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Receiving the Message

JESUS SPEAKING

          “I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me out of the world.  They were Yours, you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they have known that all things which you have given me are from you.  For I have given them the words which you have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from you; and they have believed that that You sent me” (John 17: 6-8.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Jesus was speaking directly to God in the presence of his disciples.  He identified his task, and acknowledged that it had been completed.  His task was to make God known to all those willing to listen.  The true children of God listened to Jesus, accepted him as God’s messenger, and received his words as the very words of God.  God gave those children (the disciples), to Jesus, to teach, to love, to protect, and to nurture.  Today, God is still selecting people out of the world, to be his eternal possessions.  Anyone who accepts the message of Jesus Christ, has become a true child of God.  We believe his words are God’s words; we believe his ways are God’s ways; and we believe his followers are God’s followers.  Those who follow God are saved, but those who choose to ignore His message will perish.

          In 1912 the Titanic slipped beneath the icy evening waves of the Atlantic Ocean; nearly 1000 people joined it on its journey to the bottom of the ocean depths.  There weren’t enough lifeboats to carry all of the passengers; but no one needed to die.  Most are unaware that there was a large ship named ‘The Californian,’ less than 20 miles away that evening (close enough to have saved most of Titanic’s passengers.)  ‘The Californian’ received distress calls from the Titanic (via radio and lamps;) they also saw 8 distress flares, and crew members later testified that the Titanic appeared to be listing in the water (leaning to one side.)  No one but God knows why, but the captain of ‘The Californian’ didn’t seem to take these messages seriously; he returned to bed after hearing the reports.  During an official inquiry in to the captain’s actions, he remained elusive, continually changing his story; he even made attempts to doctor the log book and change their reported position on the evening of the tragedy.  The real circumstances of his inaction were never clear.  Many however would speculate that the Captain simply didn’t take the messages seriously.  He heard the reports, but he didn’t believe them, and for that reason 1000 people lost their lives.

          Jesus Christ, and the words that he spoke are God’s signal flares in a very dark, and very cold world.  Some see the signals, and they are drawn to him.  They see Jesus, and realize that he is God’s message, and because they believe that message, they are saved from death.  Sadly, no matter how many flares He sends up pointing to his Son, most will never take God’s message seriously; for that they will perish in darkness.  Jesus Christ is God’s message to you.  Will you respond to that message?  Those who respond follow Jesus and dedicate their lives to spreading his message to others.  The initial response is your belief?  Do you believe today that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and that by your faith in him you have eternal life?

          “Lord heavenly Father, we come before You, and we ask that You please accept our allegiance to You and to Your Son.  We desire to be Yours, and we believe Your message, and we accept Your word.  We await the life you have promised, and we ask that you strengthen us in this world to do Your work.  Give us a desire to spread Your message to others, that we would make more disciples, and bring others out of death and in to life.  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.

Using Our Wealth to Glorify God

JESUS SPEAKING

        “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12: 32-34.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Jesus commanded his followers to sell their earthly possessions and use the profits to help those in need.  For each sacrifice, he promised a future reward held for them in God’s eternal kingdom.  Although many amass great amounts of excess wealth, all possessions are impermanent; nothing tangible is of any eternal value.  Banks fail, thieves break in and steal, and death is inevitable.  No living person can carry any possessions from this life to the next; everything is left behind. Yet, for those who have heeded the command of Christ, far greater treasures await; no compassionate contribution, selfless act, or sacrificial donation is ever lost.  The Lord will credit those who have made charity ‘the backbone’ of their existence.  Death cannot take from the unselfish, what remains within the living God.  He is a divine vault that contains an eternal treasure.  In Him, every believer who has sacrificed their belongings will inherit the true riches of eternal life [Note:  Some things are necessary for living; if you own a home, a car, a computer, God is not necessarily asking you to sell them; especially if they are essential; pray about what Jesus Christ might be asking you to relinquish and use for His glory.]

