Archive for October, 2018

Making a Stand

JESUS SPEAKING

         Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When he had made a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers money and overturned the tables. And he said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then the disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house has eaten me up” (John 2: 13 – 17.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

         Long ago King David prophesied that the messiah would be zealous concerning the things of God. Jesus, having witnessed his fellow Israelites using the temple for selfish gain, became enraged. After constructing a whip, he drove out those who were defiling his Father’s house. Today, we too will occasionally observe acts of unspeakable evil. In such instances, the Holy Spirit will eradicate our fears and fill our hearts with zeal; enabling us to publicly oppose those engaging in malicious conduct.
         One afternoon, while studying in the coffee shop, a man and his teenage son sat down beside me. Without provocation, the youngster began persistently berating and verbally abusing his Dad. As the disrespect escalated, my heart was filled with righteous anger. The boy eventually threatened his Dad, saying, “Have you ever been punched in the face?” I lashed out; telling the young man to ‘Shut his mouth!’ The boy fell silent. I proceeded to lecture him concerning the fifth commandment; honoring his father and mother. Embarrassed and afraid, he stepped outside; later returning to apologize.
         In this life, we will occasionally witness acts of such unspeakable evil, that Jesus will inspire us to intervene. In these moments, He will fill our hearts with zeal; giving us the words to speak and the strength to overcome our fears. The Lord will use us to rebuke, to exhort, and to correct many who eagerly violate the basic laws of God.
         “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the courage to speak the truth when necessary. May we love what is good and be zealous for Your ways. When great acts of evil are being practiced, may we stand against them; allowing our desires for righteousness to eradicate our fear of reprisal. 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.

It is Finished

JESUS SPEAKING

       After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst.” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to his mouth. So, when Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished!” And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit (John 19: 28-30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Jesus had come to the end of his suffering on the cross. He was betrayed, arrested, abandoned, beaten, humiliated, falsely accused, interrogated, publicly ridiculed and teased, spit on, and pierced by thorns; he was maimed by a whip about the neck, back and legs (the whip contained sharp shards which tore open his flesh;) a bag was placed over his head and he was struck in the face; Jesus carried a cross through mobs of people who hurled insults at him. Spikes were driven through his hands and feet. Despite the long list of pains, he endured, thirst was one of the greatest agonies of the cross. The condemned were denied water. Dehydrated and nearing death, Jesus said, “I thirst.” The soldiers responded by raising a vinegar-soaked sponge to his lips (vinegar is an extremely bitter tasting liquid—even the Romans mercy seemed cruel.) In his last moments, Jesus tasted the bitterness of man’s sin. He then said, “it is finished,” and he died. In a single day he had finished his greatest work; the salvation of mankind. He took the penalty of man’s sin upon himself. He suffered God’s wrath, so that those who would believe in him could avoid destruction.
       The following is a fictitious story which illustrates the work of Jesus on the cross: A girl and her mother lived next to a snake farm in India. From the time of her youth, the girl was told not to wander near the snake pits. One evening the girl began to argue with her mother; frustrated and filled with anger, she struck her mother; in shock the girl ran from her home; because it was evening she didn’t realize she was running toward the snake farm. Suddenly she plummeted into one of the pits. Seeing a single cobra staring her in the face, she screamed. Hearing the scream, her mother came running and looked down into the pit and saw her daughter’s distress. The woman jumped into the pit and lunged toward the cobra to save her daughter. The mother was bitten. The young girl reached forward to pull her mother away from danger, and the cobra also bit her. The owners of the snake farm heard the commotion and came running. They pulled the women from the pit and rushed them to the hospital. The mother went into cardiac arrest, but the young girl showed no symptoms. After a half an hour, the girl’s mother was pronounced dead. The girl began to sob uncontrollably. The Doctor approached her with a somber look on his face. The girl asked him, “How could this have happened? I’m completely fine; we were bitten by the same snake; why is it I am healthy, and my mother is dead?” The Doctor compassionately replied, “Well, your mother was bitten first; and the snake used all of its venom on her. When it bit you, it had nothing left to inject. Your mother saved your life.”
       Similarly, Jesus Christ has placed himself between God’s wrath and those who deserve to experience it. He has taken the full penalty for sin upon himself; he has paid the price; he has suffered death, so others may live. As Jesus endured agony, he thought of you, and he thought of me; he thought of us. Have you accepted his sacrifice? Have you allowed him to take your place? Give Jesus Christ the opportunity to heal your spirit and to wash your sins away. If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, you can do that today. Contact me, or your local pastor, or even another Christian, and ask about how you can partake in Christ’s offering and receive eternal life.
       “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You, and we praise Your son for his suffering. We thank You for allowing Him to take our place on the cross. Thank You Jesus, for enduring God’s wrath so our sins can be forgiven. Father, be our God; be our salvation; be the center of our lives; fill us with Your Holy Spirit, and help us to sacrifice our lives for others. 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.

Loving Your Neighbor

JESUS SPEAKING

         “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered him saying: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise, a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he looked upon him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn and, and took care of him. The next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend when I come next time, I will repay you.’ So, which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 29 – 37.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Samaria was a community of pagan individuals living within the borders of the nation of Israel (just north of Jerusalem); as non-Hebrews, they frequently engaged in immorality and idolatry; for this reason, they were despised by most religious Israelites. In fact, when traveling, many orthodox Jews would contemptuously journey around Samaria rather than through it. After Jesus had confirmed the importance of loving one’s neighbor, he was asked to define what constituted a neighbor. His reply came in the form of a story; in the narrative a man was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road; two religious Jews passed by, without stopping to help (one a priest, and the other a supposed man of God.) Soon after, a Samaritan happened by, and his heart was filled with compassion. In order to preserve the man’s life, he gave of his time, his money, and his resources. He showed true mercy and great generosity. Many today, like the priest and the Levite are so concerned with what lies ahead that they fail to stop and help those who are hurting and in need of assistance.
        Some time ago, during a cross-country meet in Minnesota, a young man named Mark Paulauskas was injured in the first half-mile of a two-mile race. He had been spiked by another runners’ cleats (a wound that would eventually require 20 stitches and a walking boot.) As Paulauskas cried out in agony, most of the other runners passed him by; they were focused more on the finish line than on the pain of an ailing opponent. Yet, one individual heard his cries and was moved with compassion. A runner named Josh Ripley willingly abandoned his vision of victory in order to stop and help; without hesitation he picked up Mark Paulauskas and carried him a half-mile back to the starting line. After handing his wounded competitor into the arms of the coaches, Josh Ripley sprinted off into the wilderness to complete his race. Although he didn’t win, he was victorious in the eyes of God.
         Our fleshly nature commonly causes us to become so focused on what lies ahead that we ignore those who are right beside us. If we are not careful we can pass by those who are hurting and ignore the call of God to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves.’ The world is cold and apathetic; yet in the midst of indifference, there are those who show great compassion and mercy; they give selflessly; they love unconditionally; they are examples of God’s Spirit in action; they are followers of Jesus Christ. They are friends; they are family; they are neighbors; and they are Christians.
         “Lord Heavenly Father, may we always show sympathy toward those who are hurting and in need. May we be relieved of indifference and filled with mercy. May nothing ever be more important than compassion, nor greater than love. Fill us to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit, that we might be examples of Your warmth in a world that is cold and apathetic. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.


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