Archive for June, 2018

No Half Way

JESUS SPEAKING

         “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.  For which of you, intending to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build but was not able to finish?’” (Luke 14: 27 – 30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS        

         Following Jesus Christ isn’t easy; it requires great sacrifice and tremendous discipline.  Uncomfortable changes will inevitably follow every genuine profession of faith.  Each believer is called to abandon sin and embrace a life of selflessness and service.  Those considering the Christian life are urged by Jesus to “sit down first and count the cost.”  Drunkenness, fornication, pornography, adultery, lewdness and idolatry must be discarded.  Gossip, foul language, dirty humor, and selfishness are crushed beneath the weight of purity, love, mercy, and truth.  Sadly, many who begin following the Lord are unable to finish the journey; abandoning God’s call, some eventually return to their old lives.

         Interestingly enough, the longest Bridge in the world is the Danyang—Kunshan Grand Bridge in mainland China.  This modern marvel took four years to build and cost approximately 8.5 billion dollars.  As it snakes over rice patties, lowlands, and rivers, it measures a whopping 102 miles in length.  Bridges are amazing feats of engineering; and yet despite coming in a variety of different shapes and sizes, they all serve one common purpose; they connect two portions of land divided by an obstacle.  Although most of these structures are quite useful, an unfinished bridge is of no value whatsoever.  Ninety percent of a bridge is as useful as ten percent of a bridge.  In order to be valuable the structure must be complete.  Much like a bridge, the life of every believer is utterly useless unless it has been completed.  Throughout the centuries there have been many genuine disciples who died knowing that they had kept the faith until the very end.  Sadly, many other devotees were unable to complete the journey.

         In proverbs Chapter 20, verse 25, we read, “It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, and afterward to reconsider his vows.”  If you have never made a commitment to following Jesus Christ, then you must not do so rashly.  You must first consider fully what God is asking from you.  He is asking you to lay down your sins and embrace a life of purity; you must also devote your entire existence to serving and loving others.  For those who commit themselves to the Lord, the road is not easy.  There are no points for half-way.  Once the journey has begun, it must be finished.

         “Lord Heavenly Father, some of us have already begun our journey with You.  We’ve laid down our worldly ways and embraced purity and love.  May we continue moving forward and may we never falter.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit; empower us to complete what we have started, that we may one day enter Your kingdom with great joy.  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.

Judging Others

JESUS SPEAKING 

        “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye” (Mathew 7: 1-3.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Of all the sins we can possibly commit, hypocrisy is one of the most offensive; Jesus embraced repenting murderers, rapists, and prostitutes; yet he openly loathed unrepentant religious hypocrites.  Hypocrisy occurs when someone judges or evaluates another based upon standards they themselves are incapable of achieving.  Practicing hypocrisy is dangerous, because God judges his followers based upon the same principles they use to judge others.  If we outwardly condemn thievery, yet secretly steal, we are condemning ourselves.  Jesus warned his disciples that such unrighteous judgments would serve only to separate us from God.  Before we judge anyone, we must make certain that we have been victorious over the sins that have caused others to fall.

        Surprisingly, the first attempted extermination of the Jewish people did not occur inside the boundaries of 20th century Nazi Germany.  Nor was Adolf Hitler the first man to attempt such a hideous undertaking.  In fact, nearly 2400 years earlier a man named Haman made efforts to execute every Jew living within the Persian Empire.  He hated the Hebrews and believed they were troublemakers who deserved to die.  Haman was a high ranking official in the court of Artaxerxes the 2nd (King of the Persia.)  He convinced the King to exterminate the Jews; which would have included Haman’s mortal Hebrew enemy, Mordecai (another high ranking official who showed disdain for Haman.)  Mordecai had graciously adopted his orphan cousin Esther, who grew in to one of the most beautiful women in all of Persia; the king became enamored with Esther and married her, not knowing that she was a Jew.  As the day approached for the extermination, Haman joyfully built a scaffold fifty feet tall near his home, from which he planned to hang Mordicai.  Just before the mass murder was to be carried out, Esther came forward and revealed to the king that she was in fact a Jew.  She begged him to end the genocidal plan.  The king compassionately agreed and her people were spared.  The king was also made aware of Haman’s treachery.  In a cruel twist of fate, the king ordered Haman to be hung from the very gallows he himself had constructed to kill Mordicai.  The judgment he had so eagerly reserved for others, had been visited upon him and his entire household. 

