Archive for December, 2022

Gratitude

JESUS SPEAKING

        Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So, when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was, that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell on his face at his feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So, Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (Matthew 17: 11 – 19)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Leprosy is a debilitating bacterial disease that has existed for thousands of years; it causes fingers, toes, noses, and other extremities to rot away, horribly disfiguring its victims. Despite modern treatments, Leprosy remains highly contagious. Since the days of Christ, infected individuals have been ostracized; forced into isolated colonies beyond the city limits. When traveling, lepers were required to maintain great distances between themselves and those who were healthy. Upon entering a crowded area, they were obligated to yell out, “unclean, unclean,” as a warning for others to keep their distance. The lepers who approached Jesus stood “afar off,” and pleaded with Him to be healed. Jesus ordered the lepers to go and show themselves to the priests (In Jewish society, the priests were charged with diagnosing leprosy; if someone was healed, the priests had to examine them before they could return home to their families.) As the lepers journeyed, all ten were outwardly healed; yet only one was inwardly healed. Filled with gratitude, the filthy Samaritan returned to praise and honor Jesus Christ.
        As the story goes, there once lived a prominent Physician who was also a devoted golfer. His longtime caddie had a club foot (a deformity in which the foot bends inward, making it difficult to walk.) ‘Doc Gordon,’ as he was known, often traveled south for the winters to continue his golf game. One winter, he decided to take his caddie with him; during their trip, the doctor operated on the man’s foot and he was made completely whole. Soon after they returned, the doctor became ill and passed away. One day, the caddie was carrying another member’s bag; at every hole he stopped to pluck a flower, until eventually he had gathered a very beautiful bouquet. The member was curious and asked the caddie about his new girlfriend. He replied, “Oh no, I don’t have a girlfriend. These are for Doctor Gordon. I go to his grave twice a week and place these flowers there.” Over his lifetime, Doctor Gordon had helped thousands of sick people; correcting many physical afflictions and uncomfortable ailments. Yet only one patient was truly thankful. The young caddie continued to praise and honor his deceased friend and benefactor because his heart was filled with gratitude.
        Jesus Christ has given eternal life to every faithful soul and healed so many individuals around the world. Still, only those who express frequent gratitude have truly experienced a miracle. There are several ways to express our gratitude for God; we may offer prayers of thanksgiving and testify of His greatness. We may also gather together with other believers to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. We may continue to perform acts of service, charity, love, and mercy, etc. Gratitude is a fruit of genuine salvation; those who understand the value of what they have been given, honor and praise God every single day. (Note: If you have never received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please contact us and we can discuss how you can do that right now.)
        “Lord Heavenly Father we praise You, we honor You, and we thank You for our salvation. We are unworthy servants, and yet You have loved us. Thank You for healing us and protecting us; thank you for Your kindness and provision. You are truly an awesome and amazing God. May our hearts be filled with gratitude; and may we be compelled to speak of Your greatness whenever and wherever possible. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

Follow Me

JESUS SPEAKING

     ‘As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office.  And he said to him, “Follow Me.”  So he arose and followed Him.’ (Mark 9: 9)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     The calling of Matthew is one of the shortest conversion stories recorded in the bible.  As a tax collector, he worked for the Roman Empire; earning him the contempt and disdain of his own people.  Still Jesus saw something in him worth saving.  As the Lord passed by He uttered two simple words that would forever transform Matthew’s life; “Follow Me.”  Matthew’s response was simple, immediate, and unwavering.  He arose, abandoned his position, and began following Jesus Christ.

     During the 1880’s, a famous baseball player named Billy Sunday had a similar experience.  One day he and his teammates entered a saloon and began drinking. Upon exiting the bar, Billy spotted a group of Christians singing hymns and preaching about God’s salvation and forgiveness.  With tears rolling down his face, he turned to his teammates and said, “Boys, I’m through!  Going to turn to Jesus Christ.  We’ve reached the parting of the ways.”  Some mocked him, while others encouraged him.  He immediately entered the Pacific Garden Mission, where he gave his life to the Lord.  Later he said, “I called upon God’s mercy.  I staggered out of my sins and into the outstretched arms of the Savior.  I became instantly a new creation in Him.  The next morning at practice, my manager, Mike Kelly greeted me and said, ‘Billy, I read in the paper what occurred yesterday.  Religion isn’t my long suit, but I won’t knock you, and I’ll knock the daylights out of anyone who does.”  Billy Sunday went on to become one of the greatest evangelists of the early 20th century.

     Like Matthew, and like Billy, God is still calling many of us to follow Him today.  Jesus Christ desires that everyone might come to know Him and submit to His discipleship.  Some individuals will respond to His calling, while others will not.  How then can you obey God’s call and receive salvation?  First, find a quiet place; then ask God to enter your heart.  You must profess a faith in Jesus Christ and also turn away from sinful living.  Get involved at a local church and be baptized.  Find an easy to read version of the bible (read it every day; beginning with the gospels.)  As you grow in the knowledge of God and submit to His commandments, you will experience an amazing transformation.  The old things will pass away, for behold, God will make ‘all things new.’

     “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for calling us to be Your disciples.  May You dwell forever in our hearts and minds.  Give us the strength to turn away from sin and death, that we might fully embrace the new life we have in You.  You are our Father and we are Your children. Teach us and guide us in all things. Give us more of Your Holy Spirit that we may lovingly serve You and our fellows.  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!

Ultimate Love

JESUS SPEAKING

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 5: 9 – 13)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Before sacrificing His life upon the cross, Jesus addressed His disciples, saying, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. We are thus reminded of the greatest act of affection one can possibly accomplish. Accordingly, those who follow Christ must also emulate His death upon the cross, crucifying their selfish desires every single day. The self-seeking appetites of the flesh must be struck down so that the will of God might be accomplished in us and through us. Therefore self-sacrifice is a necessary and essential component of genuine Christian living.

In 1941, a man named Sgt. Franciszek Gajowniczek was imprisoned in Auschwitz, a German concentration camp and extermination facility. One day, when three prisoners had seemingly escaped, the deputy commander of the facility selected 10 men at random to be punished; they were sentenced to death by starvation in an underground bunker. Sgt. Gajowniczek was one of those men. He pleaded for his life; making mention of his wife and children. A priest and fellow prisoner named Maxillion Kolbe was listening. He suddenly stepped forward and offered to die in the man’s place; hoping to ensure the preservation of his family. The commander accepted his offer. A few weeks later Reverend Kolbe died from starvation and a dose of carbolic acid. Sgt. Gajowniczek survived the rigors of Auschwitz and was eventually reunited with his loved ones at the end of the war. In 1972 a crowd gathered at a memorial service at Auschwitz to honor the priest who had sacrificed his life. Gajowniczek spoke at the gathering, heaping praises upon the man who had died in his place.

Like Maximillion Kolbe, all Christians are called to lay down their lives so that others might be saved. Selfish pursuits must be abandoned so that God can use us to accomplish His works. If we choose to die, Christ will be raised up in our place, and many will see Him and be drawn to Him. Being selfless is not an easy discipline; it represents a significant struggle. Still, may we all be equipped with the strength to serve others as we lay down our lives for our friends.

“Lord Heavenly Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit; refresh our hearts and minds, that we might lay down our lives as a sacrifice for our friends. May Your perfect will be done. Give us the strength to deny our fleshly apatites and embrace a life of gratitude and selflessness. As we die, may Christ be lifted up in our place; so that many might come to the faith and be reborn. 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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