        In the Old Testament, when Solomon succeeded his Father David as king, the Nation of Israel was at its Zenith; making him one of the wealthiest men who has ever lived.  Over the course of his 40 year reign he earned nearly 40 billion dollars worth of Gold (based on one estimate.)  He also acquired 700 wives and three hundred concubines.  He sat on a large mechanical throne covered in gold figures, which was allegedly carried around with him wherever he went.  His monumental building projects astonished onlookers for generations.  He constructed the temple in Jerusalem (one of the largest buildings ever created in the ancient world.)  His palace took 13 years to build and all of his drinking vessels were made of pure gold.  He owned many exotic animals and bread thousands of horses.  He owned 1,400 chariots and employed 12,000 horsemen.  Foreign rulers, the world over, traveled to his Kingdom to marvel at its prosperity.  The bible records that Solomon “made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones.”  With so much wealth and power, did Solomon live a satisfying life?  The answer can be found in the book of Ecclesiastes, which he wrote near the end of his life.  As he looked back upon his actions and accomplishments, he expressed extreme regret.  He concluded that the large buildings, the Gold and silver, the women, the exotic foods, the fine clothes, and the abundant possessions were all meaningless.  He wrote “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, by increase […] there is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: riches kept for their owner to his hurt […] as he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand […] just exactly as he came, so shall he go.”  As death approached, King Solomon had finally discovered the true value of wealth; homes are unimportant, bank accounts are trivial, and fine clothes are insignificant; but generosity lasts forever. 

        Jesus Christ continually reminds the world of the truth that Solomon discovered so many years ago; wealth is only valuable when it is used to bless others.  Those who have utilized their excesses to help the poor are in fact wealthier than the richest man who has ever lived.  For when death arrives, the wealthy man will have nothing, but the faithful believer will inherit true riches; everlasting possessions that cannot be taken away.  Our wealth serves no purpose, unless it serves His purpose.  The things we have that are not being used, can be used to glorify God and to help others.

        “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask that You give us the strength and the courage to use our wealth for Your purposes.  May our excesses be given over to help those in need.  Give us opportunities to be instruments of kindness; may we abandon ourselves to You.  May our lives be lived in sacrifice, and self-denial; and may we one day inherit the true riches of Your glorious Kingdom.  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 Tenth Commandment

JESUS SPEAKING

          Then one from the crowd spoke to Jesus saying, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”  And he said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12: 13 – 15.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Jesus fervently warned his followers to avoid covetousness.  Those who covet strongly desire the belongings of others; as a result they lack the proper gratitude for what they have been given.  Due to the destructive nature of this particular sin, God gave mankind the tenth commandment; which states: “You shall not covet (desire) your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet (desire) your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”  Covetousness is dangerous because it can lead to a number of other sins such as theft, adultery, and even murder.

          In ancient times, King David was an extremely powerful man who possessed great riches.  He had countless wives and concubines at his disposal to satisfy his physical needs.  Yet, one evening, while walking along the rooftop of his palace, his eyes beheld a woman bathing naked.  Her name was Bathsheba; the spouse of a military commander named Uriah.  David abruptly began coveting her, and eventually committed the act of adultery.  He was soon informed that Bathsheba had conceived and was with child.  After numerous attempts to cover up his dreadful deed, David finally had Uriah murdered in battle; thus taking Bathsheba to be his wife.  King David was later judged for his sin and the penalty was severe.

          As faithful servants, we must be careful to continually maintain a spirit of gratitude, and to take pleasure in what the Lord has given us.  In so doing, we will fulfill the tenth commandment and avoid covetousness.  May we never desire the possessions of others; may we always remain grateful for what we have been given; and may God grant us true contentment and everlasting peace.

        “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your many blessings.  Fill us continually with unending gratitude and genuine appreciation.  If we have broken the tenth commandment convict our hearts and help us to change.  May we never desire the possessions of others; but instead take pleasure in the gifts that You have given 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.

