Archive Page 2

Forgiving

JESUS SPEAKING

        “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17: 3-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Withholding forgiveness from others is dangerous; for the Lord has said, “if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.” Jesus used a ‘seven’ to describe the number of times a disciple is obligated to forgive others. In the Hebrew culture, numbers carried very profound symbolic significance; the number seven represents completion; in turn, the obligation to forgive is limitless, infinite, or complete. Since the fall of creation, until the present day, men and women have fervently sought God’s forgiveness; none whose hearts were sincere have ever been denied (for God is merciful above all things.) We are called to be like God; and so we must forgive without exception.
        One day a group of missionaries and local Christians gathered together in New Guinea to share communion and to fellowship. As they sat down, one of the older missionaries noticed another man’s momentary expression of horror and disgust; which was quickly replaced with an expression of peace. The missionary whispered to his friend, “What was it that troubled you?” He replied, “The man who just came in to share communion, murdered my Father; for a moment I didn’t think that I could handle it. But then I realized that he has been washed and forgiven by the same precious blood.” The men then shared communion together in love.
        To what extent should we forgive others? Jesus has taught us to forgive without stipulation or condition. We, who have been forgiven so much, have no right to withhold forgiveness from others. Search your heart; if you find hatred discard it; if you discover resentment let it go. Forgive those who have harmed you; bless them and pray for them. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you, and your anger will ‘give way’ to peace, and your bitterness will turn to joy.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, forgive us of our sins. May we be like You; may we sincerely forgive others. If we have refused to forgive anyone, please reveal it to us now. If we harbor anger or resentment of any kind, expose it; fill our hearts with mercy, that we might better serve You, and worthily magnify Your Holy name. 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.

Embracing Change

JESUS SPEAKING

          “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put in to new wineskins and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5: 37-39.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS         

          In the ancient world, when an animal was slaughtered the stomach and the bladder were extracted and utilized to store and transport valuable liquids. Wine was a very common first century beverage. Unlike water, wine underwent a process known as fermentation; during which gases were produced; these gases caused the wineskins to swell and expand. The older wineskins were hard and inflexible (like leather.) As the new wine expanded, it would cause them to tear open. Therefore, unfermented wine was always placed into new wineskins. In this illustration, the old wineskins represent old ideas, habits, and beliefs that are incompatible with the new life God has offered through His Son Jesus Christ. Most people desperately cling to their old lives; yet those who follow Jesus Christ must let go of the old and grab hold of the new; they must no longer fear change; but rather, they must fully embrace it.
          Shortly after becoming a Christian, God began to make some very serious changes in my life. For many years I had enjoyed listening to secular rap music and heavy metal. One day God showed me how it was negatively affecting my spirit. So, I made a commitment to only listen to worship music (which was positive, clean, and uplifting.) My appetite for the old music was strong; at first the new music wasn’t appealing to me; but slowly I began to enjoy it. Soon I was joyfully singing along with the songs; I noticed my attitude was more positive; my thoughts were more peaceful; I even began smiling with ever greater frequency Today, I still refuse to listen to the old songs; just worship music. God has made similar changes in every area of my life. He has healed me; the old things have passed away; behold, He “has made all things new.”
          God desires to pour His Spirit into the hearts and minds of those who are willing to receive it. His Spirit produces great transformation. We must let go of our fears; we must become willing to change; we must not be rigid and inflexible; only in embracing and allowing God to transform us, will we truly experience new life. Let go of your old ideas, habits, and beliefs, and receive the fullness of God’s Spirit. Allow Him to guide and direct you and He will lead you into His everlasting peace and eternal joy.
          “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You would make wonderful transformations in our hearts and minds. May we become flexible; may we embrace change. Jesus, we desire to become more like You; remove any habits, ideas, or beliefs that stand in the way of our growth; destroy the old and bring forth the new. May we experience the fullness of Your Holy Spirit. 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.

