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God the Father

JESUS SPEAKING

     “A certain man had two sons.  And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’  So he divided to them his livelihood.  And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with riotous living.  But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.  Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed the swine.  And he would have loved to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.  But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Make me like one of your hired servants.’  And he arose and came to his father.  But when his Father was still a great distance away, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But his father said to his servant, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  And bring out the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’  And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15: 11 – 24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     In this parable, the Father represents God, and the son represents every sinner who has wandered away from Him.  The ‘far country’ is figurative of the life of sin that many engage in when they turn away from the Lord.  The Sons return to his father symbolizes the act of repentance and rebirth that accompanies salvation.  In this passage, the prodigal son misjudges his father’s response to his return; believing he will be treated as a servant rather than a son.  Much to his surprise, he is lovingly embraced and honored.  The father is so overjoyed that he immediately orders the household to begin celebrating the occasion.

     Many years ago, prior to my conversion, I was actively abusing drugs and living in sin.  My family suffered greatly as they saw me spiraling downward.  My dad lived in a state of perpetual fear; not knowing when he would be informed of my death or incarceration.   Eventually I got sober, got a job, and gave my life to Jesus Christ.  Because I had been received, reborn, and embraced by my heavenly Father, my earthly father had gotten his son back as well.  My dad told me, “Out of all of your siblings, you are the one I worry about the least.”  On my wedding day, he looked at me with fondness and said, “You are my miracle.”

     Although earthly dads often possess great love for their children, God is far more affectionate.  He loves even the worst sinners.  The magnitude of His fondness is immeasurable.  He tirelessly seeks the lost, and is always ready to receive those who have wandered away.  May we share that same love; may we share that same heart; and may we continue to search for and embrace those who need to know the love of their Heavenly Father.

     “Almighty God, Everlasting Father, we are amazed at the enormity of Your love.  We are astonished by the depths of Your mercy and grace.  Fill us with Your desires, that we may share Your heart and seek those who have wandered away.  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 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

     While Jesus walked the earth, many of the religious leaders were claiming to be children of God, and 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 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, dishonesty, and promiscuity.  I had learned from movies and popular culture that fornication (sexual activity prior to marriage) was permissible and profitable.  However, after my rebirth, I abandoned my worldly education and embraced the biblical commandment 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 cohabitate (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 truly obedient soul will eventually come to resemble Jesus Christ.  Their hearts will be filled with compassion, truth, mercy, and love.  In turn, many others will see God in us 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 that 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, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!

Only One Way to Enter

JESUS SPEAKING

  Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10: 7-10.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

  In the first century shepherding was a very common profession.  Every good shepherd would tirelessly love and care for his sheep.  Feeding and watering the livestock remained an unending endeavor.  Every shepherd was also tasked with fending off hungry predators and keeping their sheep free from dangerous parasites.  Over time, the sheep would come to trust in and rely upon the individual guiding and protecting them.  After many days and nights of grazing in the open fields, the shepherd would need to rest.  Upon returning home, he would place his animals in a pen where he knew they would be safe.  Jesus is the ‘Good Shepherd.’  He came to gather his sheep together and lead them to safety.  In this parable, the sheep pen is meant to represent heaven; there remains a single gate through which one can enter.  Only those who have faith in and follow Jesus Christ are granted access to God’s kingdom.

  Today, flying is a very common mode of modern transportation.  In recent years, terrorists have utilized airplanes to commit atrocious acts of violence against many innocent people.  In an effort to prevent these attacks from occurring, airport security has become correspondingly severe.  There is now only one way in and one way out.  In turn, those seeking to enter through the security checkpoints must have the proper identification.  No license or alternative form of identification means no entry.  This rule is usually without exception; a nice smile, a kind face, and an appealing excuse are of no benefit whatsoever.  God’s kingdom is similar in many respects.  Simply put, there is one way to enter; and only those who have faith in the messiah are granted access.

 Jesus Christ is the ‘Good Shepherd.’  He came to lead his sheep into everlasting life.  Many have heard his words and received Him.  Still others however, have rejected him entirely.  Despite a number of differences, the faithful and the unfaithful have one thing in common; they will both one day stand at the gate; and only those who have called Jesus master and Lord will be able to enter God’s eternal Kingdom. 