        Many, like Haman build scaffolds to hang others from.  Such people are often hypocrites who incur the wrath of God; they are condemned by the very judgments they use to condemn others.  We must examine ourselves daily; and we must ask God to search our hearts and minds; if we find that the sins of others produce in us anger and resentment, then we must ask the question, “Am I guilty of any similar sins?”  If the answer is yes, then we need to change; we need to abandon hypocrisy and embrace a right relationship with God.

        “Lord Heavenly Father, we recognize that we are unworthy servants; that we are sinners who do not deserve Your forgiveness; yet we thank You that we have received it.  Search our hearts; if You find hypocrisy, please reveal it to us; correct us if we have been judging others unjustly.  Take away our sinful resentments, that we may more effectively reach those who are lost; and please continue to fill our hearts with gratitude, sincerity, and humility.  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.

 

Stop Worrying

JESUS SPEAKING

        “Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore, do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Mathew 6: 25 – 32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        God is a Father, and like any good Father, He provides for the needs of His children.  Fear is the result of a lack of trust in God’s abilities.  Birds are just one example of an animal that never worries; they gather no seed nor strive to possess more than they can use.  Instead they rely upon their creator to provide for their daily necessities.  As believers we must be of a similar mind.  Worrying is counterproductive; in turn Jesus commands every follower to stop worrying and start trusting.

        Although worrying has been around for thousands of years, it has only recently been studied scientifically.  Most modern-day inquiries have yielded some surprising results.  Worrying has been found to break down the immune system, causing many to succumb to colds and infections; worrying also produces:  high blood pressure, upset stomach, ulcers, acid reflux, heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, panic attacks, cardiovascular problems, increased blood sugar levels, irritable bowel difficulties, backaches, tension headaches, migraines, sleep problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, respiratory difficulties, worsening of skin conditions such as eczema, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, depression, rashes, shingles, hot flashes, twitching, lethargy, sweating, heart attacks, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, irritability, etc.  The list of physical and mental ailments linked to worrying seems endless.

        Worrying is so detrimental that the Lord has ordered every follower to abandon fear and embrace faith.  Trusting in God is our divine duty.  He is our provider and protector.  May we continually remember that God loves us and lives within our hearts.  May we seek Him at every turn, and tirelessly submit ourselves to His care and affection.

        Lord Heavenly Father, may we be free from fear; may we stop worrying and start trusting in Your complete provision.  Clothe us, feed us, love us, and receive us.  Be our Father that we might also be Your children.  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. 

Help Wanted

JESUS SPEAKING

        Then Jesus went around to all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.  But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he spoke to his disciples saying, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mathew 9: 35 – 38.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Vast numbers of people had traveled great distances to be healed, to see miracles, and to hear Jesus speak.  As he looked upon the sea of lost and broken souls, his heart swelled with compassion.  These men and women, having been denied the truth for so long, had become spiritually malnourished.  Many weary souls eagerly devoured the gospel; and with it they received salvation through faith in God’s only Son.  Jesus, realizing the enormous task that lay ahead, instructed his disciples to pray that the Father would send more workers in to the fields; that countless others might be delivered from death.

        Many in the world today are unfamiliar with agricultural practices; yet during the time of Christ, farming was a close and intimate part of daily life.  Modern farmers often utilize large machines to gather their crops; ancient farmers however, had to harvest their wheat by hand.  When the grain had ripened, nearly every member of the household was needed to aid in collecting the produce.  Often even an entire family wasn’t enough; farmers would then hire seasonal laborers to assist them in accomplishing their goals [Note:  A proper harvest was such an essential part of first century living, that even warring armies would call a truce during the reaping season; the soldiers could return home to work in the fields; when the harvest had concluded, the men would resume their armed conflicts.]

        Today, there are billions of lost souls wandering the earth; seemingly unaware that God has sent His only Son that they might have eternal life.  Those who believe and receive the message are in turn called to be messengers.  True Christians must share in the labors of Jesus Christ, by delivering the gospel to those who are starving for truth.  The fields are vast, the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  We must pray to God to send more workers to aid in gathering up His crop.  As you labor for Christ, may compassion fill your heart; may love reign in your soul; and may God use you to convey His message to those who are in need.

        “Lord Heavenly Father, may we share in Your labors; may we be filled with mercy and love; may we continually seek to deliver the gospel message to those who are perishing.  We pray that You would send more workers in to the fields; that Your harvest might be plentiful.  May the lost be found, may sinners repent, and may salvation be received by those who believe.  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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