Archive for the 'Jesus Speaks' Category



The Presence of Prophecy

JESUS SPEAKING

      Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all  things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.  For he will be delivered to the gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.  They will scourge him and kill him.  And the third day he will rise again” (Luke 18: 31-33.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      Although Jesus foretold of his impending death upon the cross, his suffering had been described in detail for hundreds of years.  Throughout the centuries, the old testament prophets (inspired by God) wrote about the arrival of God’s solution to sin; a sacrifice that would once and for all put an end to the iniquity that separated the divine creator from his fallen creations (Jesus Christ, was and is that sacrifice.) 

      One major prophetic scripture comes from the book of Isaiah; the book was written between 740 and 680 B.C.  Chapter 53 is particularly interesting because it describes the suffering of Jesus in great detail (hundreds of years before the crucifixion occurred.)  We read, “Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, Yet he opened not his mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare his generation? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people he was stricken. And theymade his grave with the wicked — but with the rich at his death, because he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief. When you make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see the labor of his soul,and be satisfied. By his knowledge my righteous servant shall justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

      Only God knows the future; only the creator can foretell of events before they occur.  Accurate prophecy is a characteristic, unique to the Holy Bible.  No other book or set of sacred writings have ever correctly predicted anything.  The scriptures are the Lord’s reliable revelation; they can be trusted.  As you read the word, remember, you are not simply reading a book compiled by men, but a book authored by God Himself.  May it inspire you, lead you, and transform you.

      “Lord Heavenly Father we praise You and thank You for providing us with the Holy Bible.  As we read it, may we approach it with reverence and respect.  Speak to us through Your word; with every word read, and every page turned, may our hearts be transformed; may we become more like You and Your wonderful Son.  We love You Father, we thank You, 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.

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” (Mathew 5: 23-24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    No one can have a close relationship with God in a vacuum; human beings live within complex social structures; these communities are made up of family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and even complete strangers.  Our relationship with others is a direct reflection of our relationship with God.  When we sin against our neighbor, we have also sinned against our Lord.  If we lie, slander, and despise another person, we have lied, slandered, and hated our own creator.  In the first century, many Jewish families traveled long distances to reach the temple in Jerusalem; where an animal would be sacrificed to atone for their sins; having received forgiveness, they were restored to a right relationship with God.  Similarly, Jesus has also taught us that we are to first seek out reconciliation with our neighbors; only then can we draw ever closer to the Lord.  Today, this commandment, known as ‘making amends,’ is still an essential Christian practice.

    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.  Naturally, 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 to make amends likely inspired the founders to create the 8th and 9th steps as well.  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 ever closer to the Lord.

    Today, in order to move forward with God, you might consider delving into your past.  Examine your previous mistakes more thoroughly.  If you’ve stolen from anyone, pay them back; if you’ve lied, and your lies have caused hardship, return and speak the truth.  If by mistreating others, you have created resentments, you are commanded to humble yourself, and request forgiveness.  Making amends is an important Christian practice.  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 strength and the humility to ask for forgiveness; that we might be reconciled to those who are resentful.  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!

Want Forgiveness, Then Forgive

JESUS SPEAKING

      Now early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and he sat down and taught them.  Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in adultery.  And when they had set her in the midst, they spoke, saying to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do you say?”  This they said testing him, that they might have something of which to accuse him.  But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger, as though he did not hear.  So, when they continued asking him, he raised himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.  And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had raised himself up and saw no one other than the woman, he said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8: 2 – 11.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      The Pharisees had likely heard Jesus teaching about the importance of grace and forgiveness.  So, they brought to him a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.  Under Old Testament (Mosaic) law, she was to be stoned to death.  The religious leaders had hoped he would show mercy and speak out against God’s commandments.  However, instead of condemning her, Jesus placed her fate squarely in the hands of her accusers (but not before reminding them of their own sins.)  To condemn her would be to invite God’s judgment upon themselves.  Therefore, those who wished to continue receiving the Lord’s mercy had no choice but to be merciful.  One by one they threw down their stones until no one was left to condemn her.