  “Lord Heavenly Father, may we enter Your Kingdom.  We have come to trust in You; please lead us and teach us; and provide for all of our needs.  May we be Your sheep and may You be our Shepherd; may we know Your voice and never be deceived.  Protect us from those who would seek to do us harm and inspire us to reach out to those who are lost.  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. 

Jesus Creates Division

JESUS SPEAKING

    “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!  Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.  For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12: 49-53.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    Jesus corrected the commonly held belief that he came to bring peace to the earth; his real purpose was to give everyone the opportunity to choose their eternal destinations for themselves.  The baptism Jesus underwent on the cross divided the world in two; some have accepted his sacrifice and followed his teachings; still others believe he was just a man, and the cross has no meaning in their lives.  On this earth the strongest of all bonds exists within the family unit. Loyalty among siblings is paramount; as is the fidelity between children and their parents; yet not even these sacred relationships can withstand the new order Christ’s sacrifice has produced; the believer’s new supreme allegiance belongs to the Son of God, and those who share this allegiance make-up, ‘The Body of Christ.’

    In the book of Luke, Jesus presented a man with the gospel, saying, “Follow me!”  The man responded, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  Jesus then replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you, go and preach the kingdom.”  Eventually another man came to him and said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”  Jesus responded saying, “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”  In both cases Jesus caused turmoil and separation; creating division between those who believe and those who do not.

    Jesus Christ is the prince of peace; however, he is also a sword that cuts the world in two.  He came to produce unity among his followers and division between those followers and everyone else.  Often, if we are at peace with the world, then we are in opposition to God. Persecution is also a very real part of genuine faith.  We will be divided from others and suffer numerous afflictions, but we will never be alone. We must be strong for each other; as a single body we can endure and overcome the world; through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ we can know victory.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You give us the strength to step out in faith.  We hunger for Your Word, and desire to be Your followers. May we be filled with love, and may we never be ashamed of the truth.  May our allegiance to You and to Your Son be supreme; may we never put anyone or anything ahead of You Lord. 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!

A Genuine Servant

JESUS SPEAKING

    But Jesus called them to himself and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  However, it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 42 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    As children we are taught that dominance is better than submission, and that a higher social status means a better life.  Many therefore seek to acquire positions of great power and authority.  Yet Christ’s teachings are in direct opposition to such worldly principles.  Those who follow Jesus must deny what they have been taught, in order to embrace the doctrines of genuine faith and divine humility.  Only by abandoning the desire for greatness, can one completely and lovingly serve others. [Note: This does not mean you need to quit your job or stop seeking a higher wage or position. However, we must always be humble, no matter our station in life.]

    For years young men from across the country have flocked to the church where I used to serve, seeking to do pastoral ministry.  Many hopefuls were initially referred to a pastor named Romain, who employed a special technique designed to separate the qualified from the unqualified.  As the prospects approached, he would hand them a broom and tell them to go sweep a portion of the church.  Although many were obedient, others felt insulted and became upset.  One common response sounded something like this, “I came here to be a pastor and to teach the bible, not to sweep floors.”  Pastor Romain knew then that they did not have a servant’s heart; they had not come to serve and to practice humility, but to acquire power and authority.

    Those who follow the Son of God must give-up the desire for worldly greatness in order to pursue lowliness and humility.  Seeking to serve others rather than to be served, we become the men and women God has called us to be.  We can serve at home, in the community, at work, and in our church.  We can serve our family members, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers.  Only through selflessness and sacrifice can we be transformed into the image of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.     

    “Lord Heavenly Father, inspire us to seek lowliness and humility.  May we hunger to love and serve others in sincerity and singleness of heart.  Provide us with opportunities to place the needs of our fellows ahead of our own, that we might be examples of Your great mercy and everlasting affection.  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!

Actions Matter

JESUS SPEAKING

    “But what do you think?  A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’  He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.  Then he came to the second and said likewise.  And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir’ but he did not go.  Which of the two did the will of his Father?”  They said to him, “The first.”  Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that the tax collectors and the harlots enter the kingdom of God before you” (Mathew 21: 28-31.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    There are two kinds of people; those who do and those who don’t.  The priests and religious leaders failed to obey God despite their many years of biblical study; they preached of righteousness but were unsuccessful in achieving it.  They confused knowledge with wisdom (knowledge is the comprehension of truth; whereas wisdom is the application of it.)  While the intelligent were refusing to be obedient, many prostitutes and tax collectors were receiving salvation.  These social outcasts possessed very little knowledge of scripture; yet what little they did possess, they chose to apply.  The gospel is not just a thought or a good intention; it is an action.

