Archive for November, 2017

Difficulties can Become Blessings

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.  I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is still day; the night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the blind man’s eyes with the clay.  And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent).  So he went and washed, and came back seeing (John 9: 1–7.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In the first century it was commonly believed that all deformity and dysfunction was the result of sin.  Therefore the disciples inquired whose sin had caused the man’s blindness.  Jesus revealed that the man’s deformity came not by sin, but by the will of God.  In healing the man, God was honored and glorified.  Often the things that appear tragic are designed to bring God the greatest glory.  Tragedy and adversity are not always punishments; in fact, frequently they are the greatest blessings we will ever know.

                In 2003 a 13 year old Christian girl named Bethany Hamilton was surfing when a 14 foot tiger shark attacked her.  The shark severed her left arm just below the shoulder.  She nearly bled to death before being rushed to the hospital.  Bethany had been one of the top competitive junior surfers in the world prior to her injury.  Despite her strong faith, she questioned why God would allow her to endure such a tragedy.  She was determined to surf again competitively.  Trusting in God, Bethany entered the water and began training nearly 3 weeks after her accident.  She started with a long board (making it easier to paddle.)  She then moved to a smaller board, and then to a smaller board; until finally, she was once again surfing on a short board.  Because Bethany refused to quit she has gone on to place in and win many of the world’s top female surf competitions.  Her experience has become world famous; she has received thousands of letters and numerous awards; she has appeared on ‘20/20, Good Morning America, and the Oprah Winfrey Show,’ to name a few.  She eventually published a book chronicling her struggle and victory (her story has recently been made in to a major motion picture entitled “Soul Surfer.”)  Throughout her ordeal, Bethany has remained an outspoken Christian.  She thanks Jesus Christ for her strength, her courage, and her triumph.  Was losing her arm God’s will?  Yes.  What appeared to be a tragedy, has become the greatest blessing she has ever known.  With two arms she would have likely won some surf competitions (she might have even made it on to the cover of a surf magazine.)  Yet with God in her heart and one missing arm, she has been able to reach the whole world.  She is a symbol of faith and a living example of God’s ability to take the broken and make them whole again.

                Is there anything in your life that you struggle with; something that seems tragic; a source of shame or pain?  Take another look; you may find a wonderful victory hidden within a great calamity.  Seek the Lord, and He will strengthen you and lift you up.  Lean on God, and let Him use you; He will take your weaknesses and make them your strengths.  When He transforms your life, remember to give Him the credit He deserves.  Utilize God’s power and have faith; never give up; face your fears; and many will see ‘the glory of God,’ revealed in you.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You turn our weaknesses in to our strengths.  May Your enduring power and wisdom give us victory over the obstacles we face.  Heal us Father, and fill us with Your courage, that by faith, we may overcome our fears and shortcomings; through the power of Your Holy Spirit may we all be able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  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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Faith Grows

JESUS SPEAKING

             “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Luke 13: 20-21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             What is leaven?  Leaven is a collection of microscopic organisms, sometimes known as yeast.   The yeast produces small bubbles of carbon dioxide, which are kneaded throughout bread dough.  When the bread is cooked the micro-organisms are killed, and the gas bubbles expand and give the bread it’s size and soft feel (unleavened bread is very flat and hard.)  Cooking bread without a leavening agent was common in the first century, especially among the Jews who were forbidden to eat leavened bread during the Passover week.  Jesus compared leaven to the Kingdom of God.  What do they have in common?  The kingdom of God is something that is hidden away inside of a person’s heart, just as leaven is hidden away (and cannot be seen) in an unheated loaf of bread.  A tiny bit of leaven will eventually spread through the loaf until it is completely saturated.  Similarly, the kingdom of God often has a small beginning in the heart of the believer, but just a little bit of God’s kingdom is enough to eventually saturate the entire heart and life of the person who receives it.  (Also, here, I believe Jesus is referring to the spread of the gospel outward from Jerusalem through the world; and indeed, the message has spread across the entire globe.)

             Today scores of people own I-phones; many have also purchased some version of an Apple Computer.  This brand seems to be a part of the lives of millions, if not billions of individuals on the planet.  It would be easy to think that this company had its beginning in a huge office building, backed by some of the most powerful investors on the planet.  It would be easy to envision a national advertising campaign and literary buzz announcing the start of Apple Computers.  This would be easy to imagine, but it would also be incorrect.  Apple Computers was started by two teenagers in a garage (Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.)  Steve’s dad had to clear out the garage so the boys had enough room to begin manufacturing their first personal computers.  Something that two children began in a garage today spans the globe and affects the lives of billions of people.

             Similarly, our understanding of faith is often skewed.  We believe that strong faith in the Lord is something that a person just has, and there is no way to get it.  This is an unfortunate belief; faith is not necessarily something that explodes immediately in a person’s life (it can, but not always.)  Faith in Christ can have meager beginnings from which it may grow to affect every area of the believer’s life.  This can be a scary prospect for a lot of people, and this is why many often harden their hearts and refuse to allow God’s kingdom to even have a beginning in them.  Those who do allow the kingdom of God into their hearts are transformed from the inside out.  Allow God to change you; allow Him to affect every area of your life, and you will know peace; you will know the truth; and you will know God.

             “Lord, we lift You up; You are an awesome and mighty Father.  We come before You today and we ask and pray that You would continue to grow within us; fill up our hearts and lives completely Lord.  We ask You to keep expanding, and to enter into the areas of our lives that we might be holding back from You.  Lord give us more of Your Holy Spirit and Your truth; and increase our faith.  Take full control of our hearts and minds.  We love You Lord, 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 Home

JESUS SPEAKING

And when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave a command to depart to the other side.  Then a certain scribe came and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus spoke to him saying, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to rest his head” (Mathew 8: 18 – 20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Jesus Christ was born in human form and raised in the house of Mary and Joseph.  Yet his true home was with God in heaven.  He was a temporary traveler who was ever mindful of his eventual destination.  He had no earthly residence; no permanent place to dwell; every miracle, every profession of truth, every act of love, brought him one step closer to home.  As he traveled, he made every effort to persuade others to join him in journeying toward the Kingdom of God; a mission that presently continues.  Thankfully many today receive the message and begin traveling; sadly however, many do not.  The road to heaven is long and the way is not easy, but the destination is more wonderful than anything we could have ever imagined.

In the Old Testament, Moses led millions of Israelites out of slavery and bondage in Egypt.  After crossing through the Red Sea, they began wandering in the desert for 40 years.  During that time, God provided them with food to eat and water to drink.  They lived in tents with no stable place to call home.  Yet the Lord had sworn an oath to eventually lead them in to a permanent land of their own; it was this promise that kept them alive as they embraced a life of hardship.  After many years of sacrifice, God fulfilled His pledge, and safely guided them in to the land of Israel.

Similarly, those who place their faith in Jesus Christ are led out of slavery and bondage to sin; they become travelers in this life, relying upon the Lord to provide for all of their needs.  Each one clings to the promise of God; the promise that they will one day enter his permanent dwelling place.  As we journey toward the Kingdom of God, we must embrace a life of sacrifice, humility, and service.  Only in denying our love of this world, do we truly embrace our love of the world to come.

“Lord Heavenly Father, may we cling tightly to Your promises.  May we deny ourselves and live lives of loving sacrifice.  Strengthen us, and enable us to continue journeying toward Your kingdom.  May we never forget that we are but travelers in this place, and that our true home is with You.  Give us the courage to reach out to the lost; that we might continually convince others to join us on our journey.  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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