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Professing Christ

JESUS SPEAKING

    “Therefore, whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in Heaven.  But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Mathew 10: 32-33.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    This pronouncement is clearly self-explanatory.  Public profession of Jesus Christ is an absolute necessity.  If we deny him before men, he will deny us before our Father in Heaven.  Most people today are not interested in making Christ a part of their public lives, let alone their private lives.  It seems that modern social norms have made it politically correct to leave Jesus Christ out of whole sectors of our society; like work, school, sports, and even recreation.  Some consider it inappropriate and even rude to bring him into places like coffee shops, grocery stores, banks, movie theatres, diners; etc.

    As we venture through our day, it isn’t hard to see that almost everyone is carrying some outward message along with them; perhaps it’s what they wear; maybe a shirt with a rock band’s name on it, or business name, or brand name.  Whatever it is, they are professing something about themselves, and about who they are and what they stand for.  If you listen to people talking in a crowded room, you’ll hear all kinds of conversations.  You might hear a person talking about something they love and enjoy; like working out, or shopping, or school, or some political candidate.  As Christians, we must realize that our actions, our behaviors, and even our clothing can be a means of expressing our faith in Christ.

    As Christians, we shouldn’t be shy about what we enjoy, what drives us, and who we love.  Others may not like what they hear, but if they are offended, they aren’t offended with us, but with God.  Don’t be shy, don’t be scared, and don’t be timid.  Profess him when he leads you, and make sure it is done in love.  You never know when God wants to use you to speak about the gospel message.

   “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You help us to be bold in sharing the gospel in accordance with Your will.  Give us a desire to make You a part of every area of our lives.  We also ask that You remove any fears that we might have, and give us courage, and strength, and faith; and especially, give us love for those who are lost and don’t know Your Son.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Knowing God

JESUS SPEAKING

      “O righteous Father!  The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent me.  And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17: 25-26.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      In this scripture, Jesus is finishing his prayer for the disciples prior to being crucified.  He reveals to us that most people don’t know God, but that Jesus does know God; and that all who believe in him will know God also.  Jesus faithfully delivered a message from the Master of all creation; and that message is a message of love.  Through him, we can know that God is our Father, and that he loves us and yearns to have a relationship with us.

      Today there are so many religions, with so many different beliefs and ideas about who, or what God is.  Some religions have claimed God has asked them to kill, some claim God hasn’t asked them to do much of anything.  However, Jesus has shown us that the one true God has commanded us to love.  God did not set the universe in motion and then walk away, leaving us with confusion and uncertainty; we can now know the true meaning of our existence.  God has always been reaching out to us; sending us messengers to speak on His behalf.  At last He has sent us Jesus Christ.  If we want to have a relationship with a Heavenly Father, it begins with knowing His son.  May we all desire to enter into a loving relationship with God.

      “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You would speak to our hearts concerning Your Son.  Help our souls to be open to receiving Your love, that we might also show that love to others.  Testify to us of the truth of Your messenger, and give us Your Holy Spirit, that we might be able to fellowship with You always.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!

Leading Others to Christ

JESUS SPEAKING

    While journeying through Samaria, Jesus became tired and sat down next to a well; as he rested, he began speaking with a Samaritan woman who had come to draw water; during their conversation he revealed to her certain intimate details of her life; details that only God Himself could know.  Amazed and astonished, ‘the woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet […] I know that the messiah is coming (who is called the Christ.)  When he comes he will tell us all things.”  Jesus answered her saying, “I who speak to you am he.” […] The woman then left her water-pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done.  Could this be the Christ?” […] And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in him because of the word of the woman who testified saying, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.”  So when the Samaritans had come to him, they urged him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of his own words” (John 4: 19 – 41.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    One fateful afternoon, Jesus Christ chose to reveal himself to an immoral woman who was attempting to draw water from a well.  She was completely unaware that on that day she would find the Son of God and receive salvation and eternal life.  Upon hearing him recount every intimate detail of her life, she became overwhelmed with joy.  The astonished woman left her water-pot behind and entered the city; seeking to lead others to Jesus.  As expected, those who followed her eventually received the free gift of God.  Everyone who places their faith in Jesus Christ becomes his messenger.  Having been redeemed, we must then strive to lead other sick individuals to the ‘Great Physician;’ the only one capable of mending their wounds and healing their broken hearts.

