Posts Tagged 'Jesus'



Follow Me

JESUS SPEAKING

            “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Mathew sitting at the tax office.  And he said to him, “Follow Me.”  So he arose and followed Him” (Mark 9: 9.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The calling of Mathew is among the shortest conversion stories recorded in the bible.  As a tax collector, he was hated and despised by his own people.  Still Jesus saw something in him worth saving.  As the Lord passed by He uttered two simple words that would forever transform Mathew’s life; “Follow Me.”  His response was concise, immediate, and unwavering.  Mathew arose, abandoned his position, and began following Jesus Christ.  

            During the 1880’s, a famous baseball player named Billy Sunday had a similar experience.  One day, he and his teammates entered a saloon and began drinking.  Upon exiting, Billy spotted a group of Christians singing hymns and preaching about God’s salvation and forgiveness.  As tears rolled down his face, he turned to his teammates and said, “Boys, I’m through!  Going to turn to Jesus Christ.  We’ve reached the parting of the ways.”  Some mocked him, while others encouraged him.  He then entered the Pacific Garden Mission and gave his life to the Lord.  Later he said, “I called upon God’s mercy.  I staggered out of my sins into the outstretched arms of the Savior.  I became instantly a new creation in Him.  The next morning at practice, my manager, Mike Kelly, greeted me and said, ‘Billy, I read in the paper what occurred yesterday.  Religion isn’t my long suit, but I won’t knock you, and I’ll knock the daylights out of anyone who does.”  Billy Sunday went on to become one of the greatest evangelists of the early 20th century.

            Like Mathew, and like Billy, God is still calling many to follow Him today.  Jesus Christ desires that all would come to know Him and submit to His discipleship.  Some respond to His call; still others do not.  How can you respond to God’s call and receive salvation?  First, go to a quiet place, and ask God to enter your heart.  Turn away from sin, and profess a faith in Jesus Christ.  Get involved at a local church and be baptized.  Request an easy to read version of the bible (read it every day; beginning with the gospels.)  As you grow in the knowledge of God and submit to His commandments, you will experience a transformation.  You will feel the old things pass away; for behold, God will make “all things new.”

            “Lord Heavenly Father we thank You for calling us to be Your disciples.  May You always dwell within our hearts and minds.  Give us the strength to turn away from sin and death, that we might embrace the new life we have in You.  Teach us, guide us, be our Father and we will be Your children.  Give us Your Holy Spirit that we may lovingly serve You and our fellows.  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.

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.

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.  

Sacrifice leads to blessings

JESUS SPEAKING

                So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18: 29-30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                All valuable things have a price; and eternal life is no exception.  Although salvation is free, reconciliation requires sacrifice.  The cost for following Jesus Christ is high; most endure persecution, affliction, and hardship (many are ridiculed and socially ostracized.)  Obedience frequently produces loss; the loss of wealth and possessions; the loss of a home, a career, a family, or a friend; (there are even those who have laid down their lives for the sake of the gospel.)  From the time of the resurrection until today, not one righteous sacrifice has ever been committed in vain; for God has promised to replace every offering with something far greater.  To die as a peaceful martyr is to live forever in the His Kingdom.  To lay down earthly possessions is to grab hold of God’s eternal riches.  To suffer affliction for righteousness (here and now), is to one day experience unending freedom, and everlasting peace [Note:  God doesn’t just provide heavenly blessings; he also provides the faithful with many earthly blessings (wives, husbands, children, friends, etc.)]        

                Some time ago while serving at my church, I met a pastor named Greg.  A few years earlier he had been the starting quarterback for a division one college football team.  As he headed in to his senior year, his future looked promising.  Many expected him to excel, and to eventually enter the NFL draft.  According to the world, his life was an example of success.  Yet God had other plans for Greg.  Before the start of his senior year, he felt the Lord calling him in to full time ministry.  After much contemplation and prayer, Greg chose to sacrifice his probable fame and fortune to serve God.  When he announced his decision not to return for his final season, his coaches were mystified and his friends believed he had gone crazy.  In the eyes of the faithless he was making a very serious mistake.  Nearly four years after making his decision, Greg has never been more satisfied.  He is joyfully serving the Lord and has a beautiful wife, and has one young child.  He has sacrificed much, yet in return, he has received many priceless blessings (“and in the age to come, eternal life.”)  [Note:  Many necessary sacrifices often deal with sin.  Some years ago, when God began to remove the sins from my life, I was separated from many of my friends.  Because I no longer partied, the invitations to social functions became scarce.  I was no longer the irresponsible potty mouth that many had come to know and love.  One friend even remarked, “I like the old Jess better.”  I lost many friends when I gave up certain sins; but I gained far more.  God replaced the old with the new, and today my life is filled with healthy, loving, and caring individuals.]

