Archive for May, 2020

Relying on God’s Power

JESUS SPEAKING

    Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night, for it is written:  ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”  Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.”  Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”  Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you” (Matthew 26: 31-35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    Peter rejected Christ’s prophecy; vainly exalting himself above the other disciples, saying, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.”  And yet, despite his best efforts, he would go on to deny the Lord three times before morning.  Without Jesus, and in the midst of crippling fear, Peter failed to maintain his faith. Relying on his own strength, Peter became as weak as any other man.  Still, Jesus promised he would eventually send a replacement; after his resurrection and ascension, he fulfilled this commitment when Peter and the other disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost [the Holy Spirit is the fullness of God dwelling within the human heart.]  Upon receiving God’s Spirit, Peter’s strength was restored; he immediately entered a crowded temple and began boldly preaching the gospel.  The Peter who had denied Christ had relied upon his own strength; the Peter that proclaimed Christ chose to rely on God’s power.  Without God, it is impossible to accomplish His will. But with God, we can move mountains.

    Peter shares the experience of divine empowerment with some other notable men of the bible.  While the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, a young Hebrew man named Moses, who had grown up in Pharaoh’s household, believed it was his destiny to free his people.  One day, Moses witnessed an Egyptian taskmaster beating one of his countrymen.  Filled with rage and a sense of duty, he killed the Egyptian.  In an effort to conceal his crime, he buried the body beneath the sand. However, the body was soon discovered, and a few days later, Moses’ life was in jeopardy.  Alone, and defeated, he fled to the desert and became a shepherd.  For decades he lived a simple existence; caring for livestock.  At the age of 80 God appeared to him and instructed him to return to Egypt to free his people.  He responded by telling God that he wasn’t ‘the right man for the job.’  He no longer believed he was capable of accomplishing the task.  A once prideful and self-reliant young man had become an old man who recognized his own weakness apart from God; he was finally ready to be used by the Lord.  The young Moses, under his own power, was incapable of burying a single Egyptian.  But the mature Moses, relying on God’s power, successfully led a nation to freedom, and buried the entire Egyptian army beneath the waves of the red sea.

    Western culture promotes self-reliance; however, in the divine culture, reliance upon God is paramount.  Is there anything in your life that you are trying to accomplish on your own?  Are you attempting to endure a difficult trial unaided?  Are you struggling to overcome an addiction in isolation?  Do you look to God for provision, or are you the provider?  Your best efforts will never compare to the works of God.  No matter how large the obstacle, or how great the need, if you humble yourself, you will harness the power of the one true and living God.  Do this, and you will be able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4: 13.)

    Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You and honor You.  You truly are an awesome and amazing God.  Apart from You we are weak and incapable of accomplishing good things.  Become our strength Lord; that we may rely upon You and not upon ourselves.  Give us victory over the things that cause us to stumble; may we stand firm, may we endure, and may we overcome.  May we be humble and filled with Your joy.  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!

The Simple are Wise

JESUS SPEAKING

   At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.  Even so, Father, because it seemed good in Your sight.  All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father.  Nor does anyone know the Father except the son, and the one to whom the son wills to reveal him” (Mathew 11: 25-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

  In the Jewish culture, youth was often associated with weakness and stupidity.  So much so, that when a group of Jewish men gathered together, they frequently spoke in order of age; the oldest spoke first and the youngest spoke last.  They believed that with age came wisdom.  Jesus however, corrected this commonly held belief.  Wisdom concerning the messiah and God’s plan of salvation could not be attained through years of careful study; instead, the truth could only be received as a gift from God.  Those who thought themselves intelligent were blinded by pride and reliance upon their own understanding; the simple and the ignorant however, could more clearly see the value of God’s grace and the blessings of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

  Sigmund Freud pioneered what we might consider the modern field of psychology.  In fact, today many consider him to be one of the most intelligent men who has ever lived.  However, many don’t know that at one point in his career, he actively promoted the use of cocaine; believing it to be a cure for many of life’s common ailments.  He even encouraged his close acquaintances and compatriots to indulge in its use.  When one of his dear friends became horribly addicted to the drug, he saw the dangers of cocaine and anxiously recanted his previous promotions; he carried the guilt of his friend’s drug dependence for the rest of his life.  Some of the most well educated and intelligent people are often the most horribly deceived.

    The truth is a gift from The Lord (it is not something that can be earned.)  Intelligence, although extremely useful, can sometimes blind those who trust in it more than God.  God yearns for His children to trust in Him completely.  Those who are simple, unlearned, and unwise, are often the first to see the true value of God’s mercy and grace.  May we receive the gospel today as little children. May we believe with our whole hearts; that God would take control of our lives.  If we place our faith in Jesus Christ we will come to know the truth; and we’ll become smarter than the most well-educated man, and wiser than the greatest king. 