Conquering Doubt

JESUS SPEAKING

          And he left them, and getting in to a boat again (with his disciples), departed to the other side.  Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat.  Then he charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.”  But Jesus being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not yet perceive nor understand?  Is your heart still hardened?  Having eyes, do you not see?  And having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”  They said to Him, “Twelve.”  “Also when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”  And they said, “Seven.”  So he said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” (Mark 8: 13 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Shortly after feeding four thousand people with seven loaves of bread, Jesus warned his disciples to beware of doubtful thoughts.  Despite having just witnessed God’s heavenly provision, the disciples began to fear that they hadn’t brought enough food for their journey.  The Lord addressed their uncertainties by reminding them of his previous miracles.  On two separate occasions he had fed thousands with scarcely enough food to feed a small family.  If doubts arise within our hearts, they can quickly be eradicated by recalling the many miracles God has performed for us in the past.

          I once heard a man give his personal testimony.  As a youth he had been hopelessly addicted to drugs.  Eventually he received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  He began reading the bible and his life started changing.  Although sober, he hadn’t yet given up his old friends.  One day he was gathered together with them in a house; he was reading his bible while they were doing drugs.  Suddenly a group of heavily armed police officers broke through the door and began arresting everyone.  He was so frightened he could barely move.  He thought, ‘If I just sit here and read my bible, nothing will happen to me.’  He heard lamps falling and people yelling as they were being dragged to the ground and arrested.  As the commotion swirled around him he never took his eyes off of God’s word.  After a short time he heard the front door slam and the house was completely silent.  Looking up he realized he was all alone.  No one had tackled him; no one had arrested him; no one had even questioned him.  Sometime afterward, God told him that He had blinded the eyes of the officers so that they couldn’t see him.  This man has undoubtedly recalled this miracle on many occasions to dispel his doubts and to inspire his faith.

          Even the most faithful believers can occasionally experience doubtful thoughts.  If and when they arise, the natural remedy is remembrance.  How often has God healed our bodies; how often has He provided for our needs and protected us from trouble?  Our faith is preserved in times of trouble by remembering the wonderful miracles God has already performed in our lives.

          “Lord Heavenly Father, increase our faithfulness.  In moments of weakness may we be reminded of the many miracles You have already performed.  Through remembrance may our doubts be destroyed and our fears be put to death.  Fill our hearts with love, and peace, and truth, that we may continually trust in You and Your Son.  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

Pray With Expectancy

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Have faith in God.  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11: 22 – 24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Faith is defined as a strong belief or trust in God’s abilities.  He alone is able to move mountains, heal the sick, and raise the dead.  Jesus therefore urges every follower to pray with a measure of expectancy.  We must truly believe that God is capable of providing for each and every one of needs.  When we ask in faith, and do not doubt, we can fully expect to receive the desires of our heart.

            Hudson Taylor was a prominent missionary who lived in the 1800’s.  He established the China Inland Mission, an organization that still exists to this day (also known as the OMF.)  During his first journey to China, his ship hit a patch of windless ocean and began drifting uncontrollably toward an island known to be inhabited by vicious cannibals.  The frantic captain approached Mr. Taylor and asked him to pray for God’s help.  “I will” said Taylor, “Provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.”  The captain refused; not wanting to appear silly for unfurling in a dead calm.  Taylor responded by saying, “I will not undertake to pray for this vessel unless you will prepare the sails.”  The captain reluctantly obliged.  Soon there was a knock at Hudson’s door; “Who’s there?”  “Are you still praying for wind,” inquired the captain?  “Yes” responded Taylor.  “Well” added the skipper, “you’d better stop praying, we have more wind than we can manage.”

            As a genuine believer, Hudson Taylor understood the principle of praying with expectancy.  He prayed knowing full well that God would answer his prayers.  If we pray with that same measure of confidence and faith, we too will receive the blessings of the Lord.  May our hearts be free from doubt; may our requests be brave and bold; and may we fully expect our prayers to be answered according to the measure of our faith.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, You are an amazing and mighty God.  Create in us faithful hearts; hearts that are devoid of doubt; hearts that completely trust in Your abilities to provide for our needs.  May we always pray with confidence, unwavering faith, and genuine expectancy.  We love You Father, we praise You, and 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 Reborn

