Posts Tagged 'repentance'

Loving Sinners

JESUS SPEAKING

      Then Levi gave him a great feast in his own house.  And there were a great number of tax collectors (sinners) and others who sat down with them.  And the scribes and the Pharisees (religious leaders) complained against his disciples saying, “Why do you eat 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 not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5: 29 – 32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      Those who had committed the greatest offenses were also the most eager to receive forgiveness.  The majority of prostitutes, fornicators, and tax-collectors possessed no illusions of purity; in turn, they were capable of honestly evaluating themselves.  The religious leaders were blinded by pride; mistakenly believing they were righteous, they refused to accept God’s message of repentance and reconciliation.  The initial step toward real fellowship with God includes a genuine recognition of sin.  Many today are being crushed beneath the weight of guilt and shame.  Those who need healing the most are often the first to be rejected by the self-righteous.  And yet, although the world has forsaken the worst offenders, God has not abandoned them.

      Those who lived within the boundaries of the Roman Empire had little compassion for the sick and the infirmed.  There were few hospitals, and no retirement homes or assisted living facilities.  Poor sanitary practices often lead to outbreaks of disease that devastated entire towns, cities, and nations.  Those who became ill were usually abandoned by the healthy; many were left to die alone in the streets.  Still, as Christianity began to spread, so did attributes like mercy, compassion, altruism and love.  During a plague in Alexandria, Egypt, in 416 A.D., a group of Christians assembled to care for those who had fallen ill.  They became known as “The Parabalani” (“The Reckless Ones”) because in caring for the sick, they selflessly exposed themselves to infection.  As they ministered, they preached the gospel.  We might reasonably conclude that those who lay dying in the streets received salvation at a far greater rate than those were healthy.

      As Christians, we are called to reach out and to care for the sickest of sinners; those who have been abandoned and left to die.  Drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, thieves, adulterers, and fornicators are frequently the most willing to receive God’s message.  May we never shun sinners, nor abandon the lost.  The Holy Spirit will provide every faithful believer with opportunities to preach the gospel, and to deliver healing to those who are afflicted.

      “Lord Heavenly Father, may we never forget that we are but sinners, saved by Your grace.  Provide us with opportunities to minister to the lost.  May we have compassion on the sick and love those who are dying.  May we continue to be instruments of Your mercy, that many others might come to know true forgiveness and reconciliation.  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.

Being Reborn

JESUS SPEAKING

        “You do the deeds of your father.”  Then they said to him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of myself, but He sent me.  Why do you not understand my speech?  Because you are unable to listen to my word.  You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it […] he who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God” (John 8: 41 – 47.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        Many of the religious leaders were claiming to be children of God, yet they in no way resembled Him.  Instead they were lovers of money, who selfishly desired the praises of men.  They also sought to kill Jesus because he truly was the Son of God.  Without exception, every human being has one of two spiritual Fathers.  Either they love and serve God in purity and truth, or they follow Satan and serve their own fleshly desires.  Those seeking to become children of God must be reborn.  Jesus said, “unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

        The process of being reborn is comprised of two very unique and distinct steps.  First, the individual must forget everything they have learned that is not congruent with the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Secondly they must embrace and live according to the commandments of God.  Before I was reborn I willingly served Satan.  My life was full of selfishness and promiscuity.  I had learned from movies and popular culture that fornication (sexual activity prior to marriage) was permissible and profitable.  After my rebirth I abandoned my worldly education and embraced the biblical commands to avoid fornication.  After many years of sexual purity, I met my wife.  We courted for nearly a year; during this time we did not cohabit-ate (live together); we also refrained from sexual contact of any kind.  In accordance with God’s desires, our first intimate moments were shared on the night of our wedding.

        Those who yearn to call God Father, must also be reborn; they must abandon what they have learned from popular culture and embrace the commandments of the Lord.  Every obedient soul will come to resemble Jesus Christ.  Their hearts will be filled with compassion, truth, mercy, and love.  In turn, many will see God and be drawn toward Him.

