Archive for May, 2017

Unity or Division

JESUS SPEAKING

          “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or household divided against itself shall not stand” (Mathew 12: 25.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

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

          Throughout its brief history, the United States has been involved in many military confrontations.  Despite the numerous wars waged in foreign lands, the bloodiest of all conflicts was fought on American soil.  In the 1860’s the U.S. erupted into a Civil War, which claimed nearly 620,000 lives and produced millions of crippled war veterans.  The property damage was astronomical, and the cost of the war exceeded 6 billion dollars (the city of Atlanta was burned to the ground.)  Railroads were destroyed, homes (and businesses) were vandalized, and whole crops were set ablaze.  As a nation was torn in two, its families also felt the sting of division and opposition.  There are many historical accounts of siblings fighting against one another in battle.

          Much like 1860’s America, the church has historically experienced great disunity.  There have been divisions regarding: differing methods of baptism; the observance of certain holidays; adherence to dietary restrictions; the structure of authority within the church (the recognition of a Pope); priestly marriage; confessional; child baptism, etc.  These divisions have caused weakness to infect the body of Christ.  To avoid division, it is the duty of every believer to place the emphasis upon a common faith in Jesus Christ; and to avoid arguing over ‘uncertain things.’  We are united in our mutual faith, our acceptance of His sacrifice, our desire for obedience, and our hope in His future return.  Love those who love the Lord; fellowship with the body of Christ; draw near to your eternal brothers and sisters; and may nothing divide you or set you apart, for you “are all one in Christ Jesus.”

          “Lord Heavenly Father we desire to be one with our brothers and sisters.  May the things that divide us be removed; that we may love those whom you have made Holy.  Forgive our divisiveness and cleanse our hearts of hatred and resentment.  Strengthen and unite Your body; that we might stand firm in the midst of hardship, and overcome the trials and the tribulations of this life.  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.

God’s Emissary

JESUS SPEAKING

          “He who believes in me, believes not in me, but in Him who sent me.  And him who sees me sees Him who sent me […] He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.  For I have not spoken on my own authority; but the Father who sent me gave me a command, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12: 44-50, condensed.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          There were no telephones in the ancient world; no telegraphs, and certainly no computers either.  The only way to communicate across any great distance was by letter or emissary.  An emissary was a person responsible for delivering a message from one leader to another.  The messages they were given had to be repeated word for word; all of the words the messenger spoke were considered the words of the king who sent him.  The kings emissary was treated exactly as the king himself would have been treated if he had visited in person.  If the king’s emissary was treated poorly, it meant that they did not respect the king.  Jesus, although distinct in person from God, was God.  He was God’s one and only son and solitary messenger (emissary.)  He had all of God’s authority; all of God’s power, and all of God’s words.  Every word he spoke, God Himself spoke.  Every miracle he performed, God performed; every emotion he expressed, God expressed.

          When Jesus walked along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he was treated in one of two ways.  Some respected him, invited him into their homes, and honored him as God.  Others treated him as just another man and believed he was crazy and demon possessed.  Those who hated him didn’t realize that by persecuting him, despising him, and rejecting him, they were persecuting, despising and rejecting God Himself.  When they nailed Jesus to cross they crucified God.  Today Christ is still being accepted and rejected; some are crucifying him while others are calling him ‘King,’ ‘Lord,’ ‘Savior’ and ‘God.’

          How are you treating Jesus Christ today?  Have his words found a place in your heart.  Have you accepted his sacrifice, and his message; have you called him master, and Lord.  In so doing, you accept the one true and Living God.  But if you reject Jesus and deny him, you deny God Himself.  If you have never submitted your life to Jesus Christ, and you would like to make that choice today you can.  Accepting him is easy; go to a quiet place, and be still.  Pray that he would come into your life, and into your heart; confess your sins to God and ask him to forgive you in the name of His son; profess your acceptance of His sacrifice upon the cross, and turn to Jesus and make him your new teacher.  By accepting him, and following him, you are accepting and following the living God.  [If you have taken that step, then you need to follow up; you need to get a bible and begin reading it daily; you need to get plugged in at a bible believing church in your area; most importantly, you need to begin following the commands of your Lord and master; for you are now an emissary of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Living God.]

          “Lord Heavenly Father, we accept Your Son and his message.  We call him master and Lord.  Give us the strength to be his disciples, and to be Your messengers in this world.  Father, direct us and guide us, and give us a complete knowledge of Your will.  Also, Father, give us Your words to speak, that we may accurately transmit them to everyone You put in our path.  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 True Servant

JESUS SPEAKING

          But Jesus called them to himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the gentile’s exercise lordship over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; instead whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you wants to become 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

          Every society (from the fall of creation, until the present day) has been fueled by the pursuit of power and authority.  All social structures are shaped like a staircase that narrows near the top.  The climb begins in early childhood.  With age, those who secure positions of influence are treated with great respect.  Those who do not rise to the top, settle near the bottom; the strong rule, and the weak become servants.  Yet Jesus Christ, the King of Kings was not born in a palace; he was born on the dirty floor of a manger.  A life begun in humility, was lived in like manner; the prince of peace served the poor, and embraced the unworthy.  He turned an ‘upside down world’, ‘right side up.’  To pursue Christ is to forsake the pursuit of power and authority.  Those who desire to follow the Son of God must move down the social ladder in search of the lowest position.  A disciple is greatest when he is the least; he is the most alive when he is dead; he only rules when he truly serves.

