Archive for October, 2015

Expecting His return

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Be dressed 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 very long engagements that often lasted for many days.  The guests would recline on pillows feasting both day and night; often falling asleep beside the table.  The duration of the celebration was uncertain; the guests could be dismissed at one in the morning, or three in the afternoon.  Therefore, when the master of a household attended a wedding, the servants were required to be prepared for his return at any moment.  They remained dressed at all hours with their lamps burning throughout the night.  Jesus used this parable as an illustration of his second coming.  Before ascending in to heaven he promised to eventually return; yet he gave no specific day or hour; he could return later today, in one month, or a hundred years from now.  Those who serve him must faithfully await his arrival every minute of every day.  Being prepared means maintaining good works, serving others, and obeying the Lord’s teachings and commandments.

                Many years ago, prior to my conversion, I practiced a life of sinful disobedience.  Incapable of supporting myself, I lived alone in an apartment paid for by my Dad.  He would occasionally stop by to make sure the apartment was clean and in proper condition.  One evening, I hosted a drunken party and things got out of hand.  We smashed beer bottles in my living room with a golf club.  I shattered one of my apartment windows; someone even broke my car window with an empty beer bottle.  The toilet clogged and overflowed, and a friend used shaving cream to scribble an obscenity across my wall. Thinking I could clean up in the morning before anyone came over, I eventually passed out.  However, early the next day I was awakened by the screams of an angry man.  “Get up,” my dad shouted in my ear!  In a state of shock I sprang up from the mattress.  I was embarrassed, ashamed, and filled with fear.  I didn’t expect him to make an unscheduled visit. I never once thought that he would witness the carnage of my drunken debauchery.  He stood beside me watching as I cleaned the entire apartment; picking up every single shard of broken glass.

                Like my dad, the Lord is coming at an hour when we least expect him.  We must therefore eagerly await his return and always be ready.  Those who obey the teachings of Jesus Christ are prepared to meet him.  We must love both God and our neighbors; and faithfully serve our fellows every moment of every day.  May we always be prepared and never waver in our commitment to our creator. In so doing, when our savior returns he will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant […] enter in to the joy of the Lord.”

                “Heavenly Father, may our eyes be wide and may we never stop expecting your return.  Reveal to us any area of our lives where we are serving ourselves rather than others; may we be convicted and may we repent; may we always be selfless, kind, and obedient.  May we also receive more of Your Holy Spirit; that we may better serve 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.

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Faithful Prayers

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Have faith in God.  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11: 22 – 24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Faith is defined as a strong belief or trust in God’s abilities.  He alone is able to move mountains, heal the sick, and raise the dead.  Jesus therefore urges every follower to pray with a measure of expectancy.  We must truly believe that God is capable of providing for each and every one of needs.  When we ask in faith, and do not doubt, we can fully expect to receive the desires of our heart.

            Hudson Taylor was a prominent missionary who lived in the 1800’s.  He established the China Inland Mission, an organization that still exists to this day (also known as the OMF.)  During his first journey to China, his ship hit a patch of windless ocean and began drifting uncontrollably toward an island known to be inhabited by vicious cannibals.  The frantic captain approached Mr. Taylor and asked him to pray for God’s help.  “I will” said Taylor, “Provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.”  The captain refused; not wanting to appear silly for unfurling in a dead calm.  Taylor responded by saying, “I will not undertake to pray for this vessel unless you will prepare the sails.”  The captain reluctantly obliged.  Soon there was a knock at Hudson’s door; “Who’s there?”  “Are you still praying for wind,” inquired the captain?  “Yes” responded Taylor.  “Well” added the skipper, “you’d better stop praying, we have more wind than we can manage.”

            As a genuine believer, Hudson Taylor understood the principle of praying with expectancy.  He prayed knowing full well that God would answer his prayers.  If we pray with that same measure of confidence and faith, we too will receive the blessings of the Lord.  May our hearts be free from doubt; may our requests be brave and bold; and may we fully expect our prayers to be answered according to the measure of our faith.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, You are an amazing and mighty God.  Create in us faithful hearts; hearts that are devoid of doubt; hearts that completely trust in Your abilities to provide for our needs.  May we always pray with confidence, unwavering faith, and genuine expectancy.  We love You Father, we praise You, and 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. 

