Archive for December, 2021

Making Amends

JESUS SPEAKING

    “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5: 23-24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    No one can have an intimate relationship with God in a vacuum. Human beings exist within complex social structures; communities comprised of family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and even complete strangers.  Our relationship with others is a reflection of our relationship with God.  When we sin against our neighbor, we also sin against the Lord.  If we lie, slander, and despise another person, we have lied, slandered, and hated our own creator.  In the first century, many devout Jewish families traveled long distances to reach the temple in Jerusalem, where they would sacrifice an animal to atone for their sins. Having received forgiveness, they were restored to a right relationship with God.  Similarly, Jesus has taught us that we are to approach those we have harmed, and ask for their forgiveness; making restitution whenever possible. In so doing we will draw closer to the Lord. Even today, this commandment, known as ‘making amends,’ remains an essential Christian doctrine.

    When I came to California many years ago, I began working a 12-step program; a system designed to help me overcome a terrible drug addiction.  The creators of the first six steps were Christians; a gathering of believers known as the Oxford Group.  As a result, the steps were heavily influenced by the teachings found in the book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians, verse 13.  After becoming a Christian, I discovered that Christ’s command concerning amends likely inspired the founders to create the 8th and 9th steps.  The eighth step reads, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”  The ninth step reads, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”  From 2005 until today, I’ve continued making amends to those I’ve harmed.  I’ve made restitution and paid off every delinquent debt; I’ve also asked for forgiveness from those who were affected by my sins.  With every apology I’ve grown closer to the Lord.

    Today, in order to move forward with God, you might consider delving into your past; making a thorough examination of your previous mistakes.  If you’ve stolen from anyone, pay them back; if you’ve lied, and your lies have caused hardship, return to them and speak the truth.  If you have mistreated others and created resentments, you must humble yourself and request forgiveness. We’ve all sinned; but what we do with those sins will determine whether we grow closer to the Lord or remain at a distance.  The choice is ours to make.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, bring to our remembrance the names of those we have harmed; may we approach them and make restitution.  Give us the courage, the strength, and the humility to ask for forgiveness; that we might be reconciled to those who resent 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!

Who Can Be Trusted

JESUS SPEAKING

    “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  Which of you convicts me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8: 46-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    No human being can live a completely sinless life.  Jesus however, being the Son of God, never once indulged in iniquity.  He was so confident of His own moral perfection, that He publicly challenged any willing soul to accuse Him of sin.  In turn, His enemies watched and waited; hoping He would make some grave error.  Despite their critical observations and endless scrutiny, He spoke plainly and publicly.  And yet no one could find Him guilty of any sin.  In fact, during His trial, Pontius Pilate said of Jesus, “I find no fault in this man.”  Still He was crucified. Those who are truly wise understand that trusting an individual who is sinless, is far better than trusting one who is not.

    Throughout history there have been many self-proclaimed prophets; men asking others to trust them, who were themselves, untrustworthy. Unlike Jesus, none of these deceptive individuals ever dared place their own personal lives under public scrutiny.  For example, Joseph Smith (false prophet and founder of the Mormon faith) claimed to be God’s chosen messenger.  However, he lived a life of deviant debauchery; deceptively marrying other women before telling his first wife Emma.  He also engaged in wife swapping; secretly marrying other men’s wives. He even went so far as to marry both a mother and her daughter (an offense deserving of the death penalty, according to God’s law.)  Unlike Jesus who invited others to scrutinize His life, Joseph Smith fought to keep his hidden sins from being revealed.  After being kicked out Missouri, he and his followers migrated to the town of Nauvoo Illinois. The local newspaper began printing articles about his many wives and inappropriate indiscretions. In June of 1844, fearing he would be exposed, Joseph ordered his followers to destroy the town’s printing press. After breaking into the newspaper office, they dragged the machine into the street; smashing it with sludge hammers.  Smith was then arrested for this crime and later died in jail. 

    Unlike Joseph Smith, or any of the other false prophets, Jesus Christ had nothing to hide. His life was without sin. He never once lied, exploited anyone, or abused His position of authority to indulge in selfish pleasures.  Instead He served others, loved others, and delivered the word of God to all those who were willing to listen.  Only Jesus Christ can be trusted; only our Messiah is worthy of praise and honor.  Won’t you put your faith and trust in Him today?  If you obey Him and follow Him, He will lead you into eternal life. In Him you will know true freedom, and you will experience a ‘peace that surpasses all understanding.’

   “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You and we thank You for Your Son. We recognize that He is eternally sinless and completely trustworthy.  Help us to submit to His leadership; that He might be at the center of our lives.  May we become more like Him every day, and may we place all of our trust in Him.  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!

Honor Your Father and Mother

JESUS SPEAKING

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his home.” (John 19: 25 – 27)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Being Mary’s eldest Son, Jesus was obligated to care for His aging mother; who, during His earthly ministry, was likely a widow. Just moments before dying upon the cross, Jesus bequeathed His mother to the Apostle John; thus fulfilling the fifth commandment which states, “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Honoring a parent entails elevating them to a highly esteemed position. Their words must be heeded and their righteous concerns obeyed. They must also be cared for and treated with great reverence and respect. Failure to do so constitutes a terrible sin.

As the story goes, an old grandfather once lived with his son’s family. His eyes were feeble, his hearing was dull, and his hands trembled. During dinner, his spoon would shake, spilling a portion of the meal across the table. Also, some of the food would dribble out from the side of his mouth. The man’s son and his wife became disgusted with this behavior. As a result, they made him sit in a corner behind the stove. He was also given an earthenware vessel to eat from. However, eventually he dropped the bowl and it shattered. The angry wife could no longer contain her emotions. “If you are a pig, then you must eat like a pig,” she screamed. They abruptly constructed a wooden trough from which he could eat. Some days later, they noticed their four year old son gathering tiny bits of wood together on the floor. “What are you doing there?” inquired his father. “I am making a little trough,” answered the boy; “for you and mother to eat from when I get big.” The child’s words caused the couple to cry. They immediately brought the grandfather back to the table; making no further mention of the messes created during their meals.

Like the couple in this fable, we are also called to honor our father and mother. To treat them with reverence and respect; no matter the circumstance. We have an obligation to ensure they are cared for and that all of their needs have been met. In so doing we will fulfill the fifth commandment, and thus enjoy the peace that accompanies every act of faithful obedience. May we be a blessing to our parents, that our Heavenly Father might pour out His blessings upon us.

“Lord Heavenly Father, You are an awesome and amazing God. As we yearn to obey Your commandments, fill our hearts with compassion and sympathy; that we might better honor and respect our parents. May we heed their words, listen to their instructions, and care for them when they are in need. 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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