      In the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 7, verse 21, we are given the reason why many individuals find it difficult to show mercy.  Verse 21 reads, “Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.  For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.”  According to Solomon, forgetting our own past sins, will result in anger and an inability to forgive.  The key to showing mercy then, is to be aware of our own shortcomings; and to remember God’s forgiveness [Note:  There was a time when driving in traffic was extremely frustrating for me.  Whenever someone would accidently cut me off, I would become angry and bitter.  One day however, someone swerved into my lane; but for the first time my reaction was quite different.  I remember a feeling of peaceful acceptance wash over me.  The peace came from my mind; and from a single thought; on past occasions I myself had unknowingly strayed into other people’s lanes.  I too was guilty of accidently cutting off other drivers.  Having remembered my own imperfection, I was able to accept and forgive another human being for their imperfection.]

      Whenever we feel bitterness, anger, and hatred toward others, it is likely that we have forgotten who we are.  We are sinners saved by grace; we are imperfect human beings who make mistakes.  When we remember rightly that we are inadequate and deficient without Christ, we will experience true humility.  How then can we refuse to forgive others when God has forgiven us of our sins? 

      “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire humility as we seek after Your truth.  May we never forget that we are sinners saved by grace.  Remove any bitterness that rests within us and replace it with love and understanding.  May we continually receive Your mercy, and may we bestow that same mercy upon 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!

Being Ready for His Return

JESUS SPEAKING

      “Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks, they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes […] But understand this:  If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12: 35-37, 39-40.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      In ancient times, Jewish weddings were relatively prolonged engagements; often lasting for many days.  The guests would recline on pillows, feasting day and night; often falling asleep beside the table.  The length of the celebration was uncertain; it could end at one in the morning, or three in the afternoon. In turn, when the master of a household attended a wedding, his servants had to be prepared for his return at any moment.  Therefore, Jesus used this parable to illustrate His second coming.  After ascending into heaven, he promised to return; yet provided no specific day or hour. He could return today; in a month; or a hundred years from now.  Consequently, his servants must eagerly await his arrival every second of every day.

     Many years ago, prior to my conversion, I practiced a life of sinful disobedience.  I lived alone, in an apartment paid for by my Dad.  He would occasionally pop in to make sure the apartment was clean and in proper condition.  One evening, while hosting a drunken bash, things got out of hand.  We smashed beer bottles in my living room.  I also broke an exterior window, and another partygoer broke my car window with an empty beer bottle.  Somehow the toilet clogged and overflowed as well; leaking into the apartment beneath me.  I eventually passed out; thinking I could clean up in the morning without anyone noticing.  However, early the following day, I was rousted from my sleep by the shouts of an angry man. “Get up,” my dad yelled in my ear!  I sprang from the mattress, in utter shock.  I was embarrassed, ashamed, and filled with fear.  I hadn’t expected him; never contemplating that he might witness the carnage of my drunken behavior.  He stood by, patiently watching as I picked up every shard of broken glass.

      Much like my Dad, the Lord is coming at an hour when we least expect Him.  We must always be ready for his return.  Those who obey the teachings of Jesus Christ are prepared to meet him.  If we continually love and serve others, then when our savior arrives, he will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant […] enter into the joy of the Lord.”

      “Lord Heavenly Father may our hearts be filled with the expectation of Your return.  Reveal to us any areas where we are being selfish, rather than selfless. Convict our hearts and give us the strength to repent.  May we always be giving, kind, and obedient; never missing an opportunity to 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!

Making God the Priority

JESUS SPEAKING

     Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore, tell her to help me.”  And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 38 – 42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     After eagerly welcoming Jesus into her home for the evening, Martha began feverishly serving her new guests.  In traditional Jewish culture, the women were responsible for preparing the meals.  Therefore, Martha became upset when she observed Mary sitting at Christ’s feet, intently listening to His every word.  She attempted to correct her sister, but the Lord corrected her instead.  Unlike Mary, Martha had failed to put God first; ahead of all of her other duties.

