Archive for the 'Jesus Speaks' Category

Sacrifice

JESUS SPEAKING

        But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 29 – 37.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        In this parable a man is badly beaten, and left to die on the side of the road. The Jews considered Samaritans to be Godless degenerates; yet in this illustration, the only one to show compassion and love for the wounded stranger, is a Samaritan. His love was expressed in the form of sacrifice. Unlike the Levite and the priest, the Samaritan sacrificed his time, his wealth, and his reputation to aid the injured man. Without sacrifice there is no real proof of love.
        Infants undeniably demand a great deal of time, attention, and resources. ‘Good parenting’ is therefore a synonym for ‘Sacrifice.’ New parents can expect to forfeit many privileges on behalf of their children. It is estimated that in the first year of a child’s existence, they will need to be changed 2500 times and fed every 4 hours (although the number varies widely.) Similarly, newborns must be burped, bathed, clothed, held, and played with regularly; actions which require great selflessness and sacrifice.
        Like the Samaritan, and like any good parent, Jesus Christ has asked His children to lay down their selfish pursuits to love and care for those in need. If we embrace a spirit of sacrifice, then God will provide us with opportunities to love our families, our friends, and our neighbors. As we accomplish the will of God, our hearts will know peace and we will inherit the eternal blessings He has promised to those who faithfully serve Him.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask for the courage and strength to embrace sacrifice; may we be filled with compassion; may we always seek the lost; and may continually love those in need. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we become more like You each and every day. 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.

Idolatry Leads to Death

JESUS SPEAKING

        “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothing. But woe to those who are pregnant and nursing babies in those days. And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been seen since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be” (Mathew 24: 15 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Throughout Christ’s ministry he spoke of a day when great destruction and tribulation would befall the nation of Israel, and the world; (the prophet Daniel also spoke of such a day.) In the future there will be an unmistakable sign preceding the tribulation of all nations. This sign will appear within the reconstructed temple itself. An evil man will erect an object, image, or shrine in the ‘Holy of Holy’s;’ an abomination that many will come to worship in the place of God. Deep within the heart of every human being, there is a pedestal; a peak; a position of absolute supremacy; a space reserved for what every person loves the most. When the Lord occupies this position He is in His rightful place. Those who idolize their creator also walk in genuine fellowship with Him. Many however, replace God with other things; and in so doing, they commit the sin of idolatry; a sin that always precedes some form of imminent destruction.

        In the Old Testament there lived a rich and powerful ruler named Belshazzar who dwelled within the seemingly impenetrable city of Babylon (the walls of this city were rumored to be 300 feet high and 80 feet thick.) His Father Nebuchadnezzar had sacked Jerusalem decades earlier, stealing the gold and silver artifacts from within the Jewish temple. These relics sat inside of the Babylonian treasury for years, until one evening, Belshazzar held a great feast. We read, “Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple […] and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them; they drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone” (Daniel 5: 3 – 4). Belshazzar did not worship the living God; rather he preferred precious metals. That night a haunting vision appeared before him. The king asked Daniel the prophet to interpret its meaning. Daniel prophesied saying “And you have praised the gods of silver and gold […] and the God who holds your breath in his hand and owns all of your ways you have not glorified […] Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” The sentence for his idolatry was carried out that very night; an invading army conquered the city and killed King Belshazzar. [Note: From the historical accounts it is believed that a giant river flowed through the city of Babylon. While Belshazzar was feasting, the Persian King Darius used a dam to divert the flow of the mighty river; his army then cleverly followed the dry riverbed under the giant walls, and conquered the vibrant metropolis in a single night.]

        Idolatry is dangerous and inevitably leads to destruction. Those who desire preservation must avoid putting anything in the place of God. The Lord must come first; before money, a career, a relationship, a business, or a hobby, etc. When we elevate God into His rightful position in our hearts, then we are truly free; when He is the most important person in our lives, then everything falls in to place. Love God and you will find peace; put Him first and you will experience everlasting life; for “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

        “Lord Heavenly Father, may we love You with our whole hearts. May we always worship You in Spirit and in truth, and may we never forsake Your ways. If any form of idolatry has entered our lives, may you uproot it and cast it in to the sea. May we be purified, and once again comprehend the goodness of humility and faith. 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.