Shining Brightly

JESUS SPEAKING

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it provides light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mathew 5: 14 – 16.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        It is impossible for a Christian to remain unrecognized. To stay hidden is to fail to fulfill God’s purpose. Every genuine believer is called to be different; to stand out; to be set apart; loving where there is no love; serving in the midst of selfishness; faithfully encouraging others; nurturing the sick; caring for the needy; filling the hearts and minds of many with hope and joy. Genuine faith inevitably produces an abundance of good works. As disciples we are set apart; we are a light in a dark world; we are divine instruments that point toward the one true and everlasting Father.
        Of all the planets and stars that glow in the night sky, one of the brightest is the North Star (known as Polaris.) Resting in a sea of stars it outshines most of its neighbors. Additionally, every other star in the northern hemisphere travels across the sky; Polaris however, remains fixed; a characteristic that proved useful to ancient mariners who sought to navigate the open oceans. The North Star’s brightness and stability make it easy to recognize; a heavenly body that is not readily confused with the thousands of dimmer objects that surround it.
        Like the North Star, the believer is by far the brightest and most stable object in the lives of those around them. In a sea of unbelievers, the followers of Jesus Christ standout; they are unique. Filled with compassion, charity, and peace, they are easily recognized. They orient others by pointing them toward God (who is the source of all love and mercy.) If you have received the salvation of the Lord, then you too are different. Don’t seek to remain hidden. Instead, let the light of Christ shine through you; that others may see your good works and know that there is a God who loves them.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to be different. We desire to be more loving, more caring, and more giving. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and help us to shine brightly in this dark and often cold world. May others see our good works and be drawn to You; the loving Creator and everlasting Father. We love You Lord, 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 a Peacemaker

JESUS SPEAKING

         “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Sons of God!” (Mathew 5: 9)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          The world is full of conflict. Yet in the midst of the hostility, God’s children are called to promote peace. The Lord Himself is a peacemaker; He detests war and abhors senseless aggression. Many who share His heart also share His mission; to bring harmony where there is hatred and tranquility where there is contempt. Those who choose to make peace will inherit the eternal blessings offered to the ‘Sons and daughters of God.’
          As the story goes, in the 4th century A.D., a monk named Telemachus felt God calling him to go to Rome. He packed his meager possessions and set out for the great city. Upon arriving, the streets were bustling with excitement. When he asked why everyone was so energized, he was told that the gladiators would soon be fighting to the death in the coliseum. Horrified that men would be killing one another for sport, he headed for the stadium. After entering the complex, he pushed through the crowds and hopped a fence; making his way to the center of the arena. As he stood between the two gladiators, he shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop.” The crowd began yelling, “Run him through, Run him through!” A gladiator abruptly approached; striking the monk in the stomach with the back of his sword. Although Telemachus fell to the ground, he soon recovered. Once again, he placed himself between the two-armed men and shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop.” The other gladiator suddenly approached him and plunged his sword through the monk’s belly. Telemachus plummeted to the ground and began bleeding out. Before dying, he was able to utter one last statement; “In the name of Christ, stop.” A hush came over the crowd. A single spectator rose up from his seat and left; followed by another; and another. Within minutes all 80,000 people had exited the coliseum. That day marked the last gladiatorial contest in Roman history.
          No matter the consequence, the people of God are called to be peacemakers. When others fall silent, we must speak up. Where there is discord, we ought to bring unity; where there is conflict, we must promote peace. In so doing we will be called ‘The children of God;’ and we will know the eternal blessings reserved for those who remain faithfully obedient.
          “Lord Heavenly Father, we long for obedience; may we share the desires of Your heart. May we love others as You have loved others. Use us to continually promote peace and to end conflict. Give us the courage and the strength to speak up when others remain silent; may we be Your sons and daughters; and may we experience the blessings of genuine obedience. 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.

Look to the Cross

JESUS SPEAKING       

        “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself.” This he said signifying by what death he would die. The people answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (John 12: 32-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          While addressing his followers, Jesus prophesied concerning the manner in which he would die. He would be crucified, and the cross would come to symbolize healing, forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Those who look to it in faith receive everlasting life and the free gift of salvation; those who refuse to accept Christ’s sacrifice continue under condemnation, and will eventually face eternal judgment.
          In the Old Testament, God lead the children of Israel out of slavery and bondage in Egypt. They passed through the Red sea unharmed, and they entered the desert. While in the desert many Hebrews rebelled against God and the authority of Moses. Angered by their arrogance, God sent poisonous snakes into their midst to bite them. Moses fervently approached the Lord and begged Him to show mercy. Moved with compassion, God told Moses to sculpt a brass snake and fasten it to a long pole; he was then told to raise the pole up in the middle of the camp so everyone could see it. The Israelites were instructed that if they looked upon the snake in faith, they would be healed from their venomous bites (simply put: look at the snake and you will live; refuse to look and you will die.) Jesus Christ was also lifted up on the cross for everyone to see; those who look to him in faith receive eternal life; those who refuse, experience judgment and eternal separation from God. Jesus said in John 3: 14-16, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.”
          The cross has always been a powerful symbol. It has the power to bring light into the lives of those who walk in darkness. It has the power to heal and the power to reconcile sinful man with a pure and Holy God; it has the power to grant eternal life to those who would but look to it in faith. May you look upon the cross and receive the free gift of salvation. May you receive the blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sins. May you be ‘reborn’ and may God guide you as you travel toward His eternal kingdom.
          “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your wonderful plan of salvation. As we look to the cross in faith, we receive Your sacrifice and we embrace our new lives with You. Forgive us of our sins through the blood of Christ Jesus. Grant us eternal life. Heal our hearts and minds; help us to be ‘children of light;’ that others might see our good works and honor 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.

