Archive for April, 2021

Judging Others

JESUS SPEAKING 

     “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye.” (Matthew 7: 1-3.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    Of all the sins we can possibly commit, hypocrisy is one of the most offensive. Jesus embraced repenting murderers, thieves, and prostitutes; yet He openly loathed unrepentant religious hypocrites.  Hypocrisy occurs when someone judges or evaluates another person based upon standards they themselves are incapable of achieving.  Practicing hypocrisy is extremely dangerous because God judges His followers according to the same principles they use to judge others.  If we outwardly condemn thievery, yet secretly steal, we are condemning ourselves.  Jesus warned His disciples that such unrighteous judgments would serve only to separate them from God.  As a result, before we judge anyone, we must make certain that we have been victorious over the sins that have caused others to fall.

     Surprisingly, the first attempted extermination of the Jewish people did not occur within the boundaries of 20th century Nazi Germany.  Adolf Hitler wasn’t the first man to attempt such a hideous undertaking.  In fact, approximately 2400 years earlier a man named Haman made an effort to execute every Jew living within the Persian Empire.  He hated the Hebrews and believed they were troublemakers who deserved to die.  Haman was a high ranking official in the court of Artaxerxes the 2nd, King of Persia.  Somehow he convinced the King to eradicate the Jews; which would have included Haman’s mortal Hebrew enemy, Mordecai (another high ranking official who showed disdain for Haman.)  Mordecai had graciously adopted his orphan cousin Esther, who grew into one of the most beautiful women in all of Persia; the king became enamored with Esther and married her, not knowing that she was a Jew.  As the day of the extermination approached, Haman joyfully erected a scaffold fifty feet high near his home, from which he planned to hang Mordecai.  However, just before the mass murder was about to be carried out, Esther came forward and revealed to the king that she was in fact a Jew.  She begged him to cancel the genocidal plot.  The king compassionately agreed; creating a decree that permitted the Jews to legally defend themselves; thereby ending the sinister conspiracy. The king was also made aware of Haman’s treachery.  In a cruel twist of fate, the king ordered Haman to be hung from the very same gallows he himself had constructed to murder Mordecai.  The judgment he had so eagerly reserved for another person had been visited upon him and his entire household. 

     Like Haman, many today build scaffolds from which to hang others.  Yet such people are often hypocrites who incur the wrath of God; they condemn themselves by the very judgments they use to condemn others.  This is why we must examine ourselves daily and ask God to search our hearts and minds. If we find that the sins of others produces anger and resentment, then we must ask the question, “Am I guilty of any similar sins?”  If the answer is yes, then we need to change. We must abandon hypocrisy and embrace a right relationship with God.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, we recognize that we are unworthy servants; and that we are sinners who do not deserve Your forgiveness; yet we thank You that we have received it.  Search our hearts; if You find hypocrisy, please reveal it to us; and correct us if we have been judging others unjustly.  Take away our sinful resentments, that we may more effectively reach those who are lost. Fill our hearts with gratitude, sincerity, and humility.  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!

