Archive for July, 2019

Priorities

JESUS SPEAKING

      Jesus had just finished speaking to a rich man who had come to ask him a question; “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  The rich man claimed he had been faithful in keeping each of the ten commandments; still, Jesus told him he lacked one thing; he needed to sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor; only then could he come and follow The Lord.  This proposition was too much for the rich man to concede; causing him to leave under a cloud of sadness.  The scripture below is what followed.  Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed you.”  So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom  of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18: 29.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      Peter draws attention to the fact that he and his fellow believers had left everything to follow Jesus.  Jesus responded by promising to replace what they had sacrificed, but in even greater abundance.  And yet there was one stipulation placed upon the rewards; just giving things up wasn’t enough; the sacrifices had to be made for the sake of the kingdom of God.  Jesus also identifies two kinds of rewards; those provided for them in the present time; during their lives upon the earth; and the rewards coming to them after their deaths (eternal life with God.)

      Jesus presents us with a list of things that people commonly put before God.  Some who were called, refused to sell their homes and go out into the ministry field with Jesus; their homes were the most important thing in their lives; for some it was their parents; for some, their brothers; for some, their wives, and for still others, it was their children.  Life is full of priorities; and everyone has something in the top spot; and whatever is in that top spot set’s the limitations on every other valuable thing.  Without fail, everyone serves the number one priority in their lives.  [I once asked a man who claimed to be a believe in Jesus, how much time he spent brushing his teeth in the morning and the evening.  Apparently, his daily tooth care comprised about 4-5 minutes.  Then I asked him how much time he spent reading the bible; his response was “0.”  I said, “Then it’s safe to say, that in your life, your teeth are more important than God?”  Without coercion, he recognized the truthfulness of my statement.  A person who spends a lifetime putting God off will, in the end, be put off by God.

      Today, in our daily lives, God must come first.  He has too become the number one priority, and everything must come in second.  Yes, sacrifices are necessary to make this happen.  Selling all our possessions is not necessarily what he is asking us to do; but he is asking us to put Him ahead of those possessions.  If a man puts wealth into the place where God should be, he has too sacrifice his love for money; choosing instead, to replace it with a love for God.  And yet, not everyone has placed wealth above God.  Many have placed family, loved ones, children, time, possessions, freedom, recreation, sleep, drugs or alcohol, a job, a car, a house, land, education, etc.  We can place God first if we are willing to release our grip on whatever it is we’re serving; only then can we truly serve Him.

  “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to sacrifice those things that are preventing us from serving you.  Give us the strength to place You first; and may we not be afraid to make changes in our lives.  Please be the number one priority in our hearts; be the thing we love the most.  We love You Father, and we look forward to Your coming Kingdom.  We praise You, we thank You, and we love You, and we ask all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!

An Eternal Foundation

JESUS SPEAKING

   “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of  mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.  But everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was its fall” (Mathew 7: 24-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

   In this scripture, Jesus initially identifies one group of people: all those who hear his words.  He further divides this group into two distinct categories.  The division is based solely on the response to what the listeners have heard.  One group puts into practice what they have learned from Jesus, and the other group does not.  Those who take action are wise, but those who do not are foolish.  Both groups are likened to builders, who undertake the construction of a house.  One builds on solid rock (unmovable, sturdy, and permanent), and another group builds on sand (movable, shifting, and impermanent.)  Every human being is a building, and their actions and behaviors are the product of following a blueprint.  Some blueprints are terrible, some are wonderful, but only one blueprint is eternal.  The wind and the rains, and the floods that Jesus is talking about are the forces in life that attempt to break us down; to cause us to fail and give up hope.  Everyone suffers setbacks; everyone suffers trials, and those who don’t practice the teachings of the Lord crumble when those trials arise.

   Along the coast of Southern California, many individuals have constructed lavish mansions on the cliffs overlooking the ocean.  Every so often a mudslide or a sink hole will bring down a huge portion of the cliff upon which one of these houses stands.  If you watch the news, you will occasionally see a picture of a half of a house standing on a cliff; while the opposite half lays on the beach below; buried by the cliff that gave way.  Once in a while, a house built on a solid enough foundation will hang over the cliff, fully intact, with nothing but air flowing beneath it.  The same thing is true for those in this world who build their lives upon the teachings and sayings of Jesus Christ.  This world will eventually perish; it will undergo complete destruction; and yet whatever we have built in this life according to God’s design will not perish; but will instead, last forever.

