Archive for the 'Jesus Speaks' Category

Making a Stand

JESUS SPEAKING

         Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When he had made a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers money and overturned the tables. And he said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then the disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house has eaten me up” (John 2: 13 – 17.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

         Long ago King David prophesied that the messiah would be zealous concerning the things of God. Jesus, having witnessed his fellow Israelites using the temple for selfish gain, became enraged. After constructing a whip, he drove out those who were defiling his Father’s house. Today, we too will occasionally observe acts of unspeakable evil. In such instances, the Holy Spirit will eradicate our fears and fill our hearts with zeal; enabling us to publicly oppose those engaging in malicious conduct.
         One afternoon, while studying in the coffee shop, a man and his teenage son sat down beside me. Without provocation, the youngster began persistently berating and verbally abusing his Dad. As the disrespect escalated, my heart was filled with righteous anger. The boy eventually threatened his Dad, saying, “Have you ever been punched in the face?” I lashed out; telling the young man to ‘Shut his mouth!’ The boy fell silent. I proceeded to lecture him concerning the fifth commandment; honoring his father and mother. Embarrassed and afraid, he stepped outside; later returning to apologize.
         In this life, we will occasionally witness acts of such unspeakable evil, that Jesus will inspire us to intervene. In these moments, He will fill our hearts with zeal; giving us the words to speak and the strength to overcome our fears. The Lord will use us to rebuke, to exhort, and to correct many who eagerly violate the basic laws of God.
         “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the courage to speak the truth when necessary. May we love what is good and be zealous for Your ways. When great acts of evil are being practiced, may we stand against them; allowing our desires for righteousness to eradicate our fear of reprisal. 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.

Religious Hypocrisy

JESUS SPEAKING

       Then he said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive great condemnation” (Mark 12: 38-40.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Jesus warned his children to be wary of the Pharisees who had been abusing their positions of religious authority to amass large quantities of wealth. Outwardly they appeared Godly; they wore the robes of holy men; they made long prayers in public for all to see; yet privately they would seize every opportunity to abuse those who were helpless. Jesus said that they “devour(ed) widow’s houses.” Widows were easily exploited. As a mandatory condition for marriage, a man had to build a house for his bride. When the husband passed away, the wife would inherit the home. With no source of income, widows would often be forced to sell their homes if they wished to survive. Many of the religious Pharisees who outwardly claimed to be Godly would exploit the widow’s circumstances; paying far less for the property than it was actually worth. Many, including these widows were victimized because they trusted in the outward appearance of Godliness. Jesus warned that such vile individuals would one day be judged for their misdeeds.
       Many years ago, I was working as a sales representative for a tile company. I had recently become a Christian, and the other employees were aware of my conversion. Suddenly, in walked a man who was the Pastor of a world-famous church located just up the street. He and his wife made a small purchase; he then pulled around to the back to pick it up. As I headed to the loading dock with the sales slip, one of my co-workers (who was not a Christian) contemptuously remarked, “Isn’t that your pastor friend’s car; the one that costs over a hundred thousand dollars?” Sure enough; there it sat, washed and waxed; in all its splendor. I felt contempt, anger, and sadness in my heart; knowing that he had likely been using God’s name for his own personal profit. [Concerning judgment, the words of Christ were eventually realized; a few years later, this man and his family lost everything. His mega church, with all its expensive buildings, statues, and complexes went bankrupt; the church dissolved in a few short months, and the entire establishment was sold to another institution.]
       In his earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ staunchly warned his followers to avoid hypocrites; especially religious hypocrites who would seek to exploit others and to use God’s name for personal profit. As Christians we are not to be deceived by the superficial appearance of Godliness. Rather, we must test people, to see if what they do is truly of God. If what a pastor, a teacher, or a preacher says on stage is not synonymous with who they are in private, then it is likely that they might be a Pharisee, who can’t be trusted [Warning: No one is perfect.]
       “Lord Heavenly Father, please reveal to us any areas in our lives where we are being hypocritical; and help us to change. May we always accurately represent You in every area of our lives. May we be loving, giving, and caring, in public and in private. Help us to recognize false teachers and religious hypocrites, that we may guide others away from them and toward You. We love You Father, and we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and we pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.

