Archive for March, 2015

Standing up for what’s right

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  And he found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.  When he had made a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers money and overturned the tables.  And he said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away!  Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise!”  Then the disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house has eaten me up” (John 2: 13 – 17.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Long ago King David prophesied that the messiah would be zealous concerning the things of God.  Jesus, having witnessed his fellow Israelites using the temple for selfish gain, became enraged. After constructing a whip, he drove out those who were defiling his Father’s house. Today, we too will occasionally observe acts of unspeakable evil. In such instances, the Holy Spirit will eradicate our fears and fill our hearts with zeal; enabling us to publically oppose those engaging in malicious conduct.

                One afternoon, while studying in the coffee shop, a man and his teenage son sat down beside me.  Without provocation, the youngster began persistently berating and verbally abusing his father. As the disrespect escalated, my heart was filled with righteous anger. The boy eventually threatened his Dad, saying, “Have you ever been punched in the face?” I lashed out; telling the young man to ‘Shut his mouth!’ The boy fell silent. I proceeded to lecture him concerning the fifth commandment; honoring his father and mother. Embarrassed and afraid, he stepped outside; later returning to apologize.

                In this life, we will occasionally witness acts of such unspeakable evil, that Jesus will inspire us to intervene. In these moments, He will fill our hearts with zeal; giving us the words to speak and the strength to overcome our fears. The Lord will use us to rebuke, to exhort, and to correct many who eagerly violate the basic laws of God.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the courage to speak the truth when necessary.  May we love what is good, and be zealous for Your ways.  When great acts of evil are being practiced, may we stand against them; allowing our desires for righteousness to eradicate our fear of reprisal.  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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Giving is better than receiving

JESUS SPEAKING

            “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20: 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The word ‘blessed’ most commonly translates in to the English word for ‘happiness.’  Those who live a ‘blessed’ life regularly experience joy, peace, and contentment.  Such a pleasant existence can only be achieved and maintained through daily acts of selflessness and service.  Sadly however, nearly all human beings are resoundingly selfishness.  In an endeavor to acquire as many possessions as possible, many become isolated, depressed, and discouraged. They aren’t aware that true happiness doesn’t come from selfish gain; rather, it is the product of selfless giving.

            Michael Norton, a Harvard business professor, sought to discover a link between overall happiness and daily giving.  He conducted an experiment in which a small amount of money was given to a group of test subjects.  Half of the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves; the other half were told to spend the money on someone else.  When researchers contacted the subjects at the end of the day, they found that those who had spent the money on someone else reported feeling much happier than those who had selfishly squandered their’ allotted funds.  [Note:  In another study, Norton found that sales team productivity and relationship quality increased as salespeople were given money to spend on other team members.]

            Norton had discovered that, although selfish gain seems appealing, it also lacks the power bring about lasting joy.  Genuine peace and contentment are the products of selflessness and sacrifice.  By serving and giving, we can demonstrate the generosity and love of Jesus Christ. May we never forget that happiness comes not from what we might receive, but rather, from what we are willing to give.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, pour out upon us Your many blessings.  As we love and serve our fellows, may we be filled with happiness and joy.  May our selfish desires come to an end; that through sacrifice, others might come to glorify Your holy name. 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.

The Destination

JESUS SPEAKING

                And when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave a command to depart to the other side.  Then a certain scribe came and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus spoke to him saying, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to rest his head” (Mathew 8: 18 – 20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

               Jesus Christ was born in human form and raised in the house of Mary and Joseph.  Yet his true home was with God in heaven.  He was a sojourner, perpetually mindful of his eventual destination.  With no earthly residence, every miracle, act of love, and profession of truth brought him one step closer to home.  As he traveled, he sought to persuade others to join him in journeying toward the Kingdom of God.  A divine mission, which through the faithful, currently continues.

                In the Old Testament, Moses led millions of Israelites out of slavery and bondage in Egypt.  After passing through the Red Sea, they wandered in the desert for 40 years; roaming the wilderness; living in tents; with no stable place to call home.  Yet God had sworn an oath, to eventually provide them with a permanent dwelling place; a promise that kept them alive as they embraced a life of hardship.  After many long years of sacrifice, God fulfilled His pledge; safely guiding them in to the land of Israel.