   Today, much like our Lord, each one of us is a carpenter.  We are builders who have a blueprint to follow.  A life that takes shape because we follow the directions outlined for us by our eternal God, will never end.  The other life, the one that follows instructions given to us by anyone other than Jesus Christ, will be destroyed.  Eternal life is not obtained solely by what we have heard, but by what we have done as a result of what we have heard.  Obedience to God is how we build our lives upon an eternal foundation.  If we read His word and do His word, we will not pass away with this present world; but rather, we will spend an eternity with Him in paradise.        

“Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You give us the strength to do what we have heard from Your Son.  Give us more opportunities to implement your directions for living; may we know deep pleasure and great satisfaction in completing the tasks that You have given us to do.  May we always strive to please you, and to be a blessing to all of those around us.  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!

Difficult Choices

JESUS SPEAKING

     Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  And he took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be troubled and deeply distressed.  Then he said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.  Stay here and watch.”  He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.  And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.  Take this cup away from me; nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done” (Mark 14: 32-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    After eating the Passover meal, Jesus and his disciples traveled to a garden area near the temple, known as Gethsemane.  There, in solitude, clothed in a heavy garment of darkness, the first drops of blood and sweat dripped from the forehead of God’s only Son; this peaceful garden became the scene of the greatest battle ever fought; the knock-down-drag out fight for the redemption and salvation of mankind.  With the pain of his crucifixion looming on the horizon, Jesus experienced overwhelming anguish.  Falling on his face in agony, he asked God to use an alternative means of accomplishing mankind’s deliverance; but in the same breath he also said, “nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.”  In a single sentence the battle had been won, and the world would come to know true obedience.  God’s will and our will are often in great opposition.  Like Jesus, there are moments when we are required to make difficult choices.  Do we choose to do what is right, despite any resulting hardships; or do we choose what is evil because it is less painful.

  [Warning:  Some individuals may find the following information disturbing.  If you have ever undergone an abortion, remember that God loves you; if you have asked Him for forgiveness, then you are guilty of nothing; by the blood of Christ you are a ‘new creation.’]  Statistically, nearly 25% of all women will have at least one abortion by the time they are 45 years old.  Every year, approximately 879,000 thousand women choose to abort their developing babies because it is the easy way out.  A quick trip to the clinic and a life is traded for a few more years of freedom; a future job; or, greater financial security.  In a 2004 study, 86% of abortions were justified by one of the following excuses: ‘unready’ (25%); ‘Can’t afford a baby now’ (23%); ‘has all the children she wanted, or all children are grown’ (19%); ‘has relationship problems or wants to avoid single parenthood’ (8%); ‘is too immature or young to have child’ (7%); ‘would interfere with education and career plans’ (4%).  Regardless of the excuse, the true cause is selfishness (Definition of selfishness: ‘exclusive regard for one’s own interest or happiness; supreme self-love or self-preference which leads a person to direct his purposes to the advancement of his/her own interest, power, or happiness.’)

    Women and men who choose life, have made the decision to do what is right; and yet the correct path is frequently the most difficult.  Quite often, following God’s will is very costly.  Every disciple must embrace hardship and self-sacrifice.  Denying our own desires to satisfy the will of God is a daily battle that can only be won when we say, “nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.”   The cost of eternal life is death; to live, we must lay down our lives here.  May each of us choose to serve God rather than ourselves; may we do what is right, no matter the cost; may we joyfully embrace a life of sacrifice; and may we always accomplish the perfect will of our Everlasting Creator.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, You truly are awesome and amazing God.  Help us to accomplish Your will.  Give us the strength and the courage to embrace any difficulties that may arise from doing what is right.  Guide us and direct us, that we might know what is pleasing to You.  May we deny our own desires when they are not incongruent with Your wishes.  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!

Things Old and New

JESUS SPEAKING

    Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”  (Mathew 13: 52.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

   The bible consists of two parts; the Old Testament and the New Testament.  The Old Testament contains prophecies, inspired writings, and recorded historical events and information dating from approximately 4004 B.C. to around 440 B.C.  God then chose to remain silent for 450 years, until around 15-30 A.D. when John the Baptist began preaching in the wilderness; announcing the near arrival of the messiah; Jesus Christ.  Jesus soon appeared on the scene, completing God’s message and laying the foundation for the New Testament (the gospels, the apostles’ letters, and the book of revelation.)  Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament and added to it.  In turn, any scribe that understood the message would combine the Old Testament and Christ’s words into one complete revelation from God.