  In the spring of 1862 a confederate Major General named ‘Stonewall Jackson’ fought a famous military campaign in a valley near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  His tactics were unorthodox and his troop movements unpredictable (he utilized speed and stealth to attack his union counterparts.)  Concerning speed, he reportedly marched his 17,000 men nearly ‘646 miles in 48 days’ (approximately 13 miles a day.)  Traveling at this furious pace, they met many natural obstacles (such as hills and streams.)  At one point, they encountered a river too treacherous to cross.  Jackson told his engineers to draw up plans for a bridge; he then summoned his wagon master and informed him that they urgently needed to cross the river.  The wagon master began to gather together every rock, fence rail, and log he could find; before sunrise the next day, the wagon master approached General Jackson and said, ‘The artillery and wagons have crossed the river sir.’  General Jackson replied, ‘Where are the engineers, and what are they doing?’  The wagon master replied, ‘they are in their tent, drawing up the plans for the bridge.’

    Knowledge is useless unless it is implemented to accomplish a task.  We are called to be ‘doers of the word, and not hearers only.’  The Christian life is a life of action.  When God commands us to love our enemies, we must love them.  When he instructs us to give to the poor and needy, we must open our wallets (and purses.)  When we are directed to pray for those who persecute us, we must drop to our knees.  Keep the commandments of God and you will be blessed; obey Him and you will experience peace; follow Him and you will know joy; joy eternal; joy everlasting; joy without end.

 “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the strength to live out Your commandments.  May we receive Your words and accomplish them.  May we be ‘doers of Your word and not hearers only;’ may our actions bring others to repentance; may we love our neighbors without restraint or indignation.  We love You Father, and 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 Rapture

JESUS SPEAKING

    “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man (Jesus Christ):  For they ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all […] even so will it be in the day that the Son of man (Jesus Christ) is revealed.  In that day, he who is on the housetop and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away.  And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.  Remember Lot’s wife.  Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you in that night there will be two men in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.  Two women will be grinding together; the one will be taken and the other left.  Two men will be in the field; the one will be taken and the other left” (Luke 17: 26 – 27, 30 – 36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    The event Jesus describes in this scripture has collectively become known as ‘the rapture.’  In a moment, in the blink of an eye, God will gather up his faithful believers from around the world before pouring out His wrath upon the earth.  Co-workers, relatives, friends, and complete strangers will vanish in an instant.  Those who are left behind will face God’s judgments.  How can we be prepared for the rapture?  By loving eternal rewards more than worldly possessions (wealth, homes, jobs, belongings, etc.)  Jesus asks us to consider Lot’s wife; a woman who was ill-prepared for God’s deliverance.  In the Old Testament, she and her family were lead out of the wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah just prior to its destruction.  Sadly she disobeyed God’s command, by turning around and looking back upon the city with fondness and affection.  As a result she was turned in to a pillar of salt.

    Like Lot’s wife, many people throughout history have mistakenly loved worldly possessions more than their own lives.  One day as my dad and I were driving through the town where I grew up, we happened by a certain building.  He informed me that decades earlier the building had caught on fire.  The owner foolishly rushed in and went to the basement to collect some of his valuables.  Unfortunately he became trapped inside.  He desperately tried to crawl through a basement window; but it was too small for him to fit through.  Unable to help, onlookers could do nothing but watch as he perished in the flames.  He died because he valued his possessions more than his own life.

    Similarly, some people today value their belongings more than their eternal lives. Those who take great comfort in their worldly possessions might be ill-prepared for the coming kingdom.  As believers we must be ready for ‘the rapture;’ an event that could occur at any moment.  To be completely prepared is to love God more than anything else.  We must make truth more important than trust funds and make people more valuable than possessions.  As our values change we will come to embrace the rapture and look forward to it with great joy and overwhelming anticipation.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to value the things that are truly important.  Prepare our hearts and minds for the rapture; may our thoughts be continually focused upon Your coming Kingdom.  Strengthen us by the power of Your Holy Spirit that we might accomplish your will and bring honor and glory to your Holy name. We love you, and praise you, and thank you, and 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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