Posts Tagged 'Faith'

Professing Faith

JESUS SPEAKING

          “I also say to you, whoever confesses me before men, him the Son of Man will also confess before the angels of God.  But he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12: 8 – 9.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Pride plays a major role in what we communicate to others; most intuitively hide what is unimportant or shameful, while openly expressing the attributes they hold most dear.  In American culture, individuals utilize social media to post quotes, publish photos, and transmit thoughts.  Many also use billboards, bumper stickers, t-shirts, and jewelry to convey their beliefs.  Yet in a nation supposedly comprised of a Christian majority, Jesus Christ rarely occupies the top position.   He is often displaced by seemingly more important things; like a career, a family, a political candidate, a sports team, a noteworthy cause, or even a unique lifestyle.

          Throughout history Christians have been persecuted for their outward professions of faith.  In many countries today, those who openly convert from Islam to Christianity face execution and imprisonment.  Only some are afforded the right to a trial; during these mock proceedings, evidence of a true conversion is presented against the accused.  To test the genuineness of our faith, we must ask ourselves a hypothetical question; “If we were to go on trial for our lives, what evidence would our accusers have to convict us of being true Christians?”  Would we be blamed for spreading the gospel?  Would we be found guilty of outwardly displaying our beliefs without shame or remorse?  Would others willingly testify that we followed the teachings of Jesus Christ?  Would we be condemned by love, and convicted for the faith?

          Those who are proud to be disciples are truly committed to the Lord.  As believers we must actively seek to express our beliefs in obvious and practical ways; through words, deeds, and nonverbal communication.  Whether it’s the bumper sticker that reads, “Jesus is Lord,” or the cross that hangs from our neck; outward displays of devotion strengthen our relationship with God.  Each time we openly express our love for Christ, we grow closer to our Heavenly Father; who in turn, showers down upon us all of His spiritual blessings.

          “Lord Heavenly Father, give us the strength and the desire to share our faith with others.  May we never be ashamed to be called Your Sons and Daughters.  Continue to be our number one love; may nothing ever come before You.  In Your wisdom, give us opportunities to communicate Your message to those who are devoid of understanding; that they too would come to know You as we have.  We love 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.

Faithful Prayers

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Have faith in God.  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11: 22 – 24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Faith is defined as a strong belief or trust in God’s abilities.  He alone is able to move mountains, heal the sick, and raise the dead.  Jesus therefore urges every follower to pray with a measure of expectancy.  We must truly believe that God is capable of providing for each and every one of needs.  When we ask in faith, and do not doubt, we can fully expect to receive the desires of our heart.

            Hudson Taylor was a prominent missionary who lived in the 1800’s.  He established the China Inland Mission, an organization that still exists to this day (also known as the OMF.)  During his first journey to China, his ship hit a patch of windless ocean and began drifting uncontrollably toward an island known to be inhabited by vicious cannibals.  The frantic captain approached Mr. Taylor and asked him to pray for God’s help.  “I will” said Taylor, “Provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.”  The captain refused; not wanting to appear silly for unfurling in a dead calm.  Taylor responded by saying, “I will not undertake to pray for this vessel unless you will prepare the sails.”  The captain reluctantly obliged.  Soon there was a knock at Hudson’s door; “Who’s there?”  “Are you still praying for wind,” inquired the captain?  “Yes” responded Taylor.  “Well” added the skipper, “you’d better stop praying, we have more wind than we can manage.”

            As a genuine believer, Hudson Taylor understood the principle of praying with expectancy.  He prayed knowing full well that God would answer his prayers.  If we pray with that same measure of confidence and faith, we too will receive the blessings of the Lord.  May our hearts be free from doubt; may our requests be brave and bold; and may we fully expect our prayers to be answered according to the measure of our faith.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, You are an amazing and mighty God.  Create in us faithful hearts; hearts that are devoid of doubt; hearts that completely trust in Your abilities to provide for our needs.  May we always pray with confidence, unwavering faith, and genuine expectancy.  We love You Father, we praise You, and 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. 

Who’s traveling with you?

JESUS SPEAKING

            Now it happened, on a certain day, that he got into a boat with his disciples.  And he said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.”  And they launched out.  But as they sailed he fell asleep.  And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.  And they came to him and awoke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”  Then he arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water.  And they ceased, and there was a calm.  But he said to them, “Where is your faith?”  And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be?  For he commands even the winds and water, and they obey him!” (Luke 8: 22-25.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The Sea of Galilee is the lowest (below sea level) freshwater lake in the world.  Because it sits beside the Mediterranean, warm and cool air collide; producing fierce storms that arise almost instantaneously.  Jesus and his disciples were crossing this sea when a violent squall threatened to capsize their vessel.  As the Lord peacefully slept in the back of the boat, his companions began panicking.  Fear caused them to forget who was accompanying them on their journey.  After being roused, Jesus calmed the storm and asked them, “Where is your faith?”  Fear and faith are natural enemies.  The presence of one often signals the absence of the other.  People are gripped with fear when they lose faith in the God who dwells within them.  He is a loving Father who has promised to ‘never leave us, nor forsake us.’  As David once wrote in Psalm 23, “I shall fear no evil, for you are with me.”

