Archive for August, 2018

Forgiving

JESUS SPEAKING

        “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17: 3-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Withholding forgiveness from others is dangerous; for the Lord has said, “if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.” Jesus used a ‘seven’ to describe the number of times a disciple is obligated to forgive others. In the Hebrew culture, numbers carried very profound symbolic significance; the number seven represents completion; in turn, the obligation to forgive is limitless, infinite, or complete. Since the fall of creation, until the present day, men and women have fervently sought God’s forgiveness; none whose hearts were sincere have ever been denied (for God is merciful above all things.) We are called to be like God; and so we must forgive without exception.
        One day a group of missionaries and local Christians gathered together in New Guinea to share communion and to fellowship. As they sat down, one of the older missionaries noticed another man’s momentary expression of horror and disgust; which was quickly replaced with an expression of peace. The missionary whispered to his friend, “What was it that troubled you?” He replied, “The man who just came in to share communion, murdered my Father; for a moment I didn’t think that I could handle it. But then I realized that he has been washed and forgiven by the same precious blood.” The men then shared communion together in love.
        To what extent should we forgive others? Jesus has taught us to forgive without stipulation or condition. We, who have been forgiven so much, have no right to withhold forgiveness from others. Search your heart; if you find hatred discard it; if you discover resentment let it go. Forgive those who have harmed you; bless them and pray for them. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you, and your anger will ‘give way’ to peace, and your bitterness will turn to joy.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, forgive us of our sins. May we be like You; may we sincerely forgive others. If we have refused to forgive anyone, please reveal it to us now. If we harbor anger or resentment of any kind, expose it; fill our hearts with mercy, that we might better serve You, and worthily magnify Your Holy name. 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.

Embracing Change

JESUS SPEAKING

          “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put in to new wineskins and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5: 37-39.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS         

          In the ancient world, when an animal was slaughtered the stomach and the bladder were extracted and utilized to store and transport valuable liquids. Wine was a very common first century beverage. Unlike water, wine underwent a process known as fermentation; during which gases were produced; these gases caused the wineskins to swell and expand. The older wineskins were hard and inflexible (like leather.) As the new wine expanded, it would cause them to tear open. Therefore, unfermented wine was always placed into new wineskins. In this illustration, the old wineskins represent old ideas, habits, and beliefs that are incompatible with the new life God has offered through His Son Jesus Christ. Most people desperately cling to their old lives; yet those who follow Jesus Christ must let go of the old and grab hold of the new; they must no longer fear change; but rather, they must fully embrace it.
          Shortly after becoming a Christian, God began to make some very serious changes in my life. For many years I had enjoyed listening to secular rap music and heavy metal. One day God showed me how it was negatively affecting my spirit. So, I made a commitment to only listen to worship music (which was positive, clean, and uplifting.) My appetite for the old music was strong; at first the new music wasn’t appealing to me; but slowly I began to enjoy it. Soon I was joyfully singing along with the songs; I noticed my attitude was more positive; my thoughts were more peaceful; I even began smiling with ever greater frequency Today, I still refuse to listen to the old songs; just worship music. God has made similar changes in every area of my life. He has healed me; the old things have passed away; behold, He “has made all things new.”
          God desires to pour His Spirit into the hearts and minds of those who are willing to receive it. His Spirit produces great transformation. We must let go of our fears; we must become willing to change; we must not be rigid and inflexible; only in embracing and allowing God to transform us, will we truly experience new life. Let go of your old ideas, habits, and beliefs, and receive the fullness of God’s Spirit. Allow Him to guide and direct you and He will lead you into His everlasting peace and eternal joy.
          “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You would make wonderful transformations in our hearts and minds. May we become flexible; may we embrace change. Jesus, we desire to become more like You; remove any habits, ideas, or beliefs that stand in the way of our growth; destroy the old and bring forth the new. May we experience the fullness of Your Holy Spirit. 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.

Shining Brightly

JESUS SPEAKING

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it provides light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mathew 5: 14 – 16.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        It is impossible for a Christian to remain unrecognized. To stay hidden is to fail to fulfill God’s purpose. Every genuine believer is called to be different; to stand out; to be set apart; loving where there is no love; serving in the midst of selfishness; faithfully encouraging others; nurturing the sick; caring for the needy; filling the hearts and minds of many with hope and joy. Genuine faith inevitably produces an abundance of good works. As disciples we are set apart; we are a light in a dark world; we are divine instruments that point toward the one true and everlasting Father.
        Of all the planets and stars that glow in the night sky, one of the brightest is the North Star (known as Polaris.) Resting in a sea of stars it outshines most of its neighbors. Additionally, every other star in the northern hemisphere travels across the sky; Polaris however, remains fixed; a characteristic that proved useful to ancient mariners who sought to navigate the open oceans. The North Star’s brightness and stability make it easy to recognize; a heavenly body that is not readily confused with the thousands of dimmer objects that surround it.
        Like the North Star, the believer is by far the brightest and most stable object in the lives of those around them. In a sea of unbelievers, the followers of Jesus Christ standout; they are unique. Filled with compassion, charity, and peace, they are easily recognized. They orient others by pointing them toward God (who is the source of all love and mercy.) If you have received the salvation of the Lord, then you too are different. Don’t seek to remain hidden. Instead, let the light of Christ shine through you; that others may see your good works and know that there is a God who loves them.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to be different. We desire to be more loving, more caring, and more giving. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and help us to shine brightly in this dark and often cold world. May others see our good works and be drawn to You; the loving Creator and everlasting Father. 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.

Being a Peacemaker

JESUS SPEAKING

         “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Sons of God!” (Mathew 5: 9)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          The world is full of conflict. Yet in the midst of the hostility, God’s children are called to promote peace. The Lord Himself is a peacemaker; He detests war and abhors senseless aggression. Many who share His heart also share His mission; to bring harmony where there is hatred and tranquility where there is contempt. Those who choose to make peace will inherit the eternal blessings offered to the ‘Sons and daughters of God.’
          As the story goes, in the 4th century A.D., a monk named Telemachus felt God calling him to go to Rome. He packed his meager possessions and set out for the great city. Upon arriving, the streets were bustling with excitement. When he asked why everyone was so energized, he was told that the gladiators would soon be fighting to the death in the coliseum. Horrified that men would be killing one another for sport, he headed for the stadium. After entering the complex, he pushed through the crowds and hopped a fence; making his way to the center of the arena. As he stood between the two gladiators, he shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop.” The crowd began yelling, “Run him through, Run him through!” A gladiator abruptly approached; striking the monk in the stomach with the back of his sword. Although Telemachus fell to the ground, he soon recovered. Once again, he placed himself between the two-armed men and shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop.” The other gladiator suddenly approached him and plunged his sword through the monk’s belly. Telemachus plummeted to the ground and began bleeding out. Before dying, he was able to utter one last statement; “In the name of Christ, stop.” A hush came over the crowd. A single spectator rose up from his seat and left; followed by another; and another. Within minutes all 80,000 people had exited the coliseum. That day marked the last gladiatorial contest in Roman history.
          No matter the consequence, the people of God are called to be peacemakers. When others fall silent, we must speak up. Where there is discord, we ought to bring unity; where there is conflict, we must promote peace. In so doing we will be called ‘The children of God;’ and we will know the eternal blessings reserved for those who remain faithfully obedient.
          “Lord Heavenly Father, we long for obedience; may we share the desires of Your heart. May we love others as You have loved others. Use us to continually promote peace and to end conflict. Give us the courage and the strength to speak up when others remain silent; may we be Your sons and daughters; and may we experience the blessings of genuine obedience. 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.


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