                The Christian life requires sacrifice.  Letting go of what is evil and grabbing on to what is good, is not without consequence.  Obedience to the Lord produces loss; yet, for every earthly surrender there is a heavenly reward.  Trust in the Lord; sacrifice any sinful areas of your life upon God’s Holy altar; submit yourself to His leading, and you will experience all of the blessings he has promised to those who love and serve Him.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to sacrifice our lives to serve You.  May we accomplish Your will no matter the cost.  Remove any sins that stand in our way.  Give us a new heart; give us new desires; may we die so that You may live.  We thank You in advance for the blessings You have promised us.  We submit our lives to You now in faith.  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.

Love for God

JESUS SPEAKING

            “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me.  And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14: 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            True affection for Jesus Christ is not merely some immeasurable, intangible feeling; instead, it is expressed outwardly through actions, words, and deeds.  Those who genuinely love God’s only Son attempt to remain obedient to His commandments; as faithful believers, they seek to implement his teachings in every area of their lives.

            Marriage is one of the greatest blessings a person can receive from the Lord; it provides those who are willing with the opportunity to practice the Christian principles of selflessness and service.  Just as love for Christ is manifest in obedience, so too, adherence to the desires of a spouse is a measure of our love for them.  Yesterday my wife asked me to fix some shelving in our closet; a task I gladly accomplished.  She also asked me to do the dishes before leaving for work; I did them, and later she thanked me for my efforts.  If I did not love her, I would have ignored her requests in order to indulge in my own selfish desires.

            Like a spouse, Jesus Christ has asked us to accomplish many things; to adhere to His teachings and to obey His commandments.  The pathway to conformity is paved with the bricks of knowledge.  Only by reading the words of Jesus can we know what He is asking of us.  Read His words daily and God will give you the desire and the ability to accomplish His will [His teachings are contained within the pages of the Holy Bible; specifically within the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.  A condensed version is found in Mathew, Chapters 5 – 7; a discourse commonly known as ‘The Sermon on the Mount.’]

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for sending Your Son to teach us what it truly means to love.  Bring to our remembrance all of His words, that we might adhere to His teachings and obey His commands.  May we lay down our lives to serve and love others as He so willingly did.  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.

Idolatry leads to death

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.  And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothing.  But woe to those who are pregnant and nursing babies in those days.  And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.  For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been seen since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be” (Mathew 24: 15 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Throughout Christ’s ministry he spoke of a day when great destruction and tribulation would befall the nation of Israel, and the world; (the prophet Daniel also spoke of such a day.)  In the future there will be an unmistakable sign preceding the tribulation of all nations.  This sign will appear within the reconstructed temple itself.  An evil man will erect an object, image, or shrine in the ‘Holy of Holy’s;’ an abomination that many will come to worship in the place of God.  Deep within the heart of every human being, there is a pedestal; a peak; a position of absolute supremacy; a space reserved for what every person loves the most.  When the Lord occupies this position He is in His rightful place.  Those who idolize their creator also walk in genuine fellowship with Him.  Many however, replace God with other things; and in so doing, they commit the sin of idolatry; a sin that always precedes some form of imminent destruction.

                In the Old Testament there lived a rich and powerful ruler named Belshazzar who dwelled within the seemingly impenetrable city of Babylon (the walls of this city were rumored to be 300 feet high and 80 feet thick.)  His Father Nebuchadnezzar had sacked Jerusalem decades earlier, stealing the gold and silver artifacts from within the Jewish temple.  These relics sat inside of the Babylonian treasury for years, until one evening, Belshazzar held a great feast.  We read, “Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple […] and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them; they drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone” (Daniel 5: 3 – 4).  Belshazzar did not worship the living God; rather he preferred precious metals.  That night a haunting vision appeared before him.  The king asked Daniel the prophet to interpret its meaning.  Daniel prophesied saying “And you have praised the gods of silver and gold […] and the God who holds your breath in his hand and owns all of your ways you have not glorified […] Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”  The sentence for his idolatry was carried out that very night; an invading army conquered the city and killed King Belshazzar.  [Note:  From the historical accounts it is believed that a giant river flowed through the city of Babylon.  While Belshazzar was feasting, the Persian King Darius used a dam to divert the flow of the mighty river; his army then cleverly followed the dry riverbed under the giant walls, and conquered the vibrant metropolis in a single night.]

                Idolatry is dangerous and inevitably leads to destruction.  Those who desire preservation must avoid putting anything in the place of God.  The Lord must come first; before money, a career, a relationship, a business, or a hobby, etc.  When we elevate God into His rightful position in our hearts, then we are truly free; when He is the most important person in our lives, then everything falls in to place.  Love God and you will find peace; put Him first and you will experience everlasting life; for “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we love You with our whole hearts.  May we always worship You in Spirit and in truth, and may we never forsake Your ways.  If any form of idolatry has entered our lives, may you uproot it and cast it in to the sea.  May we be purified, and once again comprehend the goodness of humility and faith.  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.

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.   

 


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