        “Lord God, may we call You our Father today.  May we be reborn and know that the old things have passed away and You have made all things new.  Guide us, teach us, and transform our hearts that we might continue to grow in Your likeness and Your image.  When others see us may they see You.  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.

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 the majority of 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, and were 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.

                As a child and adolescent, my mother brought me to church quite regularly; however, despite many hours spent kneeling, standing, sitting and praying, I never heard anyone truly preach the gospel (at least not the whole gospel.)  I knew about Christ’s forgiveness and love; I was aware that he died for the sins of the world.  I understood the work of the cross, and the free gift of salvation.  I had learned about what God had done for me, and so I had comprehended the first half of the gospel message.  When I was in my twenties a friend took me to a church service; it was there that I finally heard the remaining half the message.  God expected something from me; I was required to repent and obey.  I had to turn away from fornication, adultery, drunkenness, lewdness, and deceit.  There 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 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 understood the full gospel message; he received the gift of salvation and immediately obeyed the teachings of Christ.  Most today refuse to repent; 78.4 percent of Americans claim to be Christian; 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 are self-deceived; believing themselves’ to be Christians when they are not; they seek to enter through the wide gate because it is easy and convenient; it requires very little sacrifice; but it leads to eternal separation from God.  Few choose the narrow path; it is very difficult; it requires repentance and demands transformation; but it leads to everlasting life.  Which path are you taking?  Are you willing to embrace the complete gospel and to become a follower of Jesus Christ?  If you are, then remember that “God never claimed the journey would be easy; but He did say it would be worth it.”  

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we receive Your gift, and we take hold of Your sacrifice; may we turn away from the ways of the world, and embrace the commandments of Your one and only Son.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us the courage and strength to travel 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.

Abandoning Sin

JESUS SPEAKING

                “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Mathew 5: 30) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Sin is defined as any act of willful disobedience toward God.  Sin is very serious because it separates us from our Heavenly Father.  Because God loves his children, He desires for us to let go of our sinful practices, that we may be reunited with Him.  Any grievous sins, such as fornication, adultery, lying, stealing, lewdness, etc, must be abandoned.  In order that we may live, we must cut away these portions of our dead flesh.

                In April of 2003, an experienced mountain climber named Aaron Ralston was hiking alone in a remote mountain pass in Utah.  While maneuvering through one of the crevices, a giant boulder dislodged and pinned his arm against the canyon wall; for days he attempted to free himself.  He had not told anyone where he was going, so he knew that no one would be looking for him.  When he had finally run out of water, Aaron was faced with a terrible choice […] He could severe his arm with an ill-equipped pocket knife; or he could keep his arm and simply lay down and die.  The only thing standing between Aaron and the rest of his life were two bones, several muscles, and some tendons in his forearm.  Aaron chose to break both bones in his arm; he then proceeded to saw through his own flesh with his dull knife.  After nearly 127 hours of confinement, he left his severed arm behind and climbed out of the canyon.  Until that day, Aaron had lived selfishly.  He had been a ‘loner’ who continually pushed others away.  Shortly after his experience he came to believe that the boulder had been waiting for him his entire life (that it was destined to transform him.)  He said, “I left my hand behind in that canyon, but I gained my life back.”  His experience allowed him to see what was truly important.  He began to put the emphasis on personal relationships; he eventually married and started a family.  He now travels the world telling other people about his inspiring story.

                Like Aaron, there are boulders in our lives; giant rocks that pin us down and keep us from knowing complete freedom.  If we have entered again in to serious sin, and we have been separated from God then we have some cutting to do.  Cut away the dead flesh, so that you may live.  Ask God to reveal to you any sinful practices that have crept back in to your life and He will.  How you respond to what you find, will determine your eternal destiny.  May God help us all to make the right choice.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we recognize that sin can cause us to become separated from You.  We know that we have received forgiveness through Your Son, but we recognize our responsibility to refrain from willful acts of disobedience.  If we have become defiant, then please give us the strength to put these sins to death, that we may eternally continue to live for You.  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.