                Similarly, Jesus Christ leads many out of bondage to sin; in turn, they become travelers; reliant upon God’s provision.  Each one, clinging to the promise that they will one day enter His permanent dwelling place.  As we journey toward the Kingdom of God, we must embrace a life of sacrifice, humility, and service.  By denying our love of this world, we can lay hold of the world to come.  The road to heaven is long and the way is hard; but the destination is more wonderful than anything we could ever imagine.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we cling Your promises.  May we deny our own desires and embrace sacrifice.  Strengthen us as we continue journeying toward Your kingdom; make us ever mindful that we are but travelers heading home.  May we always reach out to the lost; persuading them to join on us on our journey.  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.

A Servant’s Heart

JESUS SPEAKING

            But Jesus called them to himself and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  However, it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 42 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            As children we are often taught that dominance is better than submission, and that a higher social status means a better life.  Many therefore seek to acquire positions of great power and authority.  Yet Christ’s teachings are in direct opposition to such worldly principles.  Those who follow Jesus must deny what they’ve been taught, in order to embrace the doctrines of genuine faith and divine humility.  Only by abandoning the desire for greatness, can we completely and lovingly serve others.

            For years, young men from across the country have flocked to my home church; seeking to practice pastoral ministry.  Many hopefuls were initially referred to a pastor named Romain; who employed a special technique designed to separate the qualified from the unqualified.  As the prospects approached, he would hand them a broom and instruct them to sweep a portion of the church. Although many were obedient, some, feeling insulted, became upset. One common response sounded something like this; “I came here to be a pastor, and to teach the bible; not to sweep floors.” Pastor Romain knew then that they lacked a servant’s heart; they had not come to serve in humility, but rather, to acquire power and authority.

            Those who follow the Son of God must abandon the desire for worldly greatness in order to pursue lowliness and humility.  By seeking to serve others rather than to be served, we become the men and women God has called us to be.  We can serve in our church, at home, in the community, and at work.  We can serve our families, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers.  Only through sacrifice and selflessness can we truly be molded in to the image of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, inspire us to pursue and embrace humility.  May we strive to serve others in sincerity and singleness of heart.  Provide us with opportunities to place the needs of others ahead of our own; that in so doing, we might be living examples of Your great mercy and everlasting affection. 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.

The real Jesus

JESUS SPEAKING

            And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to him, “Are you the coming one, or do we look for another?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:  The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of me” (Mathew 11: 2-6.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            John, believing Jesus to be the long awaited messiah, erred in assuming he would immediately usher in an earthly kingdom; there by, putting an end to Roman rule. In captivity, the prophet grew impatient with Jesus; sending messengers to him from his prison cell. ‘Was he truly the long awaited savior; or should they look for another?’ Jesus responded by quoting an ancient prophecy describing the Messiah’s good works. He would heal the blind, raise the dead, and preach to the poor; the very acts he was accomplishing. Like John, many today have an inaccurate perception of who the messiah is. Knowing the real Jesus is an absolute necessity if we are to properly follow him.

            Shortly after my conversion, I decided I could no longer call myself a Christian unless I actually knew who Jesus Christ was. I had to read the bible for myself; knowing full well, that in so doing, many of my previously held beliefs would be challenged and transformed. In order to grab hold of the truth, I had to abandon my fuzzy perceptions of God. As I read the scriptures, I came to accurately know my creator. Instead of being disappointed, I was filled with awe and wonder. The real Jesus is far more spectacular than any messiah I could have ever imagined.

              Do you know the real Jesus; or are you clinging to uncertain perceptions?  Have you invented a messiah, or have you discovered him? Read his words; uncover his works; his message; and his truth; and you too will find something more amazing than you’ve ever known; and your life will never be the same.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we seek to know the real Jesus.  Place his words in our hearts; that we might walk as disciples; exhibiting obedience in all that we do. Help us to not run from the truth, but to embrace it. 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.