Archive for November, 2019

It’s Better to Give than to Receive

JESUS SPEAKING

     “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20: 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     The word ‘blessed’ most commonly translates into the English word for ‘happiness.’  Those who live a ‘blessed’ life regularly experience joy, peace, and contentment.  Such a pleasant existence can only be achieved and maintained through daily acts of sacrificial service.  And yet, nearly all human beings are resoundingly selfish.  In an endeavor to acquire as many possessions as possible, some have become isolated, depressed, and discouraged. They aren’t aware that true happiness doesn’t come from selfish gratification; but instead, is the product of selfless giving.

     Michael Norton, a Harvard business professor, sought to discover a link between overall happiness and daily giving.  He conducted an experiment in which a small amount of money was given to a group of test subjects.  Half of the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves; the other half were told to spend the money on someone else.  When researchers contacted the subjects at the end of the day, they found that those who had spent the money on someone else reported feeling much happier than those who had selfishly squandered their’ allotted funds.  [Note:  In another study, Norton found that sales team productivity and relationship quality increased as salespeople were given money to spend on other team members.]

     Professor Norton had discovered that, although selfish gain seems appealing, it also lacks the power bring about lasting joy.  Genuine peace and contentment are the result of selflessness and sacrifice.  By serving and giving, we can demonstrate the generosity and love of Jesus Christ. May we never forget that happiness doesn’t originate from what we might receive, but rather, from what we are willing to give.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, shower us with your many blessings.  As we love and serve our fellows, may we be filled with happiness and joy.  May our selfish desires come to an end; that through us, countless lost souls might come to glorify Your Holy Name.  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!

Being Ready for His Return

JESUS SPEAKING

      “Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks, they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes […] But understand this:  If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12: 35-37, 39-40.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      In ancient times, Jewish weddings were relatively prolonged engagements; often lasting for many days.  The guests would recline on pillows, feasting day and night; often falling asleep beside the table.  The length of the celebration was uncertain; it could end at one in the morning, or three in the afternoon. In turn, when the master of a household attended a wedding, his servants had to be prepared for his return at any moment.  Therefore, Jesus used this parable to illustrate His second coming.  After ascending into heaven, he promised to return; yet provided no specific day or hour. He could return today; in a month; or a hundred years from now.  Consequently, his servants must eagerly await his arrival every second of every day.

     Many years ago, prior to my conversion, I practiced a life of sinful disobedience.  I lived alone, in an apartment paid for by my Dad.  He would occasionally pop in to make sure the apartment was clean and in proper condition.  One evening, while hosting a drunken bash, things got out of hand.  We smashed beer bottles in my living room.  I also broke an exterior window, and another partygoer broke my car window with an empty beer bottle.  Somehow the toilet clogged and overflowed as well; leaking into the apartment beneath me.  I eventually passed out; thinking I could clean up in the morning without anyone noticing.  However, early the following day, I was rousted from my sleep by the shouts of an angry man. “Get up,” my dad yelled in my ear!  I sprang from the mattress, in utter shock.  I was embarrassed, ashamed, and filled with fear.  I hadn’t expected him; never contemplating that he might witness the carnage of my drunken behavior.  He stood by, patiently watching as I picked up every shard of broken glass.

      Much like my Dad, the Lord is coming at an hour when we least expect Him.  We must always be ready for his return.  Those who obey the teachings of Jesus Christ are prepared to meet him.  If we continually love and serve others, then when our savior arrives, he will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant […] enter into the joy of the Lord.”

      “Lord Heavenly Father may our hearts be filled with the expectation of Your return.  Reveal to us any areas where we are being selfish, rather than selfless. Convict our hearts and give us the strength to repent.  May we always be giving, kind, and obedient; never missing an opportunity to 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!

Making God the Priority

JESUS SPEAKING

     Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore, tell her to help me.”  And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 38 – 42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     After eagerly welcoming Jesus into her home for the evening, Martha began feverishly serving her new guests.  In traditional Jewish culture, the women were responsible for preparing the meals.  Therefore, Martha became upset when she observed Mary sitting at Christ’s feet, intently listening to His every word.  She attempted to correct her sister, but the Lord corrected her instead.  Unlike Mary, Martha had failed to put God first; ahead of all of her other duties.

     In the 1500’s, a German Monk named Martin Luther sparked the protestant reformation (a movement that sought to restore the church to biblical truths, rather than manmade religious traditions.)  As the leader of this movement, he was an extraordinarily busy man.  However, despite his many responsibilities, he would arise every morning to spend time in prayer; conceding that on his busiest days he needed God even more.  He once said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”

     Like Martin Luther, we must make God our number one priority.  The amount of distractions in this life are seemingly infinite. The busier we are, the less time we have to complete our daily tasks.  On our busiest days we can act like Martha and make less time for God and more time for our chores.  Or, we can choose to behave like Mary and make God our top priority.  By reading scripture, praying, and seeking God’s will first thing in the morning, we are making the right decision.  If God is our priority, everything else will fall into its proper place. And the peace of the Lord will remain in us, as He accomplishes His work through us.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to make You the most important thing in our lives.  May life’s busiest moments never distract us from focusing on Your goodness.  Teach us and love us; pour Your Spirit out into our hearts, that we might be used to effectively accomplish Your will in this place.  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.

The Resurrection

JESUS SPEAKING

     “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him” (Luke 20: 34 – 38.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     The resurrection from the dead is a central tenant of the Christian faith.  Jesus Himself rose from the dead, revealing that everyone who has faith in Him will never die.  Instead, although the body may temporarily perish, the believer’s spirit continues onward in God’s eternal kingdom.  When the Almighty establishes a new heaven and a new Earth, every faithful soul will receive an eternal body.  A body that doesn’t grow old; every disease will be obliterated, and death and suffering will cease to exist.  Pregnancy will no longer be necessary either; marriage will become a thing of the past.  Everyone will live in perfect fellowship with one another, and with the God who created them.

     To prove that there is life after death, Jesus quotes an Old Testament scripture.  In Exodus 3: 6, God says to Moses, “I am […] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (present tense.)  He doesn’t say I was the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (past tense.)  Although Abraham Isaac and Jacob had physically perished, they were, and are still now, spiritually alive; living peacefully in God’s eternal kingdom.

     There comes a time when every human being must make the journey from this life to the next.  For those who believe, death is not the end; it is merely the beginning.  Faith in Jesus Christ is the vessel that carries us into the presence of the almighty and everlasting Father.  May your faith remain strong as you are transformed into the image of your savior; and may God comfort you as you eagerly look forward to your eternal future with great hope and joy.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, we faithfully await the resurrection from the dead.  We know that you have prepared a special place for us in Your eternal Kingdom, and we look ahead to that day with great pleasure and overwhelming gladness.  Sanctify us and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might do Your works and accomplish Your will right here in this place.  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 we pray.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!


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