Archive for April, 2015

Pray with Persistence

JESUS SPEAKING

            And he said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Please, lend me three loaves; ‘for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, but because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.  So I say to you ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11: 5-10.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            In first century Middle Eastern culture, hospitality was paramount.  Welcoming visitors in to your home meant providing for all of their needs.  Guests were given food, shelter, and protection; failure to meet these requirements was considered a great disgrace.  In this parable, a tired and weary traveler arrives at his friend’s home late in the evening; but he lacks sustenance.  The responsible friend therefore approaches his neighbor; hoping to borrow some food.  The late request rouses the man from his sleep. In a state of irritation, he denies the initial appeal. And yet the desperate soul keeps knocking. By refusing to ‘take no for an answer,’ he eventually receives the food. In this parable, the request for food is symbolic of prayer.  The unrelenting neighbor represents anyone who desires God’s blessings.  The man who supplies the food signifies God Himself; who enjoys rewarding our persistent petitions.

            At the age of 23 an inquisitive youth from Gloucester, spied an advertisement in a Boston newspaper that read, “Wanted; young man as an understudy to a financial statistician.  P.O. Box 1720.”  He responded to the ad by way of letter; but received no reply.  He promptly wrote a second letter; and then a third; still no reply.  So he made his way down to the post office and requested the name of the owner of Box 1720; but the clerk refused.  He then met with the Postmaster, but he too refused (claiming it was illegal to provide him with that information.)  The young man remained determined; he arose early in the morning, hopped the first train to Boston, and entered the post office.  He stood patiently with his eyes fixed on box 1720.  After quite some time, a man appeared; he opened the box, grabbed the mail and left.  The young man followed him to his brokerage firm; he entered and asked to speak to the manager.  He told the manager that he had written three letters, before going to the post office (where they refused to provide him with the proper information.)  The manager asked, “But how did you find out that I was the advertiser?”  The youth replied, “I stood in the lobby of the post office for several hours, watching Box 1720.  When the man came in and took the mail from the box, I followed him here.”  The manager said, “Young man, you are just the kind of persistent fellow I want.  You’re hired” (Sunshine Magazine; paraphrased.)

            Similarly, God rewards those who are persistent in prayer.  All too often, our prayers are erratic and inconsistent.  Although we make our requests known to God, we frequently get discouraged when they aren’t answered immediately (in turn, many simply stop asking.)  If you have need of something, continue in prayer daily and don’t relent.  Your blessing may not come on the 1st day, the 10th day, or even the 100th day; but if you’re persistent, it will come.  Never give up; never stop asking; never stop seeking; and never stop knocking; for God is listening, and He is willing and able to give you the desires of your heart.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, hear our prayers.  Provide us with more of Your Holy Spirit.  Behold, we stand at Your door and knock; and we won’t leave until You bless us.  May we be persistent in our prayers; may we be patient; and may we endure.  Transform us; provide for our needs; and give us Your mercy and grace.  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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Who can you trust?

JESUS SPEAKING

                “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  Which of you convicts me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8: 46-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                No human being can live a completely sinless life.  Jesus however, being the Son of God, never once indulged in iniquity.  He was so confident of his own moral perfection, that he publicly challenged any willing soul to accuse him of sin.  In turn, his numerous enemies watched and waited; hoping he would make some grave error.  Despite their continuous inspections and endless observations, he spoke plainly, and publicly.  And yet no one could find him guilty of sin.  In fact, at his trial, Pontius Pilate actually said of Jesus, “I find no fault in this man.”  Still he was crucified. Those who are wise, understand that trusting a man who is sinless, is far better than trusting one who is not.

                Throughout history there have been many self-proclaimed prophets; men seeking the trust of others, who were themselves, untrustworthy. None of these liars ever dared place their own personal lives under examination.  Joseph Smith for example (false prophet and founder of the Mormon faith) claimed to be God’s chosen messenger.  However, he lived a life of sexual debauchery; marrying other women without telling his first wife Emma.  He also married other men’s wives in secret; and engaged in wife-swapping. He even went so far as to marry both a mother and her daughter (an offense punishable by death, according to God’s law.)  Unlike Jesus who invited others to scrutinize his life, Joseph Smith viciously sought to keep his sins a secret.  After being kicked out Missouri, Joseph and his followers went to the town of Nauvoo Illinois; where the local newspaper began printing articles about his many wives and sexual indiscretions. In June of 1844, fearing he might be exposed, Joseph ordered his followers to destroy the printing press; they broke in to the newspaper office and dragged the machine in to the street; smashing it with sludge hammers.  Smith was arrested for this crime and later killed in jail.  

