Archive for June, 2016

Divine Wisdom

JESUS SPEAKING

                “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons.  You will be brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.  But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.  Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer.  For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist (Luke 21: 12-15.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus prophesied that his disciples would suffer persecution; they were all eventually arrested and 10 of the 12 disciples were put to death.  Although they had committed no crimes, they were brought before kings and rulers, and compelled to testify concerning their faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus commanded them to refrain from rehearsing their testimonies prior to being questioned.  Preparation had the potential to hinder the proclamation of God’s wisdom.  Human effort needed to be abandoned, and God’s power had to be embraced.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, God spoke through the disciples, and He continues to speak through His people today.  Questions are still being asked and God is still answering them clearly and without error.                           

                A woman who had recently gone through brain surgery reached out to me to discuss matters of faith.   Seeking answers she wrote, “I don’t understand why some suffer such heartache and trials beyond our choosing, and others, often those who are seemingly evil, are blessed beyond belief.”  The Holy Spirit immediately gave me the answer to her question.  The answer did not come from me, but from God.  I simply quoted one of Christ’s parables: “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate; desiring to be fed by the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.  Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.  The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torment in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.”

                The correct answers are not ours to give.  All true wisdom and understanding comes from God, and the Holy Spirit directs and guides those who will let Him speak.  Only God has the right answers.  Only God speaks without error.  In this world, human wisdom battles against human wisdom.  True victory occurs when God’s wisdom is proclaimed.  Let God’s words flow from your mouth; give Him the opportunity to speak to those who have questions; let them find real meaning; let them be satisfied with the correct answers; and may the one true God, make Himself known to all those you meet.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask that You fill our mouths with Your words.  Speak through us to those who will question and examine our faith.  May You reveal true wisdom to those who lack understanding.  May we be Your messengers to a world that does not know You, and may all those who oppose You be put to shame.  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.

God honors those who honor Him

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now as Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed and is dreadfully tormented.”  And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”  The centurion answered saying, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.  But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me.  And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!  And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”  And his servant was healed that same hour. (Mathew 8: 5-13.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The Roman Empire conquered the Holy Land in 63 B.C.; and due to the continued threat of rebellion, there were soldiers permanently stationed there in the first century.  A ‘centurion’ was an officer in charge of 100 soldiers; they were usually men of impeccable character.  This centurion came to Jesus and humbled himself; he publicly confessed his own unworthiness and praised him; in so doing he honored God’s Son.  Jesus then honored the centurion by publicly lifting up his faith above every Jew in Israel.  God continues to honor those who lower themselves and exalt Him.  Our savior has said that “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

                In 1924 a Scotsman named Eric Liddell was expected to win Olympic gold in the 100 meter dash.  Eric had grown up in a missionary family and was a committed Christian.  He had been raised to faithfully observe the Sunday Sabbath (a weekly day of rest commanded by the Lord in the Old Testament.)  When Eric found out that the 100 meter dash was scheduled for a Sunday, he made the decision to ‘sit it out.’  He was pressured to run by his countrymen and by many powerful people, but remained convinced that honoring God on His day was more important than winning a medal.  A few months before the Olympics, he decided to begin training for the 400 meter dash (an event that wasn’t on Sunday.)  No one expected him to do well.  On the day of the race, while approaching the starting blocks, an American trainer placed a piece of paper in Eric’s hand.  There was a bible verse written on it.  1 Samuel verse 2:30 read, “Those who honor me I will honor.”  Eric ran that race for God; not only did he win the gold medal, he also broke the world record.  He had pushed his own desire for glory aside; because he honored God, the Lord exalted Eric above his fellows.   

                Placing God in His proper position necessitates humility.  Honoring Him requires selflessness.  We become less important and He becomes more important.  He is righteous and we are unrighteous; He is worthy and we are unworthy.  We forgo glory so that God may have it.  Only those who raise Him up in this life will be raised up into everlasting life.  Here we die, so in the future we may live.  There are so many ways to glorify God.  We can make Him a continued topic of discussion in our personal relationships.  We can pray to Him, and seek His counsel daily. We can give credit to the Lord for the good works that we do.  When we do something for another person, we can say, “This is from the Lord.” When a person attempts to thank us, we can politely remind them that Jesus Christ is the one they should thank.  When other people call us good, we can inform them that our goodness comes from God.  May we continually place the focus on Him; may we give Him the glory; may we honor Him with our lives; so that one day we might receive the honor he has promised to all those who believe.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, give us opportunities to honor and glorify You.  May our hearts be humble, and our minds pure.  Give us the strength to lay down our lives in this place, so that we might better serve you.  May we, through humility receive the gift of eternal life.  We love You Lord, we thank You, and we praise 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.

Abandoning Sin

JESUS SPEAKING

                “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Mathew 5: 30) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Sin is defined as any act of willful disobedience toward God.  Sin is very serious because it separates us from our Heavenly Father.  Because God loves his children, He desires for us to let go of our sinful practices, that we may be reunited with Him.  Any grievous sins, such as fornication, adultery, lying, stealing, lewdness, etc, must be abandoned.  In order that we may live, we must cut away these portions of our dead flesh.

