Archive for November, 2018

The Leftovers

JESUS SPEAKING

        Then Jesus went from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Caanan came from that region and cried out to him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon possessed.” But he said to her not a word. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” But he answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But he answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the masters table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire!” And her daughter was healed from that very hour (Mathew 15: 21-28.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        In first century Jewish culture, dogs were considered dirty animals; they scavenged through garbage heaps; feeding on the scraps that humans refused to eat. The Hebrew people commonly referred to non-Jews (gentiles) as dogs. Jesus called the begging woman a dog; an insult designed to test her heart. She didn’t react in anger; she didn’t hurl insults at him. Instead, she laid down her pride, embraced his assessment, and continued chasing her miracle. Because she exhibited true humility, Jesus granted her request and praised her for her faith.
        When I was a small child, my family usually ate meals around a dining room table. Of course, we were expected to devour everything on our plates; even the things we didn’t enjoy. Brutis, our overeager collie, always sat patiently beside the table. When my mother exited the room, my siblings and I would gently lower our dishes and Brutis would lick them clean. When she returned, she was pleased to see our empty plates. Our dog wasn’t prideful; he never complained about the taste of the food; nor did he consider leftovers and scraps undignified. Instead, he joyfully consumed whatever we rejected.
        When our messiah walked the earth, the Jewish people were God’s priority; and even today they hold a preferred place. Jesus was Jewish; as were John, Peter, Paul, and the other 10 disciples. In fact, only one of the books in the New Testament was written by a non-Jewish author. Whenever Paul entered a new city, he would walk straight in to the synagogue and proclaim the gospel. Only after they had rejected the message, did he preach to the gentiles. By the grace and mercy of God, we as non-Jews have come to inherit eternal life. If you are Jewish and you have faith in God’s son, you are blessed. If you are gentile, you can humbly and joyfully devour the divine leftovers. Know your place and God will honor you. By discarding pride and embracing His mercy, you will experience the desires of your heart, and you will “dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.” [Note: Despite God’s love for the Jewish people, Jesus Christ has broken down the barriers of inequality that divide Jews and gentiles. ‘We are all one in Christ Jesus.’]
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for the Jewish people, and for the salvation You have offered them through Your Son. We love them because You love them. May we all, Jew and gentile alike, humbly accept Your message; knowing that we are undeserving of Your grace. Grant us the miracle of reconciliation, that we might experience Your wonderful mercy. 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.

Fellowship is Essential

JESUS SPEAKING

       “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Mathew 18: 19-20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       The word ‘Amen,’ so commonly spoken at the end of most prayers, essentially means ‘I agree.’ Like so many Christian practices, prayer is meant to be exercised in community, as well as well as alone. No one can have a complete relationship with God until they share Him with others. When two or more gather together to celebrate Christ, his Spirit is made manifest in their hearts; those who are weak become strong and those who are empty are made full. An isolated Christian is a Christian who is weak and vulnerable to attack. To avoid fellowship with believers is to avoid fellowship with Christ himself.
       Some time ago, I regularly answered the prayer lines at my local church. After gaining a lot of experience, I was able to make some profound observations. Those who were not involved in a church fellowship, or a small group bible study, suffered great difficulties. Many isolators were addicted to drugs or struggling with some other terrible sin; nearly every detached person was stuck in a continual state of crisis. On the contrary, those who expressed a spirit of joy were actively involved in service work; they usually attended a small group fellowship; and they maintained close friendships with other believers.
       Are you involved in fellowship today? Do you have close Christian friends that you regularly pray with? Is your experience with Christ exercised in community, or in isolation? If you are not plugged into the body of Christ, go down to your church and ask them about weekly fellowships you might attend. They usually have lists, and you can always find one that fits your schedule. Make friends with other believers and pray with them regularly; become a part of God’s family and be renewed by the Holy Spirit. Without fellowship, you will never know the fullness of God’s power in your life.
       “Lord heavenly Father, we come before You and ask that You help us to be members of Your body. We desire to share You with others, and to be in fellowship with our eternal brothers and sisters. May we draw near to one another as we all draw near to You. May Your Spirit flow freely between us. If we have isolated, give us opportunities to fellowship with others and to grow strong. 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!

