Archive for May, 2018

Being Teachable

JESUS SPEAKING

         [The Lord had just finished healing a blind man; but Jesus was gone by the time the man’s eyes had completely healed.  The Pharisees, seeking to expose Jesus as a fraud, brought the man in for questioning.  After a lengthy examination, the Pharisees banned the man from their synagogues because they hated their messiah.] […] ‘Jesus heard that they had cast him out (the blind man he had healed); and when he had found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”  He answered and said, “Who is he Lord that I may believe in him?”  And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen him and it is he who is talking with you.”  Then he said, “Lord, I believe!”  And he worshiped him.  And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”  Then some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these words, and said to him, “Are we blind also?”  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘we see.’  Therefore your sin remains”’ (John 9: 35 – 41.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

         There are two kinds of disciples; those who can be taught, and those who can’t.  Although there are many reasons why some students fail to learn, the most pervasive is pride; a student who already knows everything is no longer teachable (rigid intellectualism is stupidity impersonating true wisdom.)  Those who possess great knowledge are often the most misinformed.  For example, many religious leaders who interacted with Jesus were very well educated; they were proud of their intellectual superiority; they were blinded by pride and they rejected the Son of God.  In turn, when Jesus Christ chose his followers, he did not seek scribes or rabbi’s; nor did he approach priests and Holy men.  He did not scour the ancient centers of higher education; nor did he hunt for scholars at the great theological institutes of his day; instead, he lovingly embraced fishermen, prostitutes, and tax collectors; he selected them because they were eager to admit their ignorance (and to listen in humility); because they were willing to learn, societies outcasts became God’s first choice.

         Historically, surgeons have been society’s most well-educated professionals.  In the 1800’s most surgeons wore white butcher’s aprons; as they operated on different patients, more blood would accumulate on them.  Most Doctors refused to wash them, because a strange but powerful custom had arisen; a surgeon was considered accomplished based upon how bloody his apron was (the more blood, the better the surgeon.)  During this time, a young doctor named Joseph Lister was conducting medical research; he discovered that 40-50% of amputee victims died from secondary infections (infections that resulted from the procedures themselves).  He proved that cleanliness and disinfection of surgeons, instruments, and staff, would reduce the amputee mortality rate to 15%.  The results of his research however, brought him in to conflict with the majority of his colleagues.  Most surgeons scoffed at his suggestions because it meant they would have to give up their bloody aprons.  Many educated men became unwilling to learn.  Their delay in applying Dr. Lister’s suggestions caused the deaths of thousands of patients.  Although the changes were slow, they were eventually established.  By the time Joseph Lister retired in 1893, nearly every medical institution had implemented his sanitation procedures.

         Pride can blind even the most intelligent people; much learning often stands in the way of true comprehension.  Those who know everything are not teachable (and unable to follow God.)  Those who admit their ignorance and let go of any ideas that oppose the teachings of Jesus Christ, are wiser than all of the scholars, scientists, and doctors who have ever lived.  Disciples must become blind before they can see; they must be ignorant before they can attain true wisdom; they must be willing to lay down human understanding before they can pick up the cross.  Listen to the Lord and He will guide you; have faith in Him and you will know truth; follow Him, and you will enter in to everlasting peace [Note:  Not all educated people are ungodly; God has gifted many people with great minds; there are also many uneducated people who reject Jesus Christ.  Learning is very beneficial, but only if it does not oppose the teaching of the Lord.]

         “Lord Heavenly Father, may we be Your disciples; may we be blind to the wisdom of the world.  Help us to know the difference between prideful philosophies, and beneficial information; that we may always choose what is good and reject what is evil.  Teach us, instruct us, and make us willing to learn.  We admit that we are ignorant, and in humility we ask You to lead us.  We desire to have childlike faith; may we trust You completely, and may we know the blessings of Your eternal wisdom.  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!

 

Actions Speak Louder than Words

JESUS SPEAKING

        “But what do you think?  A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’  He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.  Then he came to the second and said likewise.  And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir’ but he did not go.  Which of the two did the will of his Father?”  They said to him, “The first.”  Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that the tax collectors and the harlots enter the kingdom of God before you” (Mathew 21: 28-31.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        There are two kinds of people; those who do and those who don’t.  The priests and religious leaders failed to obey God despite their many years of biblical study; they preached of righteousness but were unsuccessful in achieving it.  They confused knowledge with wisdom (knowledge is the comprehension of truth; whereas wisdom is the application of it.)  While the intelligent refused obedience, many prostitutes and tax collectors were receiving salvation.  These social outcasts possessed very little knowledge of scripture; yet what little they did possess, they chose to apply.  The gospel is not a thought or a good intention; it is an action.

        In the spring of 1862 a confederate Major General named ‘Stonewall Jackson’ fought a famous military campaign in a valley near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  His tactics were unorthodox and his troop movements unpredictable (he utilized speed and stealth to attack his union counterparts.)  Concerning speed, he reportedly marched his 17,000 men nearly ‘646 miles in 48 days’ (approximately 13 miles a day.)  Traveling at this furious pace, they met many natural obstacles (such as hills and streams.)  At one point however, they encountered a river too treacherous to cross.  Jackson told his engineers to draw up plans for a bridge; he then summoned his wagon master and informed him that they urgently needed to cross the river.  The wagon master immediately began to gather together every rock, fence rail, and log he could find; before sunrise the next day, the wagon master approached General Jackson and said, ‘The artillery and wagons have crossed the river sir.’  General Jackson replied, ‘Where are the engineers, and what are they doing?’  The wagon master replied, ‘they are in their tent, drawing up the plans for the bridge.’