    Like our ‘Great Physician’, there was once a missionary Doctor who was practicing medicine in a Chinese hospital.  As he sought to alleviate the suffering of his fellows, he surgically healed a man afflicted with cataracts (a clouding of the lenses of the eye that causes blindness.)  A few weeks later, 48 blind men arrived from the wilds of china (each one seeking to undergo the same incredible procedure.)  Incapable of proper navigation, they forcefully clung to a rather long rope.  Not surprisingly, the man who had been cured was guiding them.  These desperate men had journeyed nearly 250 miles before safely reaching the hospital.

    There are so many people in this world who have been blinded by sin and death.  These individuals need someone to guide them toward the ‘Great Physician.’  Like the Samaritan woman, those who have been enlightened are given the task of leading others to Jesus Christ.  As ‘reborn’ Christians, we are instruments in the hands of an almighty God.  If we are willing, He will use us to reach out to our family members, co-workers, and friends.  Our task is to testify concerning the wonderful works that He has accomplished in the lives of all those who believe in Him.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  May we be amazed every day by Your righteous deeds and miracles.  Help us to embrace our obligation to lead others to Your Son.  Provide us with opportunities to witness to our family members, co-workers, and friends; that they would hear our words and greatly desire the gift of eternal life.  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 Narrow Path

JESUS SPEAKING

      “Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mathew 7: 13-14.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      In the ancient world, cities were places of safety and refuge.  Most were surrounded by large walls designed to protect the inhabitants from hostile enemies.  The size of the walls depended on the prosperity of the city.  Babylon, (one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient world), was rumored to have had walls that were 80 ft. thick and 320 feet high (15 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.)  Every ancient city had one main gate (a large opening in the wall through which most of the merchants, travelers, and citizens could freely pass.)  There were also many smaller gates that served a number of different purposes.  There were gates for livestock; gates for horses; gates for importing fish; and gates used to export garbage; many of these little gates were not connected to the major highway; making them more difficult to reach.  Most entered through the main gate because it was quick, easy, and convenient.  The road to eternal separation from God is also quick, easy, and convenient; but the way to eternal life is difficult; it requires great discipline, sacrifice, and selflessness.

      Repentance and forgiveness of sins are both integral parts of the gospel message.  Before ascending into heaven, Jesus said to his disciples, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  When I was in my twenties a friend took me to a church service; that evening I heard the full gospel message for the first time.  I received Jesus, knowing that God expected something from me as well; I was required to repent and obey.  I had to turn away from fornication, adultery, pornography, drunkenness, lewdness, and deceit.  As I sat in that church auditorium, I knew in my Spirit that I had to change.  [At one point during Christ’s earthly ministry, he chose to spend the evening in the home of a notorious sinner named Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus was a corrupt tax-collector.  He had amassed a large fortune by overtaxing his own countrymen.  During the night, Jesus presented Zacchaeus with the whole gospel; and he received it gladly.  He immediately repented of his evil deeds and offered half of his wealth to the poor; he also promised to repay everyone from whom he had stolen.

      Zacchaeus had understood the complete gospel message.  He chose to follow the narrow path.  He received the gift of salvation and immediately obeyed the teachings of Christ.  Many today refuse to repent.  Approximately 78.4 percent of Americans claim to be Christians; yet 60 percent of young adult Christians believe that premarital sex and cohabitation are morally okay (to name just one of many ungodly behaviors.)  Millions of people today are seeking to enter through the wide gate, because it’s easy and requires very little sacrifice; but it leads to eternal separation from God.  Few choose the narrow path; because it’s difficult, requires repentance, and demands transformation.  Which path are we taking?  Are we willing to embrace the complete gospel, and become followers of Jesus Christ?  If we choose to take that step, we will be blessed.  

