Archive for March, 2016

Changing Fathers

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You do the deeds of your father.”  Then they said to him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of myself, but He sent me.  Why do you not understand my speech?  Because you are unable to listen to my word.  You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it […] he who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God” (John 8: 41 – 47.)


INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Many of the religious leaders were claiming to be children of God, yet they in no way resembled Him.  Instead they were lovers of money, who selfishly desired the praises of men.  They also sought to kill Jesus because he truly was the Son of God.  Without exception, every human being has one of two spiritual Fathers.  Either they love and serve God in purity and truth, or they follow Satan and serve their own fleshly desires.  Those seeking to become children of God must be reborn.  Jesus said, “unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

                The process of being reborn is comprised of two very unique and distinct steps.  First, the individual must forget everything they have learned that is not congruent with the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Secondly they must embrace and live according to the commandments of God.  Before I was reborn I willingly served Satan.  My life was full of selfishness and promiscuity.  I had learned from movies and popular culture that fornication (sexual activity prior to marriage) was permissible and profitable.  After my rebirth I abandoned my worldly education and embraced the biblical commands to avoid fornication.  After many years of sexual purity, I met my wife.  We courted for nearly a year; during this time we did not cohabitate (live together); we also refrained from sexual contact of any kind.  In accordance with God’s desires, our first intimate moments were shared on the night of our wedding.

                Those who yearn to call God Father, must also be reborn; they must abandon what they have learned from popular culture and embrace the commandments of the Lord.  Every obedient soul will come to resemble Jesus Christ.  Their hearts will be filled with compassion, truth, mercy, and love.  In turn, many will see God and be drawn toward Him.

                “Lord God, may we call You our Father today.  May we be reborn and know that the old things have passed away and You have made all things new.  Guide us, teach us, and transform our hearts that we might continue to grow in Your likeness and Your image.  When others see us may they see You.  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.

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Idolatry leads to destruction

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.  And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothing.  But woe to those who are pregnant and nursing babies in those days.  And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.  For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been seen since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be” (Mathew 24: 15 – 21.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Throughout Christ’s ministry he spoke of a day when great destruction and tribulation would befall the nation of Israel, and the world; (the prophet Daniel also spoke of such a day.)  In the future there will be an unmistakable sign preceding the tribulation of all nations.  This sign will appear within the reconstructed temple itself.  An evil man will erect an object, image, or shrine in the ‘Holy of Holy’s;’ an abomination that many will come to worship in the place of God.  Deep within the heart of every human being, there is a pedestal; a peak; a position of absolute supremacy; a space reserved for what every person loves the most.  When the Lord occupies this position He is in His rightful place.  Those who idolize their creator also walk in genuine fellowship with Him.  Many however, replace God with other things; and in so doing, they commit the sin of idolatry; a sin that always precedes some form of imminent destruction.

                In the Old Testament there lived a rich and powerful ruler named Belshazzar who dwelled within the seemingly impenetrable city of Babylon (the walls of this city were rumored to be 300 feet high and 80 feet thick.)  His Father Nebuchadnezzar had sacked Jerusalem decades earlier, stealing the gold and silver artifacts from within the Jewish temple.  These relics sat inside of the Babylonian treasury for years, until one evening, Belshazzar held a great feast.  We read, “Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple […] and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them; they drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone” (Daniel 5: 3 – 4).  Belshazzar did not worship the living God; rather he preferred precious metals.  That night a haunting vision appeared before him.  The king asked Daniel the prophet to interpret its meaning.  Daniel prophesied saying “And you have praised the gods of silver and gold […] and the God who holds your breath in his hand and owns all of your ways you have not glorified […] Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”  The sentence for his idolatry was carried out that very night; an invading army conquered the city and killed King Belshazzar.  [Note:  From the historical accounts it is believed that a giant river flowed through the city of Babylon.  While Belshazzar was feasting, the Persian King Darius used a dam to divert the flow of the mighty river; his army then cleverly followed the dry riverbed under the giant walls, and conquered the vibrant metropolis in a single night.]

                Idolatry is dangerous and inevitably leads to destruction.  Those who desire preservation must avoid putting anything in the place of God.  The Lord must come first; before money, a career, a relationship, a business, or a hobby, etc.  When we elevate God into His rightful position in our hearts, then we are truly free; when He is the most important person in our lives, then everything falls in to place.  Love God and you will find peace; put Him first and you will experience everlasting life; for “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we love You with our whole hearts.  May we always worship You in Spirit and in truth, and may we never forsake Your ways.  If any form of idolatry has entered our lives, may you uproot it and cast it in to the sea.  May we be purified, and once again comprehend the goodness of humility and faith.  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.