    “Lord Heavenly Father, may we be as little children.  May we completely trust in, and rely upon You.  We pray for those who are intelligent and wise in their own thinking; those who have faith only in the achievements of men.  Reveal the truth to them, that they may come to humbly receive Your mercy and grace.  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!

Look to the Cross

JESUS SPEAKING

  “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself.”  This he said signifying by what death he would die.  The people answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you.  Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (John 12: 32-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     While addressing his followers, Jesus prophesied concerning the manner in which he would die.  He would be crucified, and the cross would come to symbolize healing, forgiveness and reconciliation with God.  Those who look to it in faith receive everlasting life and the free gift of salvation; those who refuse to accept Christ’s sacrifice continue under condemnation, and will eventually face eternal judgment.

    In the Old Testament, God lead the children of Israel out of slavery and bondage in Egypt.  They passed through the Red sea unharmed, and they entered the desert.  While in the desert many Hebrews rebelled against God and the authority of Moses.  Angered by their arrogance, God sent poisonous snakes into their midst to bite them.  Moses approached the Lord and begged Him to show mercy.  Moved with compassion, God told Moses to sculpt a brass snake and fasten it to a long pole; he was then told to raise the pole up in the middle of the camp so everyone could see it.  The Israelites were instructed that if they looked upon the snake in faith, they would be healed from their venomous bites (simply put:  look at the snake and you will live; refuse to look and you will die.)  Jesus Christ was also lifted up on the cross for everyone to see; those who look to him in faith receive eternal life; those who refuse, experience judgment.  Jesus said in John 3: 14-16, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.”

     The cross has always been a powerful symbol.  It has the power to bring light into the lives of those who walk in darkness.  It has the power to heal and the power to reconcile sinful man with a pure and Holy God; it has the power to grant eternal life to those who would but look to it in faith.  May you look upon the cross and receive the free gift of salvation.  May you receive the blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sins.  May you be ‘reborn’ and may God guide you as you travel toward His eternal kingdom.

  “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your wonderful plan of salvation.  As we look to the cross in faith, we receive Your sacrifice and we embrace our new lives with You.  Forgive us of our sins through the blood of Christ Jesus.  Grant us eternal life.  Heal our hearts and minds; help us to be ‘children of light;’ that others might see our good works and honor 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!

Finishing

JESUS SPEAKING

     “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.  For which of you, intending to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build but was not able to finish?’” (Luke 14: 27 – 30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS        

  Following Jesus Christ isn’t easy; it requires great sacrifice and tremendous discipline.  With every genuine profession of faith, uncomfortable changes will occur.  Every believer is called to abandon sinful activities and embrace a life of selflessness and service.  Those considering the Christian life are urged by Jesus to first “sit down first and count the cost.”  Drunkenness, fornication, pornography, adultery, lewdness and idolatry must be discarded.  Foul language, dirty humor, and selfishness must be replaced with purity, love, mercy, and truth.  Sadly, some who begin following the Lord are unable to finish the journey; they abandon God’s call, eventually returning to their old lives.

     Interestingly enough, the longest bridge in the world is the Danyang—Kunshan Grand Bridge in mainland China.  This modern marvel took four years to build and cost approximately 8.5 billion dollars.  As it snakes over rice patties, lowlands, and rivers, it measures a whopping 102 miles in length.  Bridges like this are amazing feats of engineering; and yet all bridges, despite coming in a variety of different shapes and sizes, serve one common purpose; they connect two portions of land divided by an obstacle.  Although these structures are quite useful, an unfinished bridge is of no value whatsoever.  Ninety percent of a bridge is as useful as ten percent of a bridge.  In order to be valuable the structure must be complete.  Much like a bridge, the life of every believer is useless unless it has been completed.  Throughout the centuries there have been numerous genuine disciples who have died knowing that they had kept the faith until the very end.  Sadly, many others have failed to to complete the journey.

     In proverbs Chapter 20, verse 25, we read, “It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, and afterward to reconsider his vows.”  If you have never made a commitment to following Jesus Christ, then you should not do so rashly.  First, you must consider fully what God is asking of you.  He is asking you to turn away from your sins and embrace a life of purity; you will need to devote your entire existence to serving and loving others.  For those who commit themselves to the Lord, the road is not easy, and there are no points for half-way.  Once the journey has begun, it must be finished.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, some of us have already begun our journey with You.  We’ve laid down our worldly ways and embraced purity and love.  May we continue moving forward and may we never falter.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit; empower us to complete what we have started, that we may one day enter Your kingdom with great joy.  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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