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” (Mathew 17: 11 – 19.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Leprosy is a debilitating bacterial disease that has existed for thousands of years; it causes fingers, toes, and other extremities to rot away, horribly disfiguring its victims. Despite modern treatments, Leprosy remains highly contagious. As a result, the infected have been ostracized since the days of Christ; lepers were forced in to isolated colonies outside of the cities. When traveling, they were required to maintain great distances between themselves and the healthy; when entering crowded areas, they were obligated to yell out, “unclean, unclean,” as a warning for others to keep a safe distance. The lepers who approached Jesus stood “afar off;” and pleaded with him to heal them. Although nine of the lepers were Jewish, one leper was a Samaritan (The Jews considered Samaritans half breads; because when Alexander the great conquered Israel hundreds of years earlier, he settled a portion of the land (known as Samaria) with Greek citizens and retired soldiers; they mingled with the Jewish people, but were unable to completely adopt Hebrew customs and traditions. The Samaritans were so hated that many Jews would travel around Samaria when journeying to Jerusalem; the only people more hated than Samaritans were lepers.) 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 they journeyed, all ten lepers were outwardly healed; but only one was inwardly healed. The dirty Samaritan, filled with gratitude, returned to praise and honor Jesus Christ.
        There was once a prominent doctor who was 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; he had corrected many physical ailments and prolonged the lives of numerous individuals. 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 (This illustration was a parable taken from another source; whether the characters were real, is not certain.)
        Jesus Christ has healed and given life to so many people, but only those whose gratitude is a daily expression, have truly experienced a miracle. There are several ways to show your gratitude for God; prayers of thanksgiving; testifying of His greatness; gathering together with other believers; worship and singing; acts of love on His behalf; service work; care giving; charity, etc. Have you received the gift of healing and eternal life? Gratitude is a fruit of true salvation; those who understand the value of what they have been given, honor and praise God every 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 today.)
        “Lord Heavenly Father we praise You; we honor You; and we thank You for our salvation. We are unworthy servants, and yet You love 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; may we be compelled to speak to others of Your greatness, and may we be filled with Your Holy Spirit. We love You Father, and we honor You; and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.

Being Prepared for His Return

JESUS SPEAKING

        Then Peter said to him, “Lord do you speak this parable only to us, or to all people?” And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Luke 12: 42-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Before ascending in to heaven Jesus promised to return one day in power and great glory; (it has been nearly 2000 years and his followers are still anxiously awaiting his arrival.) As he spoke to his disciples, he used a wedding parable to illustrate his future delay. Often, when the master of a household left to attend a wedding, he could be gone for days. His arrival was uncertain; he could return at 2:00 in the afternoon, or 2:00 in the morning (therefore the servants had to continually be prepared.) In this parable, the master represents Jesus Christ, who after being resurrected, left the earth and journeyed into heaven (promising to return one day.) The servant placed over the master’s household represents the disciples whom Christ left behind to guide and care for his church. Although the original disciples have gone to be with the Lord, God has placed new leaders into positions of authority. Some are just and wise stewards; others, however, have lost faith; they have become impatient with Christ’s return; causing them to mistreat God’s people. When Christ does return, he will reward those who have been faithful, and he will punish those who failed to serve in the absence of their master.
        In the United States, a brand-new industry known as ‘mystery shopping’ has become popular. Most employers find it beneficial to tour their own facilities. They must continually evaluate their products, their procedures, their equipment, and especially their employees. Employees, however, do not act naturally when their bosses are present; most tend to ‘put on a show;’ they work harder and more efficiently; and they become more positive and politer toward the customers and other staff members. This effect makes it nearly impossible for managers and owners to accurately evaluate their workers. In turn, many employers are now hiring individuals to pretend that they are customers; as they shop, they are secretly evaluating the employees. When the employees become aware that the owner is using mystery shoppers, it causes them to continually maintain a higher level of performance in the work place.
        Many believers are slack because their master is not present; but Jesus could return at any moment. A lack of faith in his second coming will lead to increased sin, and unrighteous living. To avoid disobedience, we must constantly expect His arrival; every second, of every hour, of every day. We must never lose hope; we must trust in His promise; and wait patiently. As we wait, it is our duty to continue to serve and love our fellows. When he does return, those who were faithful in his absence will receive eternal blessings and everlasting life.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, may our hearts be expectant, and may we continue to hope in Your return. Increase our faith that we might forever trust in Your promises. May we always desire to serve You and our fellows. Guide and direct our steps, that we may know with certainty, the duties and responsibilities that You have given to each 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.

