Archive for March, 2019

Persecution

JESUS SPEAKING

      “If the world hates you, you will know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I have spoken to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15: 18 – 20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     Jesus was persecuted relentlessly during his earthly ministry. He was slandered publicly and privately. He was shunned by many, and ridiculed, even by members of his own family. His message was so offensive that he was nearly stoned to death on several occasions. Eventually, despite his miraculous feats, and his immeasurable love, Jesus Christ was abandoned by his closest friends; he was bound and beaten; spit upon and crucified. Those who choose to follow him can expect to experience some measure of similar persecution.
      Eleven of the twelve disciples were brutally martyred for their unwavering faith. They paid the ultimate price for fearlessly spreading the gospel throughout the known world. Although physical peril is a common type of persecution, it comes in many other forms. One day, many years ago, as I sat studying in the local coffee shop, I began talking with a Muslim friend concerning the tenants of the Christian faith. As I presented her with the gospel, a woman sitting next to us became visibly upset. Not knowing that we were already friends, she yelled “Can’t you see she doesn’t want to talk to you about that?” The woman continued to verbally harass me, making every effort to subvert the conversation. In the middle of the pestering, I looked at my friend and said, “This is the type of persecution that occurs when you become a believer.” Eventually the woman became so disruptive that we had to end our discussion.
      Persecution is an inevitable consequence of genuine faith. If we are not experiencing some form of persecution, then perhaps we are keeping our beliefs hidden away; choosing safety and security above obedience to the Lord. Still there are those who boldly spread the gospel message. These individuals can expect to be persecuted. Persecution, in any form, isn’t very pleasant; yet it is a reminder that we are earnestly following in the footsteps of our teacher, our master, and our friend.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, provide us with opportunities to preach the gospel to others. May we reach out to those who might become our brothers and sisters. Strengthen us when we encounter persecution; that we might stand firm in the faith. Give us courage to boldly speak the truth; that we would continue to emulate our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. 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.

God Honors Those Who Honor Him

JESUS SPEAKING

      Now as Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed and is dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered saying, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. (Mathew 8: 5-13.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      The Roman Empire conquered the Holy Land in 63 B.C.; and due to the continued threat of rebellion, there were soldiers permanently stationed there in the first century. A ‘centurion’ was an officer in charge of 100 soldiers; they were usually men of impeccable character. This centurion came to Jesus and humbled himself; he publicly confessed his own unworthiness and praised him; in so doing he honored God’s Son. Jesus then honored the centurion by publicly lifting up his faith above every Jew in Israel. God continues to honor those who lower themselves and exalt Him. Jesus has also said, “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
      In 1924, a Scotsman named Eric Liddell was expected to win the Olympic gold medal in the 100 meter dash. He had grown up in a missionary family and was a committed Christian. His parents had taught him to faithfully observe the Sunday Sabbath; a weekly day of rest, church attendance, and fellowship. When Eric found out that the 100 meter dash was scheduled for a Sunday, he made the decision to ‘sit it out.’ He was pressured to run by his countrymen, as well as an endless array of powerful people. Still, he remained convinced that honoring God on His day was more important than winning a medal. A few months before the Olympics began, he decided to start training for the 400 meter dash (an event that wasn’t on Sunday.) No one expected him to do well. But on the day of the race, while approaching the starting blocks, an American trainer placed a piece of paper in Eric’s hand. There was a bible verse written on it. 1 Samuel verse 2:30. The scripture reads, “Those who honor me I will honor.” Eric ran that race for God; and not only did he win the gold medal, but he also broke the world record. He had pushed his own desire for glory aside. Because he had honored God, the Lord exalted Eric above his fellows.
      Placing God in His proper position necessitates humility. Honoring Him requires selflessness. We become less important and He becomes more important. He is righteous and we are unrighteous; He is worthy, and we are unworthy. We forgo glory so that God may have it. Only those who raise Him up in this life will be raised up into everlasting life. There are so many ways to glorify God. We can make Him a continued topic of discussion in our personal relationships. We can pray to Him and seek His counsel daily. We can give credit to the Lord for the good works that we do. When we give something to another person, we can say, “This is from the Lord.” When a person attempts to thank us, we can politely remind them that Jesus Christ is the one they should thank. When others call us good, we can inform them that our goodness comes from God. May we continually place the focus on Him; may we give Him the glory; and may we honor Him with our lives.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, give us more opportunities to honor and glorify You. May our hearts be humble, and our minds pure. Give us the strength to lay down our lives in this world, so that we might better serve you. We love You Lord, we thank You, and we praise 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.