A Stony Heart

JESUS SPEAKING

     “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Mathew 30: 20 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     The gospel is a powerful force; like a raging river that gouges out valleys and tears apart mountains, the gift of salvation transforms lives. Many eagerly receive God’s message but lack the proper foresight; they do not understand the magnitude of the changes God intends to perform in their lives. Genuine faith is costly; the price of salvation is death; death to our old lives and sinful habits. We must willingly be destroyed in order to be remade in the image of Christ. Those whose hearts are stony initially experience a brief relationship with God, but desperately cling to their old familiar ways; thus abandoning their faith when it requires true change. They turn from the light and live in darkness; preferring comfort over growth and sinful practices ahead of righteous living.
     When a famous gangster named Mickey Cohen was released from prison in the 1950’s, a Pastor by the name of Bill Jones made it his personal mission to convert him to Christianity. When Jones presented Mickey with the gospel, he said a prayer and accepted Jesus into his heart. Soon, word of his conversion spread, and many were amazed to hear that this once villainous mobster had turned to Christ. Although Mickey enjoyed being called a ‘Christian,’ he refused to live like one. He soon lost touch with Pastor Jones and began hanging around with his old buddies from the criminal underworld. The disheartened Jones confronted Cohen to tell him that as a Christian he needed to put some distance between himself and his old criminal associates. Puzzled, Cohen responded, “Jones, you never told me that I had to give up my career. You never told me that I had to give up my friends. There are Christian movie stars, Christian athletes, and Christian businessmen. So, what’s the matter with being a Christian gangster? If I have to give up all that – if that’s Christianity – then count me out.”
     Sadly, Mickey’s story is not that uncommon; out of the four different types of soil Christ describes, the stony heart can be the deadliest; for within it there exists the greatest propensity for self-deception. The belief that a verbal profession of faith without corresponding actions is sufficient for salvation is an absolute lie. With their lips they affirm Christ, but with their lives they deny Him. Continuing in behaviors such as, pornography, fornication, drunkenness, idolatry, and dishonesty, etc., contradicts the rebirth that all Christians must undergo. If you can identify with this type of soil, then you have two choices; continue forward in delusion or get honest with yourself and surrender to a new life with Jesus; a life of repentance; a life free from darkness and unrighteousness; a life lived as a disciple of Christ. May the Lord give you the courage, the strength, and the conviction to make the right choice.
     “Lord Heavenly Father transform us into the image of Your Son. May we lay down our old lives to take up our new ones. May our relationship with You be deep and meaningful. May our lives always confirm our verbal professions of faith. If we have not fully committed our lives to You, reveal to us the areas where we have refused to change; and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to conquer them. 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!

God Honors Those Who Honor Him

JESUS SPEAKING

    Now as Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed and is dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered saying, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.” (Matthew 8: 5-13.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    The Roman Empire had conquered the Holy Land in 63 B.C. And yet during the first century, due to the continued threat of rebellion, soldiers were permanently stationed around the region. A ‘centurion’ was an officer in charge of 100 soldiers; they were usually men of impeccable character. This particular centurion came to Jesus and humbled himself; publicly confessing his own unworthiness while praising and honoring the Son of God. Jesus responded by honoring the centurion; He publicly elevated this man’s faith above every Jew in Israel. To this very day, God continues to honor those who humble themselves and exalt Him. Jesus has proclaimed that, “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
    In 1924, a Scotsman named Eric Liddell was expected to win the Olympic gold medal in the 100 meter dash. He had grown up in a missionary family and was a seriously committed Christian. His parents had taught him to faithfully observe the Sunday Sabbath; a weekly day of rest, church attendance, and fellowship. When Eric found out that the 100 meter dash was scheduled for a Sunday, he made the decision to ‘sit it out.’ His own countrymen attempted to persuade him to participate; as did an endless array of powerful people. Still he remained convinced that honoring God on His day was more important than winning a medal. A few months before the Olympics began, he decided to start training for the 400 meter dash (an event that wasn’t on Sunday.) No one expected him to do well. But on the day of the race, while approaching the starting blocks, an American trainer placed a piece of paper in Eric’s hand. There was a bible verse written on it. Specifically, 1 Samuel verse 2: 30. The scripture reads, “Those who honor me I will honor.” Eric ran that race for God; and not only did he win the gold medal, but he also broke the world record. He had pushed his own desires for glory aside; and because he had honored God, the Lord exalted Eric above his fellows.
    Placing God in His proper position necessitates humility. Honoring Him requires selflessness. We must become less important while He becomes more important. He is righteous and we are unrighteous; He is worthy, and we are unworthy. We forgo glory so that God may have it. Only those who raise Him up in this life will be raised up into everlasting life. There are so many ways to glorify God. We can make Him a continued topic of discussion in our personal relationships. We can pray to Him and seek His counsel daily. We can give credit to the Lord for the good works that we do. When we give something to another person we can say, “This is from the Lord.” When a person attempts to thank us, we can lovingly remind them that Jesus Christ is the one who deserves to be thanked. We can make it known that the good things we accomplish are the blessings of God. May the Lord continue to dwell in the center of our hearts; may we give Him the glory; and may we honor Him with our lives.
    “Lord Heavenly Father, give us more opportunities to honor and glorify You. May our hearts be humble, and our minds pure. Give us the strength to lay down our lives in this world, so that we might better serve you. We love You Lord, 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!


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