Archive for February, 2021

Avoid Distractions

JESUS SPEAKING

     “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you unexpectedly.  For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21: 34-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     Jesus warned His followers to be ready for His return (second coming.)  They were encouraged to remain focused on the future kingdom.  The Lord acknowledges that human beings are prone to distraction, and so He addresses some of those distractions in this scripture. Every follower is cautioned against chasing after excess wealth and material possessions (the cares of this life.) All manner of sexual immoralitty and drunkeness are to be shunned as well. In this world, believers must deny their own wants and desires; placing others ahead of themselves.  Whenever a person loses sight of the eternal, they inevitably begin to live selfishly; chasing after wealth, prosperity, and social standing; they indulge in their own wants and desires, often without restriction (they lay down the future to take hold of the present; whereas believers set aside the present distractions for their future hope.)  Jesus likens the day of His return to a snare (a hidden trap designed to catch unsuspecting prey.) When that moment arrives, many people who aren’t prepared will be caught by surprise and separated from God.  We need to be expecting Christ’s return every day and behave accordingly; avoiding any deadly distractions.

     Text messaging is a relatively common practice in American culture today; it can be a wonderful tool that connects people. However, recently text messaging has been associated with a number of tragedies.  All over the country people are more regularly text messaging while driving.  The results have been disastrous. One very prominent case involved a plastic surgeon who was text messaging when he drove off of a cliff and tumbled to his death.  You might ask, “What could have been so important that it was worth dying over?”  Sadly, Dr. Frank Ryan was tweeting a message about his dog, who was with him in the car when he drove off the cliff; he died and his dog was badly injured.  Dr. Ryan set out on a journey, but got distracted, and as a result he never reached his destination.  So many people who believe in Jesus Christ start out on a journey toward an eternal destination, but never make it because they get distracted by some meaningless worldly pleasure or concern. This doctor wasn’t thinking that death would arrive at his doorstep when he was eating breakfast; he never imagined that would be his final car ride; he didn’t wake up in the morning and savor the sunrise knowing it would be his last.  Yet death came for him quickly, and without sounding an alarm.  Jesus as well, will come for each of us in like manner.

     Today, we need to be expecting Jesus’ return.  We need to avoid focusing on the passing cares of this life. We must not allow distractions to take our eyes off of Christ?  How can we keep our eyes on Jesus and not get distracted?  Firstly, the word of God is a road map that will help us to continue heading in the right direction.  Reading the bible daily is essential for reaching our destination.  Praying is another tool that allows God to guide and direct our lives.  The key is to stay connected with God in our hearts.  Also, fellowshipping with other believers is very important, as is ministering to non-believers.  We should be talking to others about our faith and spreading the gospel. Anytime that we are following God’s commandments we will continue to move forward and keep our eyes on the eternal things. The best way to not do the wrong thing is to continually being the right thing.  We need to give our whole lives to the Lord, making Him the central figure in our hearts; and on the day that He returns, we will not be surprised, or frightened; but rather we will be filled with joy when we contemplate the eternal life that awaits us.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we lift You up; You are worthy of praise and honor and glory.  We ask that You would please help us to avoid distractions as we focus on the return of Your Son.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit speak to us and give us the knowledge of Your will; may we find opportunities to serve You and to serve others. 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 Purpose of a Parable

JESUS SPEAKING

     And the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”  He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they don’t hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their hearts are hard of  hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Mathew 13: 10-17.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     In the original Greek language, the word ‘parable’ means ‘beside,’ or ‘alongside.’  The Earth is a reflection of what exists in heaven; so earthly things and heavenly things run parallel, or ‘alongside’ one another.  It has been said that “a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”  The vast majority of individuals can comprehend the earthly significance of a parable, but only the heart can understand the deeper spiritual truths.  Many can see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and yet their hearts are hardened; in turn, they will never realize the full power of the Lord’s teachings.

     A number of years ago I fought a nasty battle against drug addiction.  After getting sober and becoming a Christian, I returned to those who had helped me through that dark time in my life. During my visit, a man approached me; a patient whose terrible addiction to cocaine had left his life in ruins.  He came to me because he had heard that I was a believer. He immediately professed a strong faith in Jesus Christ; then he began quoting scripture; amazingly he knew the bible inside and out; yet despite his knowledge of God’s word, he had still chosen to live a life of sin and depravity.  I treated the man with love and respect, but it was obvious that, despite hearing God’s word, his heart had never truly understood it.

    Today, there are many whose hearts are hardened.  They hear but fail to truly understand; they see but cannot perceive the truth of God’s eternal revelation.  May our hearts never be hardened; may we continue to receive the word of God willingly, and with great enthusiasm.  The Holy scriptures have the power to reconcile God and man; the power to bring light where there is only darkness; and the ability to transform the hearts and minds of all those who are willing to listen.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, open our hearts and minds, that we may comprehend Your truth and understand Your words.  Make Your home within us; may Your Holy Spirit lead us, teach us, and guide us in the ways of righteousness, that we might love others as You have loved 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.

Give Without Expectations

JESUS SPEAKING

   “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back” (Luke 6: 34.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

  Even the most selfish human beings will lend to those who can eventually repay them.  Jesus therefore implored His disciples to exercise genuine selflessness; to freely give; expecting nothing in return.  All those who yearn to achieve true Godliness, must also strive to practice the art of sacrificial giving.

 Some time ago, while I was preparing to leave the gym, an acquaintance approached me and asked to borrow ten dollars.  After receiving the money, he repeatedly insisted that he would pay me back.  Using this scripture as my guide, I informed him that the money wasn’t from me; it was from God.  So I didn’t require, nor did I desire, any form of repayment.  Eventually he understood that the cash wasn’t a loan; it was a gift.  As we parted ways, the blessings of obedience filled my heart with joy.

  The Lord yearns for His disciples to standout; to shine; to be more loving and more charitable than the worldly masses.  Giving without expecting repayment is just one of many characteristics of genuine faith.  Whether a stranger is begging for change, or a family member needs financial assistance, we must freely give, when we are able, in order to fulfill God’s desires.  May we continue to embrace divine charity; giving without restriction; that through sincere obedience, we too might receive eternal rewards.

   “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to be generous and kind; to give without expecting anything in return.  May we focus more on eternal blessings than Earthly rewards.  May Your love flow through us; that our faith might be a light to all those who walk in darkness.  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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