Producing Much Fruit

JESUS SPEAKING

      “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12: 23 – 25.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Utilizing an agricultural metaphor, Jesus references His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection. A single grain of wheat, when planted, can produce hundreds, thousands, and even millions of additional seeds. Similarly, the Lords’ suffering and agony upon the cross, and ensuing resurrection, has produced much fruit. His selfless sacrifice has inspired endless conversions; enabling millions to receive the mercy and grace of God.
       In the 1800’s there resided a little girl from Philadelphia name Hattie Wiatt. She lived in close proximity to a popular, and very crowded Grace Baptist Church. One day she approached the Church and asked to attend their Sunday school. Sadly, she was told that there was no more room. Less than two years later, Hattie fell ill and passed away. A pocket book containing 57 pennies was found underneath her pillow; it was wrapped in a piece of scrap paper; written on the paper was a note that read, “To help build the little temple bigger, so that more children can go to Sunday school.” She had saved her pennies for 2 years intending to give them as a donation to the church. The pastor told his congregation of Hattie’s selflessness. Immediately donations began pouring in, until they had collected nearly $250,000 dollars. Soon the church was seating 3,300 people; the parishioners also chose to build a hospital as well as a university accommodating some 1,400 students (today, attendance at Temple University has grown to nearly 28,000.) Hattie’s sacrifice, although small, has gone on to produce much fruit.
       Like Hattie, we are called to selflessly lay down our lives to “build the little temple bigger.” To sacrifice our own wants and desires so that others may come to know the love of God. When we serve our fellows, love our neighbors, and give to those in need, we bear much fruit. Those who strive to live selflessly will come to know peace; true peace; heavenly peace; eternal peace; “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”
       “Lord Heavenly Father, You are truly an amazing and awesome God. We desperately desire to be selfless; we yearn to lay down our lives so that others may come to know You. Help us to enjoy and embrace serving, giving, and loving. May we produce much fruit and bring many souls into Your everlasting Kingdom. 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.

A True Servant

JESUS SPEAKING

        But Jesus called them to himself and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. However, it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 42 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        As children we are often taught that dominance is better than submission, and that a higher social status means a better life. Many therefore seek to acquire positions of great power and authority. Yet Christ’s teachings are in direct opposition to such worldly principles. Those who follow Jesus must deny what they’ve been taught, in order to embrace the doctrines of genuine faith and divine humility. Only by abandoning the desire for greatness, can we completely and lovingly serve others.

        For years, young men from across the country have flocked to my home church; seeking to practice pastoral ministry. Many hopefuls were initially referred to a pastor named Romain; who employed a special technique designed to separate the qualified from the unqualified. As the prospects approached, he would hand them a broom and instruct them to sweep a portion of the church. Although many were obedient, some, feeling insulted, became upset. One common response sounded something like this; “I came here to be a pastor, and to teach the bible; not to sweep floors.” Pastor Romain knew then that they lacked a servant’s heart; they had not come to serve in humility, but rather, to acquire power and authority.

        Those who follow the Son of God must abandon the desire for worldly greatness in order to pursue lowliness and humility. By seeking to serve others rather than to be served, we become the men and women God has called us to be. We can serve in our church, at home, in the community, and at work. We can serve our families, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers. Only through sacrifice and selflessness can we truly be molded in to the image of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

        “Lord Heavenly Father, inspire us to pursue and embrace humility. May we strive to serve others in sincerity and singleness of heart. Provide us with opportunities to place the needs of others ahead of our own; that in so doing, we might be living examples of Your great mercy and everlasting affection. 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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