Changing Fathers

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You do the deeds of your father.”  Then they said to him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of myself, but He sent me.  Why do you not understand my speech?  Because you are unable to listen to my word.  You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it […] he who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God” (John 8: 41 – 47.)


INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Many of the religious leaders were claiming to be children of God, yet they in no way resembled Him.  Instead they were lovers of money, who selfishly desired the praises of men.  They also sought to kill Jesus because he truly was the Son of God.  Without exception, every human being has one of two spiritual Fathers.  Either they love and serve God in purity and truth, or they follow Satan and serve their own fleshly desires.  Those seeking to become children of God must be reborn.  Jesus said, “unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

                The process of being reborn is comprised of two very unique and distinct steps.  First, the individual must forget everything they have learned that is not congruent with the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Secondly they must embrace and live according to the commandments of God.  Before I was reborn I willingly served Satan.  My life was full of selfishness and promiscuity.  I had learned from movies and popular culture that fornication (sexual activity prior to marriage) was permissible and profitable.  After my rebirth I abandoned my worldly education and embraced the biblical commands to avoid fornication.  After many years of sexual purity, I met my wife.  We courted for nearly a year; during this time we did not cohabitate (live together); we also refrained from sexual contact of any kind.  In accordance with God’s desires, our first intimate moments were shared on the night of our wedding.

                Those who yearn to call God Father, must also be reborn; they must abandon what they have learned from popular culture and embrace the commandments of the Lord.  Every obedient soul will come to resemble Jesus Christ.  Their hearts will be filled with compassion, truth, mercy, and love.  In turn, many will see God and be drawn toward Him.

                “Lord God, may we call You our Father today.  May we be reborn and know that the old things have passed away and You have made all things new.  Guide us, teach us, and transform our hearts that we might continue to grow in Your likeness and Your image.  When others see us may they see You.  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.

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 torrent, it demands reverence and respect.  Just as rivers gouge out valleys and rip apart mountains, the gospel transforms lives.  Many, lacking foresight, eagerly receive God’s Holy Spirit without truly understanding the magnitude of changes that God intends to perform in their lives.  Genuine faith is costly; the price of salvation is death; death to our old lives.  In order to be remade in the image of Christ, we must willingly be destroyed.  Those possessing stony hearts, experience a shallow relationship with God. They desperately cling to old familiar habits; willfully abandoning their faith whenever significant changes are required.

                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. Jones presented Mickey with the gospel; who in turn, said a prayer, receiving Jesus Christ in to his heart.  Word of his conversion soon spread; as many were amazed to hear that this once villainous mobster had turned to the Lord.  However, although Mickey enjoyed being called a ‘Christian,’ he refused to live like one.  “Eventually he lost touch with Pastor Jones; and again began hanging around his old buddies from the criminal underworld.  The disheartened Jones confronted Cohen; telling him that as a Christian, he needed to put some distance between himself and his old unlawful associates.  A puzzled Cohen quickly 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 all too common; out of the four different types of soil Christ describes, the stony heart is often the most deadly; for within it, there exists the greatest propensity for self-deception.  Believing a verbal profession of faith to be sufficient for salvation, many remain unchanged.  With their lips they affirm Christ; but with their lives they deny him.  By continuing to practice behaviors such as, watching pornography, fornication (sex before marriage), drunkenness, idolatry, and dishonesty, etc…many delusional souls are journeying toward an eternal precipice from which there is no return.  If you can identify with this particular type of soil, then you have two choices; continue onward toward eternal punishment, or get honest with yourself and begin a new life with Jesus; a repentant life; a life free from serious acts of unrighteousness; a life lived as a disciple of Christ; a life fully committed to purity, church fellowship, prayer, evangelism, and bible study.  May the Lord give you the courage, strength, and conviction to make the right choice.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, transform us in to the image of Your Son.  May we lay down our old lives and take up our new ones.  May our relationships with You be deep and meaningful; that our lives might always affirm our verbal professions of faith.  If we have not fully committed our lives to You, reveal to us the areas where we are refusing to change; and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to overcome those shortcomings.  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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