      “Lord Heavenly Father, we receive Your gift and we take hold of Your sacrifice; may we turn away from the ways of this world and embrace the commandments of Your only begotten Son.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us the courage and strength to travel down the narrow path; the path of righteousness; the path of repentance and transformation; the path that leads to Your Eternal Kingdom; have mercy on us, that we may enter Your dwelling place with joy and thanksgiving.  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 Empty Tomb

JESUS SPEAKING

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?”  She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to him, “Rabboni!  (which is to say, Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.’” (John 20: 15-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Mary arrived at the tomb to find the stone missing, along with the body of Jesus.  She was immediately grieved and began to weep.  She had journeyed toward the gravesite expecting to find the lifeless body of her beloved Lord; but instead, she encountered the living God.  Upon seeing Jesus, she embraced him tightly; as if to never let him go.  He urged her to lighten her grasp (his return was not permanent; he would soon ascend into heaven.)  His true place was not on Earth with them, but with his Father (and their Father.)  Mary was instructed to deliver this news to the despondent disciples who were hiding out for fear of being killed themselves.  Having seen the resurrected Lord, she became the very first messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Throughout history, many, like Mary, have gone to the tomb expecting to find the body of Jesus; and like Mary, they too have found an empty vault.  Every generation has had its share of doubters; people who believed they could do what no one has ever been able to do […] disprove the resurrection of Christ.  In the early 1900’s an English professor and journalist named Frank Ross set out to investigate and refute the claims that Jesus rose from the dead (as a journalist, he was skilled in examining the credibility of sources.)  As the evidence mounted, Frank was faced with the awesome truth; the accounts matched; the archaeology was sound, and all of the witnesses were credible; Jesus Christ had in fact risen from the dead.  So, rather than writing a book that disproved the resurrection, he entitled his book, “Who moved the stone.”  In the book, Frank Ross, the new convert and faithful believer, sought to bring what he had found to the rest of the world.

The work that began with Mary on that third day has continued through every generation and continues even today.  Anyone who goes looking for Jesus Christ in a dusty tomb is looking in the wrong place.  He is very much alive, sitting at the right hand of God.  Both Frank Ross and Mary Magdalene, set out to find Jesus; and they both found what they were looking for. Have you gone looking for the messiah yet?  Have you made your way to the tomb and looked inside?  You too, will discover that Jesus Christ is not dead, but alive.  Upon finding him, it is then your duty to let others know that there is a God, and that they can discover him too.

“Lord Heavenly Father, we believe that Your Son has risen from the dead; and that He is seated with you in Your Kingdom.  We desire to carry this message to others; give us the strength to bring the gospel to the whole world.  May we be bold in declaring that we have encountered the risen 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, Amen.”  God bless all of you!

Faith is Meant to Grow

JESUS SPEAKING

   Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.  Therefore, He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So, he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’  But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’  “And so, it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.  The first one came and said, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’  He said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, you are given authority over ten cities.’  And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise, he said to him, ‘You also will rule over five cities.’  “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief; for I feared you, because you are a stern man.  You collect what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow.’  In turn he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant.  You knew that I was a stern man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’  “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’  But they said to him, ‘Master, he already has ten minas.’”  He replied, ‘I say to you, that to everyone who has, more will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me’” (Luke 19: 11-27.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

   Contrary to the beliefs of many who followed him, Jesus had no intention of immediately setting up God’s kingdom upon the earth.  He used a parable to express his impending departure, and eventual return.  A parable is a short story designed to make listeners think; through thoughtful contemplation, they can discover the deeper spiritual truths.  Every parable has characters, and every character represents a real-life counterpart.  In this parable, the nobleman who went into a far country to become king symbolizes Jesus, who ascended into heaven and now reigns with divine authority.  Like the nobleman, he also promised to return.  The rebellious citizens who hated the nobleman, exemplify all those who have refused to accept Jesus Christ as their messiah.  The faithful servants he gathered together before his departure were his disciples/followers.  In the parable, he gives them each a different amount of money.  The money represents the measure of faith Christ has given to every believer.  One day the Lord will return and call together his servants; and each one will have to give an account of his (her) stewardship.  In this parable, there were two servants who increased what they had been given; they represent those who have put their faith to work; they have done good deeds, served others, and have attempted to spread the gospel message.  Those who do the same will receive great riches when Christ returns.  However, the unjust steward did nothing with his faith.  When the king returned, the unwise servant was stripped of his possessions and numbered with the transgressors.  Every believer receives a measure of faith; and Jesus expects great things from his followers; those who have been faithful can expect to inherit eternal life.  Those who have selfishly squandered what they have been given are headed for destruction.