Stay Focused on Today

JESUS SPEAKING

       “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mathew 6: 34.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Apprehension, fear, and anxiety are destructive emotions that cause turmoil in the hearts and minds of most human beings. Although the majority of our worries revolve around some real (or imagined) future difficulty, they usually cause us distress in the present. Such uncertainties can steal our joy and distract us from the work that God has currently called us to accomplish. Therefore, Jesus commands every believer to live in the moment and to focus wholly and completely upon the blessings, cares, and concerns of today.
       In the Old Testament book of Exodus, we are given a wonderful illustration that emphasizes the importance of living in the moment. After leaving Egypt and passing through the Red Sea, the Jewish people wandered about in the wilderness for forty years. Each day God miraculously fed them by causing a delicious bread to condense and accumulate on the desert floor. However, no one was allowed to collect and store excess amounts of bread (except on the day prior to the Sabbath.) Instead, they were only permitted to eat what was necessary to sustain their daily nourishment. Violating this law meant focusing on tomorrow’s needs and concerns [In the new testament, when asked how one ought to pray, Jesus reiterated this doctrine; we are told to ask God to, “give us this day our daily bread.” Not our weekly, monthly, or yearly bread; but rather, “our daily bread.”]
       Fear of tomorrow serves only to distract us from the joys, blessings, and obligations of today. When we focus on the present we are fully able to accomplish God’s will. As we trust in the Lord we can begin to cherish every second, of every hour, of every day. To live now is to live for God; knowing that His love is a present gift and not a future possibility.
       “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to live in the moment and to rely upon You for our daily needs. May our concerns and our cares be firmly rooted in the present. If our hearts possess fears and anxieties related to the future, remove them, that we may be joyful, loving, and better able to serve You today. 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.

Divine Authority

JESUS SPEAKING

        Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and elders of the people approached him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we proclaim, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So, they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (Mathew 21: 23-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        The religious leaders had been profiting from the sale of merchandise within the temple. They were also manipulating exchange rates in order to defraud unsuspecting pilgrims. Jesus entered the temple, and overturned the money tables, and chased out those who were selling merchandise. He then sat down and began to teach. As he taught, some of the religious leaders approached him, and asked him by what authority he had done these things. The Lord in turn asked them where John the Baptist had received his authority. John had been given God’s authority outside the bounds of the corrupt priestly hierarchy; he wore no expensive robes; he had no formal temple training; he didn’t spend years in a classroom studying theology; yet God used him to call tens of thousands of Israelites to repentance. There is an authority that comes from men; an authority that can be abused and used for selfish gain. In the midst of man’s attempts to exploit God’s people, the Lord often raises up leaders to oppose those in power; leaders who are given divine authority; leaders who are willing to disobey their superiors in order to accomplish the will of God.
        On September 9th of 2009, a military patrol made up of 36 American/Afghan troops was ambushed in the eastern province of Kunar (Afghanistan.) The men were pinned down and suffering casualties. In the midst of the firefight, these brave soldiers repeatedly requested air support; yet the off-site commanding officers denied every request. The men eventually radioed the base saying, “We’re going to die out here.” Dakota Meyer, a marine posted behind the main patrol, requested permission to drive into the ambush to haul out his distressed comrades; his fervent requests were denied four times. Knowing that his superior officers were wrong, Dakota disobeyed their direct orders. He and another marine selflessly jumped into a Humvee and headed into the “kill zone.” They made five trips back and forth. Each time, Meyer (who was manning the gun) exposed himself to a hail of enemy fire. The two marines were able to save 13 servicemen and 23 Afghans; they also collected the bodies of four dead American soldiers. Sergeant Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. However, three of the military officers who denied the requests for assistance, were issued letters of reprimand (‘likely leading to the end of their careers.’)
        Obeying authority is good; but sometimes those in leadership can error; some may even be completely corrupt, immoral, and unrighteous. On occasion, in order to accomplish God’s will, it becomes necessary to question and oppose those who are in positions of influence. As Christians we are given great authority; God Himself speaks through us; He uses us to accomplish His works; we are vessels of His love, His mercy, and His peace. May we continue to serve Him in love; may we preach the message without shame or remorse; may we continue to oppose those who pervert the gospel for their own personal gain; and may lovingly and persistently submit to the authority of those whom God has undoubtedly anointed.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we recognize Your authority. We understand that you have called us to accomplish Your will. Please continue to use and guide us in the ways of righteousness. When we encounter leaders, who are evil and unjust, give us the strength to oppose them. Concerning spiritual matters, may we never submit to the unrighteous; instead, may we continually be willing to serve under and obey those whom you have truly anointed. 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.

