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God is Calling You

JESUS SPEAKING

      Then he said to another, “Follow me.”  But the man said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  Jesus said to him, “Let the dead burry their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”  And another also said, “Lord, I will follow you, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”  But Jesus said to him, “No one having put his hand to plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9: 59-62.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      The calling of God demands immediate and unwavering obedience.  The priority of the first man in this scripture was to attend the burial of his father.  Jesus beckoned him to focus on the living, not the dead (the man’s Father was likely an unbeliever.)   In the end, the man decided to attend a funeral, rather than follow Jesus Christ.  The second stranger Jesus spoke with yearned to return home to say farewell to his relatives; thereby placing his family ahead of his dedication to God.  Jesus then uses an agricultural illustration to make an overall point.  When driving an ox and plow, a farmer’s eyes remain focused on the field ahead; looking back can only distract the driver from his necessary work.  The world today is full of diversions, obstacles, and enticements.  Not everyone is being called to become a missionary, or a priest, or a pastor.  But we are all called to be disciples.  The more important truth is that distractions are dangerous; because they can sometimes prevent us from accomplishing God’s will.

      According to the national highway safety commission, 80% of all car crashes involve driver distraction.  These statistics proved true for a man named Stephen in 1983.  One sunny morning he hopped in his new Mercedes Benz; with the top down and the wind in his face; he had set out for an important appointment.  As he drove up the coast of Southern California, he passed by a certain beach.  His attentions unexpectedly turned to a young blonde woman wearing a bikini.  As she passed his vehicle, his mind, heart, and eyes, followed along with her.  The image of a complete stranger took priority over the road, his destination, and even his new wife Sandy.  He suddenly smashed into the back end of a Chevelle that had come to a complete stop in his lane.  Although Stephen’s body remained uninjured, his pride, and the front end of his Mercedes weren’t quite as lucky.  When driving, the road ahead must take precedence over everything else. To reach our destination, we must abandon trivial distractions.

      Jesus Christ has called many; still, a great multitude have refused to respond in the serious and immediate manner required for discipleship. If you have felt called by the Lord, let go of this fading existence and grab hold of the plow.  Make God the priority.  Preach the gospel to all those you meet; accomplish the work of the Lord and avoid distractions.  This life is a passing dream; keep your eyes, mind, and heart, focused on God; and you will certainly reach your destination.

      “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You would be our number one priority.  May our eyes be continually focused upon You.  Take control of our lives and be our Master.  Help us to avoid distractions.  Give us the wisdom and strength to finish what You have started; until the day that we enter Your eternal 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.

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.

Opposing Evil

JESUS SPEAKING

       “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this […] You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you desire to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he 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. And because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me” (John 8: 39, 44 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Jesus opposed the religious leaders with great zeal; they claimed to be descendants of Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish people. However, Abraham was a righteous man; a man who looked forward to the coming of the messiah; yet as Jesus stood before them, they sought to kill him. They did not know God; preferring instead to serve Satan (a fallen angel who continually opposes God.) Lucifer has an influence in every act of violence, murder, idolatry, theft, divorce, drunkenness, and dishonesty (to name a few.) But God’s truth is a light that exposes Satan’s lies. Those who serve the ‘son of perdition’ will stop at nothing to extinguish God’s divine illumination; so, they can continue in sin without remorse. Wherever God is not, evil exists in abundance.
        Adolf Hitler orchestrated one of the largest mass murders in world history. He rounded up and killed nearly 6 million Jews. He rejected God and the bible, and avidly believed in the evolutionary teachings of Charles Darwin (those teachings attempted to explain creation by means of naturalistic processes—if life could arise and evolve on its own, then a divine creator would no longer be necessary.) To Adolf Hitler, human beings were nothing more than animals; animals that could be enhanced through proper breeding. As a believer in ‘survival of the fittest’ (another evolutionary term), Hitler assumed some human beings were less advanced than others. In turn, he sought to create a master race by systematically destroying the unfit. Before his campaign of ethnic cleansing, he killed the elderly, the deformed, and the disabled. When the Godly stood up to oppose him, he imprisoned and killed them as well. After he invaded Poland, he murdered nearly 3 million Christians and Catholics. He also killed 3,000 church clergy members; another 2,600 Catholic priests were executed throughout Europe. Still, he didn’t stop there; his goal wasn’t to control the churches, but to destroy them. Following his death, the truth about his design to obliterate Christianity after the war became known. Jesus Christ stood in the way of his twisted ideology; causing many disciples to stand up and speak the truth; thus, illuminating of his evil deeds. Hitler (much like the Pharisees who opposed the Lord) had to remove the light of Christ before he could practice his atrocities uninhibited.
        Those who follow God oppose evil; no matter the cost. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we boldly speak the truth (as Christ has taught us.) Speaking the truth may not be popular; we may be excluded, hated, or even persecuted by those who seek to sin without conviction. Satan will stop at nothing to see man disobey God. Are we willing to stand up for what is right? Are we able to be a light in the darkness? Are we prepared to preach the truth in a world that prefers lies? Speak the truth, and God will bless you. Stand firm, and He will strengthen you. Allow the light of Christ to shine through you, and you will “dwell in the house of the Lord, Forever.”
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to oppose what is evil and to expose the works of Satan. Give us the strength and the courage to preach the truth in a world that prefers lies. May we be a light in the darkest places. May we not fear the reprisals of man, and always seek to do Your will; no matter what the cost. 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!

Letting Go and Grabbing Hold

JESUS SPEAKING

        “Again, the kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Mathew 13: 45-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        The message of “The kingdom of God,” is a priceless treasure; a treasure more valuable than gold. For contained within it is the gift of eternal life and the love of God. As Jesus preached the message, a fortunate few recognized the truth and were willing to trade in all of their possessions to receive the Lord’s everlasting gift. Many who came to believe, sacrificed great wealth, time, relationships, homes, and lofty positions within the community in order to take hold of the true riches of God’s eternal kingdom. As believers, we must let go of the world in order to fully embrace the Lord.
        Some people actually make a living letting go of one thing, so they can grab hold of another. Trapeze performers, for example, swing effortlessly back and forth, high above cold concrete floors. For these men and women, timing and precision can often mean the difference between living and dying. The man, who risks his life to spin through the air, must know when to let go of his swing and when to grab hold of his partner, dangling from the opposite swing. So too, the gospel is a message about ‘letting go’ and ‘grabbing hold;’ no one can ‘grab hold’ of the Kingdom of God unless they fist ‘let go’ of whatever they are clinging too in this world. For the Christian, the pursuit of worldly rewards must end, and the pursuit of Godly rewards must begin.
        Sadly, during the Lord’s public ministry, thousands simply passed by him as he spoke; they chose to cling to their own lives rather than to grab hold of God and the life He was offering them. Today, the Lord is still speaking; his message is still being proclaimed throughout the world. Many still choose the temporary pleasures of this life over the eternal peace of God. Most refuse because the Christian life is not easy. There are many trials and hardships that accompany genuine faith. Self-sacrifice and self-denial aren’t always popular, but they are necessary. May we all choose to let go of our selfish pursuits. May we loosen our grasp on the things of this world; and may we grab hold of and embrace the free gift of God.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You give us the strength to avoid selfish living; we long to serve others, and to sacrifice our lives to accomplish Your desires. May we receive your kingdom with gladness, and may we let go of anything that is hindering us from completely submitting to Your perfect will. 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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