Embracing Change

JESUS SPEAKING

                “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put in to new wineskins and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5: 37-39.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In the ancient world, when an animal was slaughtered the stomach and the bladder were extracted and utilized to store and transport valuable liquids.  Wine was a very common first century beverage.  Unlike water, wine undergoes a process known as fermentation; during which gases are produced; these gases would therefore cause the wineskins to swell and expand.  The older wineskins were hard and inflexible (like leather.)  As the new wine expanded, it would cause them to tear open.  In turn, unfermented wine was always placed in to new wineskins.  In this illustration, the old wineskins represent old ideas, habits, and beliefs that are incompatible with the new life God has offered to us through His Son Jesus Christ.  Although most people will inevitably seek to cling to their previous lives, those who follow the Lord must let go of the old and grab hold of the new; they must no longer fear change, but rather, they must fully embrace it.

                Shortly after becoming a Christian, God began to make some very serious changes in my life.  For many years I enjoyed listening to secular rap music and heavy metal.  However, one day God showed me how it was negatively affecting my spirit.  So, I made a steadfast commitment to listen only to worship music; which was constructive, pure, and uplifting.  Because my appetite for the old music was strong, at first the new music wasn’t appealing to me; but slowly I began to enjoy it.  Soon I was joyfully singing along with the lyrics. I started noticing that my attitude was more positive and my thoughts were more peaceful; I even began smiling with increased frequency. Today, the old songs are no longer appealing to me; I even find them repulsive.  God has made similar changes in every area of my life.  He has healed me; the old things have passed away; behold, He “has made all things new.”

                God desires to pour out His Spirit in to the hearts and minds of all those who are willing to receive it; thus producing great transformation.  We must let go of our fears and become willing to change; we must not be rigid and inflexible. Only by embracing and allowing God to transform us, will we truly experience newness of life.  Let go of your old ideas, habits, and beliefs, and receive the fullness of God’s Spirit.  Allow Him to guide and direct you and He will give you everlasting peace.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You would transform our hearts and minds. May we become more flexible and learn to embrace change.  Jesus, we desire to be more like You; therefore remove any bad habits, detrimental ideas, or unproductive beliefs that stand in the way of our growth; destroy the old things and bring forth the new things.  May we experience the fullness of Your Holy Spirit.  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.

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

                Very few evil offenses can rival the act of murder. And yet murder, like so many sins, is merely the outward manifestation of an inward disposition.  All of our actions originate from the depths of our souls. First century Judaism strongly stressed external adherence to the laws of God. Jesus however chose to focus more on the heart; thus placing greater emphasis on internal obedience. And why not? After all, murder is nothing more than hatred which has grown to full maturity; similarly 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 the believer must be diligent to maintain an unsaturated spirit. In so doing, they will simultaneously adhere to God’s commandments. (In regard to inward purity, Jesus once said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”)

                John Wilkes booth is one of the most famous assassins in U.S. history.  On the evening of April 14th 1865, as the U.S. civil war drew to a close, President Abraham Lincoln was watching a play at Ford’s theatre in Washington D.C.  Suddenly Mr. Booth crept up behind the president and shot him in the back of the head with his pistol (a wound that proved fatal.)  Although Booth escaped, he was later caught and killed. The enraged murderer had been a loyal southerner; disillusioned by what he perceived to be Northern aggression.  Abraham Lincoln’s death, although tragic, wasn’t the result of an assassin’s bullet; instead it was the offspring of fully matured anger. Inward hatred had led to the deaths of both John Wilkes Booth and the 16th president of the United States of America.

                Anger can never be contained; it is a seed that grows in to hatred; and hatred eventually produces sinful actions. The Lord has therefore taught us that anger and murder are synonymous.  God makes no distinction between the seed that enters the ground and the fruit that it ultimately produces.  Search your heart; if you discover anger and resentment then discard it; it can only serve to separate you from your creator.  Receive His Holy Spirit and God will cleanse you all unrighteousness.  Let go of your hostility, and you too will experience the freedom of absolute forgiveness.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You would let the truth of this scripture sink deep down into our hearts.  Please cleanse our souls of every evil thought and unholy desire.  Take away our anger and resentment. May we refrain from incorrectly judging others; knowing that you are the only righteous judge.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and transform us from the inside out.  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!