Archive for July, 2020

Why Jesus had to Die

JESUS SPEAKING

     Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  So it was, while they conversed and reasoned that Jesus himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were restrained so that they did not know him.  And he said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”  Then the one whose name is Cleopas answered and said to him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have you not known the things which happened there in these days?”  And he said to them, “What things?”  So they said to him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.  But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel […] Then he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?”  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24: 13-27.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

  After the annual Passover feast, millions of pilgrims were departing from Jerusalem and returning to their homes.  Two of Christ’s followers joined in the mass exodus; their hearts had been broken and their minds were filled with confusion; like many, they had believed Jesus was the messiah; but their hopes were shattered at the foot of the cross, and buried with Christ in His tomb.  Thinking he was dead, the two disciples debated the meaning of his brief existence.  Suddenly Jesus Christ himself drew near to them in the guise of another pilgrim traveling along the road.  The men could not comprehend why the messiah would need to suffer and die.  Quoting the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus cited prophesies that foreordained his punishment and affliction.  The cross was not a display of weakness, but rather, an illustration of strength; nor was his blood a symbol of death; for every drop that was shed has come to represent God’s forgiveness.  Jesus Christ took the punishment for sin upon himself; he died so that others could live.

   In 1943, a ship named the USS Dorchester was sailing to Greenland as a part of a World War 2 navy convoy.  The Dorchester was carrying 903 American soldiers and 4 chaplains.  One evening, as the ship slumbered through the icy waters of the North Atlantic, the men were abruptly awakened by a loud explosion.  A German U-boat torpedo had torn a hole in the bow of the vessel.  All of the men immediately appeared on deck.  The four chaplains began distributing the life vests to the soldiers as they abandoned the sinking ship.  Within a matter of minutes, they had run out of vests.  One of the chaplains bravely removed his vest and gave it to a soldier; the other three chaplains followed his example. These brave men then locked arms and began to sing and pray before drowning in the frigid waters.  They chose to die so that others could live.  

     The disciples did not initially understand why Jesus Christ had to die.  He died because the punishment for sin had to be administered; and the punishment for sin is death.  He perished in our stead.  He embraced agony and suffering so that we could inherit eternal life.  He took our place because he loves us.  We can return that love today by embracing Him.  We should thank Him for His sacrifice and honor Him for His courage; we are only alive today because he was willing to die for us.

  “Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you and praise you for enduring our punishment.  We understand that it was necessary for you to suffer for our sins.  You loved us when no one else could.  Because of your sacrifice we have eternal life.  May we never forget what You have done; may we always remain grateful; and may we continually serve You and worthily magnify Your Holy name.  We love You Jesus, 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!

The Salt of the Earth

JESUS SPEAKING

   “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it become salty again?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Mathew 5: 13.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

   In ancient time’s salt was a very important commodity used to preserve meat; it was also a common ingredient included in many medicinal remedies.  And yet despite its numerous applications, salt was most often utilized to flavor foods; a tiny pinch and an otherwise bland dish would become rather tasty.  In this parable, Jesus likens every believer to salt; those who remain flavorful are those who continue to fulfill their primary purpose; these individuals consistently seek to serve their fellows, love others, and give to those in need.  Unfortunately, some who start out strong in the faith will eventually lose their saltiness and become self-centered and ungodly; the zeal that once drove them to accomplish good words fades away. If we begin serving ourselves and not others, our usefulness to God will become compromised.

   The statue of liberty is one of America’s most widely recognizable icons; an enduring symbol of freedom to all nations.  And yet ‘Lady Liberty’ has changed considerably over the years.  On the day of her dedication in 1886, her polished copper surface was a vibrant spectacle of orange and bronze; a truly marvelous sight to behold.  However, when copper interacts with the atmosphere it corrodes; and over time, her shiny exterior has grown dull, muted, and green.  The Statue of Liberty is still a magnificent example of ingenuity and craftsmanship; and yet she is no longer as magnificent as she was on the day of her dedication.

  Similarly, numerous Christians dedicate themselves to Jesus Christ, and initially they shine quite brilliantly.  Their zeal for what is good and their desire to spread the gospel is unparalleled.  As they serve, the love of The Lord is manifest in them; drawing others toward God.  Sadly however, over time, as other things displace their faith, selfishness arises; reigning in their hearts.  They become dull and muted; incapable of being used to accomplish God’s work.  May we never grow dull; may we continually put the Lord first in everything we do; and may we tirelessly strive to accomplish His will in this world.

   “Heavenly Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us opportunities to lovingly serve others.  We yearn to be pleasing to You in all things; that you might use us to further Your Kingdom.  May we always be zealous and flavorful; and may we never grow dull.  If we have turned from Your path, convict us and correct 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!

Tithing

JESUS SPEAKING

   And Jesus sat across from the treasury, and observed the people throwing their money into the treasury.  And many who were rich cast in much.  And there approached a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which makes a farthing.  And he called his disciples to Himself and said to them, “Truly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in much more than everyone who has given to the treasury; for they cast in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mark 12: 41 – 44.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

  Generosity is an essential tenant of the Christian faith.  God has commanded every follower to use their resources to bless others.  Giving to God what belongs to Him is known as tithing; a tithe is an offering of the first fruits of one’s increase; for example, a person who earns $100 dollars is instructed to give $10 dollars to the church; or in many cases, to use it as charity in the lives of the less fortunate. In this scripture, as Jesus watched the money box, he observed many wealthy individuals putting in huge sums of money; yet along came a poor widow who couldn’t afford to tithe, and still she gave what she had; she gave when she couldn’t; she gave when it hurt. Still she trusted in the Lord, and in turn, Jesus honored her sacrifice above all others.  [Note: Although ten percent is customary, the more we give, the greater the blessings we will inherit.] 

   Despite giving larger quantities of money, many of the wealthiest people in America are actually the least charitable, proportionately (this is not always the case; some wealthy people do give quite generously.)  However, a study published in Newsweek found that ‘most church members give far less than 10 percent;’ most actually give under 2 percent.  ‘Further, it seems that the poor give a far greater portion of their income than the rich.  Actually, families that earned $10,000 dollars gave 5.5 per cent of their income to charity.  Families that earned between $50,000, and 60,000 dollars gave only 1.7 per cent of their earnings.’  It seems that the poor are often, but not always, the most generous givers.

  Giving when it hurts is not always easy; nor is it completely logical; but it is praiseworthy.  When we give from our abundance we honor God; when we give from our poverty we learn to completely trust in Him.  The blessings of faithful charity are abundant; those who give in love, receive the gifts of the Spirit; as they draw nearer to God they experience peace, faith, and hope; the generous inherit an eternal possession that can never be taken away.  May we give when we can, and practice charity even when it hurts; and may God honor our sacrifices.

  “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to honor You with our possessions.  Help us to give to those in need; may we tithe continuously and may we receive the blessings of our faithful generosity.  We trust You Lord; help us to never withhold any of our resources from You.  May we give when we can, and may we give when it hurts.  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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