Posts Tagged 'Growing closer to God'

Making Amends

JESUS SPEAKING

    “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mathew 5: 23-24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    No one can have a close relationship with God in a vacuum; human beings live within complex social structures; these communities are made up of family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and even complete strangers.  Our relationship with others is a direct reflection of our relationship with God.  When we sin against our neighbor, we have also sinned against our Lord.  If we lie, slander, and despise another person, we have lied, slandered, and hated our own creator.  In the first century, many Jewish families traveled long distances to reach the temple in Jerusalem; where an animal would be sacrificed to atone for their sins; having received forgiveness, they were restored to a right relationship with God.  Similarly, Jesus has also taught us that we are to first seek out reconciliation with our neighbors; only then can we draw ever closer to the Lord.  Today, this commandment, known as ‘making amends,’ is still an essential Christian practice.

    When I came to California many years ago, I began working a 12-step program; a system designed to help me overcome a terrible drug addiction.  The creators of the first six steps were Christians; a gathering of believers known as the oxford group.  Naturally, the steps were heavily influenced by the teachings found in the book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians, verse 13.  After becoming a Christian, I discovered that Christ’s command to make amends likely inspired the founders to create the 8th and 9th steps as well.  The eighth step reads, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”  The ninth step reads, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”  From 2005 until today, I’ve continued making amends to those I’ve harmed.  I’ve made restitution and paid off every delinquent debt; I’ve also asked for forgiveness from those who were affected by my sins.  With every apology I’ve grown ever closer to the Lord.

    Today, in order to move forward with God, you might consider delving into your past.  Examine your previous mistakes more thoroughly.  If you’ve stolen from anyone, pay them back; if you’ve lied, and your lies have caused hardship, return and speak the truth.  If by mistreating others, you have created resentments, you are commanded to humble yourself, and request forgiveness.  Making amends is an important Christian practice.  We’ve all sinned; but what we do with those sins will determine whether we grow closer to the Lord or remain at a distance.  The choice is ours to make.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, bring to our remembrance the names of those we have harmed; may we approach them and make restitution.  Give us the strength and the humility to ask for forgiveness; that we might be reconciled to those who are resentful.  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!

Daily Bible Reading

JESUS SPEAKING

      ‘Now Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, and when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward he was hungry.  Now when the tempter came to him, he said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”  But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Mathew 4: 1-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      After being baptized, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days, where Satan tried to tempt and control him through manipulation.  He called into question Jesus’ deity, and appealed to his bodily desires for food.  The Lord replied by quoting a single scripture, saying “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  There are bodily needs and there are spiritual needs; the stomach requires food, but the heart (spirit) requires the word of God.

      Some years ago, I had been ministering to a woman who was almost spiritually dead.  She couldn’t stop doing drugs but continued to profess her faith in God.  When asked if she was reading the bible every day, she replied, “No.”  Oddly enough, when told that daily bible reading would bring about a transformation in her life, she didn’t seem to believe what I was saying.  When asked what had occurred when she did practice daily bible reading in the past, she roughly replied, “I would read it for a while, and then my life would get better, and then I’d stop reading it, and I’d go out and revert back to my old ways.”  She, like many others had failed to understand the truth of what is revealed in this scripture; that the spirit needs to be fed with the bible every day; not two days a week, or one week out of a month, but daily.  The spirit controls the body, and when the sprit is starved, it becomes weak; permitting the fleshly desires take control.  Human beings are then guided by their immediate appetites for food, for sex, for drugs and alcohol, etc.  Regaining control simply requires an adequate dose of daily bible reading.

      Today, we all need to be feeding ourselves with the word of God.  How much time does it take to read a proverb, or to go through a portion of scripture?  Every day we spend a half an hour or more eating food; does opening the bible for ten minutes and consuming the word of God seem too difficult?  Give God’s word a chance in your life.  Make it a part of who you are, and you will find a strength to overcome and endure anything that may come your way.

      “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today and we ask and pray that You would give us a hunger for Your word.   Give us a desire to feed our spirits with Your divine power.  Provide for us new insights as we read, that we might be excited by every new truth we uncover.  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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