            Some time ago, I interacted with a man who frequented the coffee shop where I studied.  He often appeared to be under a great deal of stress.  His fearful, unsettled, and distracted demeanor was difficult to overlook.  One day he leaned over and said, “Can you give me a scripture, or something from the bible that will help me remember that ‘God will never give me more than I can handle?”  I recalled for him the story of Jesus calming the storm.  His disciples feared they were going to capsize and drown; but God kept them from perishing.  I reminded him that the size of the waves and the level of desperation were unimportant; rather, what truly mattered was who was traveling in the boat with him.  By implication, he understood that if Jesus was in his heart, he would always stay afloat.

            Today, our lives are like vessels gliding across the sea.  Sometimes the surface is tranquil; and sometimes it’s stormy; only those who invite Jesus to accompany them on their voyage will make it to the other side.  No true believer will ever slip beneath the waves; for the Lord himself will cause the wind and waves to cease.  When you feel fear, remember the promises of God; have faith and you’ll survive whatever storm you’re enduring; your life will be preserved because the Lord is with you.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, may we always remember that Your Son dwells within our hearts; accompanying us as we journey through life.  Protect us from the storms that arise along the way; destroy our fears and increase our 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.

Conquering Doubt

JESUS SPEAKING

            And he left them, and getting in to a boat again (with his disciples), departed to the other side.  Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat.  Then he charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.”  But Jesus being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not yet perceive nor understand?  Is your heart still hardened?  Having eyes, do you not see?  And having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”  They said to Him, “Twelve.”  “Also when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”  And they said, “Seven.”  So he said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” (Mark 8: 13 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Shortly after feeding four thousand people with seven loaves of bread, Jesus warned his disciples to beware of doubtful thoughts.  Despite having just witnessed God’s heavenly provision, the disciples began to fear that they hadn’t brought enough food for their journey.  The Lord addressed their uncertainties by reminding them of his previous miracles.  On two separate occasions he had fed thousands with scarcely enough food to feed a small family.  If doubts arise within our hearts, they can quickly be eradicated by recalling the many miracles God has performed for us in the past.

            I once heard a man give his personal testimony.  As a youth he had been hopelessly addicted to drugs.  Eventually he received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  He began reading the bible and his life started changing.  Although sober, he hadn’t yet given up his old friends.  One day he was gathered together with them in a house; he was reading his bible while they were doing drugs.  Suddenly a group of heavily armed police officers broke through the door and began arresting everyone.  He was so frightened he could barely move.  He thought, ‘If I just sit here and read my bible, nothing will happen to me.’  He heard lamps falling and people yelling as they were being dragged to the ground and arrested.  As the commotion swirled around him he never took his eyes off of God’s word.  After a short time he heard the front door slam and the house was completely silent.  Looking up he realized he was all alone.  No one had tackled him; no one had arrested him; no one had even questioned him.  Sometime afterward, God told him that He had blinded the eyes of the officers so that they couldn’t see him.  This man has undoubtedly recalled this miracle on many occasions to dispel his doubts and to inspire his faith.

            Even the most faithful believers can occasionally experience doubtful thoughts.  If and when they arise, the natural remedy is remembrance.  How often has God healed our bodies; how often has He provided for our needs and protected us from trouble?  Our faith is preserved in times of trouble by remembering the wonderful miracles God has already performed in our lives.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, increase our faithfulness.  In moments of weakness may we be reminded of the many miracles You have already performed.  Through remembrance may our doubts be destroyed and our fears be put to death.  Fill our hearts with love, and peace, and truth, that we may continually trust in You and 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.

Stop worrying, start trusting

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is , and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Mathew 6: 25 – 32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            God is a Father, and like any good Father, He provides for the needs of His children.  Fear is the result of a lack of trust in God’s abilities.  Birds are just one example of an animal that never worries; they gather no seed nor strive to possess more than they can use.  Instead they rely upon their creator to provide for their daily necessities.  As believers we must be of a similar mind.  Worrying is counterproductive; in turn Jesus commands every follower to stop worrying and start trusting.

