Archive for July, 2019

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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