Archive for September, 2018

Religious Hypocrisy

JESUS SPEAKING

       Then he said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive great condemnation” (Mark 12: 38-40.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Jesus warned his children to be wary of the Pharisees who had been abusing their positions of religious authority to amass large quantities of wealth. Outwardly they appeared Godly; they wore the robes of holy men; they made long prayers in public for all to see; yet privately they would seize every opportunity to abuse those who were helpless. Jesus said that they “devour(ed) widow’s houses.” Widows were easily exploited. As a mandatory condition for marriage, a man had to build a house for his bride. When the husband passed away, the wife would inherit the home. With no source of income, widows would often be forced to sell their homes if they wished to survive. Many of the religious Pharisees who outwardly claimed to be Godly would exploit the widow’s circumstances; paying far less for the property than it was actually worth. Many, including these widows were victimized because they trusted in the outward appearance of Godliness. Jesus warned that such vile individuals would one day be judged for their misdeeds.
       Many years ago, I was working as a sales representative for a tile company. I had recently become a Christian, and the other employees were aware of my conversion. Suddenly, in walked a man who was the Pastor of a world-famous church located just up the street. He and his wife made a small purchase; he then pulled around to the back to pick it up. As I headed to the loading dock with the sales slip, one of my co-workers (who was not a Christian) contemptuously remarked, “Isn’t that your pastor friend’s car; the one that costs over a hundred thousand dollars?” Sure enough; there it sat, washed and waxed; in all its splendor. I felt contempt, anger, and sadness in my heart; knowing that he had likely been using God’s name for his own personal profit. [Concerning judgment, the words of Christ were eventually realized; a few years later, this man and his family lost everything. His mega church, with all its expensive buildings, statues, and complexes went bankrupt; the church dissolved in a few short months, and the entire establishment was sold to another institution.]
       In his earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ staunchly warned his followers to avoid hypocrites; especially religious hypocrites who would seek to exploit others and to use God’s name for personal profit. As Christians we are not to be deceived by the superficial appearance of Godliness. Rather, we must test people, to see if what they do is truly of God. If what a pastor, a teacher, or a preacher says on stage is not synonymous with who they are in private, then it is likely that they might be a Pharisee, who can’t be trusted [Warning: No one is perfect.]
       “Lord Heavenly Father, please reveal to us any areas in our lives where we are being hypocritical; and help us to change. May we always accurately represent You in every area of our lives. May we be loving, giving, and caring, in public and in private. Help us to recognize false teachers and religious hypocrites, that we may guide others away from them and toward You. We love You Father, and 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.

The Real Jesus

JESUS SPEAKING

        And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to him, “Are you the coming one, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of me” (Mathew 11: 2-6.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        After baptizing Jesus, John came to believe that Jesus was the messiah they had been waiting for. He, like so many in Israel believed the Messiah would set them free from their oppressors. Therefore, most were waiting for Jesus to usher in an earthly kingdom that would put an end to Roman Rule. John (who had been imprisoned by Herod) was growing impatient with Jesus; he sent messengers to him to ask if he truly was the messiah. Jesus simply responded by quoting an Old Testament prophecy, stating that the messiah would cleanse lepers, heal the blind, raise the dead and preach to the poor. Jesus wanted John to know he was accomplishing all of these miraculous tasks. The Lord finally addressed John’s impatient heart, saying, “blessed are those who are not offended because of me.” Jesus had not met John’s expectations. John expected a conquering messiah, not a messiah that would conquer sin through crucifixion. The lord was encouraging John to accept him as he was. Many today, like John, have an inaccurate view of Jesus Christ. Knowing the real Jesus is essential to properly following him.
        Early on in my relationship with God I made the decision that I could no longer call myself a Christian unless I actually knew who Jesus Christ was; what he had said and done. I knew I had to read the bible; I also knew it was going to change my life and challenge my beliefs. In my heart, I had an unclear picture of God. I chose to let go of what I thought I knew, in order to grab hold of the truth. As I read, I began to know God personally and accurately. Instead of being disappointed, my heart was lifted up with wonder and amazement. The real God is far greater than any God I could have ever imagined.
        Do you know Jesus Christ? Do you know his words, or are you holding on to your own personal beliefs? Have you invented a Jesus for yourself, or have you come to know the real Jesus? Read his words; get familiar with his deeds, his message and his truth; and I promise, you will never be disappointed; instead, you too will find something more amazing than anything you have ever known, and your life will never be the same.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to know the real Jesus. We want to know Your Son and His message. Implant his words in our hearts and help us to be his disciples, that we might be pleasing to You Father. Help us to let go of our fear of the truth and give us a hunger and thirst to know our Messiah; your gift to us all. 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!

Stay Focused on Today

JESUS SPEAKING

       “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mathew 6: 34.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Apprehension, fear, and anxiety are destructive emotions that cause turmoil in the hearts and minds of most human beings. Although the majority of our worries revolve around some real (or imagined) future difficulty, they usually cause us distress in the present. Such uncertainties can steal our joy and distract us from the work that God has currently called us to accomplish. Therefore, Jesus commands every believer to live in the moment and to focus wholly and completely upon the blessings, cares, and concerns of today.
       In the Old Testament book of Exodus, we are given a wonderful illustration that emphasizes the importance of living in the moment. After leaving Egypt and passing through the Red Sea, the Jewish people wandered about in the wilderness for forty years. Each day God miraculously fed them by causing a delicious bread to condense and accumulate on the desert floor. However, no one was allowed to collect and store excess amounts of bread (except on the day prior to the Sabbath.) Instead, they were only permitted to eat what was necessary to sustain their daily nourishment. Violating this law meant focusing on tomorrow’s needs and concerns [In the new testament, when asked how one ought to pray, Jesus reiterated this doctrine; we are told to ask God to, “give us this day our daily bread.” Not our weekly, monthly, or yearly bread; but rather, “our daily bread.”]
       Fear of tomorrow serves only to distract us from the joys, blessings, and obligations of today. When we focus on the present we are fully able to accomplish God’s will. As we trust in the Lord we can begin to cherish every second, of every hour, of every day. To live now is to live for God; knowing that His love is a present gift and not a future possibility.
       “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to live in the moment and to rely upon You for our daily needs. May our concerns and our cares be firmly rooted in the present. If our hearts possess fears and anxieties related to the future, remove them, that we may be joyful, loving, and better able to serve You today. 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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