The Power of Scripture

JESUS SPEAKING

          So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word then you are my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8: 31-32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          God, in His wisdom, has chosen to use language (words) to reveal Himself to mankind. The written and spoken words of God and of His only Son Jesus Christ are recorded within the pages of The Holy bible. These words have the power to grant eternal life; to purify and to heal; to transform and to enlighten. The word of God can do so many things; but unless it is utilized it can do nothing. Daily scripture reading is essential for the growth of the believer; a dusty bible is a reflection of the heart of its owner.
          Francis A. Schaffer was a brilliant 19th century American scholar and theorist. As a young adult he had been eagerly studying the works of the Greek philosophers; in his quest for knowledge he had been exposed to many interesting questions; for which there were no answers (he nearly drowned in theory, speculation, and conjecture.) At this time he was also attending a very liberal church on the weekends, which failed to provide him with the answers he desired (because they did not preach bible based sermons.) ‘He thought, “I wonder whether I should stop calling myself a Christian, and discard the bible?” Then he reconsidered; [and] faced the fact that he had never read the bible.’ In desperation he began reading the scriptures for himself; his amazement grew with every turn of the page. He had finally found the answers to his questions. His curiosity had led him to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Francis Schaffer never stopped reading the bible. He committed the rest of his life to helping others discover the truth he had received from God.
          Nearly 130 million books have been written throughout human history. Every year 50,000 new titles are published. Yet in a sea of literary works, only the Holy Bible contains the truth. The bible transforms lives; it creates affection, produces kindness, and generates love; it relieves addictions, and delivers from despair; it can heal the sick and bring hope to the hopeless; it contains the answers to life’s deepest questions; it is a powerful tool; yet like all tools, it can do nothing unless it is put to use. Read God’s word and discover your purpose. Grab hold of the promises of God and never let go. Open His Holy Scriptures and you will neither stumble nor stray from the path of everlasting life.
          “Lord Heavenly Father, show us the importance of daily bible reading. May we cling to Your words as a dying man clings to his last breath. Instill in us the desire to seek You. May we be transformed through the power of Your word. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we may be more like Your Son; may others see our lives and praise Your Name. We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

The True Source of Power

JESUS SPEAKING

        Then they said to him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom He has sent” (John 6: 28 – 29.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Everywhere Jesus went the crowds went with him; having witnessed his countless miracles, the masses desperately sought to discover how they too might accomplish similar feats of greatness. Jesus answered saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom He has sent.” According to the Lord, righteousness and divine power are the offspring of a life founded on genuine faith; faith in the Son of God; faith that his teachings are God’s revelation to mankind; faith that he is seated at the creator’s right hand; faith that he loves us and that through him we are reconciled to our Almighty and Everlasting Father. The messiah is the source of all our power; only through him can we hope to accomplish God’s will.
        Some time ago I purchased a saw from a local hardware store. Unfortunately, the saw suddenly shut down while I was using it; I tried everything to get it to start again. I fiddled with it; I read the directions more thoroughly; I searched the internet for similar problems. Eventually I had to bring the saw back to the store and exchange it for a different model. After returning home, I plugged in the new saw; sadly, it didn’t work either. My frustration drove me to try a different socket, and sure enough, the blade began to spin. I soon discovered that a local fuse had blown which only affected a couple of outlets in the house. Needless to say, I was more than a little embarrassed. The saw had never been broken; instead, it stopped working because it had become separated from the source of its power.
        Like my saw, so many are disconnected from the source of all divine power. Without faith in Jesus Christ they are unable to function properly. Those who do place their faith in God’s Son grow strong and continue to mature. They possess great peace and great hope; they possess the ability live righteously and to accomplish many wonderful works in the lives of others. May we continue to place our faith in Jesus Christ. May we never turn away from the source of our strength that our lives may continue to be a testament to God’s majesty and power.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we believe in Your Son and we acknowledge his power. Increase our faith that we might grow stronger and be more like You. Accomplish Your works in us and through us, that our lives may testify of Your goodness and mercy. 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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