     The surface of the earth is covered in garment of green.  Aside from bushes and grass, there are thousands of different kinds of trees; and every tree is unique and remarkable.  However, there is one tree that never fails to inspire awe and wonder; that tree is the mighty redwood.  These behemoths can tower to heights of over 300 feet; their trunks can reach widths of 20 – 26 feet (…wide enough to drive a car through.)  Currently, the tallest living redwood is recorded to be 379 feet tall; over ‘70 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.’  The oldest living redwood is believed to be 3,500 years old; it was born while Moses was leading his people out of Egypt.  These trees are so large in fact, that it can be difficult to imagine their humble beginnings.  A redwood seed is just 1mm wide (or 0.0393700787 of an inch.)  Like these mighty coniferous monsters, every living thing comes from a small seed.  Some seeds grow up to be large, and others remain small; but one thing can never be debated; every seed is designed to grow.  Faith is a seed planted in the hearts of men and women by the hand of God.  If that seed doesn’t grow, it has failed to accomplish its purpose. 

   Every believer has received a measure of faith; a small seed that must grow; as it grows, the lives of the faithful blossom with it; increased faith means increased kindness, increased obedience, and increased service to God and to others.  When our King returns he will be looking for more than just the seed he planted; he will be looking for a mighty tree; a towering example of divine love in the midst of a dark and desolate forest.  Do not be an unwise servant who tucks away what God has given you.  Instead, allow the faith of God to grow within you.  Push forward, onward, and upward; may you grow with God; may your good works increase; may others come to know Jesus Christ because they have seen your life; and may you receive the eternal blessings of our great king and mighty God.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, we desperately desire for You to increase our faith.  Help us to grow in Your likeness; help us to do astonishing and mighty works for You.  Give us the direction, encouragement, and strength we need to accomplish Your will.  Without You we can do nothing; help us to remain faithful servants; men and woman who are ready to bring You a great increase.  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!

Continue Praying

JESUS SPEAKING

     And he said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Please, lend me three loaves; ‘for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, but because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. So I say to you ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11: 5-10.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     In Middle Eastern culture, welcoming visitors in to your home meant providing for all of their needs. Guests were given food, shelter, and protection. Failure to do so was considered a great disgrace. In this parable, a tired and wearied traveler arrived at his friend’s home late in the evening. The host, lacking the proper sustenance, approached his neighbor, hoping to acquire some food. The sleeping man, irritated by the untimely appeal, denied his initial request. However, the neighbor’s persistence eventually paid off. In this parable, the request for food is a reference to prayer. The unrelenting neighbor symbolizes those who pray without ceasing; and the man who supplied the food represents God, who enjoys and rewards those who tirelessly continue in prayer.
     At the age of 23 an inquisitive youth from Gloucester, spied an advertisement in a Boston newspaper that read, “Wanted: young man as an understudy to a financial statistician. P.O. Box 1720.” He responded to the ad by way of letter; but he received no reply. He wrote a second letter, and then a third; still no reply. So he made his way down to the post office and requested the name of the owner of Box 1720; but the clerk refused. He then met with the Postmaster, but he too refused (claiming it was illegal to provide him with that information.) The young man remained determined; he arose early in the morning, hopped on the first train to Boston, and entered the post office. He stood patiently with his eyes fixed on box 1720. After quite some time, a man appeared; he opened the box, grabbed the mail and left. The young man followed him to his brokerage firm; he entered and asked to speak to the manager. He told the manager that he had written three letters, before going to the post office where he was refused any further information. The manager asked, “But how did you find out that I was the advertiser?” The youth replied, “I stood in the lobby of the post office for several hours, watching Box 1720. When the man came in and took the mail from the box, I followed him here.” The manager said, “Young man, you are just the kind of persistent fellow I want. You’re hired.”
     Similarly, God rewards those who are persistent in prayer. All too often, our prayers are erratic and inconsistent. Although we make our requests known to God, we frequently get discouraged when He doesn’t answer them immediately. In turn, many simply stop asking. If we have need of something, we must relentlessly make our requests known to God. We may not receive the blessing on the 1st day, the 10th day, or even the 100th day; but if we are persistent, it will come. We must never stop asking, never stop seeking, and never stop knocking. God is listening; and He is willing and able to give us the desires of our heart.
     “Lord Heavenly Father, hear our prayers. We stand at the door and knock; we will not relent until You bless us. May we remain persistent in our prayers; may we be graced with patience and the strength to endure. Transform our hearts and minds; provide for our needs; and fill us with the fullness of Your mercy and love. We adore 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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