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 torrent, it demands reverence and respect. Just as rivers gouge out valleys and tear apart mountains, the gospel transforms lives. Many eagerly receive God’s Holy Spirit but lack foresight; they do not understand the magnitude of changes God intends to perform in their lives. True faith is costly; the price of salvation is death; death to our old lives. One must willingly be destroyed in order to be remade in the image of Christ. Those whose hearts are stony initially experience a very shallow relationship with God. They desperately cling to old familiar habits and abandon their faith when it requires real change. They turn from the light and live in darkness; choosing comfort above growth and sin over righteousness.
        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 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 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. Believing a verbal profession of faith without actions to be sufficient for salvation, many remain unchanged. With their lips they affirm Christ, but with their lives they deny him. Continuing in behaviors such as, pornography, fornication, drunkenness, idolatry, and dishonesty (to name a few), contradicts the rebirth that all Christians must endure. If you can identify with this type of soil, then you have two choices; continue forward toward in delusion or get honest with yourself and begin a new life with Jesus; a life of repentance; a life free from darkness and unrighteousness; a life lived as a disciple of Christ; a life fully committed to purity, church fellowship, prayer, evangelism, and bible reading. May the Lord give you the courage, strength, and conviction to make the right choice.
        “Lord Heavenly Father transform us in to the image of Your Son. May we lay down our old lives to take up our new ones. May our relationships 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 overcome and to conquer. 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.

Cutting Away Sin

JESUS SPEAKING

        “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Mathew 5: 30)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Sin is defined as any act of willful disobedience toward God. Sin is very serious because it separates us from our Heavenly Father. Because God loves his children, He desires for us to let go of our sinful practices, that we may be reunited with Him. Any grievous sins, such as fornication, adultery, lying, stealing, lewdness, etc, must be abandoned. In order that we may live, we must cut away these portions of our dead flesh.
        In April of 2003, an experienced mountain climber named Aaron Ralston was hiking alone in a remote mountain pass in Utah. While maneuvering through one of the crevices, a giant boulder dislodged and pinned his arm against the canyon wall; for days he attempted to free himself. He had not told anyone where he was going, so he knew that no one would be looking for him. When he had finally run out of water, Aaron was faced with a terrible choice […] He could severe his arm with an ill-equipped pocket knife; or he could keep his arm and simply lay down and die. The only thing standing between Aaron and the rest of his life were two bones, several muscles, and some tendons in his forearm. Aaron chose to break both bones in his arm; he then proceeded to saw through his own flesh with his dull knife. After nearly 127 hours of confinement, he left his severed arm behind and climbed out of the canyon. Until that day, Aaron had lived selfishly. He had been a ‘loner’ who continually pushed others away. Shortly after his experience he came to believe that the boulder had been waiting for him his entire life (that it was destined to transform him.) He said, “I left my hand behind in that canyon, but I gained my life back.” His experience allowed him to see what was truly important. He began to put the emphasis on personal relationships; he eventually married and started a family. He now travels the world telling other people about his inspiring story.
        Like Aaron, there are boulders in our lives; giant rocks that pin us down and keep us from knowing complete freedom. If we have entered again in to serious sin, and we have been separated from God then we have some cutting to do. Cut away the dead flesh, so that you may live. Ask God to reveal to you any sinful practices that have crept back in to your life and He will. How you respond to what you find, will determine your eternal destiny. May God help us all to make the right choice.
        “Lord Heavenly Father we recognize that sin can cause us to become separated from You. We know that we have received forgiveness through Your Son, but we recognize our responsibility to refrain from willful acts of disobedience. If we have become defiant, then please give us the strength to put these sins to death, that we may eternally continue to live for You. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.

