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God Honors Those Who Honor Him

JESUS SPEAKING

      Now as Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed and is dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered saying, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. (Mathew 8: 5-13.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      The Roman Empire conquered the Holy Land in 63 B.C.; and due to the continued threat of rebellion, there were soldiers permanently stationed there in the first century. A ‘centurion’ was an officer in charge of 100 soldiers; they were usually men of impeccable character. This centurion came to Jesus and humbled himself; he publicly confessed his own unworthiness and praised him; in so doing he honored God’s Son. Jesus then honored the centurion by publicly lifting up his faith above every Jew in Israel. God continues to honor those who lower themselves and exalt Him. Jesus has also said, “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
      In 1924, a Scotsman named Eric Liddell was expected to win the Olympic gold medal in the 100 meter dash. He had grown up in a missionary family and was a committed Christian. His parents had taught him to faithfully observe the Sunday Sabbath; a weekly day of rest, church attendance, and fellowship. When Eric found out that the 100 meter dash was scheduled for a Sunday, he made the decision to ‘sit it out.’ He was pressured to run by his countrymen, as well as an endless array of powerful people. Still, he remained convinced that honoring God on His day was more important than winning a medal. A few months before the Olympics began, he decided to start training for the 400 meter dash (an event that wasn’t on Sunday.) No one expected him to do well. But on the day of the race, while approaching the starting blocks, an American trainer placed a piece of paper in Eric’s hand. There was a bible verse written on it. 1 Samuel verse 2:30. The scripture reads, “Those who honor me I will honor.” Eric ran that race for God; and not only did he win the gold medal, but he also broke the world record. He had pushed his own desire for glory aside. Because he had honored God, the Lord exalted Eric above his fellows.
      Placing God in His proper position necessitates humility. Honoring Him requires selflessness. We become less important and He becomes more important. He is righteous and we are unrighteous; He is worthy, and we are unworthy. We forgo glory so that God may have it. Only those who raise Him up in this life will be raised up into everlasting life. There are so many ways to glorify God. We can make Him a continued topic of discussion in our personal relationships. We can pray to Him and seek His counsel daily. We can give credit to the Lord for the good works that we do. When we give something to another person, we can say, “This is from the Lord.” When a person attempts to thank us, we can politely remind them that Jesus Christ is the one they should thank. When others call us good, we can inform them that our goodness comes from God. May we continually place the focus on Him; may we give Him the glory; and may we honor Him with our lives.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, give us more opportunities to honor and glorify You. May our hearts be humble, and our minds pure. Give us the strength to lay down our lives in this world, so that we might better serve you. We love You Lord, 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.

Giving God the Glory

JESUS SPEAKING

      ‘Now around the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not my own, but His who sent me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority. He that speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him” (John 7: 14-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      The educated men who had heard Jesus speak were astonished at his perfect knowledge of scripture. Unlike them, he did not attend a notable Hebrew school; nor did he sit at the feet of some prominent rabbi; instead, his knowledge and wisdom came from God (not man.) For their extensive learning, the Jewish scholars demanded admiration and praise; whereas Jesus sought to honor God. To chase after our own glory is to embrace unrighteousness. To glorify God and his only Son is to live correctly.
      One man who thoroughly understood this principle, was John the Baptist. When Jesus began baptizing people in the Jordan river, John’s followers became concerned; they said, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, he is baptizing, and all are coming to him.” John replied, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven […] he must increase, and I must decrease.” John was devoid of selfish pride. He chose to humble himself and glorify the Son of God (the Savior of the world.)
      Today, although Jesus Christ reigns in heaven, his deeds continue upon this Earth. He performs his miracles through his disciples. Some however, who desire glory, will take credit for God’s works. But a trustworthy servant renders to God the praise and honor He deserves. To glorify God, we must humble ourselves. He must increase and we must decrease. As followers, we forgo admiration so that God may receive what is His? We must speak the words of Jesus Christ; give in the name of Christ; and love in the name of Christ. We must die, so that He can live. Only then will we know immeasurable joy and everlasting peace.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, may You increase as we decrease. May we let go of our selfish need to be praised; that You may receive the credit for the good works that You are accomplishing in us, and through us. May we be vessels of Your love and mercy. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit Lord; that we might always be pleasing to 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.

Our Possessions Belong to God

JESUS SPEAKING

       And it came to pass, when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that he sent two of his disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring here. And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went their way and found it just as he had said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought him to Jesus (Luke 19: 29 – 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       The book of Zechariah prophesied that the messiah would arrive humbly; “riding on a donkey.” Jesus therefore sent out two disciples to procure an animal for his triumphal entry in to Jerusalem. When the men were confronted by the owners, they did as they were instructed; they responded saying, “The Lord has need of it” (in turn, they were permitted to leave.) Much has been written about this brief encounter; many commentaries likely highlight the omniscience of God, the wisdom of Christ, and the faithfulness of the disciples (with good reason.) Yet in the midst of God’s glory, there exists a nameless stranger; a generous man (or woman) who immediately recognized that his (or her) possessions were divine endowments; gifts from God that were to be used to serve the creator whenever He had need of them.
       Every year around the holidays, a Christian organization known as ‘Operation Christmas Child’ begins working with thousands of churches throughout the United States. Congregational members are instructed to fill shoeboxes full of toys and other items and deliver them to their local pastors. The boxes are then transported to a warehouse where they are sorted by volunteers, packaged, and shipped to impoverished nations around the world. Some time ago, I and a few other Christians volunteered at a nearby processing plant; we examined hundreds of boxes; the gifts were beautiful (some givers chose to include pictures of themselves and many had even taken the time to write letters.) Millions of people across the country were asked by God to give of their resources; millions responded to His call; in turn, many have come to experience the love of Jesus Christ.
       Our possessions are not our own; our time, our money, and our resources all belong to God. We are simply stewards of what we have been given. When the Lord calls, we must be willing to relinquish control of our goods so that others may know the love of Christ. Be still, and the Holy Spirit will tell you what and when to give. Be generous, be faithful, and you will experience the joy of the Lord; and His peace will fill your heart, now, and forevermore.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, give us opportunities to use our resources to further Your Kingdom. May we be generous; may we be faithful; may we serve others with gladness and singleness of heart; and may we never turn away from those who are in need. 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!