            Although worrying has been around for thousands of years, it has only recently been studied scientifically.  Most modern day inquiries have yielded some surprising results.  Worrying has been found to break down the immune system, causing many to succumb to colds and infections; worrying also produces:  high blood pressure, upset stomach, ulcers, acid reflux, heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, panic attacks, cardiovascular problems, increased blood sugar levels, irritable bowel difficulties, backaches, tension headaches, migraines, sleep problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, respiratory difficulties, worsening of skin conditions such as eczema, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, depression, rashes, shingles, hot flashes, twitching, lethargy, sweating, heart attacks, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, irritability, etc.  The list of physical and mental ailments linked to worrying seems endless.

            Worrying is so detrimental that The lord has ordered every follower to abandon fear and embrace faith.  Trusting in God is our divine duty.  He is our provider and protector.  May we continually remember that God loves us and lives within our hearts.  May we seek Him at every turn, and tirelessly submit ourselves to His care and affection.

            Lord Heavenly Father, may we be free from fear; may we stop worrying and start trusting in Your complete provision.  Clothe us, feed us, love us, and receive us.  Be our Father that we might also be Your children.  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.  

God is your friend

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15: 14 – 15.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                After eating the Passover feast, the Lord said farewell to his closest companions.  In a long discourse (filled with emotion and love) Jesus revealed God’s complete plan to the disciples.  During this address, those who had called him Master were urged to consider him a ‘friend.’  The term ‘friend’ implied a deeper, more intimate relationship.  In ancient times, masters and servants were never equals; they weren’t partners; and they certainly were never friends; their positions prevented them from close personal fellowship.  In order to preserve authority and respect, the master had to maintain a safe distance (as “familiarity breeds disrespect.”)  Yet the ‘King of Kings’ (Jesus) shattered the barriers that hindered true intimacy.  The disciples became his equals; no longer was he just their Lord and master; he became their brother; their closest companion; and their greatest friend.

                At the age of 19, I worked as a guard and a counselor in a minimum security juvenile facility.  My role was that of a disciplinarian.  Often, when a child misbehaved, we had to intervene and physically restrain them.  The staff was given a great deal of power and authority.  Although we interacted with the children in positive ways, we had to maintain a professional distance.  Too much intimacy caused them to lose respect for us and our positions.  If they came to believe we were their equals, they would question and disobey our commands.  Those who falsely see God as an equal lose respect for Him.  Fear of God is good; those who fear Him are aware of his power and authority.   We read in Proverbs, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  In turn, God sent His Son, so that all could know Him as a ‘friend’ as well as a Father.

                God must always be honored and respected; (He is our master and we are His servants) in turn, there is a distance between God and man.  In His divine wisdom, He chose to use His only Son to draw near to all people.  Jesus Christ is God’s gift to mankind.  He is God in a form we need not fear; we need only approach Him in love; we are free to speak to Him; to fellowship with Him; and to be in communion with Him.  He is more than our teacher, our master, and our shepherd; he is our brother; he is our closest companion; he is our best friend.  Would you like to know God?  If you seek closeness with God embrace Jesus Christ and he will comfort you and give you peace; look to the Son of God and you will know his Father.  Invite him in to your heart and he will teach you all things; and “you will know the truth; and the truth shall make you free.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father we love You, and we thank You for Your son.  We desire to draw near to him; may every obstacle be removed, and every barrier destroyed.  May he be our brother, our companion, and our friend.  May we confide in You Lord; may we look to You for direction, for love, and for comfort.  We love You Father; we love You Jesus; we praise You and we thank You; and we ask all of these things, 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 days of Jesus shepherding was a very common profession.  A good shepherd would effortlessly love and care for his sheep.  Most shepherds were continually concerned with feeding and watering their livestock; they also fended off hungry predators, and made sure to keep the sheep free from dangerous parasites.  Over time, the sheep would come to trust in and rely upon the one who guided them and loved them.  After many days and nights of grazing in the open fields, the shepherd would need to rest; he would return home and put his animals in a pen where he knew they would be safe.  Jesus is the ‘Good Shepherd.’  He came to gather together his sheep, and to lead them to safety.  The sheep pen is an illustration that represents heaven; there is only one gate through which one can enter.  Only those who have faith in and follow Jesus Christ can enter God’s kingdom.

                Today, flying is a common mode of transportation.  In recent years, many 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 appropriately severe.  There is only one way in, and one way out.  Those seeking to enter through the security checkpoints must have proper identification.  No license, or government identification, means no entry.  This rule is without exception (a nice smile, a kind face, and an appealing excuse are of no benefit.)  God’s kingdom is similar in many respects.  There is one way to enter; only those who have faith in Jesus Christ can be admitted.

                Jesus Christ is the ‘Good Shepherd.’  He came to lead his sheep into everlasting life.  Many have heard his words and have received Him.  Still many others have rejected him entirely.  Despite the differences between them, the faithful and the unfaithful share in this; they will both one day stand at the gate; however, only those who 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 fully; lead us Lord; teach us; 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 in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.  


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