          India (one of the largest nations in the world) is founded on the teachings of Hinduism.  Social order is a centralized feature of the Hindu Religion (as is the belief in reincarnation.)  They believe in a divine hierarchy; a caste system in which a person’s position is the result of their prior life.  When an individual dies they are immediately reborn; the deeds of their past life dictate their present social standing.  Those who were good are born into one of the four respectable classes (the top class being comprised of kings, warriors, and rulers.)  However, those who were evil in a previous life are born into a class known as the ‘untouchables.’  This group is poor, plagued with sickness, and most have historically only been able to hold menial jobs (such as the removal of dead bodies.)  [Note: Some recognize more than just five classes.]  This principle of Karma, is well known by every Hindu; bad Karma needs to be worked off; by suffering miserably in this life, one can pay for the sins of their past life; through anguish, every ‘untouchable’ can hope for a better life when they die.  Therefore, in India, helping the needy and the poor is often seen as interfering with their karma (to help relieve suffering, can actually prolong it.)  Therefore there is a permanent underclass; a group of people the world has forsaken.  Although most of mankind has forgotten about these people, God has not.  In the 1950’s, a Catholic Nun named Mother Theresa was led by the Lord to begin caring for lepers in India; she established a colony, and made a place for them to call home.  She also reached out to the abandoned orphans, the disabled, and the sick.  From that time until her death in 1997, she served the poorest, weakest, and most insignificant people, the world around.  When she received the Nobel Peace prize, she said, “I am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless…the crippled… the blind…the lepers, (and) all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared-for throughout society; people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

          Mother Theresa followed Christ, and it led her into the slums of Calcutta.  Jesus has asked nothing less of every believer.  Service is a requirement.  Whether at work, school, the coffee shop, the grocery store, or even at home, disciples are servants.  A true servant seeks opportunities to help others.  The way up is down.  Humble yourself, and allow God to use you; lowliness leads to honor, and humility is the path to everlasting life.  Those who serve others, serve the true and living God.  Deny yourself; give to the needy; embrace the outcast; love those who have been abandoned; prefer others, and God will one day raise you up to a place of eternal honor.

          “Lord Heavenly Father we desperately desire to be lowly.  Help us to serve others with zeal.  Please provide us with opportunities to give of our time, resources, and knowledge.  Grant us humility, that we may give to those in need; may we love those who feel unloved.  We aspire to be great servants; may we deny ourselves to honor and prefer others; and may our hearts be filled with joy as we 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.”  God bless all of you.

Sacrificial Giving

JESUS SPEAKING

          And Jesus sat across from the treasury, and observed the people throwing their money into the treasury.  And many who were rich cast in much.  And there approached a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which makes a farthing.  And he called his disciples to Himself and said to them, “Truly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in much more than everyone who has given to the treasury; for they cast in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mark 12: 41 – 44.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Generosity is an essential part of the Christian faith.  God has commanded everyone to use their resources to bless others.  Giving to God what belongs to Him is known as tithing; a tithe is an offering of the first fruits of one’s increase; for example, a person who earns $100 dollars is instructed to give $10 dollars to the church; or to use it as charity in the lives of the less fortunate.  As Jesus watched the money box, he observed many wealthy people putting in huge sums of money; yet along came a poor widow, who couldn’t afford to tithe, and still she gave what she had; she gave when she couldn’t; she gave when it hurt; she trusted in the Lord, and in turn, Jesus honored her sacrifice above all others.

          Despite giving larger quantities of money, many of the wealthiest people in America are actually the least charitable, proportionately (this is not always the case; some wealthy people do give what God has asked them to give, and they do give more than they can afford.)  A study published in Newsweek found that ‘most church members give far less than 10 percent;’ most actually give under 2 percent.  ‘Further, it seems that the poor give a far greater portion of their income than the rich (USA Today, Oct. 25, 1990.)  Actually, families that earned $10,000 dollars gave 5.5 per cent of their income to charity.  Families that earned between $50,000, and 60,000 dollars gave only 1.7 per cent of their earnings.’  It seems that the poor are often, but not always, the most generous givers.

          Giving when it hurts is not always easy; nor is it completely logical; but it is praiseworthy.  When we give from our abundance we honor God; when we give from our poverty we learn to completely trust in Him.  The blessings of faithful charity are abundant; those who give in love, receive the gifts of the Spirit; as they draw nearer to God they experience peace, faith, and hope; the generous inherit an eternal possession that can never be taken away.  May you give when you can and may you give when it hurts; and may God honor you for your sacrifice.

          “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to honor You with our possessions.  Help us to give to those in need; may we tithe continuously and may we receive the blessings of our faithful generosity.  We trust You Lord, and we withhold none of our resources from You.  May we give when we can, and may we give when it hurts.  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.