    While I was at the swap meet one day, I made an interesting observation.  Some merchants were selling expensive antiques, which were highly valued because they were old.  Still others sold items that were completely new; it was their newness that gave them their value.  Things that are neither old nor new are extremely cheap; like VHS videos; which aren’t new; but are also not old enough to be valuable yet.  The wise retailers, like the householder Jesus was speaking about in this parable, got the most money for what they were selling because they sold items that were both old and new.  Similarly, God’s truth is not complete unless both the New and the Old Testament are combined as one.  The Holy Bible cannot be divided, altered, or added too in any way; it is a complete work.

   The Bible is filled with valuable treasures; gems of truth and nuggets of pure wisdom.  Jesus did not come to discard the Old Testament, but to combine the old and the new into a single masterpiece; a correspondence between God and man.  The world is filled with books, written by individuals and inspired by their own desires; and yet there is only one book that God himself has written.  The Bible is a treasure chest that just begs to be opened; inside you will find every answer you have ever desired to know.  Open it and experience the fullness of the one true God.

   “Lord Heavenly Father, as we read Your Word, please give us a desire to dig deeply; to search for new insights and truths.  Guide us as we read and speak to our hearts; make Your plan for us clear in our minds and in our hearts.  We yearn to know the full, complete goodness of Your book; and in turn, the complete knowledge of your affections for us.  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!

A True Servant

JESUS SPEAKING

       But Jesus called them to himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the gentile’s lord it over them, and their great one’s exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you 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

       Nearly every society, from the fall of mankind until the present day, has been structured to facilitate the pursuit of power and authority.  All social orders are shaped like pyramids that narrow near the top.  As people grow older, those who have secured positions of influence are treated with greater respect.  Those who do not rise to the top, settle near the bottom; the strong rule, while the weak become servants.  Yet Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, was not born in a palace; he was born on the dirty floor of a manger.  A life began in humility, was lived in like manner; the prince of peace served the poor and embraced the unworthy.  He turned an ‘upside down world’, ‘right side up.’  To pursue Christ is to forsake the quest of idolatrous power and authority.  [Note:  This does not mean that you must quit your job if you are in a position of authority, or in charge of other employees.]  Those who desire to follow the Son of God must search for the lowest position.  A disciple is greatest when he is the least; he is the most alive when he is dead; he only rules when he truly serves.

       The nation of India was founded on the teachings of Hinduism.  Social order is a centralized feature of the Hindu Religion (as is the belief in reincarnation.)  They believe in a divine hierarchy; a caste system in which a person’s position is the result of their prior life.  When someone dies, they are immediately reborn; and the deeds of their past life dictate their present social standing.  Those who were good are born into one of the four respectable classes (the top class being comprised of kings, warriors, and rulers.)  However, those who were evil in their previous life are born into a class known as the ‘untouchables.’  This group is poor, plagued with sickness, and most have historically only been able to hold menial jobs (such as the removal of dead bodies.)   This principle of Karma is well known by every Hindu; bad Karma needs to be worked off; by suffering miserably in this life, one can pay for the sins of their past life; through anguish, every ‘untouchable’ can hope for a better life when they die.  Therefore, in India, helping the needy and the poor is often seen as interfering with their karma (if they help to relieve some of the suffering, they can actually prolong it.)  Therefore, there is now a permanent underclass; a group of people the world has forsaken.  And yet, although most of mankind has forgotten about these people, God has not.  In the 1950’s, a Catholic Nun named Mother Theresa was led by the Lord to begin caring for lepers in India; she established a colony and made a place for them to call home.  She also reached out to the abandoned orphans, the disabled, and the sick.  From that time until her death in 1997, she served the poorest, weakest, and most insignificant people, the world around.  When she received the Nobel Peace prize, she said, “I am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless…the crippled… the blind…the lepers, (and) all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared-for throughout society; people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

       Mother Theresa followed Christ; and it led her into the slums of Calcutta.  Jesus has asked nothing less of every true believer.  Service is a requirement.  Whether at work, school, the coffee shop, the grocery store, or even at home, disciples are servants.  A true servant seeks out opportunities to help others.  The way up is down.  Humble yourself and allow God to use you; lowliness leads to honor, and humility is the path to everlasting life.  Those who serve others, serve the true and living God.  Deny yourself; give to the needy; embrace the outcast; love those who have been abandoned; prefer others, and God will one day raise you up to a place of eternal honor.

       “Lord Heavenly Father, we desperately desire to be lowly.  Help us to serve others with zeal.  Please provide us with opportunities to give of our time, resources, and knowledge.  Grant us humility, that we may give to those in need; may we love those who feel unloved.  We aspire to be great servants; may we deny ourselves to honor and prefer others; and may our hearts be filled with joy as we serve You and our fellows.  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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