Does God Love Us?

JESUS SPEAKING

     “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3: 16.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     God is a loving Father who cares deeply for every man, woman, and child who has ever been born. His love is so profound that He sent His only Son to suffer the punishment for our sins; that we might receive the gift of eternal life. Because Jesus Christ was whipped, beaten, mocked, spit upon, and crucified, the world has come to know the love of the almighty God; his pierced hands and feet are a perpetual reminder of the awesome measure of His affections. Without sacrifice there is no proof of genuine love.

     Many years ago a man named William Dixon lived in Brackenwaite, England. He was a widower whose only Son had tragically died. There lived near him a grandmother who was raising her orphaned grandson. One day their house caught on fire; although the aged grandmother was rescued, her grandson was trapped in the blaze. Dixon climbed an iron pipe on the side of the house and lowered the boy to safety. The hand he used to hold on to the pipe was badly burned. Shortly after the fire, the grandmother died. The townspeople wondered who would care for the boy. Two volunteers appeared before the town council. One was a father who had lost his son and wanted to adopt the orphan. The other man was William Dixon. When given the opportunity to speak, Mr. Dixon said nothing. Instead, he simply raised his scarred hand in the air for everyone to see. The vote was taken, and the boy was given to Dixon.

     Like Mr. Dixon, Jesus Christ endured much pain and suffering to save us from certain death. His scarred hands and feet are perpetual reminders of His immense love. Who better to call our master and our Lord than the one who sacrificed his life so that we could live? Having received salvation, we are then compelled to lay down our lives for others. Abandoning selfish pursuits, we are called to embrace the attributes of sacrifice, selflessness, and service. Through our acts of kindness and love, God will continue to make known to the world the fullness of His affections.

     “Lord Heavenly Father we thank You for Your immeasurable love. We praise you Jesus for the pain that you endured on the cross for us. May our hearts continually be filled with gratitude. May we follow Your example and lay down our lives to serve our fellows. Give us the strength to forfeit our fleshly desires, that we might genuinely love others as You have so graciously loved us. We honor 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.

Sacrifice

JESUS SPEAKING

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

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

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

Powerful Conversions

JESUS SPEAKING

      “While I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me, saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ “So I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by their faith in me’” (Acts 26: 12-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      There once lived a very angry young man named Saul, who passionately hated Christians; after Jesus ascended into heaven, Saul traveled from synagogue to synagogue, beating, harassing, and even killing those Jews who openly professed a faith in Jesus Christ. One day, while traveling to Damascus to persecute believers, God intervened in Saul’s life. Jesus appeared to him and said, ‘it is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ [Oxen were trained to pull heavy plows; an untrained ox would often try to kick itself free. In turn, farmers attached sharp pieces of metal to the plow (otherwise known as ‘goads.’) When the ox kicked the plow, it would stab itself in the leg; the harder the kick, the more painful the sensation. After a short time, the animal would learn to accept its position.] Like an untrained beast, Saul had been struggling against the call of God. After his visitation, Saul finally quit fighting; he accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior. He also changed his name to Paul and went on to write many of the letters in the New Testament. Throughout history, some of the greatest Christian leaders have often been those who were once devout enemies of God.
      Sir William Ramsay was one of the most influential scientific minds of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He taught at Oxford and is credited with discovering several new elements; he also received numerous scientific awards and honors. Ramsay had been raised as a non-believer; his parents were atheists (a disposition he also clung to for most of his life.) He had little respect for Christianity; in fact, he claimed that the bible was nothing more than “a book of fables.” He began to study archaeology and eventually traveled to the Middle East in hopes of disproving the historical accuracy of the bible. After 25 years of travel and research, he was forced to concede that even the most minuscule details of the New Testament were accurate. Instead of writing a book disproving the validity of scripture, Ramsay wrote a book entitled “St. Paul, the Traveler and Roman Citizen.” In it, he presented his findings; all of which supported the reliability of the bible. Convinced by the evidence, Ramsay shocked his colleagues and fellow intellectuals by announcing that he had converted to Christianity.
      Like Paul, and like Sir William Ramsay, there are many today who are kicking “against the goads.” God, however, is still actively intervening in the lives of atheists, agnostics and nonbelievers the world around. If you are raging against the call of God, stop struggling; give up, and give in. Let the Lord into your heart; and He will replace your pain with peace; your hatred will give way to love, and your sorrow will turn to joy; if you would only surrender to Him, you would know true freedom and receive everlasting life.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, may Your perfect will be done in our lives. We pray for those who “kick against the goads.” Soften their hearts and cleanse their minds, that they may come to believe in Your Son, and in the redemption he has offered through his sacrifice. May they embrace and receive Your free gift of salvation through faith. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.” God bless all of you.

Idolatry Leads to Death

JESUS SPEAKING

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

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

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

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

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

        “Lord Heavenly Father, may we love You with our whole hearts. May we always worship You in Spirit and in truth, and may we never forsake Your ways. If any form of idolatry has entered our lives, may you uproot it and cast it in to the sea. May we be purified, and once again comprehend the goodness of humility and faith. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.


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