JESUS SPEAKING

        “You do the deeds of your father.”  Then they said to him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of myself, but He sent me.  Why do you not understand my speech?  Because you are unable to listen to my word.  You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it […] he who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God” (John 8: 41 – 47.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Many of the religious leaders were claiming to be children of God, yet they in no way resembled Him.  Instead they were lovers of money, who selfishly desired the praises of men.  They also sought to kill Jesus because he truly was the Son of God.  Without exception, every human being has one of two spiritual Fathers.  Either they love and serve God in purity and truth, or they follow Satan and serve their own fleshly desires.  Those seeking to become children of God must be reborn.  Jesus said, “unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

        The process of being reborn is comprised of two very unique and distinct steps.  First, the individual must forget everything they have learned that is not congruent with the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Secondly they must embrace and live according to the commandments of God.  Before I was reborn I willingly served Satan.  My life was full of selfishness and promiscuity.  I had learned from movies and popular culture that fornication (sexual activity prior to marriage) was permissible and profitable.  After my rebirth I abandoned my worldly education and embraced the biblical commands to avoid fornication.  After many years of sexual purity, I met my wife.  We courted for nearly a year; during this time we did not cohabit-ate (live together); we also refrained from sexual contact of any kind.  In accordance with God’s desires, our first intimate moments were shared on the night of our wedding.

        Those who yearn to call God Father, must also be reborn; they must abandon what they have learned from popular culture and embrace the commandments of the Lord.  Every obedient soul will come to resemble Jesus Christ.  Their hearts will be filled with compassion, truth, mercy, and love.  In turn, many will see God and be drawn toward Him.

        “Lord God, may we call You our Father today.  May we be reborn and know that the old things have passed away and You have made all things new.  Guide us, teach us, and transform our hearts that we might continue to grow in Your likeness and Your image.  When others see us may they see 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.

The Simple are Wise

JESUS SPEAKING

           At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.  Even so, Father, because it seemed good in Your sight.  All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father.  Nor does anyone know the Father except the son, and the one to whom the son wills to reveal him” (Mathew 11: 25-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

           In the Jewish culture, youth was often associated with weakness and stupidity.  So much so, that when a group of Jewish men gathered together, they frequently spoke in order of age; the oldest spoke first and the youngest spoke last.  They believed that with age came wisdom.  Jesus however, corrected this commonly held belief.  Wisdom concerning the messiah and God’s plan of salvation could not be attained through years of careful study; instead, the truth could only be received as a gift from God.  Those who thought themselves intelligent were blinded by pride and self-reliance; the simple and the ignorant however could more clearly see the value of God’s grace and the blessing of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

           Sigmund Freud pioneered what we might consider the modern field of psychology.  In fact, today he is remembered by some as one of the most intelligent men who has ever lived.  Yet most people don’t know that at one point in his career, he promoted the use of cocaine; believing it to be a cure for many of life’s common ailments.  He even encouraged his close acquaintances and compatriots to indulge in its use.  When one of his dear friends became horribly addicted to the drug, he saw the dangers of cocaine and anxiously recalled his previous promotions; he carried the guilt of his friend’s continual drug dependence for the rest of his life.  Some of the most well educated and intelligent people are often the most horribly deceived.

           The truth is a gift from The Lord (it is not something that can be earned.)  Intelligence, although beneficial and extremely useful, can sometimes blind those who trust in it more than God (the intellect frequently remains in opposition to simple faith and practical wisdom.)  God yearns for His children to trust in Him completely.  Those who are simple, unlearned, and unwise, are often the first to see the true value of God’s mercy and grace.  Won’t you receive the gospel today as a little child?  Won’t you believe with your whole heart?  Won’t you allow God to take control of your life?  If you place your faith in Jesus Christ you will come to know the truth; and you will be smarter than the most well-educated man, and wiser than the greatest king. 

           “Lord Heavenly Father, may we be as little children.  May we remain simple, and may we completely trust in, and rely upon You.  We pray for those who are intelligent and wise in their own thinking; those who have faith only in the achievements of men.  Reveal the truth to them, that they may come to humbly receive Your mercy and grace.  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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