     In the 1500’s, a German Monk named Martin Luther sparked the protestant reformation (a movement that sought to restore the church to biblical truths, rather than manmade religious traditions.)  As the leader of this movement, he was an extraordinarily busy man.  However, despite his many responsibilities, he would arise every morning to spend time in prayer; conceding that on his busiest days he needed God even more.  He once said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”

     Like Martin Luther, we must make God our number one priority.  The amount of distractions in this life are seemingly infinite. The busier we are, the less time we have to complete our daily tasks.  On our busiest days we can act like Martha and make less time for God and more time for our chores.  Or, we can choose to behave like Mary and make God our top priority.  By reading scripture, praying, and seeking God’s will first thing in the morning, we are making the right decision.  If God is our priority, everything else will fall into its proper place. And the peace of the Lord will remain in us, as He accomplishes His work through us.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to make You the most important thing in our lives.  May life’s busiest moments never distract us from focusing on Your goodness.  Teach us and love us; pour Your Spirit out into our hearts, that we might be used to effectively accomplish Your will in this place.  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.

The Resurrection

JESUS SPEAKING

     “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him” (Luke 20: 34 – 38.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     The resurrection from the dead is a central tenant of the Christian faith.  Jesus Himself rose from the dead, revealing that everyone who has faith in Him will never die.  Instead, although the body may temporarily perish, the believer’s spirit continues onward in God’s eternal kingdom.  When the Almighty establishes a new heaven and a new Earth, every faithful soul will receive an eternal body.  A body that doesn’t grow old; every disease will be obliterated, and death and suffering will cease to exist.  Pregnancy will no longer be necessary either; marriage will become a thing of the past.  Everyone will live in perfect fellowship with one another, and with the God who created them.

     To prove that there is life after death, Jesus quotes an Old Testament scripture.  In Exodus 3: 6, God says to Moses, “I am […] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (present tense.)  He doesn’t say I was the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (past tense.)  Although Abraham Isaac and Jacob had physically perished, they were, and are still now, spiritually alive; living peacefully in God’s eternal kingdom.

     There comes a time when every human being must make the journey from this life to the next.  For those who believe, death is not the end; it is merely the beginning.  Faith in Jesus Christ is the vessel that carries us into the presence of the almighty and everlasting Father.  May your faith remain strong as you are transformed into the image of your savior; and may God comfort you as you eagerly look forward to your eternal future with great hope and joy.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, we faithfully await the resurrection from the dead.  We know that you have prepared a special place for us in Your eternal Kingdom, and we look ahead to that day with great pleasure and overwhelming gladness.  Sanctify us and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might do Your works and accomplish Your will right here in this place.  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 we pray.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!

Humility

JESUS SPEAKING:

      “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mathew 5: 3.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS:

      In this scripture, the phrase “poor in spirit” refers to the attribute of humility (a precious treasure that creates joy in the hearts of all those who possess it.)  Practicing humility means acknowledging that God is the giver of all good things.  The Lord provides us with our food, shelter, clothing, careers, relationships, and every other necessity of daily living.  He has complete power over all of creation; the very air we breathe is a gift from Him.  Although the humble offer God many praises, the prideful prefer to acknowledge themselves; mistakenly believing that everything they possess is the product of their own intelligence and hard work.

      An ancient ruler known as Nebuchadnezzar was once the mightiest king who had ever lived.  His reign over the Babylonian empire began in 605 B.C.  Like most powerful men, humility wasn’t one of his greatest attributes; he demanded that his subjects worship him in the manner of a God.  One day as he leisurely strolled through his palace, he spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”  Before he was finished speaking, a voice came from heaven saying, “The kingdom has departed from you […] your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field.  They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven years shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Daniel 4: 30 – 32.)  Indeed, because the Babylonian King had failed to give God the credit for his possessions, he slipped into madness and began acting like an ox for seven years; eating grass in the fields.

      As believers, we must not make the same mistake.  Instead, we must acknowledge that all good things come from God; that every possession is a blessing and a gift.  Those who desire to enter God’s kingdom would do well to continually honor Him.  Practically, Christian humility can be expressed through prayers of gratitude offered to God daily; we can also say grace before meals and praise the Lord in our private time and during worship services.  Tithing is another acknowledgement of God’s goodness.  Ultimately whatever form of thankfulness we choose to offer, it should come from the heart; and from a deep appreciation for everything that God has so graciously given us.

      “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your many gifts and provisions; for our food, our clothes, and our homes (to name a few.)  We recognize that all good things come from You.  Help us to maintain a spirit of gratitude and humility.  Cleanse our hearts of pride, that in lowliness we might better 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!


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