Divine Transformation

JESUS SPEAKING

        And after these things he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And he said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left all, rose up, and followed Him. Then Levi gave him a great feast in his own house. And there was a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. And the scribes and Pharisees complained against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5: 27-32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Tax collectors in Israel were Jewish citizens who had ‘sold-out’ to the Roman Empire; and thus, turned against their own people. The Roman taxes were often severe, and tax collectors earned their living by over-taxing the people; in turn, they were passionately despised. The religious leaders were enraged because Jesus was eating with these types of sinners. Jewish meals were extremely intimate affairs; those who dined together dipped into the same bowls and drank from the same cups. Most Jews were very careful who they ate with because they falsely believed that sin could be transferred from one person to another through the sharing of food. The Son of God, however, was not concerned with being contaminated by the sins of others. Instead, his purity was infecting and cleansing the evil hearts of those who dined with him. The messiah’s purpose was to seek and to save the lost; to bring light into the lives of those who dwelled in darkness; he came to heal the sick and to restore to fellowship, those who had turned away from the paths of righteousness.
        In 1464 a block of Marble weighing nearly 9 tons was shipped to the Cathedral of the Santa Maria Del Fiore in Italy. From it, an artist was commissioned to carve a massive sculpture of a young King David. It is said the artist abandoned the project because the piece of marble contained too many flaws (or veins—veins in marble are weaker than the surrounding stone, which can cause it to crack and break.) So the defective block sat in the yard for nearly a decade; until another artist was commissioned to continue the work; apparently he also foresaw problems with the veining and walked away from the project. The scarcely carved stone block was again pushed to the back of the yard where the sun, wind, and rain beat down on it for nearly 25 years. Then in 1501 a 29-year-old sculptor named Michelangelo looked at the stone with optimistic intentions. To him, it wasn’t just some aged block of marble taking up space; neither did he reject it as a defective throw away, fit only for the trash heap. Unlike the other sculptors, Michelangelo saw the giant slab, not as it was, but as it could be. He accepted the commission to complete the work because, from it, he believed that he could create a masterpiece. In 1504, after nearly 3 years of work, the Statue of David was completed; immediately it was marveled over; even the harshest of critics were astonished by its timeless majesty. Today, the statue of David resides in Florence Italy, and is unquestionably one of the most beautiful marble sculptures ever created.
        Like Michelangelo, Jesus Christ is a master craftsman; his purpose is not just to take good people and make them better, but to take the worst people and transform them into divine works of art. As followers of Christ, our duty is to reach out to those who have been rejected. Rather than turning our backs on sinners, we are called to embrace them in love. We must not see sinners for who they are, but rather, for who they might become (with the assistance, love, and attention of an all-powerful Creator.) Reach out to the lost; make friends with the weak; dive into the trash heap and pull out those who have been discarded. He has sent us into the world to find the lost, and to bring hope to the hopeless. Are you willing to be an instrument in the hands of God; a tool He can use to accomplish a masterpiece?
        “Lord Heavenly Father, may we seek out those who are sick. Give us a heart for the outcast, that we would see possibility where others see only failure. We lay our lives at Your feet; may we be Your messengers; may we bring the good news of salvation and reconciliation to all those who dwell in darkness. We love You Father, 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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