Forgiving

JESUS SPEAKING

        “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17: 3-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Withholding forgiveness from others is dangerous; for the Lord has said, “if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.” Jesus used a ‘seven’ to describe the number of times a disciple is obligated to forgive others. In the Hebrew culture, numbers carried very profound symbolic significance; the number seven represents completion; in turn, the obligation to forgive is limitless, infinite, or complete. Since the fall of creation, until the present day, men and women have fervently sought God’s forgiveness; none whose hearts were sincere have ever been denied (for God is merciful above all things.) We are called to be like God; and so we must forgive without exception.
        One day a group of missionaries and local Christians gathered together in New Guinea to share communion and to fellowship. As they sat down, one of the older missionaries noticed another man’s momentary expression of horror and disgust; which was quickly replaced with an expression of peace. The missionary whispered to his friend, “What was it that troubled you?” He replied, “The man who just came in to share communion, murdered my Father; for a moment I didn’t think that I could handle it. But then I realized that he has been washed and forgiven by the same precious blood.” The men then shared communion together in love.
        To what extent should we forgive others? Jesus has taught us to forgive without stipulation or condition. We, who have been forgiven so much, have no right to withhold forgiveness from others. Search your heart; if you find hatred discard it; if you discover resentment let it go. Forgive those who have harmed you; bless them and pray for them. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you, and your anger will ‘give way’ to peace, and your bitterness will turn to joy.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, forgive us of our sins. May we be like You; may we sincerely forgive others. If we have refused to forgive anyone, please reveal it to us now. If we harbor anger or resentment of any kind, expose it; fill our hearts with mercy, that we might better serve You, and worthily magnify Your Holy name. 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 desperately cling to their old lives; yet those who follow Jesus Christ must let go of the old and grab hold of the new; they must no longer fear change; but rather, they 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. 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 enjoy 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 refuse to listen 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 in 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 His everlasting peace and eternal 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. Jesus, we desire to become more like You; remove any habits, ideas, or beliefs that stand in the way of our growth; destroy the old 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.

Shining Brightly

JESUS SPEAKING

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it provides light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mathew 5: 14 – 16.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        It is impossible for a Christian to remain unrecognized. To stay hidden is to fail to fulfill God’s purpose. Every genuine believer is called to be different; to stand out; to be set apart; loving where there is no love; serving in the midst of selfishness; faithfully encouraging others; nurturing the sick; caring for the needy; filling the hearts and minds of many with hope and joy. Genuine faith inevitably produces an abundance of good works. As disciples we are set apart; we are a light in a dark world; we are divine instruments that point toward the one true and everlasting Father.
        Of all the planets and stars that glow in the night sky, one of the brightest is the North Star (known as Polaris.) Resting in a sea of stars it outshines most of its neighbors. Additionally, every other star in the northern hemisphere travels across the sky; Polaris however, remains fixed; a characteristic that proved useful to ancient mariners who sought to navigate the open oceans. The North Star’s brightness and stability make it easy to recognize; a heavenly body that is not readily confused with the thousands of dimmer objects that surround it.
        Like the North Star, the believer is by far the brightest and most stable object in the lives of those around them. In a sea of unbelievers, the followers of Jesus Christ standout; they are unique. Filled with compassion, charity, and peace, they are easily recognized. They orient others by pointing them toward God (who is the source of all love and mercy.) If you have received the salvation of the Lord, then you too are different. Don’t seek to remain hidden. Instead, let the light of Christ shine through you; that others may see your good works and know that there is a God who loves them.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to be different. We desire to be more loving, more caring, and more giving. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and help us to shine brightly in this dark and often cold world. May others see our good works and be drawn to You; the loving Creator and everlasting Father. We love You Lord, 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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