Archive for the 'Jesus Speaks' Category

The Narrow Path

JESUS SPEAKING

     “Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mathew 7: 13-14.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     In the ancient world, cities were places of safety and refuge.  Most were surrounded by large walls designed to protect the inhabitants from hostile enemies.  The size of the walls depended on the prosperity of the city.  Babylon for example, one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient world, was rumored to have had walls that were 80 ft. thick and 320 feet high (15 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.)  Every ancient city had one main gate (a large opening in the wall through which the majority of the merchants, travelers, and citizens could freely pass.)  There were also several smaller gates that served a number of different purposes. There were gates for livestock; gates for horses; gates for importing fish, and gates used to export garbage and waste. Many of these little gates were not directly connected to the major highways; making them more difficult to reach.  The majority of individuals entered through the main gate; because it was quick, easy, and convenient.  In much the same way, the road to eternal separation from God is quick, easy, and convenient; but the path to eternal life is difficult and the gate is much smaller; it requires genuine discipline, sacrifice, and selflessness.

     Repentance and forgiveness of sins are both integral parts of the gospel message.  Before ascending into heaven, Jesus said to his disciples, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  One day many years ago a friend took me to a church service; that evening, for the first time in my life, I heard the full gospel message.  I received Jesus, knowing that God expected something from me as well; I was required to repent and obey.  I would need to turn away from fornication, idolatry, pornography, drunkenness, lewdness, and deceit, etc.  As I sat in that church auditorium, I knew in my Spirit that I had to change.  [Note: At one point during Christ’s earthly ministry, He chose to spend the evening in the home of a notorious sinner named Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus was a corrupt tax-collector.  During the night, Jesus presented him with the whole gospel; and Zacchaeus received it gladly.  He immediately repented of his evil deeds and offered half of his wealth to the poor; he also promised to repay everyone from whom he had stolen.]

     Zacchaeus had heard the complete gospel message and was transformed by it.  He chose to follow the narrow path.  After receiving salvation he immediately obeyed the teachings of Christ.  Unlike Zacchaeus, many today refuse to repent.  Millions of people claim to be Christians but continue on in blatant sin; they are seeking to enter through the wide gate; because it’s easy and requires very little sacrifice; and yet it leads to eternal separation from God.  Fewer people choose the narrow path; because it’s difficult, requires repentance, and demands transformation.  Which path are we taking?  Are we willing to embrace the complete gospel and become followers of Jesus Christ?  If we choose to take that step, we will be blessed beyond belief; and we will know perfect joy.  

     “Lord Heavenly Father, we receive Your gift and we take hold of Your sacrifice; may we turn away from the ways of this world and embrace the commandments of Your only begotten Son.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us the courage and strength to travel down the narrow path; the path of righteousness; the path of repentance and transformation; the path that leads to Your Eternal Kingdom. Have mercy on us, that we may enter Your dwelling place with joy and thanksgiving.  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!

Giving God the Glory

JESUS SPEAKING

  ‘Now around the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not my own, but His who sent me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority. He that speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” (John 7: 14-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

  The educated men who had heard Jesus speak were astonished at His perfect knowledge of scripture. Unlike them, He had never attended a notable Hebrew school; nor had He sat at the feet of some prominent rabbi. Instead, His knowledge and wisdom had come from God. The Jewish Scholars demanded praise and admiration for their many years of extensive learning; whereas Jesus sought only to honor and glorify God. Chasing after our own glory is a vain and empty endeavor; but seeking to glorify God and His only Son is to live correctly.
  One man who thoroughly understood this principle of righteous humility was John the Baptist. When Jesus began baptizing people in the Jordan river, John’s followers became concerned, saying “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him.” John replied, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven […] He must increase, and I must decrease.” John’s heart was devoid of selfish pride; permitting him to humble himself and glorify the only Son of God.
    Today, although Jesus Christ reigns in heaven, His deeds continue upon this Earth. He performs His miracles through His disciples. Some however, who selfishly desire glory, will take credit for God’s works. And yet a trustworthy servant renders to God the praise and honor He deserves. To glorify God we must humble ourselves. He must increase and we must decrease. As followers, we must often forgo admiration so that God may receive what is rightfully His? We must speak the words of Jesus Christ; give in the name of Christ; and love in the name of our wonderful Lord and Savior. We must die so that He can live. Only in death can we experience immeasurable joy and everlasting peace.
  “Lord Heavenly Father, may You increase as we decrease. May we let go of our selfish desire to be praised; that You would receive the credit for the good works that You are accomplishing in us, and through us. May we continue to be vessels of Your love and messengers of Your mercy. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit Lord; that we might always be pleasing to You. 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!

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!”


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