Persecution

JESUS SPEAKING

                “If the world hates you, you will know that it hated me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I have spoken to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15: 18 – 20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus was persecuted relentlessly during his earthly ministry.  He was slandered publicly and privately.  He was shunned by many, and ridiculed, even by members of his own family.  His message was so offensive that he was nearly stoned to death on a number of occasions.  Eventually, despite his miraculous feats, and his immeasurable love, Jesus Christ was abandoned by his closest friends; he was bound and beaten; spit upon and crucified.  Those who choose to follow him can expect to experience similar forms of persecution.

                Eleven of the twelve disciples were brutally martyred for their unwavering faith (the twelfth was imprisoned until his eventual death.)  Each disciple paid the ultimate price for fearlessly spreading the gospel throughout the known world.  Although physical peril is a common type of persecution, it comes in many other forms.  One day as I sat studying in the local coffee shop, I began talking with a Muslim friend concerning the tenants of the Christian faith.  As I presented her with the gospel, a women sitting next to us became visibly upset.  Not knowing that we were already friends, she yelled “Can’t you see she doesn’t want to talk to you about that?”  The woman continued to verbally harass me, making every effort to subvert the conversation.  In the midst of the pestering, I looked at my friend and said, “This is the type of persecution that occurs when you become a believer.”  Eventually the woman became so disruptive that we had to end our discussion.

                Persecution is an inevitable consequence of genuine faith.  If we are not experiencing some kind of persecution, then perhaps we are keeping our beliefs hidden away; choosing safety and security above obedience to the Lord.  Still there are those who boldly spread the gospel message; making every effort to lead others to God.  These individuals can expect to be persecuted.  Persecution in any form isn’t very pleasant; yet it is a reminder that we are earnestly following in the footsteps of our teacher, our master, and our friend.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, provide us with opportunities to preach the gospel to others.  May we reach out to those who might become our brothers and sisters.  Strengthen us when we encounter persecution; that we might stand firm in the faith.  Give us courage to boldly speak the truth; that we would continue to emulate our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  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.

Divine Authority

JESUS SPEAKING

                Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and elders of the people approached him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” “They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we proclaim, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (Mathew 21: 23-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The religious leaders had been profiting from the sale of merchandise within the temple. They were also manipulating exchange rates in order to defraud unsuspecting pilgrims. Jesus entered the temple, and overturned the money tables, and chased out those who were selling merchandise. He then sat down and began to teach. As he taught, some of the religious leaders approached him, and asked him by what authority he had done these things. The Lord in turn asked them where John the Baptist had received his authority. John had been given God’s authority outside the bounds of the corrupt priestly hierarchy; he wore no expensive robes; he had no formal temple training; he didn’t spend years in a classroom studying theology; yet God used him to call tens of thousands of Israelites to repentance. There is an authority that comes from men; an authority that can be abused, and used for selfish gain. In the midst of man’s attempts to exploit God’s people, the Lord often raises up leaders to oppose those in power; leaders who are given divine authority; leaders who are willing to disobey their superiors in order to accomplish the will of God.

                On September 9th of 2009, a military patrol made up of 36 American/Afghan troops was ambushed in the eastern province of Kunar (Afghanistan.) The men were pinned down and suffering casualties. In the midst of the firefight, these brave soldiers repeatedly requested air support; yet the off-site commanding officer’s denied every request. The men eventually radioed the base saying, “We’re going to die out here.” Dakota Meyer, a marine posted behind the main patrol, requested permission to drive in to the ambush to haul out his distressed comrades; his fervent requests were denied four times. Knowing that his superior officers were wrong, Dakota disobeyed their direct orders. He and another marine selflessly jumped in to a Humvee and headed in to the “kill zone.” They made five trips back and forth. Each time, Meyer (who was manning the gun) exposed himself to a hail of enemy fire. The two marines were able to save 13 servicemen and 23 Afghans; they also collected the bodies of four dead American soldiers. Sergeant Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. However, three of the military officers who denied the requests for assistance, were issued letters of reprimand (‘likely leading to the end of their careers.’)

                Obeying authority is good; but sometimes those in leadership can error; some may even be completely corrupt, immoral, and unrighteous. On occasion, in order to accomplish God’s will, it becomes necessary to question and oppose those who are in positions of influence. As Christians we are given great authority; God Himself speaks through us; He uses us to accomplish His works; we are vessels of His love, His mercy, and His peace. May we continue to serve Him in love; may we preach the message without shame or remorse; may we continue to oppose those who pervert the gospel for their own personal gain; and may lovingly and persistently submit to the authority of those whom God has undoubtedly anointed.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we recognize Your authority. We understand that you have called us to accomplish Your will. Please continue to use and guide us in the ways of righteousness. When we encounter leaders who are evil and unjust, give us the strength to oppose them. Concerning spiritual matters, may we never submit to the unrighteous; instead, may we continually be willing to serve under and obey those whom you have truly anointed. 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.