        Knowledge is useless unless it is implemented to accomplish a task.  We are called to be ‘doers of the word, and not hearers only.’  The Christian life is a life of action.  When God commands us to love our enemies, we must love them.  When he instructs us to give to the poor and needy, we must open our wallets (and purses.)  When we are directed to pray for those who persecute us, we must drop to our knees.  Keep the commandments of God and you will be blessed; obey Him and you will experience peace; follow Him and you will know joy; joy eternal; joy everlasting; joy without end.

        “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the strength to live out Your commandments.  May we receive Your words and accomplish them.  May we be ‘doers of Your word and not hearers only;’ may our actions bring others to repentance; may we love our neighbors without restraint or indignation.  We love You Father, and 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.

Blessings and Cursings

JESUS SPEAKING

        “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you […] for the Son of Man’s sake […] for indeed your reward is great in heaven […] But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6: 20-26.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        The pronouncement of blessings and cursings was an intimate part of the Jewish culture.  Many Israelites would bring their children to the Rabbi’s to undergo a formal blessing.  A blessing is a prophetic profession of some future good in an individual’s life.  A cursing however, foretells of some impending calamity.  The blessings that Jesus pronounced over the crowds were entirely dependent upon their reaction to his message.  Those who chased after the passing pleasures of this life would ultimately enter into unending sorrow.  Those who chose to deny their own desires in order to serve God, would eventually inherit eternal rewards.  Without question, every true believer must embrace sacrifice.  Some common sacrifices include wealth, a potential career, power, property, selfish indulgences, and often even a good reputation.  Because the path to peace with God includes enduring some form of present pain, the majority of individuals will continue to reject the gospel message.

        In order to understand this scripture, we need only look at the modern day credit card crisis.  Right now, Americans possess some of the highest individual debt than nearly any other time in our nation’s history.  Although not always, this current epidemic is the direct result of extreme self-indulgence.  When a person goes out shopping and they can’t afford something, they will often use a credit card to avoid having to deny themselves some passing pleasure.  But paying for things with money we don’t have doesn’t make the pain disappear; it simply postpones it.  Eventually the credit card company is going to come looking for their money; causing those who have fed their fleshly appetites to endure the suffering they so desperately attempted to avoid.

        Many people have spent an entire lifetime avoiding pain and indulging in pleasurable endeavors.  However, their agony has only been deferred, rather than eliminated.  They will eventually be required to ‘pay the check.’  Chasing after wealth, material possessions, careers, and even a good reputation can lead to an eternity of pain.  Still, self-denial is the way to inherit eternal blessings.  Volunteering, using our excess wealth to bless the needy, spending time listening to others, evangelizing, as well as visiting widows and orphans, are just a few of the ways we can deny ourselves in this life.  Where are you currently denying yourself?  What do you have in excess?  Is it time, money, or knowledge? What can you give away?  By denying yourself, you will become a servant of the living God; and in the coming kingdom, you will receive the blessings of eternal life.

        “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to willingly endure pain in the present; that we might refuse our own desires in favor of fulfilling Your purposes.  May we deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow You.  Reveal to us where we can be more selfless; where we can be more giving; and where we can be more loving.  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.

God’s Greatest Work

JESUS SPEAKING

             Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said:  “Father, the hour has come.  Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  I have glorified You on the earth.  I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17: 1-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ, he continually referred to an hour; a time that had not yet come.  None of his disciples knew what he was referring to in this scripture; it wasn’t until after his resurrection that they understood he was speaking about his crucifixion.  Jesus accomplished so many good works; the healings, the miracles; and yet his greatest work would be the cross.  He is looking forward to when God will raise him up to a place of honor.  Jesus says, “and this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  The cross tells us about God; the cross is an invitation; a love-letter sent out to every human being, inviting them to fall in love with the creator of all things.  Have you accepted that invitation yet? 

             As an oil painter, when I paint I don’t paint merely for my own pleasure; I am always mindful of those who will see the painting when it is finished.  Every sculptor who sculpts a masterpiece, doesn’t put it in a storage locker when he completes it; rather, he puts it on a pedestal, or places it on display in a museum, or in the center of some fountain in a city square.

             When the Hubble space telescope captured the first images of the distant Galaxies, with their beautiful colors, nebulae, and gas clouds large enough to swallow the sun, we saw first hand, some of God’s creation.  When the electron microscope was pointed into a cell, we discovered that it was more complex than the space shuttle.  When we see a brand new baby most don’t realize they began as a single cell, no bigger than the period at the end of a sentence; all of the information on how to build your dad, your grandmother, your son or daughter, was held within that single cell; a genetic blueprint from which even you were formed.  God created those blueprints.  Yet, within this enormous universe, out of every work ever displayed, Jesus Christ upon the cross is God’s masterpiece.  We can still look to that masterpiece today and admire God.  He loves us, and his work of love was accomplished by way of crucifixion.

             “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You.  Your work upon the cross is what we look too, and we see Your glory, and we thank You.  Father, continue to help us to look to You in love.  Help us to pick up our crosses daily so that others would see Your Glory in our sacrifice as well.  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.”


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