Giving God the Glory

JESUS SPEAKING

      ‘Now around the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not my own, but His who sent me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority. He that speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him” (John 7: 14-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      The educated men who had heard Jesus speak were astonished at his perfect knowledge of scripture. Unlike them, he did not attend a notable Hebrew school; nor did he sit at the feet of some prominent rabbi; instead, his knowledge and wisdom came from God (not man.) For their extensive learning, the Jewish scholars demanded admiration and praise; whereas Jesus sought to honor God. To chase after our own glory is to embrace unrighteousness. To glorify God and his only Son is to live correctly.
      One man who thoroughly understood this principle, was John the Baptist. When Jesus began baptizing people in the Jordan river, John’s followers became concerned; they said, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, he is baptizing, and all are coming to him.” John replied, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven […] he must increase, and I must decrease.” John was devoid of selfish pride. He chose to humble himself and glorify the Son of God (the Savior of the world.)
      Today, although Jesus Christ reigns in heaven, his deeds continue upon this Earth. He performs his miracles through his disciples. Some however, who desire glory, will take credit for God’s works. But a trustworthy servant renders to God the praise and honor He deserves. To glorify God, we must humble ourselves. He must increase and we must decrease. As followers, we forgo admiration so that God may receive what is His? We must speak the words of Jesus Christ; give in the name of Christ; and love in the name of Christ. We must die, so that He can live. Only then will we know immeasurable joy and everlasting peace.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, may You increase as we decrease. May we let go of our selfish need to be praised; that You may receive the credit for the good works that You are accomplishing in us, and through us. May we be vessels of Your love and mercy. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit Lord; that we might always be pleasing to You. 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.

Our Possessions Belong to God

JESUS SPEAKING

       And it came to pass, when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that he sent two of his disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring here. And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went their way and found it just as he had said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought him to Jesus (Luke 19: 29 – 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       The book of Zechariah prophesied that the messiah would arrive humbly; “riding on a donkey.” Jesus therefore sent out two disciples to procure an animal for his triumphal entry in to Jerusalem. When the men were confronted by the owners, they did as they were instructed; they responded saying, “The Lord has need of it” (in turn, they were permitted to leave.) Much has been written about this brief encounter; many commentaries likely highlight the omniscience of God, the wisdom of Christ, and the faithfulness of the disciples (with good reason.) Yet in the midst of God’s glory, there exists a nameless stranger; a generous man (or woman) who immediately recognized that his (or her) possessions were divine endowments; gifts from God that were to be used to serve the creator whenever He had need of them.
       Every year around the holidays, a Christian organization known as ‘Operation Christmas Child’ begins working with thousands of churches throughout the United States. Congregational members are instructed to fill shoeboxes full of toys and other items and deliver them to their local pastors. The boxes are then transported to a warehouse where they are sorted by volunteers, packaged, and shipped to impoverished nations around the world. Some time ago, I and a few other Christians volunteered at a nearby processing plant; we examined hundreds of boxes; the gifts were beautiful (some givers chose to include pictures of themselves and many had even taken the time to write letters.) Millions of people across the country were asked by God to give of their resources; millions responded to His call; in turn, many have come to experience the love of Jesus Christ.
       Our possessions are not our own; our time, our money, and our resources all belong to God. We are simply stewards of what we have been given. When the Lord calls, we must be willing to relinquish control of our goods so that others may know the love of Christ. Be still, and the Holy Spirit will tell you what and when to give. Be generous, be faithful, and you will experience the joy of the Lord; and His peace will fill your heart, now, and forevermore.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, give us opportunities to use our resources to further Your Kingdom. May we be generous; may we be faithful; may we serve others with gladness and singleness of heart; and may we never turn away from those who are in need. 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!


Two messages a week will be sent to your email address.

Join 6,044 other followers