Posts Tagged 'change'

A Stony Heart

JESUS SPEAKING

     “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Mathew 30: 20 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     The gospel is a powerful force; like a raging river that gouges out valleys and tears apart mountains, the gift of salvation transforms lives. Many eagerly receive God’s message but lack the proper foresight; they do not understand the magnitude of the changes God intends to perform in their lives. Genuine faith is costly; the price of salvation is death; death to our old lives and sinful habits. We must willingly be destroyed in order to be remade in the image of Christ. Those whose hearts are stony initially experience a brief relationship with God, but desperately cling to their old familiar ways; thus abandoning their faith when it requires true change. They turn from the light and live in darkness; preferring comfort over growth and sinful practices ahead of righteous living.
     When a famous gangster named Mickey Cohen was released from prison in the 1950’s, a Pastor by the name of Bill Jones made it his personal mission to convert him to Christianity. When Jones presented Mickey with the gospel, he said a prayer and accepted Jesus into his heart. Soon, word of his conversion spread, and many were amazed to hear that this once villainous mobster had turned to Christ. Although Mickey enjoyed being called a ‘Christian,’ he refused to live like one. He soon lost touch with Pastor Jones and began hanging around with his old buddies from the criminal underworld. The disheartened Jones confronted Cohen to tell him that as a Christian he needed to put some distance between himself and his old criminal associates. Puzzled, Cohen responded, “Jones, you never told me that I had to give up my career. You never told me that I had to give up my friends. There are Christian movie stars, Christian athletes, and Christian businessmen. So, what’s the matter with being a Christian gangster? If I have to give up all that – if that’s Christianity – then count me out.”
     Sadly, Mickey’s story is not that uncommon; out of the four different types of soil Christ describes, the stony heart can be the deadliest; for within it there exists the greatest propensity for self-deception. The belief that a verbal profession of faith without corresponding actions is sufficient for salvation is an absolute lie. With their lips they affirm Christ, but with their lives they deny Him. Continuing in behaviors such as, pornography, fornication, drunkenness, idolatry, and dishonesty, etc., contradicts the rebirth that all Christians must undergo. If you can identify with this type of soil, then you have two choices; continue forward in delusion or get honest with yourself and surrender to a new life with Jesus; a life of repentance; a life free from darkness and unrighteousness; a life lived as a disciple of Christ. May the Lord give you the courage, the strength, and the conviction to make the right choice.
     “Lord Heavenly Father transform us into the image of Your Son. May we lay down our old lives to take up our new ones. May our relationship with You be deep and meaningful. May our lives always confirm our verbal professions of faith. If we have not fully committed our lives to You, reveal to us the areas where we have refused to change; and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to conquer them. 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!

Divine Transformations

JESUS SPEAKING

                He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office.  And he said to him, “Follow Me.”  So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.  Then Levi gave him a great feast in his own house.  And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.  And their scribes and Pharisees complained against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  Jesus answered and said to them,“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have come to call sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5: 27-32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Tax collectors in Israel were Jewish citizens who had ‘sold-out’ to the Roman Empire, and turned against their own people.  The Roman taxes were severe, and tax collectors earned their wages by overtaxing the people; in turn, they were passionately despised.  The religious leaders were enraged because Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners.   Jewish meals were extremely intimate affairs; those who dined together dipped in to the same bowls and drank from the same cups.  Most Jews were very careful who they ate with, because they falsely believed that sin could be transferred from person to person through the sharing of food.  The Son of God however, was not concerned with being contaminated by the sins of those he dined with.  Instead, his purity was contaminating and cleansing the dirty hearts of those who ate with him.  The messiah, the chosen one, sent of God had a distinct purpose; he came to seek the lost; he came to bring light in to the darkest of hearts; he came to cleanse the dirty, and to reach those the world had set aside and rejected.

                In 1464 a block of Marble weighing nearly 9 tons was shipped to the workshop of the Cathedral of the Santa Maria Del Fiore in Italy.  An artist was commissioned to carve a massive sculpture of a young King David.  It is said the artist abandoned the project because the piece of marble contained too many flaws (or veins—veins in marble are weaker than the surrounding stone, which can cause it to crack and break.)  So the flawed block sat in the yard for nearly a decade; until another artist was commissioned to continue the work; apparently he also foresaw problems with the veining in the marble and walked away.  Again, the scarcely carved stone block was pushed to the back of the yard where the sun, wind, and rain beat down on it for nearly 25 years.  Then in 1501 a 29 year old sculptor named Michelangelo looked at the stone optimistically.  He didn’t see an old dirty block of marble taking up space; he didn’t reject it as a defective throw away, fit for the trash heap.  Unlike the other sculptors, Michelangelo saw the giant slab, not as it was, but as it could be.  Michael Angelo accepted the commission to complete the work because he believed that he could create a masterpiece from a worn down, dirty block of marble.  In 1504, after nearly 3 years of work, the Statue of David was completed; immediately it was marveled over; its beauty and elegance were heralded by even the harshest of critics.  Today, the statue of David is on display in Florence Italy, and is unquestionably one of the most beautiful marble sculptures ever created.

                Like Michelangelo, Jesus Christ is a master craftsman whose purpose is not to attempt to improve perfect people, but to take the worst people and transform them in to divine works of art.  As followers of Jesus Christ, our duty is to reach out to those who are outcasts.  Rather than turning our backs on sinners, we are to embrace them in love.  We shouldn’t just see sinners for who they are, but instead, as who might become (with the assistance, love, and attention of an all powerful divine creator.)  Reach out to the lost; make friends with the weak; dive in to the trash heap and pull out the people the world has discarded.  He has sent us in to the world to reach those who have gone astray and to bring hope to the hopeless.  Are you willing to be an instrument God can use to accomplish a masterpiece?

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today and we ask that You use us to reach those who are sick.  Give us a heart for everyone the world has rejected.  We yearn to be instruments that You can use to transform the lives of sinners.  Therefore we lay ourselves at Your feet and place our lives in your capable hands; make use of us as You see fit.  Father, we love You, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you. 

Willing to 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; as the wine fermented 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 in to new wineskins.  In this parable, the old wineskins represent old ideas, habits, and beliefs that are incompatible with the new life God has offered through His Son Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately, most people desperately cling to their old lives; those who choose to follow Jesus must let go of the old and grab hold of the new; they must abandon the fear of change, and allow God to transform them.

                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 to smile with ever greater frequency [Note: today, the old songs are no longer appealing to me; I even find them repulsive.]  God has made similar changes in many other areas of my life.  He has healed me; the old things have passed away; behold, He continues to ‘make all things new.’

                God desires to pour out 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 by 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 eternal joy and everlasting peace.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You 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 make all things 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.


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