heart.  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.


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