                Unlike Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ had nothing to hide; his life was without sin. He never lied, never exploited anyone, and never abused his position of authority to indulge in selfish pleasures.  Instead he served others, loved others, and delivered the word of God to all those who were willing to listen.  Only Jesus Christ can be trusted; only our messiah is worthy of praise and honor.  Won’t you put your faith and trust in him today?  Obey him and follow him, and he will lead you in to eternal life. In turn, you will know true freedom, and you will take hold of the ‘peace that surpasses all understanding.’

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You and we thank You for Your Son; recognizing that he is sinless and completely trustworthy.  Help us to submit to his leadership; may he be at the center of our lives.  May we be more like him, and may we fully trust in him.  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.

Being Prepared

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes […] But understand this:  If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12: 35-37, 39-40.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jewish weddings were long engagements; often lasting many days.  The guests reclined on pillows, feasting day and night; often falling asleep beside the table.  The length of the celebration was uncertain; it could end at one in the morning, or three in the afternoon. When the master of a household attended a wedding, his servants had to be prepared for his return at any moment. Therefore, Jesus used this parable as an illustration of his second coming. After ascending in to heaven he promised to return; yet gave no specific day or hour. He could return today; in one month; or a hundred years from now. Consequently, his servants must eagerly await his arrival every second of every day.

               Many years ago, prior to my conversion, I practiced a life of sinful disobedience.  I lived alone, in an apartment paid for by my Dad.  He would occasionally pop in to make sure the apartment was clean and in proper condition.  One evening, while hosting a drunken bash, things got out of hand.  We smashed beer bottles in my living room with a golf club.  I shattered an exterior window, and another partygoer broke my car window with an empty beer bottle.  The toilet clogged and overflowed; and someone used shaving cream to scribble an obscenity across my bathroom wall. Eventually, I passed out; thinking I could clean up in the morning before anyone noticed.  However, early the following day, I was rousted from sleep by the shouts of an angry man. “Get up,” my dad yelled in my ear!  I sprang from the mattress, in shock.  I was embarrassed, ashamed, and filled with fear.  I hadn’t expected him; never contemplating that he might witness the carnage of my drunken debauchery. He stood by, patiently watching as I picked up every shard of broken glass.

                Much like my Dad, the Lord is coming at an hour when we least expect Him.  We must always be ready for his return at any moment.  Those who obey the teachings of Jesus Christ are prepared to meet him. If we continually love and serve others, then when our savior arrives, he will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant […] enter in to the joy of the Lord.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may our hearts be filled with the expectation of Your return.  Reveal to us any areas where we are being selfish, rather than selfless. Convict our hearts and give us the strength to repent. May we always be giving, kind, and obedient; that we might better serve You and our fellows.  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.

Division and Unity

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (Mathew 12: 25.)

INSIPRED THOUGHTS

                Division produces strife; which in turn, creates weakness.  Although there are many forms of discord, by far the most damaging is ‘internal conflict.’   Hatred between friends is often more devastating than hatred amongst enemies.  Divisiveness breaks the bonds of marriage; it sets parents against their children; it tears families apart; it defeats armies and conquers entire nations.  The body of Christ is a divine family; made perfect in unity and peace.  Hatred and resentment have no place amongst God’s children; for hostility creates division; and division leads to destruction.

                Since its inception, the United States has been involved in many military confrontations.  Despite the numerous wars waged in foreign lands, the bloodiest conflict was actually fought on American soil.  The Civil War erupted in the 1860’s; ending nearly 620,000 lives and producing millions of crippled war veterans. The property damage was astronomical; the cost exceeding 6 billion dollars. In fact, the entire city of Atlanta was burned to the ground.  Railroads were destroyed; homes and businesses were looted and vandalized; entire crops were set ablaze. Many families were also torn in two. There are several historical accounts of siblings fighting against one another in battle.

                Much like 1860’s America, the church has historically experienced great disunity.  The number of issues that have fostered division include: differing methods of baptism; observance of certain holidays; adherence to dietary restrictions; the structure of church authority; the recognition of a pope; priestly marriage; confessional; child baptism, etc. Avoiding such tedious divisions means placing our emphasis upon a common faith in Jesus Christ; choosing instead, to refrain from arguing over ‘uncertain things.’ We, as believers, are faithfully united in our acceptance of his sacrifice, the desire for obedience, and our hope in his future return. As eternal brothers and sisters, we are “all one in Christ Jesus.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desperately desire spiritual unity.  Destroy the things that divide us; that we might love each other. Forgive our transgressions and cleanse our hearts of hatred and resentment. Strengthen Your body; that we may endure the hardships of this life as a family. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and we pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.


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