Archive for January, 2021

Serpents and Doves

JESUS SPEAKING

   “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and as harmless (innocent) as doves” (Mathew 10: 16.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     Those who accept the Holy Spirit and forsake evil are cleansed of all unrighteousness.  They are made pure and holy; they are reborn, rendering them as innocent as doves.  However, unlike natural born children whose innocence is accompanied by ignorance, the ‘reborn’ child of God retains the knowledge of good and evil.  In the heart of every believer, innocence and wisdom exist in harmony.  The serpent that Jesus speaks about is a creature that symbolizes wisdom.  In Genesis, God created the serpent to be the wisest of all the animals.  Characteristically, snakes are rarely surprised or caught off guard; they patiently wait for opportunities to strike and always keep their eyes on potential predators.  In a world filled with evil, God’s eternal offspring must apply comparable wisdom to avoid destruction. Like the serpent, believers must identify hungry predators and turn to face them.  How can we be loving toward those who are evil, while at the same time making sure we don’t get eaten by them?  Being both a dove and a serpent can be difficult; it demands discipline and divine guidance.

     Some years ago a man entered the coffee shop where I was studying; it was late and there were very few customers. He began speaking in a broken English accent and was behaving in a rather peculiar manner. He started drawing attention to himself by flirting with the workers behind the register.  When the employees were distracted, the man leaned over the counter and snatched some money from the tip jar; quickly concealing it.  I promptly rose up and approached the counter.  When the man turned around he was greeted with a stern look.  “Put it back,” I insisted.  “I’m so sorry” he replied; admitting to his devious actions; he returned the money and asked for forgiveness.  He claimed he was starving and in desperate need of money.  My heart softened a bit; I informed him that what he really needed was Jesus.  I then offered to help him so he didn’t have to steal.  I gave him a bible from my car and some money from an ATM. After gratefully receiving these blessings, he departed.  Like a serpent, God had given me the wisdom to recognize evil, and to expose and oppose a predator. An yet, like a dove, I avoided despising the man or harming him; instead I showed him love and cared for him according to the will of God.

    God has called every follower to be wise; equipping them with the ability to recognize and oppose evil. Believers must also be harmless and innocent; showing love and affection toward those who oppose what is good.  The wicked despise God’s children; they yearn to destroy, to pervert, and to devour the faithful; while the faithful seek to build up, to love, and to convert the wicked.  Walk wisely in the ways of God, and reach out to the lost; bring hope to the hopeless and let the Lord shine through you; submit yourself to the call of God, and become a messenger of light in a world filled with darkness.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the wisdom to avoid being harmed by evil while at the same time opposing it.  May we be kind to those who walk in darkness and be willing to love the wicked.  May Your light shine brightly in us and through us; that we might direct others away from destruction and toward eternal life.  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 a Disciple

JESUS SPEAKING

    “A disciple is not above his master (teacher), but everyone who is properly taught will be like his master” (Luke 6: 40.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     In the bible, God is referred to as “the most high,” because elevation is how human beings distinguish between what is valuable and invaluable.  People honor things by lifting them up.  In ancient times, when a king stepped down from his thrown and stood at ground level with his subjects, those subjects would lower themselves beneath him; many would bow, others would kneel.  If the king was a child, then his subjects would sprawl out face first on the ground to make sure the king stood above them.  The teacher and student relationship is quite similar (as Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher”.) The disciple, or student, must realize his or her lack of knowledge (they lower themselves); the teacher then becomes the superior source of necessary information.  In exchange for their humility and ability to learn, the disciples were promised that they would become like Jesus.  Anyone who lacked this type of humility could not be a follower of Jesus then, and cannot be His follower today.  A person who believes they have a better way, or who desires to learn from sources other than the Lord, cannot be properly taught.

    A long time ago, I was caught in a dilemma. I remember calling up a friend for advice on a situation that had made me absolutely furious.  In the middle of the conversation they said, “What would Jesus do?”  I tried to shrug it off, and replied something like, “Well, He’s Jesus, I can’t be like Him.”  However, the question cut deep into me; the answer to how to react to the situation wasn’t debatable; rather, it had a face, and a name, and that name was Jesus Christ.  I was not called to behave in my own way, but to behave like Him.  After all, a disciple is someone who is a student and follower of their teacher.

    If you are a believer, then you as well are called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  How does that process begin for you?  First, you must humble yourself and lift Him up.  Jesus Christ must become the moral authority in your life.  Get rid of any competing teachers, and make His words the foundation upon which your life and your actions are built.  Bible reading is essential. Commit some of your time daily to the study of His words.  The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the book of Revelation contain His spoken words and descriptions of His behavior; only by knowing your teacher can you be properly taught; and only by humbling yourself before the living God can you become His disciple.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask to become Your disciples.  We lift up Your Son and we ask that He become our teacher.  Jesus, speak to us in our hearts, and mold us and shape us into Your image.  Remind us of all of the words that You have spoken, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we may minister to all those You place in our path.  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!

Embracing Change

JESUS SPEAKING

    “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put in to new wineskins and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’” (Luke 5: 37-39.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS        

    In the ancient world, when an animal was slaughtered, the stomach and the bladder were extracted and utilized to store and transport valuable liquids. Wine was a very common first century beverage. Unlike water, wine underwent a process known as fermentation; during which gases were produced; these gases caused the wineskins to swell and expand. The older wineskins were hard and inflexible (like leather.) As the new wine expanded, it would cause them to tear open. Therefore, unfermented wine was always placed into new wineskins. In this illustration, the old wineskins represent old ideas, habits, and beliefs that are incompatible with the new life God has offered through His Son Jesus Christ. Most people despise change; preferring instead to cling to their old lives. Yet as followers of Jesus Christ we must let go of the old and grab hold of the new; we must no longer fear change, but rather, we must fully embrace it.
    Shortly after becoming a Christian, God began to make some very serious changes in my life. For many years I had enjoyed listening to secular rap music and heavy metal. But one day God showed me how it was negatively affecting my spirit. So I made a commitment to only listen to worship music (which was positive, clean, and uplifting.) My appetite for the old music was strong; at first the new music wasn’t appealing to me; but slowly I began to like it. Soon I was joyfully singing along with the songs; I noticed my attitude was more positive; my thoughts were more peaceful. I even began smiling with ever greater frequency. Today I still refrain from listening to the old songs; just worship music. God has made similar changes in every area of my life. He has healed me; the old things have passed away; behold, He has made all things new.
    God desires to pour His Spirit into the hearts and minds of those who are willing to receive it. His Spirit produces great transformation. We must let go of our fears; we must become willing to change; we must not be rigid and inflexible; only by embracing and allowing God to transform us will we truly experience new life. Let go of your old ideas, habits, and beliefs, and receive the fullness of God’s Spirit. Allow Him to guide and direct you and He will lead you into a place of everlasting peace and joy.
    “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You would make wonderful transformations in our hearts and minds. May we become flexible; may we embrace change. We desire to become more like You Jesus; remove any habits, ideas, or beliefs that are standing in the way of our growth; destroy the old things and bring forth the new. May we experience the fullness of Your Holy Spirit. 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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