                In April of 2003, an experienced mountain climber named Aaron Ralston was hiking alone in a remote mountain pass in Utah.  While maneuvering through one of the crevices, a giant boulder dislodged and pinned his arm against the canyon wall; for days he attempted to free himself.  He had not told anyone where he was going, so he knew that no one would be looking for him.  When he had finally run out of water, Aaron was faced with a terrible choice […] He could severe his arm with an ill-equipped pocket knife; or he could keep his arm and simply lay down and die.  The only thing standing between Aaron and the rest of his life were two bones, several muscles, and some tendons in his forearm.  Aaron chose to break both bones in his arm; he then proceeded to saw through his own flesh with his dull knife.  After nearly 127 hours of confinement, he left his severed arm behind and climbed out of the canyon.  Until that day, Aaron had lived selfishly.  He had been a ‘loner’ who continually pushed others away.  Shortly after his experience he came to believe that the boulder had been waiting for him his entire life (that it was destined to transform him.)  He said, “I left my hand behind in that canyon, but I gained my life back.”  His experience allowed him to see what was truly important.  He began to put the emphasis on personal relationships; he eventually married and started a family.  He now travels the world telling other people about his inspiring story.

                Like Aaron, there are boulders in our lives; giant rocks that pin us down and keep us from knowing complete freedom.  If we have entered again in to serious sin, and we have been separated from God then we have some cutting to do.  Cut away the dead flesh, so that you may live.  Ask God to reveal to you any sinful practices that have crept back in to your life and He will.  How you respond to what you find, will determine your eternal destiny.  May God help us all to make the right choice.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we recognize that sin can cause us to become separated from You.  We know that we have received forgiveness through Your Son, but we recognize our responsibility to refrain from willful acts of disobedience.  If we have become defiant, then please give us the strength to put these sins to death, that we may eternally continue to live for 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.

The Sin of Pride

JESUS SPEAKING

                Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men —extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”(Luke 18: 9 – 14.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In this parable, two men approached God to pray.  The religious man, believing he was righteous, lacked a fear of God.  In his self-centered address, he used the word “I” no less than five times.  He was proud of his own good works.  To maintain his inflated ego, he elevated himself above others; comparing himself to outright sinners ensured the preservation of his self-righteous status.  The tax-collector was a social outcast; yet he so greatly feared God that he couldn’t even look up toward heaven (in the ancient world, tax-collectors were hated and loathsome; they amassed wealth through extortion and dishonesty.)  This tax-collector despised himself for his many sins (beating his chest.)  In humility, God remained the focus of his prayer.  Recognizing his own filthiness he begged for God’s mercy.  He also refrained from comparing himself to others; instead, he compared himself to God; in so doing, he saw himself for who he really was; a sinner.  Most consider adultery, murder, rape, robbery, and torture to be the most serious sins.  Yet Pride can be more destructive than rape and more damaging than murder.  Pride immediately separates a person from God; pride must be disposed of before one can enter the Lord’s eternal Kingdom.  True believers should abandon prideful pursuits in favor of lowliness (Jesus said, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”)  Humility is the precious jewel of God’s treasure room; a treasure that the tax-collector possessed and Pharisee lacked.

                Satan was once an angel named Lucifer.  He occupied a very prominent role in heaven.  He was beautiful; one of the most eloquently decorated of all of God’s creations.  He was also infused with an abundance of divine knowledge and wisdom.  At some point, Lucifer became prideful.  Instead of worshiping God, he desired to be worshiped.  In his attempt to ascend above God, he convinced 1/3 of the angels to rebel.  Lucifer was cast out of heaven along with the rebellious angels (presently, these fallen angels are the demons who roam the earth seeking to corrupt the works of God.)  The first sin ever committed wasn’t murder, or adultery; it wasn’t rape or incest; instead, it was pride.  Even today, pride plays a role in nearly every act of spiritual disobedience.  Pride immediately separates the Father from his children; it prohibits entry into God’s kingdom.  Not surprisingly then, the Lord has revealed that extreme humility is the pathway to perfection; no one will enter the heavenly realm unless they lay down their pride and pick up their cross [In the Old Testament, Absalom (David’s son) was one of the most handsome men in antiquity; we read, “In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom.”  He was rather proud of his long, thick, beautiful hair.  At some point, Absalom rebelled against his Father David and the kingdom was plunged in to a short civil war.  During a decisive battle, Absalom was riding a mule through the forest, when his head snagged in a tree (likely his long thick hair was the culprit.)  The mule continued walking, leaving him suspended, dangling in the air.  Unable to free himself, he was eventually stabbed to death.  (We may likely assume that) The very thing he was most prideful of led to his demise.  To avoid being snagged by the things of this world, a disciple must dispose of conceited pursuits.

                Pride leads to death; humility leads to everlasting life.  Prideful endeavors must be abandoned if they cannot be endured with meekness.  Sit down and examine your life; is there vanity?  Are there portions of your heart that desire beauty, power, property or prestige?  If we discover pride and self-righteousness, then we have uncovered a horrible sin; a sin that needs to be dealt with swiftly and immediately.  Seek to be lowly and turn away from prideful pursuits; for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  May God remove pride from your heart.  May you give God the glory, and may God continually bless you, as you serve others with lowliness and humility.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire meekness.  Please cut the pride from our hearts and cleanse of all unrighteousness.  May we seek to serve rather than to be served.  May we desire lowliness, and may we embrace humility; may we never raise ourselves above others; rather, may we always see ourselves in the light of Your glory and grace.  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.